The Passion of Collecting Academic Nudes

Join me as we explore my collection of Academic Nudes from the 18th, 19th, and Early 20th Centuries and serendipitous finds in the Museum, Art Auction, and Gallery world......examples from the Golden Age of the European Academie

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Valentine Bender (1884-1947) Young Saint John the Baptist (Bronze Nude Boy)

Yesterday I sat for hours trying to find any kind of information on the artist responsible for this beautiful bronze. It is signed "V. Bender" without any foundry marks. I finally stumbled (my favorite pastime...I have two once dislocated fingers and a once dislocated shoulder to prove it, including detailed MRI's, x-rays, and several witnesses if you don't believe me) upon a Belgian Sculptor by the name of Valentine Bender (1884-1947). I took one look at his other works and knew I had my man. The unfortunate part of my search is that I managed to come up with, naught in the way of biographic information on the man. I knew from whence the bronze had antiques dealer in Brussels, and I had that signature on the bronze itself, and apparently nothing else. In my search yesterday I pulled up many images of the Young Saint John, paintings mostly, all semi-nude, all sensual, and all erotically seductive. Young Saint John the Baptist seemed to be a favorite for some reason of some very famous names in art history. Of course, I took out one of my many Art reference volumes and the reason became very obvious, very quickly: the adaptation of Christian icons from Greek Mythology myth in particular...... Ganymede. What a surprise there. I swear, I will have to spend next week reading James L. Saslow's: Ganymede in the Renaissance and bone up ( pun intended) on that little rascal. He keeps popping up all over the place (oh my, another pun intended), and you are wondering how I know this is Saint John? Easy, that reed staff he is holding is a dead give-a-way. It's part of his persona. That cross portends events in his life yet to come. If I am not mistaken, that banner wrapped around the cross should hold the statement: "Behold the lamb of God" inscribed in Latin on it. Isn't it strange, on second thought, less strange, more deliberate, how the artist posed that left arm. Does it remind you of another famous sculpture? Michelangelo's David, perhaps? What goes around certainly comes around eventually in art. I kept looking at that arm expecting to see a sling hanging over his shoulder. There is definitely method in his madness me thinks. I think my favorite view of this bronze is from the side....that flowing, classic "S" curve shape of the boy's torso, the way the hips carry the weight of the upper torso and that contrapposito stance, is really beautiful. Enjoy.


Caption: Young Saint John (Bronze Nude Figure)
Artist: Valentine Bender (Belgian) (1884-1947)
Medium: Cast Bronze
Dated: circa 1910 - 1930


Here are two additional examples of Bender's works I managed to find on the net. The second I saw that female nude bronze I knew I had the correct artist. The stylistic similarities are quite notable:


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