By the 19th century the cult of the artist had been well and truly established, resulting in a great desire by patrons, collectors and fellow artists to record and also own representations of creative genius. Artists by Artists at Stuart Lochhead Sculpture will feature rarely seen likenesses of artistic virtuosi Degas, Géricault, Ingres, Victor Hugo and Rodin, encompassing a variety of format and media, from mask to roundel and bronze to plaster.
The fashion was not just for the representations of artists; artists were also concerned with preserving the memory of their teachers, or that of towering figures who had a powerful influence over the art of their times. Some of the most striking and evocative images were created by sculptors, either in the form of a memorial, a statuette or a treasured bust, which in some cases could be perceived as the embodiment of the artist himself.
Artists by Artists will include an over-life size bronze bust of Eugène Delacroix commissioned by the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1864. The sculpture was the centrepiece of a banquet held on the first anniversary of Delacroix’s death and attended by many personalities of the French art world. These included Manet, Stevens and Corot who all toasted the portrait bust as if the great artist was there himself.
Another highlight is a beautiful marble portrait relief of John Everett Millais by Alexander Munro, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1854– the practice of making portraits of fellow artists was an important ritual in the formation of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood. A visitor to the studio whilst Millais was sitting for this relief exclaimed, All men of genius, unhappily, are not so handsome as Millais was then.
Stuart Lochhead comments, Searching for sculptured portraits of artists started out as a journey looking for artworks and then soon revealed powerful stories about the sitters. Portraiture is a fascinating subject for many people but with fellow art dealer in Paris, Etienne Breton, we wanted to highlight how important and revealing it was for artists to tell the story of other artists – often figures who inspired them personally or their entire generation and who they felt should never be forgotten.