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‘I know of but one art’: Alfred Stevens, the Michelangelesque, and Intermediality

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This article examines Alfred Stevens’ Dorchester House Dining Room Chimneypiece (c.1858-1875) in the context of its reception from the 1870s to the 1920s and in relation to two key notions: the Michelangelesque and intermediality. This chimneypiece, which was lauded as a masterpiece in the years following its creation, was consistently described as ‘Michelangelesque’ in the period concerned. Through a close analysis of Stevens’ works and their reception in this period, and supported by evidence from more recent scholarship on gesture and mediality, I demonstrate how understandings of this term cohere with modern definitions of artistic intermediality. In so doing, I reveal how Stevens’ adoption of Michelangelo-inspired traits on the chimneypiece, such as its distinct integration of figural sculptural into an architectural-sculptural framework, as well as its caryatids’ dynamic poses, signals the intermedial nature of his artistic practice. Ultimately, I show that the chimneypiece and its caryatids can be understood as expressions of the inter-relations that can occur between figural form and the medium as both a mode and material of art.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSculpture Journal
Volume31
Issue4
ISSN1366-2724
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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