Carl Milles The Sun Singer (Torso) 1922

Artwork details

Artist
Carl Milles 1875–1955
Title
The Sun Singer (Torso)
Date 1922
Medium Bronze
Dimensions Object: 911 x 292 x 241 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Bequeathed by Mrs Muriel Elverston 1977
Reference
T02105
Not on display

Catalogue entry

Carl Milles 1875-1955

T02105 The Sun Singer (Torso) 1922

Inscribed 'C. MILLES' on top of base, and founder's mark 'RASMUSSEN | KOBENHAVN' on bottom rim of base
Bronze, 35 7/8 x 11 1/2 x 9 1/2 (91 x 29 x 24)
Bequeathed by Mrs Muriel Elverston 1977
Prov: Kineton Parkes, London; Mrs Muriel Elverston, London, 1938
Lit: M.P.-Verneuil, Carl Milles: Sculpteur Su?dois (Paris-Brussels 1929), Vol.1, pp.58, 106, Vol.2, note on pls.120-2, large version of torso in Millesg?rden repr. pls.120-2; Meyric R. Rogers, Carl Milles: an Interpretation of his Work (New Haven-London 1940), pp.24, 51, large version in Millesg?rden repr. pl.27

This is a study for the monument to the poet Esaias Tegn?r (1782-1846) commissioned from Milles by the Swedish Academy of Letters. Milles took as his inspiration one of Tegn?r's most famous poems 'S?ng till Solen' (Song to the Sun) written in 1813, which is an ode to the sun. The finished sculpture, which is 3.75 metres high, roughly twice life-size, is of a helmeted male nude with his arms outspread in a gesture of welcoming and invoking the sun. It was erected on the Str?parterre in Stockholm in 1926 on a column of veined granite about 5 metres high, with a marble medallion of Tegn?r on the front. There is a further cast at Allerton Park, Monticello, Illinois, on a similar base, while the Millesg?rden at Liding? has a version of the torso on the same scale, mounted on a rectangular stone column which is not quite so high. Both the large versions with the head and arms have reliefs of the muses around the cylindrical base, but the large torso at Lidingo is without these.

This model corresponds closely to the much larger torso in the Millesg?rden except that it has sketchy indications of the reliefs around the base. This particular cast originally belonged to the art critic Kineton Parkes, who was one of Milles' earliest supporters in this country and who wrote appreciatively about his work in his book Sculpture of To-Day published as early as 1921. Anne Hedmark of the Millesg?rden says that there are 35 letters in their collection from Kineton Parkes to the sculptor, but they are all about articles he intended to write and make no reference to this particular piece, which according to their information was made in 1922. The number of casts is not known.

Lars Gyllensten, the Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy (Svenska Akademien) writes that the Swedish poet Verner von Heidenstam (Nobel prizewinner 1916) suggested in the Academy in 1917 that Carl Milles should be offered the task to make a monument in honour of Esaias Tegn?r. In 1918 he was commissioned by the Academy to make this work. His model was approved in 1919 and the model was reworked by him in 1922 (letter of 25 October 1977).

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.517-18, reproduced p.517

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