3/05/2012

The Bather

Victoria and Albert museum - The Bather
Photo taken by me - All rights reserved


This is the marble sculpture The Bather, made by Albert Toft in 1915. It was on display at Victoria and Albert Museum in London when I caught it on camera - but it is actually a piece belonging to Tate Gallery, that was given the piece by The Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest.

The motif is a woman taking her clothes off (with more clothes off than on) before stepping into a bath (which we are to imagine - in the same way we are to imagine her underwear since the piece of clothing we can see is a dress, and a dress would normally be worn with something beneath it. Let's call it artistic license). 

Throughout the 19th century naked women in marble was a popular theme, and this piece could very well be seen as a continuation of that tradition. But this piece is somewhat more realistic than a lot of the other sculptures you may see, which come across as rounded and sweet versions of ancient sculptures, often with a mythological theme - it was generally viewed as more appropriate to have a naked Venus in your sculpture gallery than a naked portrait of your wife. But this figure, The Bather, comes across as a real woman, she is not a goddess shedding her clothes for a dip, she is a normal English woman doing just that.