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  • image L93

Bust of Sappho


Museum number: L93

On display: Library-Dining Room
All spaces are in No. 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields unless identified as in No. 12, Soane's first house. For tours https://www.soane.org/your-visit

Curatorial note

This bust is an 18th or early 19th century plaster after a Graeco-Roman original depicting Sapho or Sappho, one of the Nine Lyric Poets of Ancient Greece (7th century BC), celebrated for her mastery of lyric poetry but above all known today for her poems about eros/erotic love for other women. From her life and death on the Greek island of Lesbos come the words 'Lesbian' and 'Sapphic'.

This is one of a group of plaster busts of similar scale and on identical pedestals, displayed high up in the Library Dining Room. Two are after antique busts in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and this one may also be after a bust in the Medici collections there.

When he was in Italy in the late 1770s, Soane sketched a niche at the Villa Albani in which a statue was displayed with mirror glass behind it, which is thought to have inspired the display of busts, as this one, in mirrored niches in the Library-Dining Room.

Soane collections online is being continually updated. If you wish to find out more or if you have any further information about this object please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk