Frederic, Lord Leighton

The Sluggard

1885

On display at Tate Britain

Artist
Frederic, Lord Leighton 1830–1896
Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
Object: 1911 x 902 x 597 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894
Reference
N01752

Display caption

Leighton struck a balance between the real and the ideal in this life-size bronze sculpture of a perfect male body. It is modern in the way it seizes on a momentary and languid pose, and yet artificial in the way the muscles are emphasised and all personal individuality suppressed. The Sluggard was made for exhibition at the Royal Academy. The fig leaf that hides the penis was a convention intended to neutralise any sexual appeal while the sculpture was on public display. Leighton made few sculptures, but like his paintings they were based on skill in drawing outlines.

Gallery label, February 2010