• Bust of a Bacchante - Frederick James Halnon, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Bust of a Bacchante - Frederick James Halnon, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Bust of a Bacchante - Frederick James Halnon, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Bust of a Bacchante - Frederick James Halnon, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Bust of a Bacchante - Frederick James Halnon, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Bust of a Bacchante - Frederick James Halnon, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Bust of a Bacchante - Frederick James Halnon, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Bust of a Bacchante - Frederick James Halnon, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Bust of a Bacchante - Frederick James Halnon, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
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Bust of a Bacchante

Frederick James Halnon

(British, 1881-1958)

Signed F.Halnon
Bronze with light brown and green patination
Height: 9 1/2" (24.15 cm)

Conceived and cast circa 1915


The present model dates to the most prolific period of Halnon’s artistic output, having been conceived around 1915. The subject relates to ancient Rome, where bacchantes were the followers of Bacchus, the god of grapes, wine and male fertility; they were directly related to the cult of the Greek maenads, the priestesses of Dionysus.

The word ‘maenad’ literally translates as ‘the raving one’, referencing the ecstatic frenzy the priestesses reached using intoxicating substances and dancing to honour the god. Bacchantes had been at the centre of literary and artistic depictions since the 6th Century BC and have been portrayed in numerous works by European artists from different eras. Halnon had likely seen the ancient depictions of Bacchantes held in the collection of the British Museum and surely knew Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s La Danse for the façade of the Paris Opera House, in which four dancing maenads feature prominently.

Despite this, Halnon’s figure lies far from the frantic depictions produced by his predecessors. Rather than frenzied, the bacchante’s gaze is melancholic, and her features are modelled delicately so as to make up the soft, sensuous curves of her lips, neck, shoulders and collarbones. The only reference to the traditional iconography of bacchantes is to be found in the hairpiece, which is composed by entwined vine leaves modelled in the wax and beautifully captured in this final version in bronze. Idealising her features, Halnon demonstrates to have masterfully internalised the lesson of the English ‘New’ sculptors, filtering classical models through his own sensibility.

The reason behind these compositional choices are mentioned by the artist in a letter to the curators of the Royal Albert Memorial and Art Gallery (Exeter), which had purchased a cast of the work in 1927. In the letter, Halnon states how ‘the average Bacchante is generally treated in a more mirthful outlook, but I felt at the time there was no reason why the head should not be refined and reposeful’.

Interestingly, the director and curators of the Museum decided to change the title of the piece from Bacchante to Autumn. This was a usual practice for works by contemporary artists in the early 20th century, which has now fallen out of fashion. Halnon wrote back to the curators stating that the name was fitting for the sculpture, but that it would be unwise for him to change it altogether as ‘Her Majesty the Queen and two Royal Academicians honoured me with the purchases of this work by which [name] it is known’. Despite this fact, the piece was catalogued under the name of Autumn and only recently was it restored to its original title.

As the artist’s letter testifies, another bronze model of Halnon’s Bacchante was purchased directly by Queen Alexandra, during its exhibition at the Royal Academy, and is currently part of the Royal Collection.

Download Exhibition Catalogue for Frederick James Halnon

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British New School


2013 Exhibition Catalogue

Works by Frederick James Halnon

Browse By Artist

Gustinus Ambrosi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

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(Austrian, 1893-1975)

Michael Ayrton, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Ayrton, Michael

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Gilbert Bayes, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

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Pietro Calvi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

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A. E. Carrier-Belleuse, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

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Charles Henri Cordier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

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Aimé-Jules Dalou, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

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Francis Derwent Wood, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

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Alfred Drury, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

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Sir Jacob Epstein, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Epstein, Sir Jacob

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Pierre Félix Fix-Masseau, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

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Sir Alfred Gilbert, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Gilbert, Sir Alfred

(British, 1854-1934)

Jean-Léon Gérôme, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Gérôme, Jean-Léon

(French, 1824-1904)

Frederick James Halnon, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

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(British, 1881-1958)

Adrian Jones, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

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(English, 1846-1938)

Fritz Klimsch, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Klimsch, Fritz

(German, 1870-1960)

Gerald Laing, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Laing, Gerald

(UK, 1936-2011)

Frederic Lord  Leighton, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Leighton, Frederic Lord

(English, 1830-1896)

Marino Marini, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Marini, Marino

(Italian, 1901-1980)

Robert Tait McKenzie, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

McKenzie, Robert Tait

(Canadian, 1867-1938)

Ivan Mestrovic, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Mestrovic, Ivan

(Croatian, 1883-1962)

George Minne, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Minne, George

(Belgian, 1866-1941)

Edward Onslow-Ford, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Onslow-Ford, Edward

(English, 1852-1901)

Eduardo Paolozzi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Paolozzi, Eduardo

(British, 1924-2005)

Pablo Picasso, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Picasso, Pablo

(Spanish, 1881-1973)

Enzo Plazzotta, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Plazzotta, Enzo

(Italian, 1921-1981)

Hiram Powers, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Powers, Hiram

(American, 1805-1873)

Jean-Jacques Pradier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Pradier, Jean-Jacques

(Swiss, 1790-1852)

Sir William Reid Dick, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Reid Dick, Sir William

(English, 1879-1961)

Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Rodin, Auguste

(French, 1840-1917)

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(French, (1840-1917 and 1824-1887))

Eric Stanford, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Stanford, Eric

(British, Born 1932)

Alfred Stevens, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Stevens, Alfred

(English, 1818-1875)

Arthur Strasser, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Strasser, Arthur

(Austrian, 1854-1927)

Sir William Hamo Thornycroft, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Thornycroft, Sir William Hamo

(English, 1850-1925)

Thomas Thornycroft, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Thornycroft, Thomas

(British, 1815 – 1885)

Anton Van Wouw, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Van Wouw, Anton

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Ossip Zadkine, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

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