A Large Early 20thC Plaster Écorché Anatomical Figure of a Male by Edouard Lanteri c.1900

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Origin: English
Period: Edwardian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1900-05
Height: 35 inches
The Base: 10 inches square (all approximate and at extremities)

The superbly well cast and wonderfully rendered plaster cast anatomy of a man figure standing on glazed square base impressed with the marks for ‘Chapman & Hall Ltd’ and ‘Copyright’ whole standing at nearly three feet, and almost certainly signed E Lanteri 1901 survives from Edwardian period England.

The condition of the sculpture is stable and relatively good. There are some small losses to the surface but nothing missing of importance. He stands true and stable but care needs to be taken when moving the sculpture. There is evidence of a hairline crack at one of the ankles.

The impress marks present to one side of the base are hard to distinguish through the glaze though they are discernable through research, the impressed rectangular mark containing the mark for Chapmann and Hall Ltd and the word Copyright is descreable after this. We have found a similar model, which was signed for E Lanteri of 1901. Edouard Lanteri was a professor at the South Kensington Art School. He was born in France but became a British citizen and professor at the Royal College of Art. He produced a number of ecorche figures for his students to study. These were cast by Enrico Cantoni and sold by Chapman & Hall Ltd and although the glaze to the base of this example makes it difficult to find his signature this is almost certainly, (99%) one of those.

An écorché is a figure drawn, painted, or sculpted showing the muscles of the body without skin, normally as a figure study for a work, or as an exercise in training. Renaissance architect and theorist, Leon Battista Alberti recommended that when painters intend to depict a nude, they should first arrange the muscles and bones, then depict the overlying skin. Some of the first well known studies of this kind were performed by Leonardo da Vinci. His studies included dissecting the cadaver and creating detailed drawings of the subject. However, there are some accounts of this same practice taking place as far back as ancient Greece, though the specifics are not known.
The term écorché, meaning literally "flayed", came into usage via the French Academies (such as the École des Beaux Arts) in the 19th century. This form of study still continues at traditional schools throughout the world. During the Renaissance in Italy, around the 1450 to 1600, the rebirth of classical Greek and Roman characteristics in art led to the studies of the human anatomy. Many painters and artists documented and even performed the dissections themselves by taking careful observations of the human body. Among them were Leonardo da Vinci and Andreas Vesalius, two of the most influential artists in anatomical illustrations. Leonardo da Vinci, in particular, was very detailed in his studies that he was known as the “artist-anatomist” for the creation of a new science and the creative depiction to anatomy.

The study of anatomical figures became popular among the medical academies across Europe around the 17th and 18th century, especially when there was a lack of bodies available for dissections. Medical students relied on these figures because they provided a good representation of what the anatomical model looks like. The écorché (flayed) figures were made to look like the skin was removed from the body, exposing the muscles and vessels of the model. Some figures were created to strip away the layers of muscles and reveal the skeleton of the model. Many of the life-size scale écorché figures were reproduced in a smaller scale out of bronze that can be easily distributed.

Écorché figures were commonly made out of many different materials: bronze, ivory, plaster, wax, or wood. By the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, wax was the most popular use of material in creating écorché statues. The production of colored wax anatomies allowed for a variety of hues and tone that makes the models appear realistic

Superbly decorative, wonderfully imposing and academically satisfying.

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