• Perseus Arming - Sir Alfred Gilbert, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Perseus Arming - Sir Alfred Gilbert, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Perseus Arming - Sir Alfred Gilbert, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Perseus Arming - Sir Alfred Gilbert, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Perseus Arming - Sir Alfred Gilbert, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Perseus Arming - Sir Alfred Gilbert, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Perseus Arming - Sir Alfred Gilbert, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Perseus Arming - Sir Alfred Gilbert, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Perseus Arming - Sir Alfred Gilbert, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Perseus Arming - Sir Alfred Gilbert, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Perseus Arming - Sir Alfred Gilbert, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Perseus Arming - Sir Alfred Gilbert, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
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Perseus Arming

Sir Alfred Gilbert

(British, 1854-1934)

Bronze with rich, mid-brown patina
Height: 5 1/ 2” (14 cm)

Conceived in 1882 and cast within the artist's lifetime


Provenance
Private collection, UK

Commissioned in bronze by Sir Henry Doulton and first shown at the Grosvenor Galleries in 1882, Perseus Arming is one of Sir Alfred Gilbert’s most popular works. It was modelled in 1881 whilst Gilbert was living in Rome and later received an honourable mention at the Paris Salon of 1883.

In 1879 the young sculptor had visited Florence where he saw the work of the great Renaissance sculptors Benvenuto Cellini and Donatello. The effect of these encounters had a marked impact on Gilbert and he began to adopt both the classical subjects as well as the contraposto twist associated with the Italian Renaissance.

However, even at the young age of 25, Gilbert was keen to adapt rather than merely replicate the sculptures of the past. He remarked at the time that whilst he was amazed by Cellini’s masterpiece Perseus with the Head of Medusa, the work left him ‘somewhat cold’ as it failed to touch his ‘human sympathies.’ ‘At the time my whole thoughts were of my artistic equipment for the future’ he wrote in 1903, ‘I conceived the idea that Perseus before becoming a hero was a mere mortal, and that he had to look to his equipment’.

Gilbert therefore places himself into the sculpture and uses the subject as a vehicle for a self-portrait. The work becomes an analogy for Gilbert’s own burgeoning artistic career. We see Perseus looking over his shoulder to his winged sandals checking to make sure his tools were fit for purpose. Just as Perseus was a mere mortal before slaying the Gorgon Monster Medusa, Gilbert alludes to his belief that one day he too will master his tools and achieve greatness.

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