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Love Animating Galatea, the Statue of Pygmalion

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1802 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Howard, Henry RA, born 1769 - died 1847 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend

  • Museum number:

    1397-1869

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries, case WE

Object Type
Oil paintings based on classical stories were very popular at the beginning of the 19th century. This painting is a copy or version of Henry Howard's picture of the same title exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, in 1802.

Subject Depicted
The subject of this painting is the ancient Greek legend of Pygmalion, who was both a sculptor and King of Cyprus. According to Ovid's Metamorphoses, a long poem in Latin describing the fantastical transformations of gods, animals, elements and mortals into one another, Pygmalion fell in love with a life-like statue he had carved of his own ideal woman. At his earnest prayer, Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, took pity on him and brought the statue to life. He then married his creation. This myth was a popular theme for artists, as the hero of the tale was, like them, an aspiring artist in love with his art, and an inspiration to everyone who sought to create sublime decorative or fine art.

People
Henry Howard (1769-1847) originally aspired to be a history painter in the manner of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792). Having become a friend of the sculptor and designer John Flaxman (1755-1826) while they were studying in Rome from 1791 to 1794, Howard continued to follow his friend's distinctive form of Neo-classicism on returning to Britain. He was also influenced by French Neo-classical artists, and tried to imitate their stylised rendering of classical scenes.

Physical description

Oil painting

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

ca. 1802 (made)

Artist/maker

Howard, Henry RA, born 1769 - died 1847 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

oil on canvas

Dimensions

Height: 50.16 cm, Width: 60.32 cm, Height: 64 cm frame, Width: 75 cm frame, Depth: 5.5 cm frame

Object history note

Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, 1868.
The original was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1802.

Descriptive line

Oil painting depicting 'Love animating Galatea, the statue of Pygmalion', copy by an unidentified painter of the original by Henry Howard RA, ca. 1802

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

Loukia Loizou Hadjigavriel, Myrto Hatzaki and Demetra Theodotou Anagnostopoulou, eds., The Venus Paradox. Nicosia : A.G. Leventis Gallery, [2017]. ISBN: 9789963732265
p. 187

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Regency artists often used scenes from classical literature as subjects for their paintings. Here, the mythical Greek sculptor Pygmalion is shown admiring his own statue of a perfect woman. He asked the goddess Aphrodite to bring the sculpture to life and his wish was granted. The figures here are shown in profile, as if on a classical relief. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

Copy by an unidentified painter of the original by Henry Howard RA

Materials

Oil paint; Canvas

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Putti; Desire; Monarchs; Classicism; Symbolism; Men; Allegory; Mythology; Love; Statues; Figures (representations); Shell; Transformation; Women

Categories

Paintings

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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