Sappho (Hope)

Sappho (Hope), 1850-1860
Carlo Marochetti (1805-1867)
Image © Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum


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Sappho (Hope)

Sappho was originally exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1850, however it did not appear in the catalogue. It was described by William Michael Rossetti in The Critic of Books, Engravings, Music and Decorative Art, 1850 as follows ‘… a small statue of Sappho (no.1297), of exquisite though peculiar character…Sappho sits in abject languor, her feet hanging over the rock, her hands left in her lap, where her harp has sunk; its strings have made music assuredly for the last time. The poetry of the figure is like a pang of life in stone: the sea is in her ears, and that desolate look in her eyes is upon the sea; and her countenance has fallen. The style of the work is of an equally high class with its sentiment – pure and chaste – yet individualized. This is especially noticeable in the drapery, which is no unmeaning sheet tossed anyhow for effect, but a real piece of antique costume, full of beauty and character. We may venture to suggest, however, that the extreme tension of the skirt across the knees gives a certain appearance of formality to the lower portion of the figure.’

Baron Carlo Marochetti was an Italian-born French sculptor who worked in France, Italy and Britain. In 1848, Marochetti settled in England, where he received commissions from Queen Victoria. He is responsible for some of Britain’s best-known public monuments, notably the bronze equestrian statue of Richard the Lionheart that stands outside the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster.


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