More sketches of classical statuary, mostly from the ongoing ‘Defining Beauty‘ exhibition at the British Museum, which is so full of wonderful stuff that I ended up doing very fast drawings with a marker pen, out of sight of the guards… There’s the Discobolus, a kouros (youth), draped women, Socrates (twice), a Sphinx, a faun grappling a nymph, and Apollo’s head. The statues are almost all Roman copies of original Greek bronzes, of which very few survive. The last sketch is even more removed; it’s of a modern copy of a Victorian plaster model of a Roman copy of a Greek original (called the Belvedere Apollo which in the C18th was considered to be the epitome of classical sculpture). It’s damp-stained and patinated after years in our back garden.
Pencil, marker pen, Lexington grey in water-brush and bamboo dip pen (the last drawing), watercolour, mostly A5 – various times
It’s always hard to remember that the originals would not have been white: ‘Most Greek sculpture that survives from antiquity is carved from white marble. It’s often assumed that there’s a link between the pure freshly cut marble and the idealism of Greek art. In fact, the opposite is true. Colour was intrinsic to ancient ideas of beauty, and sculptures would have been painted in bright colours.’ (Ian Jenkins, British Museum curator).
Is it forbidden to do sketches inside the museum? Or is it because of the crowds? I am very curious about the Discobolus. It is one of these legendary sculptures we have learned in our history of art classes. I would love to spend hours examining it. Your sketches look great. The sphinx looks lovely, too. On the internet you may find colored reconstructions of classical architecture and sculpture. Like the Acropolis temples of Athens or the Sarcophagus of Alexander in Istanbul Archaeology Museum. They are as colorful as gypsy tents 🙂
Hi Ozge, thanks for the comment. You’re allowed to sketch, but usually only with pencil to avoid accidental damage to exhibits. The Discobolus is beautiful, lots of balanced curves. There are several versions around, and the one in the exhibition is part of the British Museum collection, so always available to sketch. They had a couple of statues painted as they would have been, and they looked astonishing! I’ll add a link to the coloured images you mentioned. Ed
I was also curious about drawing at the British Museum, but I see you have already answered that question. I am particularly impressed with your drawing of Socrates. I have always had a soft spot for him… I think I prefer the statues as they are today. Perhaps seeing them faded for so long has shaped our culture’s aesthetic sensibilities.
Thanks Viktoria, the pencil one of Socrates is of a statue made close to his lifetime, so is supposed to be fairly accurate. The colourful statues are striking, but it’s much harder to appreciate the amazing stone carving, too distracting! Ed