In the widest sense of the term, sculpture is the art of representing in bodily form men, animals, and other objects in stone, bronze, ivory, clay and similar materials, whether the objects represented actually exist in nature or are the creation of the imagination of the artist. A more concise and exact definition of sculpture is the art which represents beauty in bodily form by means of figures entirely or partly in the round. Sculpture therefore depicts the beauty of the corporeal world, not as does painting by means of an illusory representation upon a fiat coloured surface, but by imitating in a solid substance these bodies in their entirety, and achieving the effect by means of form alone. This effect is called plastic beauty. Sculpture therefore does not include landscape with its accompanying vegetation, nor the phenomena of light and shade, which play such an important part in painting. Inasmuch as sculpture represents bodies in their actual form and contours, its favourite subject, in contrast to painting, is the single figure. And as the single figure never appears in close relation with its surroundings the significance of its personality is presented in a more effective and powerful manner, particularly so because it is usually raised above its surroundings by means of a pedestal, and is placed in the most advantageous light by a suitable background. By these means the statue becomes a monument, in which the characteristic traits of a personality are perpetuated with artistic charm. These attributes of the statue render it difficult for sculpture to combine several figures in a group in which detail is necessarily subordinated to the whole. The most important principle of the group is that the figures should be as closely joined together as is possible, or as is compatible with the artistic effect. Such a juxtaposition is very much hindered by the material in the case of figures in the round.
These difficulties do not exist in the case of the relief, which should also be considered as sculpture, to which it belongs by reason both of the material used and of the technique. In certain characteristics, relief approaches so nearly to painting that it may be called the transitional art between painting and sculpture; it is, so to speak, pictorial sculpture. It prefers to represent several figures side by side, as for example, in the case of war scenes, festal processions, labour in the fields and at home; it therefore easily achieves what is hardly possible for sculpture in the round. There are two principal kinds of relief: Low Relief (bas-relief, basso-rilievo ), the figures of which have only a limited thickness, and in which the appearance of solidity is achieved by the effect of light and shade; and High Relief (grand-relief, alto-rilievo ), in which the figures sometimes appear entirely in the round. The chief demand which we make of a work of sculpture, whether it be a statue or a group, is artistic unity, that is to say, that all the parts should work together for the expression of a thought or an idea. In the case of the single statue it is not only the expression of the face which reveals the idea presented in the work of art, but the pose of the body and the posture of the limbs also contribute to the same end. For this reason everything irrelevant should, as far as possible, be avoided. This requirement has led to the principle first tersely enunciated by Lessing in his "Laocoön", and which has since been repeated innumerable times: that it is the purpose of sculpture (and also of painting ) to represent human figures of great bodily beauty; from which Lessing made the further deduction, that the highest purpose of sculpture is not the representation of spiritual but of sensuous beauty, that is to say, the beauty of the human body free from all draperies. Modern æsthetes have gone so far as to maintain as a rule without exception, that sculpture should create only nude bodies. A scholar of such fine artistic perception as Schnaase went so far as to demand that sculpture, in order to give the most emphatic expression to its distinctive characteristics, and not to weaken the sensuous appeal of the nude, should reduce somewhat the expression of emotion in the countenance, which should, so to speak, be attuned a tone lower, in order that it may harmonize with the body. These views, however, are in accordance neither with the teachings of history nor with good morals.
Not even with the ancient Greeks at the time of their most perfect development, was the representation of the nude body the chief aim of sculpture, and only in the age of their decline do the representations of the nude prevail. The most perfect creations of Grecian plastic art, the "Zeus" and the "Athena" of Phidias, were draped figures of gold and ivory, to which pilgrimages were made, not in order to enjoy their sensuous beauty of body, but to forget sorrow and suffering and to be fortified in religious belief. Draperies can and should be used to emphasize the spiritual significance of man. That Christian religion and morals have justly found objections to the representations of the nude is quite obvious, as is also the fact that such objections are removed when historical events or other valid reasons demand its representation, as, for example, in the case of Adam and Eve in Paradise. Another subject of wide importance demanding a few words is the tinting of statues, or polychromy. Until a few decades ago scholars generally were of the opinion that the ancient sculptors used no other tints than the original colour of the marble; but closer investigation of the antique monuments as well as of the accounts in ancient literature prove beyond doubt that the Greeks slightly tinted their statues, as was necessary when they placed them in richly decorated interiors. Since this has become known our judgment of the polychromy of medieval sculpture has become a more favourable one.
