Sir Alfred Gilbert, M.V.O., R.A. (1854-1934)
A bronze figure An Offering to Hymen
The nude female figure raised on an octagonal plinth cast with winged beasts, dark brown patination, 29cm high
The present bronze depicts an adolescent girl holding votive offerings of a flower and a small statue (now lacking). She stands before an altar to Hymen, the god of marriage and fertility entreating him to bless her with a happy and successful marriage. Her pose is static, her expression thoughtful and pensive. Gilbert began work on this important figure in Rome in 1884 and first exhibited the bronze at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1886. Thematically it sits between his depiction of Icarus and his figure of Perseus in its exploration of the difficult transition from youth to adulthood.
Literature: R. Bowman, Sir Alfred Gilbert and the New Sculpture, London: The Fine Art Society, 2008. R. Dorment, Alfred Gilbert. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985. S. Beattie, The New Sculpture, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983.