The Marble Index

Roubiliac and Sculptural Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Britain

Malcolm Baker

View Inside Price: $65.00


February 3, 2015
420 pages, 9 x 11
100 color + 300 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300204346
Cloth

Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

Providing the first thorough study of sculptural portraiture in 18th-century Britain, this important book challenges both the idea that portrait necessarily implies painting and the assumption that Enlightenment thought is manifest chiefly in French art.  By considering the bust and the statue as genres, Malcolm Baker, a leading sculpture scholar, addresses the question of how these seemingly traditional images developed into ambitious forms of representation within a culture in which many core concepts of modernity were being formed.  The leading sculptor at this time in Britain was Louis Francois Roubiliac (1702–1762), and his portraits of major figures of the day, including Alexander Pope, Isaac Newton, and George Frederic Handel, are examined here in detail.  Remarkable for their technical virtuosity and visual power, these images show how sculpture was increasingly being made for close and attentive viewing.  The Marble Index eloquently establishes that the heightened aesthetic ambition of the sculptural portrait was intimately linked with the way in which it could engage viewers familiar with Enlightenment notions of perception and selfhood.
Malcolm Baker is distinguished professor of art history at the University of California, Riverside.

‘With its classicising appearance, the 18th-century portrait has often been seen as a traditional genre; but as Malcolm Baker argues in this fascinating study, the busts and statues of the period reflect Enlightenment ideas and were fully engaged with developing notions of perception and selfhood.’—Apollo, 1st February.

“It poses exciting new possibilities for the work of interpretation, confirming that scholarship in the field deserves a more robust style of enquiry… an ambitious empiricist tour de force.”—Tomas Macsotay, Oxford Art Journal

“This book is beautifully laid out with superb photographs and details of sculpture illustrated, while the dense text provides a penetrating analysis of the subject… This ground-breaking compendium of observation and research accrued through years of experience, curating and teaching demands attentive reading.”—Tessa Murdoch, Burlington Magazine
The Lure of the Object

Edited by Stephen Melville

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Roubiliac and the Eighteenth-Century Monument
Sculpture as Theatre

David Bindman and Malcolm Baker

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