In accordance with the material used and the different methods of treatment sculpture is variously classified as follows:(1) Stone sculpture, or sculpture in a restricted sense, which for its noblest and most excellent works made use of marble.
The origin of sculpture in a wide sense belongs to prehistoric times. The first attempts to represent human beings by images were probably made in the Sandwich Islands. A higher stage of development is shown by the ancient Mexican sculptures, particularly those of the Maya period, among which, along with many crude expressions of exaggerated phantasy, are also found works showing a real observation of nature. A greater historic and æsthetic interest is first found in Egyptian sculpture, which in all times appears closely connected with architecture. As usual in primitive art, the works of the earliest or Memphitic period (until B. C. 3500) are distinguished by originality and naturalism, while in the later period the human figure was moulded in accordance with an unchangeable canon or type, from which only the countenances show any deviation. The sculptures of the later period are principally reliefs, produced by incised outlines and slight modelling; statues also occur, but groups are very rare. With the eleventh dynasty of Egyptian kings (about B. C. 3500) the size of the figures was increased to colossal proportions, but as they were all executed in accordance with the traditional type, sculpture gradually declined. No important revival occurred because Egyptian sculpture was gradually absorbed by the all-embracing Hellenistic art. Besides representations of religious scenes and episodes of Court life, those depicting the daily life of the people were also popular. These were conditioned by the belief of the Egyptians, that such representations were pleasing to the dead and that they beautified their life in the other world.
The sculpture of Babylonia and Assyria, the survivals of which have been excavated on the sites of ancient Nineveh and Babylon, has, notwithstanding its shortcomings, produced works of imperishable importance. It is imperfect in the representation of man, who is portrayed in a conventional and typical manner, but in the representation of animal combats and hunting scenes it reveals a surprisingly close observation of nature, free composition, and youthful energy. In its subjects it is greatly the inferior of the Egyptian, since it serves almost entirely for the glorification of the great and little deeds of the deified rulers. The sculpture of the Persians has become known particularly through the excavations at Perseopolis. It served the same purpose as the Babylonian, but the relief is more correct in perspective, and the human figure shows a touch of individuality.
Pre-Christian sculpture attained its zenith in Greece ; its sculptures have in all times been considered as unrivalled masterpieces. We can only devote a few words to them here. The subjects of Greek sculpture were taken particularly from the domain of religion, even in the times of the decline, when belief in the gods was rapidly disappearing. Numerous votive statues for deliverance from calamities or for victorious battles, as well as those erected in the temples and their vicinity by the victors of the athletic games, belong, in a wide sense, to what may be called religious sculpture. Besides religious subjects, portraits and genre statues were produced in great numbers. In accordance with the material used three classes of Greek sculpture may be distinguished: chryselephantine statues, the nude parts of which were of ivory and the draperies of gold; marble (particularly Parian marble); bronze, in which material the Greeks achieved perfect mastery of solid casting as well as hollow casting in a fireproof mould. The excellences of Greek sculpture are extraordinary simplicity and clearness in composition, plastic repose as well as pleasing action, wonderful charm, and conscientious technical execution. The great beauty of body which immediately impresses one at the sight of Greek sculpture is explained partly by the beauty of the Greek race, partly by the daily observation of naked youths and men as they appeared in the palestra . But they reveal no sensual beauty in the modern sense, and only during the period after Phidias did sculptors venture to depict female goddesses, for instance Aphrodite, entirely nude. In addition to the excellences just mentioned especial characteristics appear in each separate period. Three or four periods of Greek sculpture are usually distinguished.
Works of the first period, or of the Archaic style ( B. C. 775-449), show in the beginning a lifeless constraint, but later reveal an expression of physical power and agility. The second period, the golden age ( B. C. 449-323), is characterized at first by an ideal trend, represented especially by Phidias of the Attic School in his gold-ivory statues of the deities ; partly also by a tendency to emphasize the highest physical beauty, the most celebrated representative of which is Polycletus of the Argive School. The tendency during the last part of the second period was towards graceful, bewitching beauty, combined with the expression of the most tender sentiment, through which subjectivity, gained the upper hand, and through which the decline or third period (323-146) was ushered in. This age still produced a number of much admired works, such as the Laocoön group, the Farnese Bull, the Apollo Belvedere. The centres of art shifted to Pergamon and Rhodes. To the fourth period, the period of decay ( B. C. 146- A.D. 397) are attributed the works, which partly originals, partly copies, were created by Greek and Roman artists in Italy. Typical of this period is the prevalence of portraits, both busts and statues. Græco-Roman sculpture was finally destroyed, not, as the Assyrian and Babylonian, by violent suppression or gradual absorption, but by the infusion of a new spirit and of new ideas.
