Scipione Tadolini (1822-1892)
Italian, Rome, 1860
LA SCHIAVA GRECA (THE GREEK SLAVE)
signed: SCIP O TADOLINI I. F. ROM. 1860. and inscribed in Greek to the bracelet pisto tes and to the necklace elpis (hope)
white Carrara marble, on a later rosso marble pedestal
marble: 166cm., 65 3/8 in.
base: 52cm., 20½in.
About the sculpture. This elegantly conceived figure of a Greek Slave is one of Scipione Tadolini's defining masterpieces. Tadolini was the eldest son and inheritor of Antonio Canova's principal studio assistant, Adamo Tadolini, and, like his father, he rapidly emerged as one of the leading sculptors in Rome during his lifetime. The superbly carved and polished surface of this serene marble stands in the celebrated tradition of idealised statuary established by Canova, the greatest Italian sculptor of the 18th and 19th centuries and the father of neoclassicism. However, the touching portrayal of a beautiful young girl enslaved, together with her orientalist guise, looks forward to the Romantic movement in 19th-century sculpture.An idealised female youth stands in contrapposto, her right arm raised as she contemplates her bracelet. Tadolini's magisterial composition is a response to one of the most famous sculptures of the age, Hiram Powers' Greek Slave, which was exhibited for the first time at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, where it caused a sensation, both for its beauty and for its scandalous nudity (the marble is currently in the collection of Lord Barnard at Raby Castle, Durham). Like Powers' model, the theme of Tadolini's sculpture is taken from the Greek War of Independence of the 1820's. The young woman has been abducted by the Turks and is about to be sold in a slave market. Tadolini's Greek Slave is consequently a highly emotive and politically charged image, designed to appeal to a Western audience through portraying a Christian innocent enslaved within a Muslim culture. The Turkish context within which the Greek Slave finds herself is emphasised by Tadolini in the beautifully carved headress, which falls about her shoulders, and recalls Ingres' La Grande Odalisque (1814; musée du Louvre, Paris. More