Classical statues have dominated the history of garden sculpture. They remind us of a golden age 'in which man lived on the fruits of th earth, peacefully, piously, and with primitive simplicity' [Sir Kenneth Clark]. Copies of famous statues have always been used, because few can afford originals and it would be sacrilege to place marble statues out of doors. Garden centres have given reproduction of classical statues a bad name, by selling poor copies in an inferior material: concrete. Very much better statues are made from pure marble, bound with resin instead of cement. They take the most intricate detail and the statue sparkles with life. A marble statue can shine against a dark background. The effect is brilliant in a conservatory, as visitors to the Keppie Place in Glasgow, or the great conservatory in Sefton Park, Liverpool, will have seen.
Venere Italica, by Antonio Canova [left]. Venus, as goddess of beauty, mother of love, queen of laughter, and mistress of all the graces, has been a presiding deity in gardens since ancient times, and very popular in English gardens since the eighteenth century. The Venus de’ Medici was found ci 600 and is thought to be a first century BC marble copy of a fourth century BC bronze by a follower of Praxiteles. It was placed in the Uffizi and became one of the six most famous statues in the world. When Napoleon stole the Venus de’Medici in 1803, Canova used it as a model for the Venere Itailca , which became one of his own most acclaimed works. Balzac spoke of a white body as perfect as Canovas Venus’. Even Napoleon said that, if he had not been an emperor, he would like to have been a sculptor like Canova. After Waterloo, and with help from Sir William Hamilton and the British army, Canova supervised the return of the Venus de’ Medici to Florence. His Venere Italica was moved to the Pitti Palace and became a model for Venus statues in European gardens. many of them badly made. The purity and brilliance of this excellent resinbound marble cast are shown to great effect against dark foliage. Canova’s Venus is so graceful that she stands with equal dignity in quiet corners or as the centre of attention, at the focal point of a design. (Height 1200mm; Length 360mm; Width 360mm; Weight 65kg).
The Bather by Christophe-Gabriel Allegrain. When exhibited at the salon of 1767, Allegrain’s enchanting statue of Venus going to bathe received extravagant praise from Diderot, the great critic and encyclopaedist. She became known as Ia Baigneuse and was purchased by Louis XV for his mistress, madame Ia comtesse du Bary, who placed the statue in the gardens at Louveciennes. The sculptor, a professor at the Academie royale, became famous. La Baigneuse was later moved to the Louvre in Paris, where she remains. Many copies were made during the nineteenth century, in plaster, bronze, terracotta and alabaster. This cast is made of marble, bound with resin. La Baigneuse is beautiful amongst lush vegetation, in a conservatory, near a pool and, especially. beside a swimming pool. She is bashful, sweet, delicate, and possessed of a spotless modesty. (Height 1160mm: Length 450mm; Width 400mm Weight 65kg).
Frenzied Maenad . A fine bas-relief panel in cast marble. The figure’s poise is emphasised by her swirling robes. Maenads were followers of Dionysus and Bacchus who danced and ran through the woods. The original panel. which dates from the 1st century BC, is in the Wolfson Gallery of the British Museum. A hook, for wall fastening. is cast into the rear of the panel. The manufacturers do not guarantee frost resistance. (Height 425mm; Width 225mm; Weight 2.6kg ) Code :UM18 Frenzied Maaenad