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Marble Sculpture of Nude Under Drapery

Ever since I witnessed some mortuary sculpture in one of Berlin, Germany’s oldest cemeteries years ago, I have been fascinated with how stone sculptors can depict the human form seemingly revealed under drapery.

I’ve experimented with this subject by carving a few sculptures in the past, first with “Wet Silk,” then with “Thought” and now with the sculpture pictured above, “Adrift in Veiled Gesture.” It is a challenge, as one has to realize that the stone sculptor carves from the outside in and cannot “add” fabric after carving the human nude form. The fabric must be included in the removal of the original stone.

This latest piece is executed in bardiglio marble. This variety of marble is quarried in the mountains above the famous town of Carrara, Italy but it is a light grey colour as opposed to the classic white associated with Carrara marble. I have finished this piece with fine file marks that give the sculpture a texture like linen. When one touches the surfaces, the sculpture does not feel like stone, but fabric.

The subject itself is stylized, and only the gesture of a female figure is visible. Her face looks over her left shoulder and she slightly arches her back. The line of her legs, hips, waist and shoulders are silhouetted in the outside edges. Her face, right breast and buttocks are slightly visible, but appear to be revealed beneath a veil of drapery that covers her whole body.

I did not want to give a negative connotation to the drapery, as most associate a long veil to be a shroud which is linked to death. I really wished to give the illusion that the figure is relaxed and dreamy; quite alive, yet contemplative. Her right arm is relaxed by her side. Her left arm is bent and her left hand is fanned across her chest.

I’m looking forward to carving more sculptures in this vein.

Comments: 2

  • John Fisher

    March 5, 2013

    The nude under drapery is a challenge every time, especially with direct carving. Those sculptures in Berlin were all pointed. Perhaps that is the only way to get it perfect. Perhaps perfection isn’t everything. Bardiglio is a sensitive marble. It takes a lot of time to finish.

  • March 5, 2013

    Too right, John. But with each attempt, I get a little more pleased with my results…

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