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Sculpture

SCULPTURE

SCULPTURE. By 1500 in Italy, the recovery of classical antiquity permeated all aspects of art and culture. In Padua, Mantua, and Florence, sculptors like Riccio, Antico, and Verrocchio revived the small bronze in exquisite tabletop figures of satyrs, gods, goddesses, emperors, and heroes of ancient Rome that evoked the ethos of antiquity. In Rome, however, the Renaissance manifested itself on a larger scale. Here, the young Michelangelo Buonarroti (14751564) carved a remarkable life-sized marble statue, Bacchus (1496). Not even in antiquity had the god of wine been shown like this: pudgy, tipsy, lascivious, mouth open and eyes glazed in Dionysiac abandon, the very embodiment of wine's intoxicating effects and the ancient world's appeal to the carnal senses. If Bacchus represented the epitome of worldly classical values, then Michelangelo's Pietà (1499) in St. Peter's was its Christian counterpart. The young Madonna looks down pensively at the nude, lifeless body of her crucified son. Carved to anatomical perfection and brought to a high polish, the body of Christ holds an irresistible appeal for the beholder. The Pietà was recognized both as a masterpiece and a powerful spiritual icon created in the new idealized vocabulary of classical antiquity, yet infused with Christian piety.

POWER AND THE FORMS OF SCULPTURE

Both sculptures were created in Rome, capital of the ancient Roman Empire, seat of the papacy, and center of humanistic literary and artistic study. Pope Julius II della Rovere (reigned 15031513) accelerated earlier campaigns of urban renewal in his strong desire to return the Eternal City to its ancient glory. During his reign, Julius II also ruthlessly reestablished the papacy as a major secular power by militarily reuniting far-flung papal territories. Yet consolidation of political power and association with the prestige of imperial Rome was the goal not only of Spanish, French, and English monarchs but that of the Holy Roman emperor as well. These rulers sought to express their power and garner prestige in major sculptural projects meant to glorify their persons and dynasties.

In Germany, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (ruled 14931519) gave sculptural form to his political, dynastic ambition with plans for a colossal, multi-figured bronze tomb begun in 1502. Despite its medieval style, its size and conception rivaled the tombs of the ancient Roman emperors. Maximilian planned to erect this monumental structure in a specially designed church in Innsbruck. It featured a bronze, life-sized kneeling effigy situated atop a large, high free-standing rectangular structure decorated around the sides with reliefs showing important events from his life. In it, forty life-sized bronze statues of Maximilian's ancestors (both men and women, beginning with Julius Caesar and ending with Ferdinand the Catholic of Spain), thirty-four bronze busts of Roman emperors beginning with Julius Caesar, and a hundred statuettes of Habsburg saints were to accompany the emperor. The ambitious program, only partially realized, genealogically linked the Holy Roman emperor, his ancestors, and his future heirs to the imperial legacy and glory of Emperor Julius Caesar.

However, Pope Julius II's commission for his tomb to Michelangelo (1505) unified in form and content the legacy of ancient art with the pope's dynastic, political, and spiritual needs. Designed as a huge, freestanding three-storied marble structure (roughly 23 by 36 feet), with niches for statues and terms on the first level in front of which were bound prisoners, the plan called for forty allegorical marble statues and numerous bronze reliefs celebrating the pontiff's achievements and virtues. Now only the statue of Moses on the much-reduced tomb in San Pietro in Vincoli provides a clue to its original splendor. Formally it evoked not so much the tombs of Julius's papal predecessors as ancient Roman imperial monuments. Although never realized on this scale, the Julius Tomb nonetheless set an ambitious standard for dynastic sepulchral monuments.

The return of the Medici to power in Florence in 1512 and the election of Giovanni de' Medici as Pope Leo X in 1513 (reigned 15131521) led to a Medici funerary chapel at San Lorenzo, Florence, designedbyMichelangelo(15191534).Thepope's dream of dynastic supremacy in Italy, and the end of foreign intervention, was shattered by the premature deaths of the young Lorenzo and Giuliano de' Medici (1519, 1516). In their marble effigies, seated pensively above sarcophagi upon which recline representations of the times of day, Michelangelo subtly transcended dynastic panegyric, creating a poetic meditation upon the meaning of life, fame, and art itself.

In 1529, Henry VIII of England commissioned from the Italian sculptor Benedetto da Rovezzano (14741554) a tomb with numerous bronze statues and statuettes, one of the most ambitious sculptural projects ever conceived (abandoned in 1536). Later, Henry II of France planned at St. Denis a great chapel and tomb dedicated to the Valois dynasty. However, Philip II of Spain erected the most majestic tomb of all by building the Escorial (15631584), thus fulfilling his father's request (Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, reigned 15191556). At the sides of the Capilla Mayor's high altar, Leone Leoni's (15091590) over-life-sized gilt bronze and enameled effigies of Charles V, Philip II, and family members kneel facing the chapel's majestic sacrament tabernacle in perpetual adoration. Here was an eternal demonstration of Habsburg piety, sacramental devotion, and divine dynastic favor.

Throughout the sixteenth century, sculpture embellished civic spaces throughout Italy. The first and most important example is Michelangelo's colossal marble David erected in 1504 outside the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. The David represented not only an emblem of republican liberty but also a fundamental psychological shift that merged Christian spirituality with worldly, man-centered values of antiquity. After the return of the Medici to power in Florence, Baccio Bandinelli carved his muscular, marble giant Hercules and Cacus to flank the David, an authoritarian antidote to David 's republican sentiments. Cellini's bronze Perseus and Medusa soon rose on the Loggia dei Lanzi along with Giambologna's serpentine, three-figured group The Rape of the Sabines. Giambologna's elegant, mannered style was disseminated throughout Europe via exquisite small bronzes frequently presented as diplomatic gifts establishing him as the most influential artist of the last third of the sixteenth century. His legacy was carried forward by Antonio Susini and Adrien de Vries.

