The Bathers

The Bathers, late 19th Century
Orazio Andreoni
Marble
SC42
Image © Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

Stairs 

Slideshow Shim

The Bathers

This sculpture is a sympathetic portrayal of a young mother with her baby clinging to her, presumably – from the title – about to step into the sea. There is much detail in the central figure, including the swept- up hair, and the delicately picked out bathing costume.

Former curator Norman Silvestor wrote: “It would have been more effective had the sculpture disregarded the code of prescription of his generation and rendered both figures in the nude. Marble is not a suitable medium upon which to portray the intricacy of the knitted garment.”

However, if this sculpture is viewed from either the foot or the top of the staircase, the eye is no longer distracted by this detail. It is worth noting the contrasting quiet half smile of confidence conveyed by the female figure and the consternation of the infant.

Andreoni was a prolific sculptor of figures and busts. He was based in Rome, but he sent works for exhibition to as far as Glasgow (1888), Paris (1889), Berlin (1892) and he was active for a time in America. This exposure established his international reputation. Andreoni specialised in historical and biblical subjects such as the present bust of Hamlet in the Main Hall. His expertise with the chisel is evident here in the virtuoso handling of clothing delighting in the richness of detail. Perhaps Andreoni’s greatest contribution was his large workshop in Rome where a generation of sculptors received their training.

Gallery