The current views of early Christian art have very recently been radically changed because through the researches of Strzygowski and others, the Orient has received its just dues. Both in form and in technique Christian sculpture is, generally speaking, identical with the pagan from which it was developed. But what the latest modern research has shown us is this: that it was not Rome which produced the best and most ancient works of Christian sculpture, but the East, which is certainly the cradle of Christian art . In Asia Minor the influence of Hellenistic art was still so strong that many early Christian works present an almost classical character, but in the West, where this beneficent influence was lacking, sculpture fell earlier into decline. In pre-Constantinian times probably few works of sculpture were executed. This is especially true of representations of the Persons of the Trinity, because the Jews who had become Christians were averse to graven images, and the converted pagans were deterred by their remembrance of the innumerable statues of their former gods. But with the Emperor Constantine the production of sculptures in stone and bronze immediately began on a large scale. Few examples of the statuary of this period have been preserved; but among these are a "Pastor Bonus" in the Museum of the Lateran, and a "Christ" in Berlin, both probably Oriental works. On the other hand, numerous reliefs survive, because, after the ancient custom, the sarcophagi, of which a large number survive, were richly decorated with sculptural representations. The surviving Christian sarcophagi belong mostly to the fourth and fifth centuries, and may be classified into an Occidental and an Oriental group. To the latter belong the beautiful sarcophagi of Ravenna, whose art stood in very intimate relation with the Byzantine. Sculpture in wood and ivory, so highly developed in antiquity, was enlisted in the service of the Church, as is proven by the portals of the Basilica of S. Sabina at Rome, and the numerous preserved book-covers, diptychs, and pyxes. For our knowledge of the transition from the early Christian to medieval sculpture we are indebted principally to reliefs carved in ivory, for there is an almost complete dearth of statuary until the tenth century. Sculpture in ivory achieved great importance in the ninth and tenth centuries. In delicacy of execution, in rhythm of line, and in well-considered observance of the laws of composition, the masterpieces of this epoch approach the creations of the early Renaissance. This branch of sculpture flourished especially in France, at Tours, Corbie, and Metz.
In comparison with these delicate ivory carvings, the first attempts of Romanesque stone sculpture appear crude and clumsy, but they contain the germs of a new life, which in the thirteenth century occasioned the first flower of medieval sculpture. It is typical of this period that sculpture, especially in stone, was predominantly subordinated to architecture and served almost exclusively for ecclesiastical purposes. The reliefs are entirely of symbolic character, and express thoughts which to a great extent have not yet been completely fathomed. At the beginning of this period (llth-l2th centuries) there was an important development of sculpture in bronze, at Hildesheim under Bishop Bernward (d. 1022), and at Magdeburg in the works of Master Riquinus. In Dinant (Belgium) also works of imposing beauty originated at this time, the best known of which is the baptismal font at Liège (1112), resting upon twelve bronze oxen -- the work of Renier de Huy. Until the end of the twelfth century sculpture in stone was almost entirely confined to reliefs, which served as decorations of baptismal fonts, portals, and choir-screens. The centre of German sculpture during this period was in the North, especially in Saxony. South Germany and the Rhineland are not poor in works of sculpture, but they are rather of an iconographic than of historical importance; as, for instance, the reliefs of the Schottenkirche (Scots' Church ) at Ratisbon. At the beginning of the thirteenth century German sculpture attained its first triumph, which was accelerated by Byzantine and French influence. Several important schools flourished at the same time. In place of the traditional types and conventional draperies a lively, naturalistic presentation appears. Sculpture in bronze yields the first place to stone sculpture, and even statuary assumes its proper rank. The portals especially become the scenes of the new plastic decoration. In the tympanum the Last Judgement is generally represented; at the sides stand the wise and foolish virgins, the apostles, saints, and donors. The most important school of this period is the Saxon with sculptures at Wechselburg, Freiberg, and Naumburg; the Frankish School with the reliefs of the choir-screens and statues in the cathedral of Bamberg, and the Romanesque sculptures of the cathedral of Strasburg, which in many respects rival the best works of antique art. The sculptures of the remaining European countries during this period cannot be compared with the German; next in importance are those of France. Here representations of devils and hobgoblins occur with remarkable frequency -- probably the consequence of the "Diableries", then so popular in the plays. The earliest development in France occurred in Provence (Arles, Toulouse ), where ancient traditions were followed. The most perfect examples are in Central France, where the sculptures of the cathedrals of Chartres, Le Mans , and Bourges achieve an imposing effect by reason of their solemn dignity and silent repose. In Italy also the church portals are decorated with mythological, legendary, and symbolic reliefs, but they lack all naturalness and consequently all artistic value. In no other country, however, were there so many artists who felt it necessary to immortalize their names by inscribing them upon their works.
