- Holme Cardwell
- signed and dated: HOLME CARDWELL / OF MANCHESTER / Sculpt ROME 1862
- white marble, on a grey marble base
- figure: 187cm., 73 3/8 in.
base: 42cm., 16½in.
Holme Cardwell, a native of Manchester, attended the Royal Academy School in London in 1834. Probably aged 19 (although there is some uncertainty over his year of birth, his gravestone registers 20 May 1813), he was recommended to the school by Sir Francis Chantrey RA. Building a considerable reputation for himself, including a silver medal for a model in 1839, he left London for Paris in 1841 to study with David d’Angers (1788-1856). He probably stayed in Paris for three years, training at the Académie Royale, before moving to Rome. In the following years of his career, he was to move between Rome and London several times, settling primarily in Rome. Active within the milieu of British expatriate artists and sculptors in Rome, he acquired many admirers, including the renowned sculptor John Gibson RA (1790-1866). Cardwell exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1837 and 1856. He had a tendency for large or monumental marble groups, including the ‘colossal’ Good Samaritan (Roscoe, op. cit., p. 194), a figure of Sabrina, a Cupid and Pan, and the present marble.
Diana was exhibited in Cardwell’s hometown of Manchester, and subsequently at the International Exhibition of 1862 with the title ‘Diana about to Bathe’. Leaning against a tree and having shed her clothes, shoes and weapons, the goddess just enters the water with the tips of her toes. In the Handbook to the Fine Art Collections, op. cit. p. 95, Cardwell’s sculpture is described thus: “Bottinelli, Cardwell, and Gatley are careful artists in this manner: the gracefully constructed forms they give are not so much the forms of real life, as the improved ideal of the later antique [...]”. Indeed, observing the idealised facial features of the present Diana, with straight nose, symmetrical face, and even, rhythmic curls, one is immediately reminded of the work of famous Neoclassical sculptors such as Bertel Thorvaldsen and Antonio Canova, who were active in Rome a generation before Cardwell, but whose influence continued.
Diana was not the only sculpture by Cardwell to be exhibited at the International Exhibition, although it was the only one listed as then in the ownership of the artist - the others had already been purchased. Indeed, the two other marbles that were exhibited, Pan and Cupid and Sabrina, now survive in public institutions: Sabrina in the Hove Museum in Sussex, whereas Pan and Cupid was donated to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1871 (Bilbey and Trusted, op. cit. p. 232). The appearance of the present marble at auction therefore provides the opportunity to acquire a lifesize marble of museum quality which embodies the essence of late Neoclassical sculpture.
Official Catalogue of the Fine Art Department, exh. cat., London International Exhibition, London, 1862, p.143; F. Turner Palgrave, Handbook to the Fine Art Collections in the International Exhibition of 1862, London, 1862, pp. 95-97; A. Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts, A Complete Dictionary of Contributors and their work from its foundation in 1769 to 1904, vol. I, London, 1905, p. 393; D. Bilbey and M. Trusted, British Sculpture 1470-2000: A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, cat. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2002, p. 232-233; I. Roscoe, E. Hardy and M. G. Sullivan, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain, 1660-1851, London, 2009, p. 194; 'Holme Cardwell', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib2_1202169359, accessed 04 Nov 2017]