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Revival and Invention

Sculpture through its Material Histories

Sébastien Clerbois and Martina Droth

Materials may seem to be sculpture’s most obvious aspect. Traditionally seen as a means to an end, and frequently studied in terms of technical procedures, their intrinsic meaning often remains unquestioned. Yet materials comprise a field rich in meaning, bringing into play a wide range of issues crucial to our understanding of sculpture. This book places materials at the centre of our approach to sculpture, examining their symbolic and aesthetic language, their abstract and philosophical associations, and the ways in which they reveal the political, economic and social contexts of sculptural practice. Spanning a chronology from antiquity through to the end of the nineteenth century, the essays collected in this book uncover material properties as fundamental to artistic intentionality.

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Carol Mattusch - The Privilege of Bronze: Modern Perception of Classical Materials 17

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Carol Mattusch The Privilege of Bronze: Modern Perception of Classical Materials In 1654, Richard Lassels, a Catholic priest and travelling tutor from York- shire, published a book about where to go in Italy, what to see, and why to take such a trip: The voyage of Italy, or A compleat journey through Italy: In two parts. With the characters of the people, and the description of the chief towns, churches, monasteries, tombs, libraries, palaces, villas, gardens, pictures, statues, and antiquities. As also of the interest, government, riches, force, &c. of all the princes. With instructions concerning travel.1 Among the first travel guides, his book laid the groundwork for later travellers, providing them with a good index to the attractions, to lodgings, and to how to get around in cities ranging from Venice to Rome to Milan. In Rome, Lassels visited the Vatican and the Belvedere Courtyard, where he saw some of the most famous marble sculptures from antiquity, many of which had been discovered during the sixteenth century: the per- sonifications of the Nile and the Tiber, Antinous, Cleopatra, a statue of Venus, which was probably an imperial portrait of a woman in the guise of Venus, Commodus as Hercules, the Laöcoon, and the Belvedere Torso. But Lassels did not say that these were all marbles, and, maybe coinciden- tally, he did not mention any of the ancient bronzes in Rome, although he could have gone to see the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius in the Campidoglio and the...

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