Monday, May 10, 2010

Picture of the Week No.21 - Alfred Stevens

Preparational studies always have a particular appeal to me; they often show a greater freedom than the final works, and the overlaying of different ideas on a sheet as a design evolves creates echoes and motifs that create interest across the sheet. The work also stops when the essence has been found - or a new direction needed. I have selected two sheets of studies by Alfred Stevens for this weeks feature, and the red chalk drawing and pen studies complement each other well, showing different stages of the compositional process. KP

ALFRED STEVENS (1817-1875)Studies for the decoration of Dorchester House, London, c.1855-6 (red chalk, squared in pencil on paper) P.321; Compositional Studies, date unknown pen and ink on paper P.332

Born in Dorset, Stevens lived in Italy 1833-42, where he studied under Bertel Thorwaldsen (1770-1844) in Rome and made many red chalk drawings in the manner of Raphael, whose influence is clearly apparent in this study. His rare watercolours have an imaginative quality, which shows him to have much in common with the Pre-Raphaelite movement.

Chiefly known for his sculpture, his two greatest achievements were the Wellington monument in St Paul’s Cathedral and the decorative ensemble (P.321), c.1856, for the dining room at Dorchester House, London, the fireplace of which is now in the V&A.

It is not known whether these (P.332) vigorous sketches were ever developed by Stevens – or indeed precisely what they represent. Perhaps the two figures in the top study were the first idea for a sculpture or picture of Tarquin and Lucretia. If so, the right-hand lower figure is probably related and a study for Lucretia about to stab herself.

No comments:

Post a Comment