DETAIL : John Singer SARGENT, The fountain, Villa Torlonia, Frascati, Italy 1907, The Art Institute of Chicago, American Art Collection DETAIL : John Singer SARGENT, Almina, daughter of Asher Wertheimer 1908, Tate, London, presented by the widow and family of Asher Wertheimer in accordance with his wishes in 1922
Harold PARKER | Orpheus

PARKER, Harold
England 1873 – Australia 1962-04-23
Australia 1876-96; England 1896-1930 with visits to Australia 1911 and 1921-22; Australia from 1930
Orpheus 1904
cast bronze, patinated
marble base
sculpture 43.6 (h) x 15.0 (w) x 17.5 (d) cm
signed and dated between feet of Orpheus, inscribed, "Harold Parker/ 1904"
Gift of William Richard Cumming 1984
NGA 1985.421

In the 1880s, British sculpture was revitalised with the introduction of ‘art bronzes’, or small-scale sculptures. The aim was to democratise sculpture, to make it an affordable domestic ornament for the increasingly affluent Victorian and later Edwardian middle classes.

In Greek mythology Orpheus is the musician who descended to the underworld in an attempt to retrieve his love, Eurydice, back to the living. Parker’s Orpheus plucks his lyre, a symbol of his divine talent, yet his melancholic gaze foreshadows his human vulnerability and the tragic end to his quest.

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