Piotr Wójtowicz
The Rape of a Sabine Woman, 1890
Provenance unknown

material: plaster

dimensions: 200 × 110 × 100 cm

description: According to Livy, the author of a history of Rome entitled Ab Urbe condita, soon after the foundation of the city by Romulus, Roman settlers decide to acquire wives from the Sabine tribe in order to found families. However, the Sabines refused to allow their women to marry the Romans. Consequently, the latter decided to do it by force. The ancient motif, which enjoyed popularity in the art of the modern era and 19h-century academism, served as a pretext for showing the bravura of the sculptor’s technique. The composition, based on the dramatic contrast between the figure of a Roman and a defenceless, weak woman, is marked by a high level of expressiveness. Sculptor Antoni Madeyski, an ardent admirer of Wójtowicz’s talent, enthusiastically described work on this sculpture: “The two years set for making a sculpture for the competition […] are drawing to an end. It is early April 1890. Wójtowicz’s competitors, two Germans, a Hungarian and a Swiss have been working on their sculptures for two years now. The subject is free. Wójtowicz gets down to work on the sketch. He applies it, changes something, sweats over it and struggles with it… […]. He works hard. The jury is deciding about the award on July 20. Wójtowicz gets more and more haggard, but makes some progress with the group. From time to time he becomes totally discouraged, doesn’t believe in victory or the impartiality of judges… But his colleagues, rivals, lose their countenance more and more; they look with concern at the monumental beautiful figure of a Roman and the gorgeous body of a Sabine woman helplessly bent over his arm." Agata Małodobry

exposition: The Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art in Sukiennice,
The Cloth Hall, 1, Main Market Square

key: Realism, polish impressionism, beginnings of symbolism >>>

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