BERNINI AND ROME

Widespread political and religious conflicts generated by the Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation wracked Europe, and Renaissance worldly values ebbed in favor of a purified Christian spirituality. In the arts, the Catholic Counter-Reformation spurred the reform of Italian painting toward the end of the sixteenth century. However, sculpture awaited the appearance of Gian Lorenzo Bernini (15981680) who became the most renowned artist of the seventeenth century. During the course of his long and incredibly productive career, Bernini changed Rome through commissions for churches, palaces, fountains, statues, chapels, monuments, and tombs. Orchestrating a small army of artists and workmen, Bernini dominated the artistic scene. His combination of painting, sculpture, and architecture into one unified and dramatic whole was a major influence in the development of the baroque style that soon spread throughout Italy and Europe.

Like Michelangelo, the young Bernini immersed himself in the study of ancient sculpture. His first large-scale statues for Cardinal Scipione Borghese reflected years of intense analysis. These dramatic marbles stunned Bernini's contemporaries. Pluto and Proserpina (16211622, Galleria Borghese, Rome) presents an explosive combination of motion and emotion. The large, muscular Pluto, inspired by the ancient Roman Hercules and the Hydra (Museo Capitolino, Rome), hefts the distraught and struggling girl on his hip as he strides vigorously forward across the threshold of the underworld symbolized by the snarling, three-headed dog Cerberus. Proserpina's soft flesh yields to the god's violent grasp, her braids spin out into space, and marble tears course down her smooth cheeks. The over-life-sized group's startling impact and compelling naturalism is all the more remarkable as Bernini set it on a low pedestal against a wall, creating a commanding frontal view and strong physical presence directly to the viewer.

Apollo and Daphne (16221624, Galleria Borghese), inspired by a passage in Ovid's Metamorphoses, represents the instant that the fleeing Daphne's prayers are answered and she is turned into a laurel tree as she tries to escape the pursuing Apollo. The startled god (inspired by the Apollo Belvedere in the Vatican but in this instance running madly) appears as amazed as we are to witness the transmutation of Daphne's flesh (marble) into leaves, roots, bark, and cloth. This hallucinatory realism was made all the more shocking by the way that Bernini orchestrated the visitor's perception of the group. When in its original position in the villa, the approaching viewer saw only Apollo's back. As the visitor moved into the room, the drama unfolded in real time and space until reaching its crescendo. In this way, Bernini controlled the viewer's experience, as he did on a much larger scale in St. Peter's.

It is at St. Peter's that Bernini's mark is firmly implanted. The church is defined from beginning to end by Bernini. St. Peter's Square and the curved Colonnade's embracing arms greet the visitor; at the crossing, under the dome in four pier niches, colossal marble saintsLonginus, Andrew, Veronica, and Helenactivate the crossing by looking upward or seeming to move toward the immense bronze Baldachin, whose four spiral bronze columns and canopy mark the high altar and the tomb of the First Apostle. In the apse, the majestic bronze reliquary containing the throne of St. Peterthe Cathedra Petri has descended from heaven accompanied by the Holy Spirit and its golden light burst. Cloud-borne and surrounded by a host of angels, the Cathedra Petri hovers miraculously above the apse altar, steadied by colossal bronze statues of the two Greek and two Latin church fathers. A shimmering apparition, the Cathedra Petri is a dramatic artistic culmination of the church's image and visible proof of the papacy's divinely endowed power.

The Triton Fountain, the Elephant Obelisk, and the stupendous Four Rivers Fountain at the center of Piazza Navona are but three of Bernini's best known sculptural landmarks, each offering novel interpretations of well-known types. However, it is the Cornaro Chapel (16471652, Santa Maria della Vittoria) that remains Bernini's most famous and potent symbol of seventeenth-century spirituality. Cardinal Federigo Cornaro commissioned a funerary chapel to commemorate seven other members of his family and to honor St. Teresa of Avila, the sixteenth-century Spanish mystic and reformer canonized in 1622. Into the existing architecture of the left transept chapel Bernini wove a related order of pilasters and entablature. Above the altar he placed a pedimented tabernacle framed by double columns into which the marble group of St. Teresa and the angel was set below a hidden window providing illumination. The altar frontal is decorated with a gilt bronze relief of the Last Supper; in choir boxes at each side, four members of the Cornaro family are engaged in discussion, or reading. Two skeletons in roundels on the floor look upward in prayer and wonder as they seemingly rise from their graves. At the apex of the vault is a fresco of the dove of the Holy Spirit, accompanied by a multitude of cloud-borne angels. The frescoed clouds cover a portion of the vault window and the actual architecture of the chapel, creating the illusion of an arriving heavenly host. This unity of painting, architecture, and sculpture focuses on the altarpiece, the Ecstasy of St. Teresa. Here Bernini depicted her rapture: the moment when an angel appeared with a golden spear with a point of fire. In her own words, ". . . With this he seemed to pierce my heart several times so that it penetrated to my entrails. When he drew it out, I thought he was drawing them out with it and he left me completely afire with a great love for God." In his sculpture, Bernini alluded to other mystical events described by Teresa (and others) in their writings: her levitation upon receiving the Eucharist, her mystic marriage to Christ, and her death when, though old, she became young and lovely.

Indeed, the entire program revolves around the action taking place at and above the altar. The dead rise ecstatically from their graves through the chapel floor; members of the Cornaro family bear fervent witness to the portentous significance of this proof of divine love; the Holy Spirit and angels descend into the chapel in celebration of Teresa's union with God. The banderole carried by angels at the apex of the chapel bears God's message: "If I had not created heaven, I would create it for you alone." Teresa appears as an example of faith, as intercessor and emblem of God's love for all mankind, and of his promise of eternal salvation through the Eucharist. Bernini's seamless visual logic gathers and unites the spiritual themes into an instant of stunning clarity focused on St. Teresa and the angel. This programmatic and aesthetic unity represents the culmination of Bernini's career, a perfect unity of form and content, and the artistic zenith of the Counter-Reformation.

Although Bernini's chief rival, Alessandro Algardi (15981654), labored in his shadow, he was an artist of immense talent. As a portraitist, Algardi was much admired for the sensitive handling of marble and the psychological depth he imparted to the sitters. The monumental marble relief in St. Peter's, The Encounter of St. Leo the Great and Attila (16461653), a sculptural tour-de-force, initiated a new genre for baroque art that would be emulated into the eighteenth century. The doubled life-sized marble group the Beheading of St. Paul (16341644, San Paolo Maggiore, Bologna) is set above the altar and seen in the round. The composition captures the moment before the executioner's raised sword strikes and displays Paul's peaceful, spiritual resignation in the face of imminent death.

