Sculpture is a form of art known to be complicated; often found in large scale, straightforward (almost aggressive in its display), and drawing viewers in to ascertain the story or meaning behind the work. With thousands of sculptures to be found worldwide, here are a few of the most renowned and well-loved pieces created in various times throughout history:
Pieta (St. Michael’s Basilica, Vatican City)
It is one of the most common representations of the Virgin Mary, an image which is rarely found in sculpture. At the time, this style was unheard of in Italy. This is the only sculpture Michelangelo ever signed, done out of fear that the art would not be recognized as his work (and he later regretted doing so). Commissioned by Cardinal Jean de Billeres, it was carved by a single piece of Carrara marble in 1498 (finished in 1499). It was loaned to the Vatican for the World’s Fair in 1964, when a conveyer belt-style walkway was installed for viewing. In 1972, it was damaged, when a man jumped over the surrounding wall and attacked it with a hammer. Much debate ensued regarding whether to repair it or leave the damage visible as historical significance. Eventually, it was painstakingly restored in a 10-month period, gathering tiny pieces and gluing them back together.
David (Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence)
Commissioned by the leaders of the Florence Cathedral to grace its roof, this piece features David in an uncommon pose: prior to his iconic battle with Goliath. This 17-foot Carrara marble status was begun in 1464 by another artist, who gave up after a few years. It sat, untouched, for many years before Michelangelo began work on it in 1501. Due to its immense size, the piece could not be placed in its intended location, and had to remain on the ground.
The Thinker (Rodin Museum, Paris)
Originally designed for a doorway, this piece was inspired by Dante’s poem THE DEVINE COMEDY, and Auguste Rodin gave viewers the idea that the subject was pondering poetry. This bronze sculpture, 73” high, is one of 28 castings made; Rodin gave the rights to create additional sculptures of this and other works he had created. Additional castings of this piece, which was originally part of a larger piece and appeared as a freestanding statue in 1904, are found throughout the world.,.
Alexandros of Antioch (The Louvre, Paris)
Created during Ancient Greece, this statue was discovered on the Greek island of Melo (hence the name “Milo”). The figure lives up to the image of Aphrodite, Greek goddess of Beauty. Some experts, however, think that she really represents Amphitrite, Greek goddess of the sea. Others have even gone so far to state she is simply a prostitute.
The Discobolus of Myron (British Museum, London)
This iconic work of art, created by an unknown artist between 460 and 450 BC, has become the virtual symbol of the Olympic games. Along with the Greek fascination with the athletic ability of the human body, it is admired for its representation of the human form in motion. The original bronze statue has been lost, but several copies, both in full scale (marble) and smaller scale (bronze) remain. Roman versions were displayed in wealthy homes in ancient times, and surprisingly enough, one version was sold to Adolf Hitler in 1938 (although it was returned to Italy in 1948).
Bust of Nefertiti (Egyptian Museum of Berlin)
Discovered in 1912, this piece created by royal artist Thutmose is estimated to have been created in 1345 BC. As an image of the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten, this image has become a cultural icon of beauty throughout the art world. The painted stone is extremely well-preserved, mainly due to its unique production of being painted in layers of stucco plaster. This method, drastically different from other ancient Egyptian art, demonstrates a more natural image of Egyptians, whereas more stylized style dominated the period.
Abraham Lincoln Statue (Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.)
Daniel Chester French created this 170-ton statue on commissioned in 1920 specifically for the Lincoln Memorial. He has already created several works on Lincoln, including a standing statue of the past president displayed in Lincoln, Nebraska. The process of creating this sculpture for the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial involved several miniature moldings as well as a large-scale (6 foot) molding, until the last version was chosen. The piece was (surprisingly) finished in time for the dedication in 1922.
The Monument to the Discoveries (Lisbon, Portugal)
Designed for the 1940 Portugal World Expo by Cottinelli Telmo and finished by sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida after Telmo’s untimely death, this piece celebrates Portuguese world exploration. Originally built for temporary exhibition, it was destroyed in 1943. The government, realizing the historical and artistic importance of the monument, decreed in 1958 the work be recreated, and the concrete and stone monument was completed in 1960. It took years (until 1985) until a public monument was finished for public enjoyment of the work.
Leshan Giant (Sichuan province, China)
Carved into a stone cliff face overlooking the convergence of several rivers, this project was led by Chinese monk Hai Tong in 713. Intended as a calming figure for sailors experiencing rough waters below, construction was halted due to lack of funding. It is said that Tong reacted by gouging out his own eyes to show his sincerity for the project and its purpose. It was not finished until after his death, however, after a local governor sponsored the project’s commencement, which was completed in 803.
Mademoiselle Pogany (Philadelphia Museum of Art)
This piece was created by Romanian-born Constantin Brancusi, arguably one of the most important sculptors of 20th century modernism. His work reflected Romanian folk art, and he adapted natural forms into abstract works with stylized geometric patterns, even to the point of blurring the line between the sculpture and the base. The first cast of this piece, a representation of a young Hungarian girl, was in marble; it was later created in bronze and exhibited at a 1913 art show in New York City.
Should these sculptures motivate you to discover your taste in similar works, visit the assembly of fine sculptures found at Sybaris Collection. With pieces acquired from all over the world, representing a host of unique cultures, in a host of sizes, genres, materials and prices, you are sure to find something that suits your taste. At Sybaris Collection, we have a network of professionals with years of experience to help you through the art collecting process, and our exclusive ARTclub provides you with unique access to works not found elsewhere.