Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 122

Perseus

Statuette
1898 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This statuette represents the Greek mythological hero Perseus and was made as a decorative item, perhaps to be displayed in a drawing room. Pomeroy had exhibited a full-size plaster version of this subject at the Royal Academy in 1898, and subsequently produced a series of smaller bronze figures. The present piece has a lively surface, and was probably produced using the lost-wax process. The composition is heavily reliant on the statue of 'David with the Head of Goliath' by the French sculptor Antonin Mercié (1845-1916), dating from the 1870s, which Pomeroy must have seen when he was studying in Paris.

People
Frederick William Pomeroy (1856-1924) was initially apprenticed to a firm of architectural carvers; he later attended the South London Technical Art School, where the French sculptor Jules Dalou (1838-1902) was master of the modelling class. Dalou's fluid and naturalistic style profoundly influenced Pomeroy. Thanks to Dalou's tutelage, the young British artist was able to enrol at the Royal Academy Schools, where he won a travelling scholarship which enabled him to travel to Paris. There he studied under Mercié and later toured Italy. He became a Royal Academician in 1917.

Subjects Depicted
The Greek hero Perseus, son of Danae and Jupiter, slew Medusa, one of the snake-haired Gorgons, whose gaze turned onlookers to stone, by looking at her reflection in his polished shield, presented to him by the goddess of wisdom, Minerva, his protectress. Here he holds her head aloft, whilst turning away from the sight. He holds a curved sword, a gift from the god Mercury, and wears a helmet and winged sandals. A miniature image of his winged horse, Pegasus surmounts the helmet. Perseus's name is inscribed in Greek lettering on the front of the integral socle.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Bronze
Brief Description
Statuette, bronze, of Perseus, by Frederick William Pomeroy, English, 1898
Physical Description
The figure stands resting on his right foot, holding the head of the gorgon aloft in his left hand, and his sword in his right. He is naked but for a helmet surmounted by the winged horse Pegasus, and winged sandals. He turns his head to the right away from the Gorgon. The socle is inscribed in Greek letters.
Dimensions
  • Maximum height: 51cm
  • Maximum width: 18cm
  • Maximum depth: 23cm
  • Base height: 3cm
  • Base depth: 9.5cm
  • Base width: 12.7cm
Dimensions checked 16/12/2021 by LC
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'F.W. POMEROY SC.1898' (on side of the base )
  • 'PERSEUS' (in Greek letters on the front of the base. )
Gallery Label
  • Although this figure is naturalistic in its treatment of the face, and the soft handling of the surfaces, its pose and conception are classical; Perseus's name, on the front of the socle, is written in Greek. Pomeroy was inspired by Bienvenuto Cellini's Renaissance statue of the same subject, the hero Perseus holding aloft the head of the Gorgon Medusa. Here Perseus turns his head away to avoid being turned to stone by the gaze of the Gorgon.(November 1992)
  • British Galleries: BRONZE STATUETTES Towards the end of the 19th century many collectors and artists studied and admired Italian Renaissance bronzes of the 16th century. This figure of Perseus, a hero of classical mythology, was inspired by a sculpture of the same subject by Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571). (27/03/2003)
Object history
Originally in the Handley-Read collection. Purchased from Thomas Stainton, Madeley Penn Road, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire for 231 in 1972.



Historical significance: The composition is heavily influenced by Antonin Mercié's 'David with the head of Goliath'.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Object Type
This statuette represents the Greek mythological hero Perseus and was made as a decorative item, perhaps to be displayed in a drawing room. Pomeroy had exhibited a full-size plaster version of this subject at the Royal Academy in 1898, and subsequently produced a series of smaller bronze figures. The present piece has a lively surface, and was probably produced using the lost-wax process. The composition is heavily reliant on the statue of 'David with the Head of Goliath' by the French sculptor Antonin Mercié (1845-1916), dating from the 1870s, which Pomeroy must have seen when he was studying in Paris.

People
Frederick William Pomeroy (1856-1924) was initially apprenticed to a firm of architectural carvers; he later attended the South London Technical Art School, where the French sculptor Jules Dalou (1838-1902) was master of the modelling class. Dalou's fluid and naturalistic style profoundly influenced Pomeroy. Thanks to Dalou's tutelage, the young British artist was able to enrol at the Royal Academy Schools, where he won a travelling scholarship which enabled him to travel to Paris. There he studied under Mercié and later toured Italy. He became a Royal Academician in 1917.

Subjects Depicted
The Greek hero Perseus, son of Danae and Jupiter, slew Medusa, one of the snake-haired Gorgons, whose gaze turned onlookers to stone, by looking at her reflection in his polished shield, presented to him by the goddess of wisdom, Minerva, his protectress. Here he holds her head aloft, whilst turning away from the sight. He holds a curved sword, a gift from the god Mercury, and wears a helmet and winged sandals. A miniature image of his winged horse, Pegasus surmounts the helmet. Perseus's name is inscribed in Greek lettering on the front of the integral socle.
Bibliographic References
  • Beattie, Susan. The New Sculpture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983. pp.177, 193, 199. plates 178, 192
  • Read, Benedict. Victorian Sculpture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982, p. 319
  • [Christies. London. 14 February 1991. Sale Catalogue. No.25]
  • cf. Clay, A et al (ed.) British Sculpture in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside, Liverpool, 1999, p. 81
  • Penny, Nicholas. Catalogue of European Sculptures in the Ashmolean Museum, III, Oxford, 1992, p. 149
  • Bilbey, Diane with Trusted, Marjorie. British Sculpture 1470 to 2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2002, pp. 348, 9, cat. no. 524
  • Handley-Read, Lavinia, British Sculpture: 1850-1914, London: E.C. Freeman, 1968.
  • Jervis, Simon, Victorian and Edwardian decorative art: the Handley-Read collection, London, Royal Academy of Arts, 1972
Collection
Accession Number
A.9-1972

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record createdAugust 20, 1998
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