The influence of Bernini's baroque style extended to the end of the seventeenth and well into the eighteenth century. The Altar of St. Ignatius Loyola at the Gesu in Rome (16951699) was designed by Andrea Pozzo and executed by a number of sculptors including Pierre Legros. A marble, gilt bronze, and frescoed confection on a truly monumental scale, it was designed to overwhelm by size, opulence, and the extravagant use of colored marbles. Herein lay the seeds of the decline of the baroque style, for the deep personal piety that vivified Bernini's art was not evident in that of his followers. With the advent of the Age of Reason in the eighteenth century and the concomitant decline in the status of the church, art theorists scorned baroque illusionism and its exuberant emotionalism as an affront to reason.

Slowly taste turned, favoring the restrained aesthetic of ancient Greek art for what Johann Joachim Winckelmann called its "noble simplicity and calm grandeur." Rome still attracted sculptors from all over Europe but they began to seek different ways of expressing the time's new ideas. The young Jean-Antoine Houdon's statue St. Bruno (17661767, Santa Maria degli Angeli) pointed the way with still, smooth vertical draperies, a closed profile, and placid, meditative calm. His portrait busts are a marvel of natural observation that ennobles the sitters' intellectual traits. Yet it was an Italian sculptor, Antonio Canova (17571822) who created what we now think of as the first neoclassical sculpture, Theseus and the Minotaur (1781, Victoria and Albert Museum, London). His subsequent works, such as Cupid and Psyche (17871793, Louvre, Paris), Perseus (18041806, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), Paolina Borghese as Venus Victorious (18041808, Galleria Borghese) and The Three Graces (18151817, London), recouped the artistic and ethical purity of Greek art and inspired artists on two continents, initiating the century-long reign of neoclassicism.

See also Baroque ; Bernini, Gian Lorenzo ; Michelangelo Buonarroti ; Rome ; Rome, Art in .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Avery, Charles. Giambologna: The Complete Sculpture. Mt. Kisco, N.Y., 1987.

Boucher, Bruce. Italian Baroque Sculpture. London, 1998.

Enggass, Robert. Early Eighteenth Century Sculpture in Rome: An Illustrated Catalogue Raisonné. 2 vols., University Park, Pa., and London, 1976.

Hibbard, Howard. Bernini. New York, 1990; 1st ed. 1965.

. Michelangelo. 2nd ed. Cambridge, Mass., 1985.

Lavin, Irving. Bernini and the Unity of the Visual Arts. 2 vols., New York, 1980.

Licht, Fred. Canova. New York, 1983.

Pope-Hennessy, John. Donatello. New York, 1993.

. Italian High Renaissance and Baroque Sculpture. 4th ed. London, 1996.

. Italian Renaissance Sculpture. 4th ed. London, 1996.

Michael P. Mezzatesta

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"Sculpture." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. 29 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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sculpture

sculpture Breasts, bellies, and buttocks bulging, the female figurines of Paleolithic Europe are the earliest echoes of the human body in sculpture. Some 35 000 years old, such so-called ‘Venuses’ are an extraordinary breed. The ‘Venus of Willendorf’, for example, has a mere knob of a head, her face obscured by what has been interpreted as a cap of curls. Her puny appendages dangle below the swollen organs of an exaggerated fecundity, leading historians to make analogies, anachronistically, with the Greek goddess of love.

Numbers of these early carvings have been found, and most employ an already sophisticated symbolic play of miniaturization and metonymy. The body is constructed on an intimate scale, like most early sculpture (these figures are usually about 15 cm high), rendering these female forms both literally graspable and psychologically non-threatening. Yet the symmetrically-arranged limbs and organs are often significantly abstracted — visually bisected with deep lines between breasts and thighs (and even running down the midsection), so that the entire miniature body can be viewed as a slightly larger-than-life-size equivalent for the female vulva. Whatever rituals they accompanied, and whatever practices gave them cultural meaning, have been lost. All that can be said with confidence of these first moments in cultic sculpture is that mimetic representation is far from the primary goal.

Authority figures

Sculpture of the body in the African continent participated in these wide Paleolithic trends, but more salient for art historians has been the enduring canonical tradition emerging with dynastic rule in Upper Egypt at the beginning of the third millennium bce. As scholars have argued, the astonishing invariance of the dynastic Egyptian canon is a mark of its unremitting intentionality, as well as a sign of its social origins in systems that controlled representations and institutionalized their modes of transmission. Dynastic Egyptian sculpture of the body, based on an art of contour and shallow relief rather than sculpture in-the-round, presents different aspects of the human form as if each were seen from a different vantage point. Eye, shoulders, and one breast are shown as if viewed from the front; face, legs, feet, and the other breast are represented in profile. Junctures (such as the hip or neck) are non-anatomical transitions expressing sections of the contour.

The Egyptian canon was developed specifically to project a visual sign of one pre-eminent body, that of the ruler. The strong arm (its symbolic attributes fully preserved) is shown clenched, or in muscled extension (wielding a sceptre or other sign of authority); the (usually male) face is limned with its jaw jutting forward; the feet are stable on the ground line, yet one foot is shown striding forward in purposeful procession. Repeating this series of important attributes, the canon was a socially-enforced formula for achieving clarity in delineating power, not some ‘way of seeing’ or being-in-the-body that can be held to be innate in the distant Egyptian (or, for that matter, the ancient Mesopotamian or Mycenaean). As described by Whitney Davis, the canonized body of the Egyptian ruler stabilized only with the second period of pharaonic rule, ‘symbolically [stating] certain social achievements that society had recently recognized as significant, potentially unstable, and problematic for its continued reproduction — namely, the stability and validation of a centralized state’.

