From Alexandria to Hyde, via Bovillæ and Rome, London and Birmingham: a biography of an electrotype of The Apotheosis of Homer

Grant, Alistair (2022) From Alexandria to Hyde, via Bovillæ and Rome, London and Birmingham: a biography of an electrotype of The Apotheosis of Homer. The Journal of the Antique Metalware Society, 26. pp. 42-61. ISSN 1359-124X

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Abstract

This essay is an object study of a new acquisition by the Victoria and Albert Museum. In February 2020, just before the Covid pandemic and national lockdown in the UK forced the Museum to close, it acquired The Apotheosis of Homer; An Electrotype, from the Celebrated Original Bas-Relief in the British Museum, with a Descriptive Elucidation by Emile Braun. Few objects encompass such a profound and wide-ranging panorama across European history. This multi-layered interdisciplinary history represents a captivating social, political, literary and art historical journey, beginning c.225 BC at Alexandria in the Nile Delta of Lower Egypt, via Bovillæ and Rome, London and Birmingham, to the cotton mills and calico printworks of Hyde in Cheshire and Clitheroe in the Ribble Valley of Lancashire amidst the bourgeois industrial and political revolutions of the late 1840s. Underpinning the essay is a challenge to the generally accepted view that copies – replicated, reproduced, or rescaled objects – are in anyway inferior to the original artwork, artefact, or archetype from which they emerge. They are not. Each finds its own place in the world by making its individual social journey, which informs and shapes its cultural and political interpretation. The ‘prime object’ may be the idea and product of an inspired moment of skilled labour and technique, touched by creativity and genius, but an archetype can soon become a prototype, a pattern or model in the design process of an industrialised copyist culture.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > Art History
Subjects: D History
D History > DA History of Great Britain
D History > DA History of Great Britain > DA020 England
D History > DA History of Great Britain > DA020 England > DA090 Antiquities. General works
D History > DA History of Great Britain > DA020 England > DA670 Local history and description
D History > DE History of the Greco-Roman world
D History > DE History of the Greco-Roman world > DE46 Antiquities. Civilisation. Culture. Ethnography
D History > DE History of the Greco-Roman world > DE80 History
D History > DF History of Greece > DF010 Ancient Greece
D History > DF History of Greece > DF010 Ancient Greece > DF075 Antiquities. Civilisation. Culture. Ethnography
D History > DF History of Greece > DF010 Ancient Greece > DF207 History > DF220 By period > DF221.2 ca.1125-500 B.C. Age of Tyrants
D History > DF History of Greece > DF010 Ancient Greece > DF207 History > DF220 By period > DF227 Athenian supremacy. Age of Pericles. 479-431 B.C.
D History > DF History of Greece > DF010 Ancient Greece > DF207 History > DF220 By period > DF235 Hellenistic period, 323-146 B.C.
D History > DG History of Italy
D History > DG History of Italy > DG011 Ancient Italy. Rome to 476
D History > DG History of Italy > DG011 Ancient Italy. Rome to 476 > DG075 Antiquities. Civilisation. Culture. Ethnography
D History > DG History of Italy > DG691 Central Italy > DG803 Rome (Modern city)
N Fine Arts
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR > N0400 Art museums, galleries, etc.
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR > N5198 Private collections and collectors
N Fine Arts > NB Sculpture
N Fine Arts > NB Sculpture > NB0060 History including collective biography
N Fine Arts > NB Sculpture > NB1160 Designs and technique
N Fine Arts > NB Sculpture > NB1199 Restoration of sculptures
N Fine Arts > NB Sculpture > NB1203 Special materials
N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts
N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts > NK1160 Decoration and ornament. Design
N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts > NK3600 Other arts and art industries > NK6400 Metalwork
N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts > NK3600 Other arts and art industries > NK6400 Metalwork > NK7100 Gold and silver. Plate. Jewelry
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general > NX0700 Patronage of the arts
P Language and Literature > PA Classical philology
P Language and Literature > PA Classical philology > PA0201 Greek philology and language
P Language and Literature > PA Classical philology > PA3000 Classical literature
P Language and Literature > PA Classical philology > PA3050 Greek literature
P Language and Literature > PA Classical philology > PA6000 Roman literature
T Technology > TS Manufactures > TS0200 Metal manufactures. Metalworking
Depositing User: Alistair Grant
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2022 13:54
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2022 10:52
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/103955

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