Frederic, Lord Leighton

An Athlete Wrestling with a Python

1877

On display at Tate Britain

Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
Object: 1746 x 984 x 1099 mm, 290 kg
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1877
Reference
N01754

Display caption

This is the earlier of Frederic Leighton’s only two life-size sculptures, both made with the assistance of Thomas Brock. In subject and scale it was intended as a challenge to one of the greatest classical sculptures, The Laocoön, which shows three men being crushed by sea serpents. Frederic Leighton was a pioneer of what became known as the ‘New Sculpture’ movement in Britain. This fresh approach looked back to classical sculpture while focusing on the naturalism of the body through careful modelling of the surface. This coincided with a revival of interest in bronze, the lost wax technique used here allowing for precision in the treatment of form.

Gallery label, November 2016