When cultures in ancient Greece emerged to revise the Egyptian canon in specific and self-conscious ways, they built on local traditions of sculpture that manipulated patterns of nakedness and ritual. Greek sculpture of the body was intended primarily for ritual use; those being depicted are participants in religious practices or objects of devotion, not (or not only) articulating signs of statehood. Votive figures in the form of women (viewed as ‘not-men’) are shown draped; only men are naked. But, as Andrew Stewart argues, in an earlier (pre-Geometric) tradition, both men and women were shown naked, their basic forms marked by slits or penile protuberances that reveal a paramount goal of gender differentiation in which women were not merely partial or canceled men. In this pre-canonical period in Greece, the body was a differentiated sign for the human in general, but also for the self in particular. Clothing or other social implements were mere distractions from the true self, revealed by, and in, the body.

The shift from this early phase of nakedness to a bifurcation in Greek sculpture and vase-painting between the clothed female and the naked male, appears in the late eighth century bce. Nakedness is the natural state of the human (male): clothing designates its socially constructed (and female) state. Not coincidentally, this is also the period of consolidation for male rule in the polis, and the moment when running naked during the (male) Olympic Games becomes the rule. It also marks the inaugural moment for what would later come to be called ‘classical’ Greek art, a powerful conflation of ambitions, for mimesis and a new body ideal — twin goals that would haunt sculpture, and culture, for millenia.

The sculpted body in this highly mimetic phase of classical Greek art was preferentially bronze, a metal which carried all the connotations of Hesiod's descriptions of the race of strong men that preceded the classical age of heroes. The literally ‘brazen’ warrior stood poised for aggressive and immediate action — breath drawn into a barrel chest through slightly parted lips (made of copper, with gleaming silver teeth), nipples taut (and inlaid in contrasting copper), hands flexed around weapons, and inlaid eyes (with copper eyelashes) staring implacably at their prey. The polychrome realism of such works was lost by the later dominance of the Roman marble copies that were the primary means of transmitting classical forms. The bleached white headless and armless ‘Venus’ came to represent the classical tradition for countless followers in later times — despite periodic archaeological revelations of the intense colours that once adorned Greek sculpture in marble and in bronze.

Corpus Christian

Tied as it was to pagan religions, the Greek mimetic model was devalued by the early Christians (and, for that matter, by the Judaic traditions on which they built). The play between illusion and the materiality of sculptural form was but one aspect of the devilment Christianity perceived in these body images. Medieval sculpture, then, was a sculpture of the body in dialectic — either dematerialized into architectural form or rendered abjectly material, ridden with the wormholes of corporeal death or dripping with the gore of the Passion. Arguably, the privileged Christian signifier of the cross is the ultimate sculptural abstraction of the body. As floorplan of the cathedral, icon above the altar, and punctuating votive on the rosary, the cross is both reminder of the body's dross mortality, and vehicle for its divine transcendence. Depicted medieval bodies (such as the curving apostles who adapt themselves to the portals of a Romanesque cathedral) are only part of the story, for the medieval body also moved, in worship, through the abstract sculptural void of the cruciform (body-formed) church.

Quattrocento Neoplatonists struggled to reclaim the naturalistic body as a signifier of the sacred. The triumph of High Renaissance sculpture marked the success of this project, but not without dramatic struggles, such as the iconoclastic burnings of ‘pagan’ art under the fierce eye of the preacher Savonarola. Buttressed by the support of powerful patrons and his own humanist ambitions, Michelangelo Buonarroti was but one of the most gifted Renaissance artists who restored sculpture to the profoundly mimetic status it had possessed in classical times (indeed, in one famous story the young Michelangelo buried one of his marble torsos, fooling fellow Tuscans into believing it was ancient when it was finally unearthed). Whether painting sculpted androgynes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, hewing the colossal David from the quarries at Carrara, or achieving the dreamy torsion of the half-liberated Slaves, Michelangelo forced sculpted bodies (preferably nude and male) to the forefront of visual culture and public space, where they would remain until well into the twentieth century.

The apotheosis of the body in stone must surely be Gianlorenzo Bernini's (1598–1680) Cornaro Chapel altar depicting The Ecstacy of Saint Teresa (Rome, 1645–52). This well-known work instantiates the emotional intensity, drama, and erotic mysticism of the baroque (by one of the style's inventors). From a tangle of surging drapery, an upturned head, and a few exposed appendages, the sculptor convinces us of Teresa's sublime jouissance, amplified by gilded rays of light and a smiling angel (or Eros) looking on. Such extreme emotional states, and such twists and turns of the body, were tamed during the Enlightenment. Neo-classicism was reconfigured in terms of an archaic Greek ideal (the Egyptianizing Kouros rather than the explosive movement of Hellenistic Greece). Bodies aligned themselves in military phalanxes ( Francois Rude's Marseillaise, 1833), or arranged themselves in tepid erotic displays ( Antonio Canova's Pauline Borghese as Venus, 1808). Only the pressures of a restless, industrializing modernity would threaten the long reign of these classical echoes. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, twin emphases on specularity and an inner-directed abstraction (its seeming obverse) rendered figural sculpture increasingly irrelevant. Bridged by the accomplishments of French Impressionist sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), the tenure of the classical body ended, and the twentieth-century body emerged — fragmented, pocked by light, insistently unfinished, and usually cast in industrial scale foundries rather than carved ‘by hand’ (even if they had often been the hands of skilled practiciens).

Modern discipline

The multiple, serialized body characterized modern artists' production, with or without the artist's knowledge or consent. Rodin's sculptures still continue to be cast by the French government (with his blessing) and although Edgar Dega's Little Dancer of 14 Years (c.1881) was made in a single wax original (dressed in gauze tutu and silk, with real hair whose ratty realism repulsed contemporary critics), market pressures resulted in its replication in bronze, with only the tutu in cloth. The possibilities presented by such industrial casting methods, and by the concept of serialization itself, became themes for later artists. Drawing from the vibrant vernacular tradition of African wood carving, Pablo Picasso's odd little Cubist abstraction Glass of Absinthe (1914) was cast in bronze and issued in a series of six, each painted differently to play with the object's anthropomorphic status as both cup and besotted drinker of the lethal drug.