The transition to Gothic sculpture -- if, indeed, the expressions Romanesque and Gothic may be applied to sculpture -- is not sudden, but very gradual, as is always the case with the appearance of a new tendency in art and of all new ideals. As the ideal of the Romanesque sculptors was virility and a dignified naturalness, so the Gothic masters followed an ideal trend, which did not indeed do away immediately with naturalness, but gradually led to the conventionalization of figures, and a mechanical execution. The principal characteristics of the developed Gothic are that all persons have for the most part a youthful appearance, even though they are aged; their figures are slender and well-formed, with long and smoothly flowing draperies; finally, the countenances have a thoughtful, spiritual, and modest expression. As long as the Gothic sculptors practised moderation in the application of these characteristics, they created works of classic beauty; but when the later generations attempted to surpass their predecessors, they fell into mannerisms, and created works which today seem highly inartistic. We have only to recall many representations of the Crucified One, which are caricatures of a human figure. The so-called Gothic pose -- the exaggerated bend of the body towards one side and the constantly recurring smile, which almost becomes a grimace, are symptoms of the decline. The demand for Gothic statues was enormous, since architecture made the widest use of them in the decoration of the churches. A thousand statues and other sculptures were hardly sufficient for a cathedral ; the cathedral of Milan possesses 6000. This necessitated great rapidity of execution, which indeed promoted manual dexterity, but did not promote artistic conscientiousness. The innumerable statues should not however, be examined and judged as individual works, but in relation to the buildings for which they were carved. From this point of view our only conclusion can be that it is hardly possible to conceive of anything more imposing than a Gothic cathedral with its wealth of decorative sculptures.
The favourite place for sculptural decorations remains the portals, of which there are usually three on the façade of a Gothic cathedral. The sculptures which are here grouped together depict the entire scholastic theology in stone. A favourite subject is the life of our Saviour during His sojourn upon earth. The place of honour on the principal pier of the chief portal is usually given to Our Lady with the Christ Child. The culmination of such theological representations in stone are the portals of the cathedrals of Paris, Chartres, and Strasburg.
The most perfect development of Gothic sculpture took place in France, where the style originated. The principal scene of this development is Central France, where the cathedrals of Amiens, Chartres, Paris, and Rheims display a large number of most excellent figures, not only on the portals, but covering the façade above the portals (the so-called royal gallery), and even the choir. The subjects of these representations are the Saviour of the World and its Supreme Judge, His Most Holy Mother, the apostles, saints, kings, prophets, and sybils, the Virtues and Vices, fables, and the occupations of man during each month of the year. This development began about 1150 at Chartres, and spread from there to St. Denis and Paris, attaining its highest development in the cathedral of Rheims with about 2500 statues, some of which indeed belong to the late Gothic period. The statues of the twelve apostles in the Ste Chapelle in Paris are gems of Gothic sculpture. About the same time (1400) able work was done by the Schools of Burgundy and the Netherlands, the most important monument of which is the tomb of Duke Philip the Bold at Dijon by Claus Slüter.
In England sculpture has always been a stepchild among the arts. There was practically none during the Romanesque period, and even the early Gothic architecture either completely excluded sculptural representations in its edifices, or else used them only as decorations as on the keystones and spandrils of the arches and in capitals. The finest examples are at Lincoln, Salisbury, and Westminster. Statuary first appears rather suddenly in southern England and its most important monuments are at Wells and Exeter. These sculptures are characterized by pleasing simplicity, free composition, and dramatic action. A new phase of Gothic sculpture began with the discovery of the quarries on Purbeck Island, Dorsetshire, which provided a shell-limestone of warm, pleasing colours. The sculptures carved on the island were so numerous that an individual style developed there (1175-1325). At a later period London supplied the chief demand of the country for sculpture, which consisted for the most part of sepulchral monuments. Deserving of a special mention is the School of the "Alabasters", which for several centuries made use of the rich English quarries of alabaster to carve small and large sculptures, rather in a mechanical than an artistic fashion. Among the bronze-workers the family of the Torels, active for almost a century in London, is especially noteworthy; of these William Torel in 1291 cast the well-known bronze figures of Queen Eleanor and Henry III in Westminster Abbey.
