Sculpture Journal

Italian tricks for London shows: Raffaele Monti at the Royal Panopticon

Sculpture Journal (2014), 23, (2), 131–143.

Abstract

This article looks at contexts for illusionistic statues produced by the Italian emigrant sculptor Raffaele Monti. In particular, it examines an extant work whose precise history and content have so far remained mysterious, and shows that this was sculpted for the Royal Panopticon of Science and Art, an exhibition venue that opened in Leicester Square in 1854. This context establishes the title and narrative associations given to the sculpture by Monti and his contemporaries. It moreover shows how the sculpture was conceived as part of a spectacular ensemble, in which meanings and visual effects were generated through collaborations between sculpture, architecture and text. This collaboration was in turn predicated on the 1851 Great Exhibition and a wider culture of commercial spectacle in London. The study of Monti's work for the Royal Panopticon situates his later, better-known work as the result of a longstanding negotiation with this wider display culture.

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Author details

Williams, Gabriel