The history of twentieth-century art is a history of the ebb and flow of abstraction; the projected and empathetic presence of the body in the sculpture shifted in mid-century to a dialectic between the body and the sculpture. Phenomenology codified this shift, focusing on the relationship of the perceiving body to forms in an experiential space. This was particularly important for the group of artists called the Minimalists (New York, 1960–8). Their central canonical form was the cube, although the rectangle and the paralleliped were contenders. Such basic geometric forms, many built to the scale of a standing man, were held to have ‘presence’, to command a response from the viewer of the type normally reserved for other human beings — to function, in other words, as another body, confronting, but not replicating, the viewer's own.

The reductive austerities of Minimalism were followed by a wide range of art movements that brought the body forcefully back into art — although not by the standard mimetic means. Art of the last decades of the twentieth century can no longer be contained within the genre called ‘sculpture’: body art, performance, and occasionally even installation art inserted the living body into the arena of display. Visual artists commanded theatrical stages, but they also worked in stadiums, seashores, sidewalks, subways, and conventional gallery interiors. Repetitive actions of bodies in Ann Hamilton's installations surfaced concerns with labour and ritual; Laurie Anderson's technologically-mediated performance art questioned the stability of gender; Adrian Piper's Explorations of the abject body strained the social fabric of public space in New York City; absent bodies, signalled by female-shaped depressions in the earth, were presented in Ana Mendieta's Silueta Series, performing the negativity so often ascribed to ‘woman’ in a binary economy of signs. The source of much of this fin-de-millenia energy lay in feminist and multicultural critiques of a prevailing Western tradition, seemingly not yet fully exhausted — that tradition in which living bodies are emptied and mapped onto the fetish known as sculpture.

Caroline A. Jones

Bibliography

Davis, W. (1989). The canonical tradition in ancient Egyptian art. Cambridge University PressM.
Stewart, A. (1997). Art, desire, and the body in ancient Greece. Cambridge University Press.


See also art and the body.

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sculpture

sculpture, art of producing in three dimensions representations of natural or imagined forms. It includes sculpture in the round, which can be viewed from any direction, as well as incised relief, in which the lines are cut into a flat surface.

See also articles on special techniques, e.g., model and modeling.

Techniques and Materials

Sculpture embraces such varied techniques as modeling, carving, casting, and construction—techniques that materially condition the character of the work. Whereas modeling permits addition as well as subtraction of the material and is highly flexible, carving is strictly limited by the original block from which material must be subtracted. Carvers, therefore, have sometimes had recourse to construction in which separate pieces of the same or different material are mechanically joined together. Casting is a reproduction technique that duplicates the form of an original whether modeled, carved, or constructed, but it also makes possible certain effects that are impractical in the other techniques. Top-heavy works that would require external support in clay or stone can stand alone in the lighter-weight medium of hollow cast metal.

The principal sculptural techniques have undergone little change throughout the ages. Hand modeling in wax (see wax figures), papier-mâché, or clay remains unaltered, although the firing of the clay from simple terra-cotta to elaborately glazed ceramics has varied greatly. Carving has for centuries made use of such varied materials as stone, wood, bone, and, more recently, plastics, and carvers have long employed many types of hammers, chisels, drills, gauges, and saws. For carrying out monumental works from small studies, various mechanical means have been developed for approximating the proportions of the original study.

Bronze casting is also a technique of extreme antiquity (see bronze sculpture). The Greeks and Chinese mastered the cire perdue (lost-wax) process, which was revived in the Renaissance and widely practiced until modern times. Little Greek sculpture in bronze has survived, apparently because the metal was later melted down for other purposes, but the material itself resists exposure better than stone and was preferred by the Greeks for their extensive art of public sculpture. Metal may also be cast in solid, hammered, carved, or incised forms. The mobile is a construction that moves and is intended to be seen in motion. Mobiles utilize a wide variety of materials and techniques (see also stabile). Contemporary practice emphasizes the beauty of materials and the expression of their nature in the work.

History

Ancient Sculpture

Sculpture has been a means of human expression since prehistoric times. The ancient cultures of Egypt and Mesopotamia produced an enormous number of sculptural masterworks, frequently monolithic, that had ritual significance beyond aesthetic considerations (see Egyptian art; Assyrian art; Sumerian and Babylonian art; Hittite art and architecture; Phoenician art). The sculptors of the ancient Americas developed superb, sophisticated techniques and styles to enhance their works, which were also symbolic in nature (see pre-Columbian art and architecture; North American Native art). In Asia sculpture has been a highly developed art form since antiquity (see Chinese art; Japanese art; Indian art and architecture).

The freestanding and relief sculpture of the ancient Greeks developed from the rigidity of archaic forms. It became, during the classical and Hellenistic eras, the representation of the intellectual idealization of its principal subject, the human form. The concept was so magnificently realized by means of naturalistic handling as to become the inspiration for centuries of European art. Roman sculpture borrowed and copied wholesale from the Greek in style and techniques, but it made an important original contribution in its extensive art of portraiture, forsaking the Greek ideal by particularizing the individual (see Greek art; Etruscan art; Roman art).

Western Sculpture from the Middle Ages to the Seventeenth Century

In Europe the great religious architectural sculptures of the Romanesque and Gothic periods form integral parts of the church buildings, and often a single cathedral incorporates thousands of figural and narrative carvings. Outstanding among the Romanesque sculptural programs of the cathedrals and churches of Europe are those at Vézelay, Moissac, and Autun (France); Hildesheim (Germany); and Santiago de Compostela (Spain). Remarkable sculptures of the Gothic era are to be found at Chartres and Reims (France); Bamberg and Cologne (Germany). Most of this art is anonymous, but as early as the 13th cent. the individual sculptor gained prominence in Italy with Nicola and Giovanni Pisano.

The late medieval sculptors preceded a long line of famous Italian Renaissance sculptors from Della Quercia to Giovanni da Bologna. The center of the art was Florence, where the great masters found abundant public, ecclesiastical, and private patronage. The city was enriched by the masterpieces of Ghiberti, Donatello, the Della Robbia family, the Pollaiuolo brothers, Cellini, and Michelangelo. The northern Renaissance also produced important masters who were well known individually, such as the German Peter Vischer the elder, the Flemish Claus Sluter, and Pilon and Goujon in France.

