Marble as flesh

“If you gods can give all things, may I have as my wife, I pray… one like the ivory maiden.” Picasso and the myth of Pygmalion

A while ago I explored the myth of Pygmalion alongside Picasso’s paintings and even earlier found the wonderful Antonio Corradini statue, ‘Purity’: Insomnia gems  

Today I looked at three works that appear as if they are full of life rather than purely ‘life-like’:

‘Effigy of Victoire Auguste Antoinette of SaxeCoburg-Gotha, Duchesse de Nemours’ (1822-1857)


You will find this beautiful young woman in the sculpture room at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.  The work, by Henri Michel Antoine Chapuys, is one of the loveliest to be found in this room.  She was a cousin to Victoria and Albert and died at Claremont House, where she resided with her husband, the Duke of Nemours, following the revolution in France.


The inscription around her reads: “‘Here lies Victoria Augusta Antonia de Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Duchess of Nemours, by whose death one more sorrow was added to so many doleful burials of the House of Orleans. She was of excellent soul, brilliance and great beauty, equally admirable both in fortune and of kindly and humble heart, devoted to her God, and a most loving wife and mother, lamented by her relatives and all notable people. She died suddenly at Claremont in Britain, an untimely death, on 10 November 1857 at the age of 35. May she rest in peace.”

The way Chapuys has depicted her, you can imagine that at any moment she will awake  and lift her lovely hand for assistance.


The Rape of Prosperina

320px-The_Rape_of_Proserpina_(Rome)This is the famous, Gian Lorenzo Bernini sculpture found in the Galleria Borghese, Rome, of which countless words have been written. 

The reason for the fascination with this particular work is down to the detail that Bernini was a genius at creating.

How is it possible that Pluto’s fingers are pushing into that thigh, if this is not flesh?  It is truly magnificent!




The final one is an incredibly exquisite sculpture from the most unlikely source.  It is by the man who brought us the Lincoln Monument.


Daniel Charles French, America’s renowned sculptor worked on one final piece which is held in his studio at Chesterwood, in Massachusetts.


I only came across this when watching a YouTube Video and had to pause to see the name of the sculptor.


The story of Andromeda in the Greek Myths is a spectacular one, where her mother, Cassiopeia, boasted that Andromeda was more beautiful than Poseidon’s Nereids.  Poseidon, not one to ignore such an insult, sent a sea monster to terrorise the coastline.  In order to sate the monster, Andromeda was chained to a rock to be sacrificed, until she was rescued by Perseus.

The position of her body across the rock is so realistic.  Her hipbone juts out like the spurs of the rock face she lies upon and she grasps the chain that binds her to her fate.

This essay from the Met Museum is highly informative about the life and work of French: Daniel Chester French

Three beautiful statues all in a state of near life.  Just don’t blink, or you may encounter more than you imagined!