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Room: 1890-1910

This video brought to you by Tate.org.uk

Curator Carol Jacobi explores the period 1890-1910.

Learn more about the art featured in this video:
- Sir William Goscombe John, A Boy at Play, 1895
- Sir Alfred Gilbert, Model for ‘Eros’ on the Shaftesbury Memorial, Piccadilly Circus, 1891, cast 1925
- Sir Thomas Brock, Eve, 1900.
Created by Tate.

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Video transcript

We’re now in the gallery that goes from 1890 to 1910. This was a period that continued the exploration of realism of the nineteenth century and also the literary and mythical themes of the nineteenth century but adapted to new twentieth centuries anxieties and aspirations. A startlingly realistic piece is this one here by the Welsh sculptor, Goscombe John. It's call Boy At Play and you can see it has this wonderfully refreshing and conventional abandoned pose and if we look carefully you can see how he’s used the softness of the material to enhance the naturalism of the piece so he has smoothed the texture of the skin. One of the things you night notice is the way the tendons stand out in the foot as it’s flexed to kick the knuckle bone and the look of intense concentration on his face. We see an equally abandoned pose over here in a much more famous finger of Eros. You might recognise him from the version up the road in Piccadilly Circus. Here you can see that again he's been made out of bronze and and the strength of the bronze has allowed the figure to be poised on just one toe. If you look closely at the face of Eros you can see that instead of actually creating the shape of the eyes Gilbert has simply modelled the sculpture so there is just shadows and light that give a suggestion of the eyes. If we go over to the Eve we have a very different atmosphere. You can see she is a very self-contained piece by comparison. Her arms are folded into her body, she has a very balanced pose you can see that Brock has again smoothed the surface to get a beautiful skin like texture and it almost looks like a classical sculpture. You’ll notice that the face uses the same technique as Gilbert yet again he’s created the sense of her eyes through light and shadow and this is to give the sense of deep thought. It’s a very unusual way of depicting Eve because normally she is thought of as somebody to do with temptation or the remorse after she's tempted Adam, and Adam is thought of as much the more thoughtful character but here you can see she is contemplating the idea of temptation, the idea of the fall and I think that Brock is inviting us to do the same because he has made her so exquisitely beautiful, out of such exquisitely beautiful materials.