Glasgow - City of Sculpture
By Gary Nisbet
Scipione Tadolini
(1822-92)

A major figure in the history of 19th Century Italian marble sculpture; he was born in Rome into a family of artists, the son of sculptor Adamo Tadolini (1788-1868), and the brother of the sculptor Tito Tadolini (1828-1910), and the father of Gulio (1849-1918) and grandfather of Enrico Tadolini (1888-1967).

He studied under his father in the studio of Antonio Canova (1757-1822), who considered Adamo Tadolini as his most able assistant and spiritual heir, and who purchased a studio in the via del Babuino in 1818 for them to pursue their collaboration.

Scipione acquired the studio on his father's death in 1868, and soon established a successful career as a sculptor of figures and groups in marble. His work was much sought after, especially amongst wealthy foreign visitors to his studio.

Making his name at the age of twenty four with Nymph Fishing (1846), he later produced marble figures, portrait busts and copies of work by Canova.

Also greatly influenced by the sculptures of ancient Rome and the Renaissance, as well as Canova, his love and respect for his own work would not allow him to settle for anything less than the perfection achieved by these earlier masters.

A good example of his output is the marble statue of Eve in the Kibble Palace, Botanic Gardens, Glasgow (c. 1873-80).

The sculpture features a nude female seated on a knoll covered with leaves, some of which are draped strategically across her lower half, on a marble pedestal which is decorated with reliefs of The First Family (front) and The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden (rear), and festoons in high relief on its curved sides.

The statue is a copy of a plaster model of Eve After Her Sin in the Palazzo Braschi in Rome (c. 1873-5), and was gifted to Glasgow's Museum and Art Galleries by Dr Douglas White of Overtoun in 1936 (cat no. S.206).

Eve, together with the other marble sculptures in the Kibble Palace, was cleaned as part of the building's refurbishment in 2005-7.

Tadolini's other work includes: Seated Female Fishing (1858); St Michael Overcoming Satan, Boston College, USA (1865-9); The Greek Slave (1871); Ceres and Bacchus (1881); Figure of an Odalesque (1882); and the statue of King Vittorio Emanuele II in the Senate, Rome.

One of his largest groups, St Michael Overcoming Satan was commissioned by the American merchant Gardner Brewer in 1865, for the hallway of his home in Boston, Massachusetts.

Taking Tadolini and his assistants four years to produce due to his search for perfection, the group was eventually delivered in 1869.

The group was later gifted to Boston College, where it arrived badly damaged in transit, with St Michael's wings, sword and thunderbolts broken off. These were replaced with plaster copies and restored in marble in 1925.

Tadolini's studio, which had been in his family for four generation over 150 years, at 150a-b Via del Babuino, was restored as the Museo Atelier Canova Tadolini in 2000, and houses a multitude of plaster models and sculptures by the family and the machinery and tools used to create them.



Sources:

  • McKenzie (1999) (ill.)
  • McKenzie (2002) , p. 19 (ill.)
  • Nisbet (biog: Scipione Tadolini), in McKenzie (2002) , p. 500
  • Stevenson (n.d.)
  • Tadolini family: http://www.artnet.com/library/08/0829/T082984.asp
  • Museo Atelier Canova Tadolini, museum brochure, 2008
 
Works in our Database:
1: Botanic Gardens (North Kelvinside),
Kibble Palace
Eve (c.1880)
Sculptor: S Tadolini
 
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