Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux / Ugolino and his Sons / date unknownJean-Baptiste Carpeaux
Ugolino and his Sons
date unknown

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Creator Name: Carpeaux, Jean-Baptiste
Creator Dates/Places: French, 1827 - 1875
Creator Name-CRT: Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux
Title: Ugolino and his Sons
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1827
Creation End Date: 1875
Creation Date: date unknown
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Plaster, stained reddish brown
Dimensions: Overall: 19 1/32 x 14 3/4 x 10 5/8 in. (48.3 x 37.5 x 27 cm.)
AMICA Contributor: Dallas Museum of Art
Owner Location: Dallas, Texas, USA
ID Number: 1985.R.7
Credit Line: Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection
Context: Rodin's 'The Thinker' (Musée Rodin, Paris) and Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux's 'Ugolino and His Sons' were the most famous French sculptures of the 19th century. The relationship between the two is direct, and there is little doubt that Rodin intended to quote Carpeaux's masterpiece when creating the central image for his unfinished work 'The Gates of Hell' (final assembly 1917, Musée Rodin, Paris).Carpeaux created 'Ugolino and His Sons' in Rome, where he was working with financial assistance from the French government; he exhibited the large version in the official Salon of 1861. By 1867, the image had become so popular that the sculptor decided to create various smaller versions, including a sublime bronze reduction, a rare early cast of which is in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art. He also seemed fascinated with the reproduction of his clay and plaster studies for the final work. The Reves plaster is probably based on an earlier study for the full-scale Salon sculpture. In the final version, Carpeaux included three of Ugolino's sons, who seem to offer themselves to their brooding father, who, as we know from Dante, consumes them so that he can live. In the Reves plaster, only two of the sons are shown, suggested to some scholars that this work was made in preparation for the final composition.Unfortunately, it is impossible to conclude that the Reves plaster was among those made in Rome when Carpeaux was completing his conception of this masterpiece. It seems likely that this plaster was made in the late 1860s or early 1870s, when Carpeaux allowed many bronzes and plasters of his famous figure to be cast for the art market. The white plaster was tinted with a dull reddish brown, undoubtedly so that it would appear to be a terracotta produced in the artist's Roman studio as he finalized the composition. As an apparent study, it has the status of a 'sketch,' and the artist's subtlest processes of thought are caught forever in plaster.Interestingly, Rodin owned a plaster cast of Carpeaux's 'Ugolino and His Sons.' He seems to have acquired it in the late 1860s or early 1870s and used it as the basis for a group of drawings made in the 1870s. He used these in conjunction with the plaster itself as the basis for his monumental male nude, 'The Thinker.''Impressionist Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture from the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection,' page 23
AMICA ID: DMA_.1985.R.7
AMICA Library Year: 2003
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