French Sculpture in the 19th Century
In the period around the breakthrough of the Modern (roughly 1870-1890) the world of sculpture was a mass of different artistic ideals, often entangled or of intersecting trajectories. Traditional representations of biblical and mythological subjects found themselves challenged by the desire to present something more contemporary – something dealing with the human being here and now.
Inspiration from ancient Greek and Roman sculpture interacted with the new possibilities offered by the drama of the modern world. The Glyptotek’s collection of sculpture demonstrates the range from apparently feather-light salon sculpture to the highly physical worker-realism of Meunier, and includes works by radical innovators such as Carpeaux, Rodin and Degas.
Each in his own way the sculptors sought the ideal combination of traditional motifs and poetic thoughts in the spirit of the time. Sculptural bodies weighed down by grief, slavery or just the fear of god reveal the harsh conditions of existence for the average person in the 19th century – and closely entwined couples reflect the desire of the age, through obscure narratives, for the erotic and for distant, mythical worlds.