Body Doubles

Sculpture in Britain, 1877–1905

David J. Getsy

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Late nineteenth-century Britain experienced an explosion of interest in sculpture. Sculptors of the “New Sculpture” movement sought a new direction and a modern idiom for their art. This book analyzes for the first time the art-theoretical concerns of the late-Victorian sculptors, focusing on their attitudes toward representation of the human body. David J. Getsy uncovers a previously unrecognized sophistication in the New Sculpture through close study of works by key figures in the movement: Frederic Leighton, Alfred Gilbert, Hamo Thornycroft, Edward Onslow Ford, and James Havard Thomas.

These artists sought to activate and animate the conventional format of the ideal statue so that it would convincingly stand in for both a living body and an ideal image. Getsy demonstrates the conceptual complexity of the New Sculptors and places their concerns within the larger framework of modern sculpture.

David J. Getsy is Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow of the Leslie Center for the Humanities and Department of Art History, Dartmouth College, and editor of Sculpture and the Pursuit of a Modern Ideal in Britain, c. 1880–1930.

“This book appeals especially to those fascinated by artists willing to challenge the status quo as each chapter focuses on specific sculptures created in an effort to push boundaries within modern art theory. . . . Rich in detail and interlaced with sculptural images, Body Doubles examines how British sculptors of this period used the body to juxtapose classical tradition with modern innovation.”—Ashley Murray, Art & Antiques

“This is an intriguing study of a half-forgotten episode in art history.”—Martin Gayford, The Sunday Telegraph

"An invaluable "second generation" contribution to scholarship of the New Sculpture."—Mark Stocker, Victorian Studies

"Getsy provides an important contribution to the history of British sculpture. . . . Getsy has made an important step toward reintegrating sculpture into more general concern about modernity and the body in Victorian art."—Tim Barringer, Art Journal

“Getsy adds immeasurably to what has been done before – for all my writings on Leighton’s Athlete, Getsy has told me things I did not know. And with what he writes about Thornycroft, Ford and Thomas he fundamentally revolutionises how we must now look at these sculptors. … One certainly gains the impression…of Getsy’s sheer élan. … Throughout, the text deals with materiality, figuration, objecthood, space, verisimilitude, an almost endless treasure trove of observation, history and criticism. This is a major publication on British sculpture of the late-nineteenth century and everyone who is interested in sculpture of any period should read it.” - Benedict Read, Sculpture Journal

Finalist for the 2006 Historians of British Art Book Prize in the Single author, post-circa 1800 subject category
ISBN: 9780300105124
Publication Date: September 10, 2004
Publishing Partner: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
248 pages, 7 1/2 x 10
150 b/w illus.
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