Embossed ornament in the form of a lion-griffin, from the Oxus treasure
Achaemenid Persian, 5th-4th century BC
From the region of Takht-i Kuwad, Tadjikistan
This embossed ornament is part of the Oxus treasure, the most important collection of silver and gold to have survived from the Achaemenid period. The treasure is from a temple and dates mainly from the fifth and fourth centuries BC.
This piece, in the shape of a winged stag with a horned lion’s head, is decorated with hollows for inlay. There are two long pins at the back for attachment, though it is unclear what the ornament originally decorated.
This composite creature reflects the ‘Animal Style’ of South Russia and demonstrates the close relations between the Persians and the nomadic people of the northern steppe lands. The Persian kings had indirect access to the wealth and artistic traditions of northern Central Asia and Siberia, and some contacts are illustrated by this piece. [x]
Francisco Salzillo y Alcaraz (1707-1783)Santa Teresa of Avilac. 1750
Apollo and Daphne
Jakob Auer (ca. 1645 - 1706)
Vienna, before 1688
In his Metamorphoses, Ovid tells of the nymph Daphne, who eluded the desires of the sun god Apollo by turning herself into a laurel tree (Greek daphne, laurel).
The two-figure group depicts the beginning of this transformation. In travel reports from the Baroque period, this virtuoso piece of carving was already considered a major work of the Viennese imperial treasury.
Le Sphinx Mystérieux, Charles van der Stappen, 1897
vanitas tableau in wax, with one side resembling Queen Elizabeth I and the other, a skull swarming with insects and reptiles (18th century) (via wellcomeimages.org)
Auguste Rodin (French sculptor, 1840-1917), Orpheus and Eurydice, c. 1887-1893. Marble, height 50 in. (127 cm). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.
The sculture seems to be featured on the album sleeve of the new Arcade Fire album “Reflektor”.
It depicts the mythological story of Orpheus, a musician and poet, and his wife, the nymph Eurydice, who dies after a satyr tries to rape her. Orpheus, overcome with grief, travels to the underwold to save his love from the dead. With help of his music he convinces the god of the underworld to release Eurydice, on the condition that he should walk in front of her, not being allowed to look at her until they both reach the upper world. Unfortunately, Orpheus in his delight turns around as soon as he reaches the surface, forgetting that she is supposed to be in upper world as well. And so, she disappears again - this time forever.
London-based artist Michael James Talbot creates beautiful sculptures of elongated women inspired by Greek mythology and Venetian masquerades. The surreal representations merge the human form with abstract and exaggerated shapes, most often presenting a visual extension of the female’s garment. Altogether the sculptures stand tall, some even reaching heights greater than 6 feet tall.
The sculptor manages to seamlessly integrate the dramatic stretch of the bottom half of each figure in an unobtrusive way. Sometimes the woman’s foot will peek out, high above the granite base, though often the illusion of the draping material elegantly runs straight down to the bottom. The elaborate length seems to complement the figurative structures.
Talbot creates his captivating pieces by molding clay and casting each sculpture in bronze. He then proceeds to finish with chemical patination, adding a new sense of character to the already expressive figures. The artist says, “The human form gives me an endless source of inspiration. The subtlest of movements and expressions can be captured in the sculpture to portray a myriad of emotions and convey tension, drama, fluidity and grace. No other subject has this richness of emotional and spiritual content or the capacity to convey such a broad and interesting narrative.”