In France a courtly and secular art flourished under royal patronage during the 16th and 17th cent. In Italy the essence of the high baroque was expressed in the dynamism, technical perfection, originality, and unparalleled brilliance of the works of the sculptor-architect Bernini. The sculpture of Puget in France was more consistently Baroque in style and theme than that of his contemporaries Girardon and the Coustous.

Modern Sculpture

The 18th cent. modified the dramatic and grandiose style of the baroque to produce the more intimate art of Clodion and Houdon, and it also saw the birth of neoclassicism in the work of Canova. This derivative style flourished well into the 19th cent. in the work of Thorvaldsen and his followers, but concurrent with the neoclassicists, and then superseding them, came a long and distinguished line of French realist sculptors from Rude to Rodin.

Rodin's innovations in expressive techniques helped many 20th-century sculptors to free their work from the extreme realism of the preceding period and also from the long domination of the Greek ideal. In the work of Aristide Maillol, that ideal predominates. The influence of other traditions, such as those of African sculpture and Aztec sculpture (in both of which a more direct expression of materials, textures, and techniques is found), has contributed to this liberation (see African art).

Among the gifted 20th-century sculptors who have explored different and highly original applications of the art are sculptors working internationally, including Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, Jacques Lipschitz, Naum Gabo, Antoine Pevsner, Ossip Zadkine, Alberto Giacometti, and Ivan Mĕstrović. Important contributions have also been made by the sculptors Jacob Epstein, Henry Moore, and Barbara Hepworth (English); Aristide Maillol, Charles Despiau, and Jean Arp (French); Ernst Barlach, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, and Georg Kolbe (German); Julio González (Spanish); Giacomo Manzù and Marino Marini (Italian); and Alexander Calder, William Zorach, David Smith, Richard Lippold, Eva Hesse, and Louise Nevelson (American).

An element of much modern sculpture is movement. In kinetic works the sculptures are so balanced as to move when touched by the viewer; others are driven by machine. Large moving and stationary works in metal are frequently manufactured and assembled by machinists in factories according to the sculptor's design specifications.

Bibliography

See Sir Herbert Read, A Concise History of Modern Sculpture (1964); G. Bazin, The History of World Sculpture (tr. 1968); A. M. Hammacher, The Evolution of Modern Sculpture (1969); W. Tucker, The Language of Sculpture (1985); B. Ceysson, ed., Sculpture: The Great Tradition of Sculpture from the 15th to the 18th Century (1987).

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Commemoration. Sculpture in the United States began as a craft rather than as an art. Most early-nineteenth-century American sculptors were stonecutters who specialized in tombstone production or wood-carvers who specialized in furniture decoration. Since local sculptors lacked classical training, Americans who wanted to commemorate Revolutionary heroes and founding fathers had to offer commissions for monuments and statues to European sculptors. In 1784 the Virginia State Assembly awarded the commission for a statue of George Washington to French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. For the U.S. capital, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Latrobe arranged in 1805 to have two Italian sculptors brought to America to complete the detailed work required. The desire to honor and memorialize great Americans through sculpture eventually helped to legitimize sculpture as a form of high art in the United States.

European Training. By 1825 Americans were beginning to travel to Europe to study sculpture under masters such as Albert Bertel Thorwaldsen and the great Antonio Canova. Horatio Greenough, a Harvard graduate who had been introduced to artistic theory by the painter Washington Allston, traveled to Rome in 1825 to study under the Danish sculptor Thorwaldsen. Greenough, who had studied anatomy and the classics at Harvard, was introduced to nude drawing at the Roman Academy, a common practice in Rome but shocking to an American. Greenough also went to Florence to work with Lorenzo Bartolini, whose belief that nature was the best teacher and model contrasted with Thorwaldsens neoclassical emphasis on symmetry and principle rather than naturalism. Several of Greenoughs best-known and most controversial statues, including Chaunting Cherubs (1830), Medora (1833), and George Washington (18321841), revealed this tension between neoclassicism and naturalism as well as showing Greenoughs willingness to use nude or seminude men and women as a means of conveying higher sentiments.

Naturalism. Perhaps as the result of the failure of his neoclassically-influenced George Washington, Gree-noughs later work tended toward more-naturalistic imagery and echoed his emerging interest in using ideal sculpture to portray distinctively American themes. This change can be seen in The Rescue, a complex sculpture showing a white settler in a hunting shirt and cap rescuing a woman and child from a murderous Indian. The Rescue was installed in the U.S. capital in 1853, a day after Greenoughs death. Like Greenough, sculptor Henry Kirke Brown turned away from his European neoclassical training to produce sculptures featuring more-naturalistic human figures and treating American Indian subjects. Browns sculptures Aboriginal Hunter (1846), Dying Tecumseh (1848), and Indian Panther (18491850) portrayed Native Americans as subjects and suggested that white Americans encounters with Native Americans provided material for a distinctively American art.

Powers. Another nineteenth-century sculptor, Hiram Powers, worked his way up from stonecutting to sculpting. Powerss bust of Andrew Jackson (1835) established his reputation as a sculptor; his naturalistic reproduction of Old Hickorys weather-beaten features brought him commissions for the busts of John Marshall, John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster, Martin Van Buren, and John Quincy Adams. In 1837 Powers traveled to Italy, where, like Greenough, he began to work on ideal sculptures (sculptures which used human forms to portray fictional characters or ideas, as opposed to the portrait busts that had given Powers his reputation). In Italy, Powers produced his best-known sculpture, The Greek Slave (1843), which portrayed a nude girl in shackles. In 1847 the first showing of The Greek Slave in the United States caused

considerable controversy. Meant to illustrate Greeces plight during its war of independence from Turkey, the girls nudity was intended to reflect the extreme vulnerability of the Greeks, but audiences who were used to associating nudity with immorality were shocked by Powerss willingness to exhibit the figure of an undressed female. As American audiences came to understand alternative ways to interpret nudity, they became more receptive to statues of nude figures. The exhibition of The Greek Slave eventually made a total of $23, 000 and marked an important moment in the history of American art and its appreciation.

