Body Doubles Sculpture in Britain, 1877–1905 David J. Getsy

Publication date:
10 Sep 2004
Paul Mellon Centre
248 pages: 254 x 190mm
150 b-w illus.


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.

, 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 elan. ... 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,