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John Flaxman (1755 - 1826), sculptor
Cast of ‘Victory’, after the small Roman bronze statuette known as the Victoria von Fossombrone of about 150 AD which is now in the Kassel Museum in Germany.
Museum number: BR3
John Flaxman acquired a cast made in Rome (perhaps by the famous Righetti brothers) or he bought this one when he passed through Kassel on his way back to England in 1794. The original bronze was well known to the Neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova, whom Flaxman knew in Rome, and Canova placed his version of it in the hand of his gigantic naked statue of Napoleon, now at Apsley House in London. This cast was given to Soane by Maria Denman and fixed on the bookcase in front of a watercolour of Mrs Soane’s tomb under the immediate direction of Sir John Soane on 10th January 1837, just 10 days before his own death: a carefully planned arrangement which symbolises victory over the grave.
Helen Dorey ‘Soane and Flaxman’ in Flaxman: Master of the Purest Line, Exhibition Catalogue, Sir John Soane’s Museum 2003
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