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GILBERT, Sir Alfred (1854 - 1934)


Sir Alfred Gilbert (1854 - 1934)

Date: 1884

Media: bronze

Size: 100.0 cm

Acquired: 1938; Gift; Sir William Goscombe John

Accession Number: NMW A 116

Frederic, later Lord, Leighton commissioned a bronze from Gilbert in 1882, leaving the choice of subject to the sculptor. He chose Icarus, the mythical son of the Greek inventor Daedalus. Provided with wings of wax and feathers by his father, Icarus flew too near the sun and crashed to the earth when the wax melted. Profoundly influenced by Donatello, this is one of of the finest British bronzes of the nineteenth century. Its exceptional quality was recognised at the Royal Academy in 1884, establishing Gilbert as the most influential sculptor of his generation. Icarus was a frequent personification of the dangers of youthful ambition and Gilbert regarded the bronze as a form of psychological self-portrait. This is a unique bronze, cast in Naples. Gilbert declared it to be his favourite work.

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