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Sophocles by Constantin Dausch

King's SophoclesKing's SophoclesConstantin Dausch’s Sophocles is a replica, almost exactly to scale, of a classical model: the so-called Lateran Sophocles, which had been found at Terracina in 1839, presented to Pope Gregory XVI, and displayed in the Lateran Palace, before being transferred (along with the remainder of the Papal sculpture collection) to its present location in the Museo Gregoriano-Profano in the Vatican.

This marble piece is in its turn a Roman-period copy or adaptation of a fourth-century (B.C.) Greek bronze original, but there is an unresolved scholarly argument over the authorship and location of that original.

Lateran SophoclesLateran SophoclesIt is possible that it should be identified with the statue of Sophocles said to have been placed in the theatre of Dionysus in Athens, along with statues of the other two great tragic poets, Aeschylus and Euripides, when the theatre was refurbished by the politician Lycurgus in the 330s B.C.

Further details of the Lateran Sophocles, and of its relation to other ancient representations of the poet, can be found in The Portraits of the Greeks by Gisele Richter – the daughter of the Jean-Paul Richter employed by Ludwig Mond to select and buy his Old Masters for him.

HopeHopeConstantin Dausch was born in Bad Waldsee in 1841. He studied in the Munich Academy, and went to Rome on a Württemberg state scholarship in 1869.

He remained there until his death in 1908, from 1873 onwards working in the studio that had once belonged to Antonio Canova.

Shepherd boyShepherd boyHis first great success came in that same year of 1873, with a Samson and Delilah that was shown at the Vienna World Exhibition.

The date of his Sophocles is unknown. If, like the Sappho, it was a Mond commission, it ought to postdate 1889, and so be a work of Dausch’s maturity; but it could have been sitting round his studio, or in the possession of another collector, for some time before it came to the Monds. In any event, it fits well against the background of his other work.

Siegfried by DauschSiegfried by DauschHis speciality was precisely large classicizing figures - many again for German patrons - like a figure of Hope done for a family monument in the Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg; or the group of A Young Man with the Goddess of Fortune, in Bremen’s Bürgerpark (which also has his Siegfried Fighting the Dragon).

He also did portraits and some ecclesiastical art; and there is at least one other example of a copy by his hand of a work of ancient sculpture: a head and shoulders of Praxiteles’s Hermes, dated circa 1890, recently auctioned (again in Bremen) with an estimate of €11,000.

 

References:

  • G. Richter, The Portraits of the Greeks (Phaidon 1965)
  • Gisela Richter Dictionary of Art Historians
  • Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, s.v. (with further bibliography)
  • Bildindex der Kunst und Architektur, http://www.bildindex.de
  • Allgemeine illustrierte Weltausstellungszeitung 1.2 (Vienna 1873)

 

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