During the Gothic epoch Germany produced a great number of sculptural works, but until 1450 there is very little above mediocrity. About that year a new development began which lasted until 1550, and achieved such excellence that it may be termed the second flower of German medieval sculpture. Sculptures in bronze and wood rather than in stone, constitute the finest products of this period. While in the first period North Germany took the lead, in this second period the hegemony passed to Southern Germany, where the Frankish School culminated in the works of the three Nuremburg masters, Veit Stoss , Adam Kraft, and Peter Viseher, the Würtzburg School in Dill Riemenschneider, the Swabian, in Hans Multscher and Jörg Syrlin, and the Tyrolese, in Michael Pacher. The causes of this change and its chief characteristics can be briefly stated. In contrast with the early Gothic idealism a powerful realism now began to permeate art. People were represented exactly as in reality, with all the accidents of nature and costume; even the ugly and repulsive features were represented. The change in the character of the patrons of art played no small part in promoting this difference. Whereas formerly wealthy prelates and haughty nobles almost exclusively gave occupation to the artists, now, under the development of the third estate, the wealthy merchants or peasants caused monuments of devotion to be erected in the churches. This also caused a change in material. Although the common people gladly contributed to the decoration of the churches, they avoided the great expense of stone sculptures and confined themselves to presenting sculptures in wood. Indeed, for many of these works, stone was hardly feasible as a material. We have only to recall the choir-stalls, pulpits, and almost innumerable altars. This frequent use of wood had also its effect on stone sculpture. There are in existence stone "sacrament houses" (tabernacles for the Blessed Sacrament ) of this period which are as twisted and spiral as if they had been carved from wood. The treatment of the draperies is another characteristic of late medieval sculpture. While in the fourteenth century the draperies fell smoothly and simply, now they were puffed and bagged, bunched, and broken in such a manner as never again occurred. The subjects of sculpture were almost exclusively of a religious character. In statuary the most popular subjects were the Pietà, Our Lady of Sorrows, and St. Anne with the Madonna and the Christ Child (for the cult of St. Anne was more popular at the end of the Middle Ages than ever before or after).
The conditions for sculpture were especially favourable in Italy, where the chief attention was centred, not as in Germany or in France in the decoration of the portals and façade, but in pulpits, altars, and sepulchral monuments. Since it also had the finest of materials, marble, at its disposal, Italian art ultimately took the palm in sculpture. In the beginning relief was principally attempted; statuary was not used till later. The development of Italian sculpture begins in the thirteenth century in Tuscany, which for about three centuries plays the leading part. It was the time of the proto-Renaissance, which is identified with the names of Niccolo, Giovanni, Andrea Pisano (from Pisa ), and Andrea Orcagua. The movement radiated from Pisa, but with Andrea Pisano, who was under the influence of Giotto, Florence became the centre and remained so throughout the entire early Renaissance. Siena which rivalled Florence in painting indeed produced a few able masters of sculpture, like Tino da Comaino (d. 1339), but it gradually lagged behind its rival. This circumstance, that the early Renaissance prospered above all in Florence, is of importance for the judgment of the Renaissance itself, which is still considered by many as a revival of antique art and therefore is designated anti-clerical, whereas in reality it is only an art which arose in the soul of the Italian people on the basis of ancient tradition. It was not Rome, therefore, where at that time the antique monuments were being brought to light and studied, but Florence which became the cradle of the early Renaissance.
The most important works of this period are to be found in the churches, or in connexion with them, and they owed their origin to princes of the Church and to Church organizations. They are so pure and chaste in sentiment, so sublime in conception, that they are not inferior to the best works of the Middle Ages -- which is also a proof that the early Renaissance may not be designated as anti-religious. True, it cannot be denied that the late Renaissance, by a too close imitation of the antique, lost many of these noble qualities, and therefore in most of its works leaves the spectator cold and unaffected. Among the numerous masters of the early Renaissance in Florence in the first half of the fifteenth century, the following three are especially prominent: Ghiberti, who has become celebrated as the sculptor of the Paradise Portals of the Baptistery of Florence; Donatello, the uncompromising realist and the sculptor of many statues, and Luca della Robbia , who in his terra-cottas attained an almost classical harmony and charm. With them were associated a large number of masters of the second rank, of whom at least a few should be mentioned. Among the sculptors in bronze Andrea Verrochio is known through his world-famous group of Christ and St. Thomas in the church of Or San Michele, Florence; among the sculptors in marble Desiderio da Settignano , Rosselino, Mino da Fiesole, and Benedetto da Majano are famous. It is not necessary to consider these artists more fully here, because they are all treated in separate articles in THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA.
