Loading Spinner

19th Century European Sculptures

In the 19th century, western sculpture evolved from an academic style rooted in conservative and classical ideals to what we today recognize as the foundations of Modernism. Mythical and historical subjects, long considered the epitome of high art by most artistic institutions of the day, began to give way to realistic depictions of contemporary figures.

At the same time, the middle class, enriched by the industrial revolution, began to commission more and more pieces, seeking to take on the prestige associated with the conservative style. Sculpture remained relatively cost-prohibitive to create during this period. Large works needed to be commissioned, a process that could compromise an artist’s ability to realize his original vision.

Auguste Rodin was famously awarded the commission to create “The Gates of Hell” for the Paris Museum of Decorative Arts, only to have the commission revoked when the funding for the museum fell through.

Quick Facts

  • Many notable sculptures of this period are hollow bronze casts, which were easier to replicate thanks to new industrial technology. Bronze foundries were established in Paris and other major cities to facilitate the casting of artworks
  • An exception to the prominence of bronze was Edgar Degas’ landmark work Little Dancer of Fourteen Years which was originally shown as raw wax, dressed in real clothes and a wig of actual human hair
  • 19th Century female sculptor Camille Claudel’s masterwork “The Waltz” was kept on top of French composer Claude Debussy’s piano, for inspiration

There are currently no items in 19th Century European Sculptures. Please click another category to see additional items.