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Currently shown
James Pradier

Standing Sappho

Artist

James Pradier
Geneva 1790 – Bougival, France, 1852

Title

Standing Sappho

Date

1848

Materials

Silvered bronze

Dimensions

44.7 x 22 x 20 cm (without base)

Founder

Cast Victor Paillard, Paris

Credits

Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 1985.1

Collection

Western Art

“Goddess, come again today, deliver me from my cruel torments, fulfil my heart’s desire, and deny me not your all-powerful succour.” Such is the supplication that Sappho, the rejected lover, addressed to Aphrodite. Her hand placed on a votive column at which she has just offered a desperate libation to the goddess of love, the Greek poetess meditates on her impending suicidal leap from the cliffs of Leucas. The Romantic era was more inclined to view Sappho as a tragic lover than as a woman of letters or courtesan. When the model of this sculpture was shown at the Salon of 1848, poet and critic Théophile Gautier was effusive: “[it] could pass for a work from the finest age of Greek or Roman art.” James Pradier excelled in a half-classical, half-romantic—but always voluptuous—style, creating many graceful, even erotic, statues, which he sold as models to the producers who abounded during this time when statues were exceptionally popular.

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