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"Return to Life: A New Look at the Portrait Bust"
2001-02-07 until 2001-05-20
National Portrait Gallery
UK United Kingdom
This exhibition celebrates a form of portraiture
that was enormously prestigious in Britain for over 250 years
but that has now fallen into neglect. The portrait bust is one
of the most common forms of sculpture, frequently encountered
in our public spaces, both inside and out. But, in spite of its
ubiquitous presence and our apparent familiarity with its appearance,
this is an art form that seems to have little relevance to us
today. This exhibition challenges this neglect and invites visitors
to look again at these objects.
Including work by well-known sculptors
such as Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Sir Jacob Epstein and Sir Francis
Chantrey, as well as work by less familiar practitioners including
Samuel Joseph and Kathleen Scott, the exhibition displays famous
faces, such as Cicero, William Pitt, Sir David Wilkie, Sir Osbert
Sitwell, Charles Fox and John Galsworthy, alongside little known
family members. It juxtaposes old age and youth, vigour and repose,
the extrovert against the introspective.
A short introductory section presents four
examples which embody the spaces in which busts would typically
have been found at different moments of time: the eighteenth-century
library, the nineteenth-century civic space, the early twentieth-century
exhibition hall and the late twentieth-century museum store.
Other sections consist of groups of busts from across the period
spanned by the exhibition, one focusing on the overall design
of the bust and the other on the treatment of the face and features.
Return to Life: A New Look at the Portrait
Bust has been produced by the Henry
Moore Institute, Leeds, the National Portrait Gallery, London
and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh.
A fully-illustrated catalogue
accompanies the exhibition, published by the Henry Moore Institute.
It includes an introduction by the exhibition curators and essays
by Malcolm Baker of the Victoria & Albert Museum and John
Gage, formerly of the University of Cambridge. It is available
from the Gallery Bookshop, price £9.99.
by Joseph Gotts, 1828
Leeds Museums Galleries (Lotherton Hall)