They exercised a wide-spread influence, and only Siena succeeded in maintaining an independent tendency in the art of Jacopo della Quercia (d. 1438). Lombardy and Venice also had important sculptors at their disposal, as may be seen in the sculptures of the Basilica of St. Anthony at Padua and many sepulchral monuments in the churches of City of Venice.
In the age of Leo X, which is generally called the Golden Age of Italian art, sculpture also attained its apogee, judged from the purely formal point of view. Of imposing effect are the works of the Florentine Andrea Contucci, called Sansovino, as, for example, his Baptism of Christ. But all are surpassed in gigantic power and original composition by Michelangelo, who was unreservedly followed by the younger generation, not indeed to their advantage; for through this imitation they fell into mannerism, since the spirit of the great master was lacking in them, although they might imitate his external forms. Through Jacopo Sansovino (Tatti) Michelangelo's tendencies were transplanted to Venice. A few of the younger sculptors, who were able to preserve their independence, still created very able works, as did Giovanni da Bologna ; but their works do not to a great extent belong to ecclesiastical art. As the entire art of the seventeenth century turned its back upon the dreary mannerism of the later sixteenth, so did also sculpture. It returned to naturalism, but not to the naive naturalism of the fifteenth century, but attempted a presentation which would show reality in its most effective form. Everything was calculated for effect and emotion. Thus the movements of the limbs are violent and exaggerated, the muscles stand out prominently, the draperies flutter and fly as if blown by a storm. Another characteristic of this style is the frequent and affected use of allegory and personification; thus a nude man with books under his arm in the Annunziata, Florence, personifies thought. This style is the well-known Baroque sculpture, which, in so far as it represents religious subjects, has been condemned and outlawed by many. While among Baroque sculptures there are many works which do not appeal to our Christian sentiment. nevertheless this judgment cannot be applied to all sculptures of the period. At all events a great number of these works bear testimony to the lively religious interest and also to the self-sacrifice of that much-condemned age. Furthermore, the Baroque sculptures should not be considered by themselves, but in connexion with the surrounding architecture. This period was ushered in by a man who enchained the mind of his contemporaries as hardly any artist has ever done, Larenzo Bernini, the favourite of six popes. Among others who worked in his spirit was Alessandro Algardi (d. 1653); but more independent of his influence was Stefano Maderno (d. 1636). The paths pointed out by Bernini led sculpture to an abyss, from which no great spirit rescued it. It sank into triviality, exaggerated naturalism, and virtuosity.
Modern sculpture outside of Italy is in the main dependent on the development of Italian art. In France, where the Renaissance entered towards the end of the fifteenth century, sculpture, while preserving national peculiarities, is characterized by a simple, sometimes crude naturalism. It attained an important development on the Loire, with Tours as a centre, and Michael Colombe (d. 1512) as chief master. Not until the middle of the sixteenth century did the Italian influence become so powerful that French sculpture may be said to have reached its zenith. The most important representatives are Jean Goujon, Bontemps, and Pierre Pilon. The work of these sculptors, notwithstanding great formal beauty and technical ability, reveals a certain coldness and smoothness; and since 1560 secular subjects are preferred. This is even more the case with the younger generation represented by Pierre Pujet, François Giradon, and Antoine Coysevox, whose works bear a specifically French imprint, a certain affected, stilted and theatrical quality, which in the eighteenth century degenerates into an insipid elegance.
In the Netherlands, as elsewhere, native and Italian influences contended with each other until the latter gained ascendency. Here besides some fine choir stalls were produced pulpits of a grandeur and magnificence unrivalled in other countries. The stairway, the body of the pulpit, and the sounding-board were treated as a single ornamental structure decorated with statues and carvings. Splendid examples of this sort are the pulpits of the cathedrals of Antwerp by the master, van der Voort, and the Church of St. Gudule in Brussels by Henri François Verbrüggen (1655-1724). Other important Flemish sculptors are François Duquesnoy (d. 1646), who was a contemporary of Bernini, under whose influence he carved St. Andrew in the cupola of St. Peter's at Rome ; his pupils Arthur Quellinus and Adrain de Fries must also be mentioned.
