Thuner thumbnail 1
Thuner thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Thuner

Statue
ca. 1728 - ca. 1730 (carved)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Thuner, the god of thunder, was one of the seven Saxon Deities executed by Rysbrack for Lord Cobham’s garden at Stowe, in Buckinghamshire. Each Saxon god was associated with a day of the week, and Thuner, the most powerful of the gods, was linked to Thursday. Originally placed in an open grove around an altar, by 1744 the statues were repositioned around the Gothic Temple of Liberty, designed by William Kent, and formed an integral part of the underlying political theme of the garden. The Saxon deities were separated after the Stowe sale of 1921, and the figure of Thuner reappeared in 1984 after having been in a Hampshire garden for over 60 years. The Saxon gods are tied in with the political iconography of Stowe, and symbolise Lord Cobham’s allegiance to the ideals of those Whigs who had broken away from Sir Robert Walpole. As such they symbolise an ancient British identity.

Rysbrack was born in Antwerp, and trained in the Netherlands, but spent his working life in Britain. He was one of the most important sculptors active in this country in the first half of the 18th century, and specialised in portrait busts and funerary monuments. Although he never visited Italy, many of his works are clearly indebted to classical prototypes.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 3 parts.

  • Statue
  • Figure of Thuner Fragment
  • Figure of Thuner Fragment
Materials and Techniques
Portland stone
Brief Description
Statue, Portland Stone, Thuner - the Saxon God of Thunder, by John Michael Rysbrack, England, 1728-30
Physical Description
The frontally-seated crowned figure, dressed in a shoulder-cape and long robes, sits enthroned, his left foot on the lower step of the base, and his head turned to his left, a pose echoing Michelangelo's Moses. Base inscribed with a thunderbolt and the god's name, Thuner, in runic characters.
Dimensions
  • Height: 165.1cm
Content description
Thuner, god of Thunder
Marks and Inscriptions
'THOR' (on base, in runic characters)
Credit line
Purchased with Art Fund support
Object history
Purchased from Phillips Son & Neale for £58,000 with assistance from the National Art Collections Fund, in 1985.
Summary
Thuner, the god of thunder, was one of the seven Saxon Deities executed by Rysbrack for Lord Cobham’s garden at Stowe, in Buckinghamshire. Each Saxon god was associated with a day of the week, and Thuner, the most powerful of the gods, was linked to Thursday. Originally placed in an open grove around an altar, by 1744 the statues were repositioned around the Gothic Temple of Liberty, designed by William Kent, and formed an integral part of the underlying political theme of the garden. The Saxon deities were separated after the Stowe sale of 1921, and the figure of Thuner reappeared in 1984 after having been in a Hampshire garden for over 60 years. The Saxon gods are tied in with the political iconography of Stowe, and symbolise Lord Cobham’s allegiance to the ideals of those Whigs who had broken away from Sir Robert Walpole. As such they symbolise an ancient British identity.



Rysbrack was born in Antwerp, and trained in the Netherlands, but spent his working life in Britain. He was one of the most important sculptors active in this country in the first half of the 18th century, and specialised in portrait busts and funerary monuments. Although he never visited Italy, many of his works are clearly indebted to classical prototypes.
Bibliographic References
  • 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. 130-1, cat. no. 181
  • Whinney, M. Sculpture in Britain 1530 to 1830, (revised by J. Physick), London, 1988 (second edition), p. 450, note 21
  • Williamson, Paul (ed), European Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1996, p. 156
  • Baker, Malcolm, Figured in Marble. The Making and Viewing of Eighteenth-Century Sculpture, London, 2000, p. 59
  • Williamson, Paul, The NACF and the National Collection of Sculpture. In National Art-Collections Fund Review,1986, pp. 84-85, fig. 9.
Collection
Accession Number
A.10&:2, 3-1985

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record createdFebruary 26, 2003
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