Charles Cordier, La femme Africaine 1867 (detail), onyx marble and bronze, Rotherham Museum, Arts & Heritage. Photo: Rob Harris

The Colour of Anxiety: Race, Sexuality and Disorder in Victorian Sculpture

Essays on Sculpture 81

The latest in the Essays on Sculpture Series from the Henry Moore Institute: The Colour of Anxiety: Race, Sexuality and Disorder in Victorian Sculpture.

In the late nineteenth century, British sculptors began to move away from the whiteness of Neoclassical marble and started to incorporate colour into their work, using bronze, silver, gold, ivory and porcelain as well as semi-precious stones, tinted waxes, enamels and paint.

This issue of the Henry Moore Institute’s Essays on Sculpture series is published to accompany the recent exhibition The Colour of Anxiety: Race, Sexuality and Disorder (26 November 2022 – 26 February 2023).

The exhibition examined the rise of coloured sculpture in relation to widespread anxieties about social change and scientific advances, drawing attention to a Victorian fascination with colouring people and people of colour.

Essays on Sculpture Issue 81 features new essays by the exhibition’s co-curators Nicola Jennings (Director of the Athena Art Foundation) and Adrienne L. Childs (2022 recipient of the David C. Driskell Prize for contributions to the field of African American art), alongside contributions from David Bindman (Emeritus Professor of the History of Art, University College London), Christa Clarke (Senior advisor at the Center for Curatorial Leadership in New York), David J. Getsy (Professor of Art History at the University of Virginia) and Charmaine A. Nelson (Author of the groundbreaking study ‘The Color of Stone: Sculpting the Black Female Subject in Nineteenth-Century America‘, 2007).

Includes a reprint of David J. Getsy’s article ‘Privileging the Object of Sculpture: Actuality and Harry Bates’ Pandora of 1890’ originally published in Art History (vol. 28, no. 1, February 2005).

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