Ideal Sculpture. Because it was best able to carry morally instructive ideas, ideal sculpture was considered to be a higher form of art than portrait sculpture. Yet in the United States sculpture first achieved artistic legitimacy as a means of commemorating great moments in American history, for when used to portray the great men (and women) of the new nation portrait sculpture could also be a means of carrying instruction. Debates over whether sculpture should follow neoclassical lines, drawing on Greek and Roman ideals of symmetry and beauty, or more-naturalistic lines also shaped beliefs about ideal and portrait sculpture. As Greenough would discover to his disappointment, American audiences would increasingly resist sculpture that drew too strongly on neoclassical imagery. Even as Americans accustomed themselves to ideal sculpture that portrayed nude men and women to express higher ideas, they increasingly wanted their human figures, real or imaginary, to resemble natural men and women rather than artificial neoclassical models.

Sources

Wayne Craven, Sculpture in America, new revised edition (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1984);

Joy Kasson, Marble Queens and Captives: Women in Nineteenth-Century Sculpture (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1990).

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As in painting and architecture, the sculpture of the Renaissance made important breaks with the traditions of the Middle Ages. While Gothic sculpture presented idealized forms, in order to inspire faith and Christian devotion, Renaissance sculptors strived for the classical ideals of harmony, proportion, and realism. Their works broke out of the religious tradition of the Middle Ages, to commemorate politicians, princes, and mercenary captains as well as saints, biblical scenes, and the life of Christ. Renaissance sculptors mastered the demands of monumental public art, decorating churches and public squares with larger-than-life statuary and architectural embellishments. Sculptors of the period also excelled in the medium of bronze, which demanded strength and mastery of the craft of forming and casting metal.

The Florentine sculptor Donatello revolutionized and humanized the art form. This artist decorated the Cathedral of Florence and the Church of Orsanmichele with a work in a new style, one that more accurately depicted the human figure and lent it the ideal proportions of classical sculpture. Donatello introduced the low relief technique, in which figures set in a narrow or confined space are given the illusion of motion and depth through the use of perspective. For the first time, the sculptor took into account the point of view of the observer in designing and placing his works. Donatello's most famous works include reliefs on the altar of the Sanctuary of Saint Anthony at Padua, the Miracle of the Believing Donkey and Miracle of the Irascible Son, monumental panoramic scenes, and two pulpits in bronze for the Church of San Lorenzo in Florence. His statue of Judith and Holphernes has been a landmark of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence since the fifteenth century.

Lorenzo Ghiberti's two sets of baptistery doors, completed over a period of two decades in Florence, were done in bronze relief. The rectangular panels were threedimensional, sculptural paintings, with the figures set in landscapes and architectural backgrounds. The panels represented a daring technical achievement, with figures foreshortened and emerging from the background in three dimensions. In the work of Donatello and Ghiberti, sculpture came under the influence of ancient Roman art and its treatment of the human body and face. The idealized, unearthly forms of the Middle Ages gradually gave way to the expressive power of movement and the depiction of strong human emotions. Other famous Florentine sculptors were Antonio Pollaiuolo and Andrea del Verocchio, who is best known for the group Doubting Thomas, created for the facade of the church of Orsanmichele. Jacopo della Quercia, one of the most skilled Italian sculptors outside of Florence, lived and worked in Bologna.

In the Renaissance, sculpture was a display of wealth and status. Busts decorated halls and outer niches, full figures and equestrian statues were raised in public squares, and members of the nobility competed to patronize the best sculptors and have their names associated with their works. Collectors commissioned copies of Greek and Roman statuary, in marble as well as bronze, a method that kept the best workshops of wealthy cities busy.

Michelangelo dominated the area of sculpture of the sixteenth century. He was considered by many to be a greater master of the medium than Roman sculptors, the highest compliment of the Renaissance. His principle works include Bacchus ; the Pietà; David, a work more than fourteen feet high; and Moses, created for the tomb of Pope Julius II in San Pietro in Vincoli Church. Four works known as the Slaves also created for the same tomb, show bodies partially captured in the stone. The allegorical use of sculpture, rather than its use as representation, led the way to the new Mannerist style that ended the Renaissance.

Sculpture at the close of the Renaissance became complex, elaborate, and lacking in the simple classical virtues widely admired at the start of the era. One of the most famous works of Benvenuto Cellini, a skilled metal caster and jeweler, was a solid gold salt cellar that the artist designed for the French king Francis I. Another Cellini sculpture, the bronze Perseus, influenced the following generation of Florentine sculptors, including Giovanni Bologna, the most renowned marble sculptor of the late Renaissance. The Mannerist style developed by this sculptor emphasized movement and balance, with the figures skillfully posed in complex arrangements. Giambologna, as he was known, worked for the Medici dynasty in Florence, creating sculptures for parks and grottoes and miniature bronzes for the decoration of noble households. His most famous works, including The Fountain of Neptune (created in Bologna), The Rape of the Sabine Women and several versions of Mercury, had a lasting influence on later sculptors of the Baroque period.

See Also: Cellini, Benvenuto; Donatello; Ghiberti, Lorenzo; Michelangelo Buonarroti

