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Alfred Gilbert


New Sculpture (19th Century British) painter, draftsman, sculptor, goldsmith and medalist


38.1 cms | 15 ins
Bronze, cast

Victoria and Albert Museum

London | United Kingdom

"This bronze statuette represents Charity and is made by Sir Alfred Gilbert in ca. 1899. Gilbert was particularly interested in the techniques different surface finishes and particularly of colouring bronze, a technique he became interested during the 1890s. By 1888 the artist had met a metallurgist, William Chandler Roberts-Austen, who researched extensively on different alloys. He had a special interest in certain alloys developed by the Japanese, one of which was 'shakudo', that substituted gold for tin in the bronze and could be patinated to a purplish tone by application of a caustic solution. This is what Gilbert accomplishes here in the Charity, except in the areas of flesh, where a pickling solution is applied, giving a reddish-purple tone. The Charity seems to be the last polychromatic work by Gilbert.

"The figure derives from a large memorial candlestick to the Rt. Hon Lord Arthur Russell (1825-1892), commissioned from Gilbert in 1892, completed in 1900. Showing four figures of Virtues, it is in the Bedford family chapel at St Michael Chenies, Buckinghamshire." (Source: V&A)

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