Sculpture Journal

Transparent forms: tinting, whiteness and John Gibson's Venus

Sculpture Journal (2014), 23, (2), 185–196.

Abstract

The furore about the colouring of sculpture in Victorian Britain, and particularly John Gibson's Tinted Venus, is well known. But while some nineteenth-century critics made straightforward claims about the impropriety of coloured statues, the more important debate was about tinting, in which the ideal and real were not simply projected on to whiteness and polychromy, but on to transparency and opacity. Transparency, both literal and metaphorical, underpinned this meditation on the conceptual limits of ideal sculpture in terms of whiteness as both a colour and colourlessness, the characteristics of marble, and the metaphysical aspirations of the ideal. It also underpinned the racial aspect of polychromy, not in terms of literal skin colour, but of a distinction between races deemed able or unable to comprehend the ideal.

Access Token
£25.00
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Hatt, Michael