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Statuette - Ganymede

Ganymede

  • Object:

    Statuette

  • Place of origin:

    British (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1821 - ca. 1841 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Campbell, Thomas, born 1790 - died 1858 (sculptor)
    Cellini, Benvenuto, born 1500 - died 1571 (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plaster cast

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.1859-4

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Upon arrival in the museum the piece was apparently wrongly identified, as '...a restoration by Benvenuto Cellini of an antique torso. The original in the Uffici in Florence'. Though the present group is clearly inspired by the Cellini 'Ganymede' (now in the Bargello, Florence) it is not a plaster cast of it as stated in the Inventory of Plaster Casts. It seems to be related to a lost ideal work by Thomas Campbell, although it is unclear whether it is a plaster cast after Campbell's Ganymede or a model for it.

Ganymede was a shepherd, the son of Tros. A legendary king of Troy. His outstanding beauty cause Jupiter to fall in love with him. After Ovid, Jupiter, having transformed himself into an eagle, carried Ganymede off to Olympus where he made him his cup-bearer. The myth found favour in ancient Greece because it appeared to sanction homosexual love. The medieval ‘Moralized Ovid’ made Ganymede a prefiguration of John the Evangelist, where the eagle represents Christ. Renaissance humanists turned the theme into an allegory of the progress of the human soul towards God.

Thomas Campbell (1790-1858) was born in Edinburgh. He was initially apprenticed to John Marshall, a marble cutter, and later James Dalzell, to whom the business passed on the death of Marshall. He later studied at the Royal Academy in London and instructed by Joseph Nolleken. During this period he also worked in the studio of Edward Hodges Baily. In 1818 he went to Rome, where he set up his own studio. He returned to England in late 1829 or early 1830 and opened a studio in Leicester Square, London, while keeping his studio in Rome, where he would travel to buy his marble. He is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery in north London.

Physical description

This statue represents Ganymede with an eagle. Ganymede is standing with his left arm around the eagle, the eagle looking upwards towards Ganymede's inclined face. In his right hand he holds a bowl.
Though badly chipped, a letter 'O', presumably the remnants of a signature, is apparent on the base.

Place of Origin

British (made)

Date

ca. 1821 - ca. 1841 (made)

Artist/maker

Campbell, Thomas, born 1790 - died 1858 (sculptor)
Cellini, Benvenuto, born 1500 - died 1571 (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques

Plaster cast

Marks and inscriptions

'O'
on the base, presumably a remnant of a signature

Dimensions

Height: 150 cm

Object history note

Bought, for £2, in 1859, vendor not recorded.

Historical context note

Upon arrival in the museum the piece was apparently wrongly identified, as '...a restoration by Benvenuto Cellini of an antique torso. The original in the Uffici in Florence'. Though the present group is clearly inspired by the Cellini 'Ganymede' (now in the Bargello, Florence) it is not a plaster cast of it as stated in the Inventory of Plaster Casts. It seems to be related to a lost ideal work by Thomas Campbell, although it is unclear whether it is a plaster cast after Campbell's Ganymede or a model for it.

Descriptive line

Statuette, plaster cast, Ganymede, a model for or after Thomas Campbell's Ganymede, English, 1821-1841

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Smailes, Helen 'Uno Sfortunato Scultore Scozzese chiamato Campbell'. The Correspondance of Thomas Campbell(1797-1858) and his Banking Maecenas, Gilbert Innes Stow (1751-1832) in The Walpole SocietyWakefield, The Charlesworth Group, 2009
Graves I, p. 387, no. 1239
Bilbey, Diane and Trusted, Marjorie. British Sculpture 1470-2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2002, pp. 231-2, cat.no. 351
Donaldson, T.L., ‘Obituary Mr. Thomas Campbell’, in: Art Journal, 1 April 1858, pp. 107-8
Thieme-Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon…., Leipzig, 1982, p. 459

Materials

Plaster

Techniques

Casting

Subjects depicted

Eagle

Categories

Sculpture; Myths & Legends; Gender and Sexuality; Scotland

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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