During the Renaissance period Spanish sculpture was chiefly of a decorative character, and was displayed especially on the façades of the churches and palaces and in the towering gilded wooden pulpits ( retablos ). Favourable to its growth was the Spanish custom of erecting in the churches sculptured scenes from the Passion and carrying them in processions. One of the most interesting masters is Damian Forment (d. 1533), who considered himself the equal of Phidias and Praxiteles; one of his ablest works is a retablos in the Cathedral del Pilar at Zaragoza. During the late Renaissance Pedro de Mena (d. 1693) carved for the church of Malaga forty-two statuettes of such beauty and individuality that they must be numbered among the most important works of all modern sculpture. In England there was no native sculpture for several generations after the disappearance of the Gothic style. The first sculptor who was again able to create a living art was Nicholas Stone (1586-1647); the first to labour in the spirit of the Renaissance was Grinling Gibbons, whose finest decorative works are in St. Paul's, London, and in Trinity College, Oxford. From the complicated and affected traits which the works of this period show, sculpture at a later period went to the opposite extreme; the first artist to return to the supposed classical purity and severity was Thomas Banks (1735-1805).
It is not true that Germany until 1500 produced only unimportant works as has often been maintained. On the contrary the second flower of German Renaissance sculpture lasted till 1550, and many able masters date from that period. Contemporary with Peter Vischer flourished Pancraz Labewolf (d. 1563), Adolf Dauer (d. 1537), Gregor Erhardt (d. 1540), Hans Backofen (d. 1519), Heinrich and Johann Douvermann (d. 1540), and others. Two masters of the first rank belonging to a later period are Andreas Slüter (d. 1714) in Berlin and Raphael Donner (d. 1741) in Austria.
Under the impetus of the movement for the revival of classical antiquity inspired by Winkelmann, sculpture in the nineteenth century achieved an unexpected development, but it produced but one master who was recognized by all nations as pre-eminent, the Dane, Bertel Thorwaldsen. His numerous works breathe the Classic spirit, and are to a great extent taken from antique subjects. Among his few Christian works "Christ and the Twelve Apostles " in the Frauenkirche at Copenhagen are especially celebrated. Thorwaldsen had many imitators, particularly in Germany. At Munich L. Schwanthaler represented the Classical tendencies under the patronage of the romantically inclined Ludwig I. In North Germany Schadow and particularly Rauch followed native tendencies, as did also Rietschl, whose "Pietà" is one of the most important modern works of a religious character. After the great wars and victories (1866-70) numerous sculptors filled the public places of German cities with monumental statues, but in these real art is far too frequently eclipsed by trivial and affected accessories. An artist who devoted himself exclusively to religious sculpture was the Westphalian Achtermann (d. 1885), who again created works of deep religious sentiment. Of the now living sculptors we mention Bolte in Münster, who is a follower of his countryman Achtermann, and George Busch in Munich, who is remarkable for the power and breadth of his creations.
Whereas sculpture in Italy is distinguished by its technical bravure rather than by its spiritual excellences, French sculpture has for a long time taken the lead in the modern development, not only by reason of its admirable treatment of the most varied materials, but also through its universality of thought. Lately indeed an unpleasant naturalism has made itself increasingly felt, even leading to the destruction of plastic form. A pioneer in this dangerous path was Rodin whose works have been admired by many as almost wonders of the world. At the same time a more ideal tendency flourishes, the chief representative of which is Bartholomé, the sculptor of the celebrated tomb at Père-Lachaise in Paris, which is perhaps the greatest achievement of French sculpture in the nineteenth century.
