Carving in Paros Marble, ca. 1937
Maurice Lambert RA (1901 - 1964)
RA Collection: Art
On free display in Dame Jillian Sackler Sculpture Gallery
Maurice Lambert experimented with different materials, intuitively using those that brought out the individual characteristics of his subjects. For this smoothly finished female figure, he selected Paros marble, favoured by the sculptors of Ancient Greece for its pure white quality.
Many of Lambert’s sculptures show creatures in motion, reflecting his interest in mythology and metamorphosis. Here, the seemingly weightless woman is grasping a fish while swimming underwater. As is typical of many of Lambert’s works the composition combines the dynamism of movement against resistance with a sense of floating weightlessness. In her monograph on the artist, Nicholson describes the work, writing “despite the ‘primitive’ elements evident in the features and the heavy treatment of the hands and feet, this female nude is imbued with a classicism one step removed from modern sculptural practice of the 1930s, dominated as it was by predominantly formal concerns. The raised leg conveys the sensation of weightlessness, as if the figure has just grasped the fish while swimming underwater” (Nicholson, 2002, p.80).
The title Carving in Paros Marble and the smooth finish draws attention to the material. Nicholson writes that Lambert noted on a photograph housed in the RA library that it was “carved from the most perfect block of marble I ever saw” (Nicholson, 2002, p.110). Lambert experimented with different materials including wood, metal, stone and concrete, selecting the material to bring out certain characteristics in the sitter. Herbert Furst wrote “in his hands sculpture is not merely a matter of stone or marble or bronze moulded in obedience to some established form, but an instrument of far wider range and possibilities” (in Grose, 1988, np).
Although it had been completed a decade earlier, Carving in Paros Marble was first exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1947. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1952 and gave this sculpture as his Diploma Work.
Vanessa Nicholson, The Sculpture of Maurice Lambert, Hertfordshire: The Henry Moore Foundation, 2002, cat. 148.
Irving Grose, Maurice Lambert 1901-1964, London: The Belgrave Gallery, 1988.
451 mm x 782 mm x 470 mm, Weight: 87.25 kg
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