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The Ideal Form. Not a nude figure, I hope, com-ments a character in Nathaniel Hawthornes The Marble Faun (1860). Hawthornes novel, set in Rome, tracks a band of American artists abroad. As Hawthornes sculp-tor, Kenyon, prepares to unveil a figure, his friend Miriam observes, Every young sculptor seems to think that he must give the world some specimen of indecorous womanhood, and call it Ève, Venus, a Nymph, or any name that may apologize for a lack of decent clothing. Miriams teasing remarks shed light on the state of nineteenth-century American sculpture. At midcentury a marble nude titled The Greek Slave (circa 1843) enchanted the American art world. Hiram Powers (1805-1873), creator of The Greek Slave, had recently immigratedlike so many sculptors of his generationto Italy, where he and compatriots such as Horatio Greenough (1805-1852) developed a taste for grandeur, classicism, and what Greenough called colossal nudityideals foisted, with varying degrees of success, on the American public. Powerss Greek Slave, lacking clothes but retaining a measure of chastity, found an adoring audience: It is not her person but her spirit that stands exposed, Powers declared. Mid-nineteenth-century nudes idealized the female body, even as patriotic monuments Andrew Jackson (1853), by Clark Mills (1815-1883) in Washington, D.C.; Washington (1856), by Henry Kirke Brown (1814-1886) in New York City; Thomas Hart Benton (1868), by Harriet Hosmer (1830-1908) in Saint Louisidealized the male statesman. These ideals were modified, but seldom challenged outright, by the sculpture of succeeding generations.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Hosmer, Chauncey B. Ives (1810-1894), William Rimmer (1816-1879), Erastus Dow Palmer (1817-1904), and John Quincy Adams Ward (1830-1910) were among the prominent American sculptors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The two dominant figures of the period, however, were younger artists: Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) and Daniel Chester French (1850-1931). The historian Henry Adams (1838-1918) described his friend Saint-Gaudens as a cautious, observant, and oddly cairn artist. He never laid down the law, or affected the despot, or became brutalized . . . by the brutalities of his world, observed Adams. He required no incense; he was no egoist; his simplicity of thought was excessive. Saint-Gaudens received a cosmopolitan education in New York, Paris, Florence, and Rome; early on he won the respect and patronage of older artists such as the painter John La Farge (1835-1910) and the sculptor J. Q. A. Ward. With his Farragut (1881) and Sherman (1903) monuments in New York, his Lincoln (1887) in Chicago, and his Robert Gould Shaw (1897) in Boston, Saint-Gaudens upheld the ideal of the American hero. Saint-Gaudenss work combines grace and vitalityquali ties that harmonized with the spirit of the con-temporary Beaux-Arts revival. The prestigious architectural

firm of McKim, Mead and White placed Saint-Gaudenss nude Diana atop their Madison Square Garden in 1892. The following year they transported Diana to Chicago to stand guard over the White City of the Worlds Columbian Exposition.

Daniel Chester French. French possessed neither the sophisticated gloss nor the cosmopolitan training of Saint-Gaudens. Born in Exeter, New Hampshire, French was largely self-trained as a sculptor. He received his first significant commission in 1873: the Minute Man in Concord, Massachusetts, designed to commemorate the centennial of the shot heard round the world. President Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) attended the 1875 installation ceremony at the old North Bridge in Concord; Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) unveiled the statue. The Minute Man commission opened doors for the young New Englander. French sculpted a founders statue John Harvard (1884)for the campus of Harvard University and a seventy-five-foot Statue of the Republic (1893) for the Worlds Columbian Exposition. French is best remembered for the pensive, thirty-foot-tall statue of Abraham Lincoln enshrined in 1922 in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Although neither Saint-Gaudens nor French revolutionized American sculpture, each created monuments to the raw power of the sculpted form.

Sources

Charles H. Caffin, American Masters of Sculpture (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page, 1913);

Sylvia E. Crane, White Silence: Greenough, Powers, and Crawford. American Sculptors in Nineteenth-Century Italy (Coral Gables, Fla.: University of Miami Press, 1972);

Richard McLanathan, The American Tradition in the Arts (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968).

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sculpture Art of creating forms in three dimensions, either in the round or in relief. Techniques employed include carving (in wood, stone, marble, ivory, etc.), modelling (in clay, wax, etc.), or casting (in bronze and other metals). The history of sculpture parallels that of painting. The early civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, and the Far East were rich in sculpture. The Greeks developed a style of relief and free-standing sculpture. Roman sculptors were profoundly influenced by the Greeks, but forsook the Greek ideal in portraiture, which they enriched with individual characterization. Medieval European sculpture was frequently a feature of Romanesque and Gothic churches, many of which were covered with carvings. Highly stylized in the Romanesque period, this architectural sculpture became more representative in the Gothic era. Prior to the Renaissance, individual sculptors rarely achieved fame. The works of such masters as Ghiberti, Donatello, and Michelangelo enriched the Florentine Renaissance. High Baroque sculpture is exemplified in the works of the architect-sculptor Bernini in Rome. Pierre Puget was the movement's leading exponent in France where, in the 18th century, it was superseded by neo-classicism. This extended into the 19th century, when it was rivalled and replaced by a movement of realist sculpture, such as that of Rodin. African, Aztec, and other ethnic and ancient sculpture stimulated great modern sculptors such as Picasso, Modigliani, Brancusi, and Moore.

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sculp·ture / ˈskəlpchər/ • n. the art of making two- or three-dimensional representative or abstract forms, esp. by carving stone or wood or by casting metal or plaster. ∎  a work of such a kind: a bronze sculpture | a collection of sculpture. ∎  Zool. & Bot. raised or sunken patterns or texture on the surface of a shell, pollen grain, cuticle, or other biological specimen. • v. [tr.] make or represent (a form) by carving, casting, or other shaping techniques: the choir stalls were each carefully sculptured. ∎  form, shape, or mark as if by sculpture, esp. with strong, smooth curves: [as adj.] (sculptured) he had an aquiline nose and sculptured lips. ORIGIN: late Middle English: from Latin sculptura, from sculpere ‘carve.’

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sculpture

sculpture art of carving in hard material, products of this. XIV (rare before XVII). — L. sculptūra, f. pp. stem of sculpere, var. of scalpere scratch, carve; see -URE.
So sculptor XVII. — L.: see -OR1. Hence sculpt, sculptural (-AL1) XIX, sculpture vb. XVII.

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Sculpture

SCULPTURE

SCULPTURE. SeeArt: Sculpture .

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sculpturebotcher, gotcha, top-notcher, watcher, wotcha •imposture, posture •firewatcher • birdwatcher •debaucher, scorcher, torture •Boucher, voucher •cloture, encroacher, poacher, reproacher •jointure • moisture •cachucha, future, moocher, smoocher, suture •butcher •kuccha, scutcher, toucher •structure •culture, vulture •conjuncture, juncture, puncture •rupture • sculpture • viniculture •agriculture • sericulture •arboriculture • pisciculture •horticulture • silviculture •subculture • counterculture •aquaculture • acupuncture •substructure • infrastructure •candidature • ligature • judicature •implicature •entablature, tablature •prelature • nomenclature • filature •legislature • musculature •premature • signature • aperture •curvature •lurcher, nurture, percher, searcher

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