The principal representative of the classical tendency in English sculpture was John Flaxman (1755-1826), who found his inspiration in Greek rather than in Roman art. He is chiefly known for his pure classical figures on Wedgwood pottery, but his marble reliefs are also of great beauty, Among the numerous classicists who followed were: Francis Chantrey, Sir Richard Westmacott, E. H. Bailey, and especially John Gibson (1790-1860), whose religious works include a relief of Christ blessing the little children. The classical tendency prevailed until the last quarter of the nineteenth century, but the later part of the period was marked by increasing naturalism. The chief representations of the transition include John Henry Foley (1818-74), whose statues of Goldsmith, Burke, and Grattan at Dublin are noteworthy; Thomas Brock, whose works include the O'Connell monument at Dublin and the Victoria Memorial in London, England's most ambitious monument of sculpture, seventy feet high, and containing many symbolic figures; George Armstead (1828-1905), who carved a St. Matthew and other marble figures for the reredos of the Church of St. Mary, Aberavon; Sir J. E. Boehm (1834-91); Thomas Woolner (1825-93), a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The most important British sculptor of the nineteenth century was Alfred Stevens (1817-75), a pupil of Thorwaldsen, but whose classical training did not preclude great originality in all branches of sculpture. His Wellington monument in St. Paul's Cathedral is perhaps the most important that English sculpture has produced. Mention should also be made of Lord Leighton (1830-1896), whose sculpture excels his painting, and particularly of George Frederick Watts, in whose works great power and originality are united with a high spiritual significance.
The great change in English sculpture since about 1875 is due to French influence. For many years Jules Dalou, a French political exile of 1870, was in charge of the modelling classes in South Kensington Museum. His teachings substituted structure and movement for the previous haphazard methods, and inaugurated a sane and healthy naturalism. His pupils include Hamo Thorneycroft, whose finely-modelled Teucer inaugurated the new movement. Other important sculptors of the same tendencies are E. Onslow Ford, educated at Munich ; J. M. Swan, the animal sculptor; and George Frampton, whose works are of a fine decorative quality and quite original (including a very attractive St. George ). But the most original and influential figure of British art of the present day is Alfred Gilbert, who excels in all branches of sculpture, and whose very modern style unites the goldsmith's to the sculptor's art. His works include a beautiful high relief of Christ and Angels for the reredos of the St. Albaus' Cathedral. Nearly all of these men enjoyed French training, but their art possesses certain qualities which are distinctly national.
Sculpture in the United States is a development of the last three quarters of the nineteenth century. It has developed in connexion with the schools of Western Europe, but without being less individual or national than they. Its history may be divided into three periods:(1) The Classical Period, (1825-50);
Neither the Puritan doctrines of the early settlers nor the other religious tendencies of the early nineteenth century were friendly to the development of sculpture. There were no facilities for technical training of any description, no monuments to study or inspire. Consequently, the few sculptors of colonial and early revolutionary periods were unimportant and formed no schools. The real development began in 1825 with the departure of Horatio Greenough of Boston (1805-52) for Rome. The character of his art is well known from his half-draped gigantic statue of Washington as the Olympian Zeus, which long stood before the Capitol at Washington. Hiram Powers (1805-73) did similar work, but of a more sentimental character, in such statues as his celebrated "Greek Slave", an example of the nude, chastely treated, and his "Eve Disconsolate". Thomas Crawford (1813-57), a pupil of Thorwaldsen, is known as the sculptor of the bronze "Liberty" surmounting the dome of the Capitol at Washington, the bronze portals of the Capitol, and the pedimental group of the Senate Chamber.Middle or Native Period
Even during the classical period the transition to a more national art began. The pioneer was Henry Kirk Brown (1814-86), whose work, unaffected by his Italian study, is best typified in his remarkable equestrian statue of George Washington in Union Square, New York. Another important sculptor of native tendencies was Erastus Dow Palmer (1817-1904), who was practically self-trained and never left America. His ideal nude figures were the best executed up to that time, while his "Angel of the Sepulchre" shows his strength in religious subjects. Thomas Ball (1819) set a new standard in public monuments by such works as his equestrian statue of General Washington in Boston and his Lincoln monument in Washington. Representatives of the Classical School during the middle period include the many-sided W. W. Storey, Randolph Rogers, W. H. Rinehart, whose works may be best studied in Baltimore, and Harriet Hosmer. Mention may also be made of the statues of Civil War subjects by John Rogers (1824-1904), which enjoyed great popularity without being real art. The most distinguished artist of the later middle period was J. Q. A. Ward (1830-1910), a pupil of H. K. Brown, whose art is powerful, simple and sculpturesque. He was as successful in his public monuments as in his statues, such as the "Indian Hunter", which stands in Central Park, New York.Contemporary Sculpture
The most recent development of American sculpture was ushered in by the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia in 1876, which revealed the superiority of European, particularly of the French work. From that time Paris became the training school of American sculptors, with the result of an unprecedented improvement in the technique and content of their art and the gr
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