Top Ten Interesting Facts about Figurative Sculptures
1. Sculptures date back to the Prehistoric Age. One of the earliest ever found is the "Venus of Hohle Fels."
Made from a mammoth tusk and discovered in a cave near Schelklingen, Germany.
Considered the earliest human figurative artwork it dates between 35,000 - 40,000 BC.
Measuring only 6 cm (2.4"), it may have been worn as an amulet.
2. Types of organic materials used for creating sculptures include : stone, wood, clay, plaster, wax, ivory and various types of metals.
3. Paris became synonymous with plaster in the 1600s, thanks to large deposits of gypsum which made it easy to produce plaster of Paris. Despite the name it was the Egyptians who first used plaster to adorn
their burial chambers. Later the Greeks adopted the techniques for works of art and decorations.
4. The 3300 year old bust of Queen Nefertiti was discovered in 1913. Made of limestone and covered
with gypsum plaster which was then painted. In 2009 a CT scan was performed revealing another
less attractive, more realistic likeness of the queen underneath the painted plaster. No one knows
for why the original was reworked but perhaps the Queen Nefertiti was not pleased with the first one.
5. Why did so many Greek & Roman sculptures have no heads or only partial arms?
Same reason that some busts were sometimes displayed without bodies.
Over time body parts simply broke off because they were the weakest points.
6. Michelangelo's, "David", the 17 foot tall, 12,000 pound sculpture was carved out of a single block of white
marble. The research shows the stone nicknamed "giant" had two different sculptors carve it and give
up due to the poor quality and brittleness. The tree trunk behind David's right leg was not put there as
a decoration but rather to add structural integrity and support for the massive sculpture. This was a
common trick used by artist during the Renaissance era.
7. The mystery on how the huge Moai statues on Easter Island were transported to various locations on the island may have an answer. Pollen analysis has established that the island which is now
bare was almost totally forested until 1200 AD. Logs used as rollers were most likely what were used.
8. The portrait of Cleopatra VII is a Roman sculpture made between 46-44 BC during one of her visits
to Rome. It features a diadem which is a headband like crown signifying royalty.
9. Leonardo da Vinci renown for his paintings and drawings was in fact also a sculpture artist.
The only known surviving 3 dimensional work attributed to da Vinci is the "Horse & Rider".
Made of bees wax in 1508, the piece was designed as a model in order to create a much larger
bronze monument for Leonardo's friend Charles d"Amboise, French governor of Milan.
10. Most "successful" sculpture artist in terms of monetary success would undoubtedly be Alberto Giacometti who has sold 4 of the top 10 most expensive sculpture pieces for combined sales of $399.9 million/US.
5 Largest Sculptures
5th Largest Sculpture : Guan Yin Sculpture @ 108 m. in Hainan province, China. The Buddhist Goddess of compassion has 3 faces and took 6 years to complete.
4th Largest Sculpture : Ushiku Daibutsu @ 110 m. in Ushiku Japan. The Buddha sculpture is made of bronze and has 4 different levels for visitors to visit.
3rd Largets Sculpture : Laykyun Sethyar @ 116 m. located in the Khatakan Taung, Myanmar. From the viewing platform inside the Buddha, visitors can see the 89 m. Buddha lying beside the Laykyun Sethyar.
2nd Largest Sculpture : Spring Temple Buddha @ 153 m. in Henan, China. Named after the hot springs nearby, the sculpture took 15 years to complete at a cost of 55 million/US.
#1 Largest Sculpture in the World : Statue of Unity @ 182 m. near the city of Vadodara, India. Constructed to celebrate the nations 143 birthday and took only 46 months to complete.
It has become one of the favorite tourist destinations in India.
It is so high you would require four Statue of Liberty sculptures, one on top of the other
to reach the same height as the Statue of Unity.
10 Most Expensive Sculptures Ever Sold
1. Alberto Giacometti: " L’homme au doigt (Pointing Man) ", 1947 -- $141.3 million
Christie's New York , May 2015 This bronze sculpture holds the title for the most
expensive sculpture ever auctioned.
2. Alberto Giacometti: " L’Homme qui marche I ", 1961 -- $104.3 million
Sotheby's London, February 2010
This life-size bronze work ranked the most expensive work ever auctioned at that time.
3. Alberto Giacometti: " Chariot ", 1950 -- $101 million
Sotheby's New York, Nov 2014
Giacomett's famous "Chariot" is set apart by its gold patina and exquisitely-painted surface.
4. Jeff Koons: "Rabbit" , 1986 -- $91.1 million
Private sale S.I. Newhouse, at Christie's NY May 2019
Inspired by a childs inflatable toy, the sculpture went on to break the auction record for
artwork by a living artist for the second time.
5. Constantin Brancusi: " Portrait de Nancy Cunard ", 1932 -- $71 million
Sold at Christie's NY, May 2018
In 2015 the Romanian Parliament declared February 19 "The Brâncuși Day".
6. Amedeo Modigliani :" Tête ", 1994 -- $59.5 million
Christie's Paris, June 2010
This stone sculpture is the most expensive work of art ever auctioned in France.
7. Jeff Koons: " Balloon Dog ", 1994-2000 -- $58.4 million
Christie's New York, Nov 2013
Koons piece became a world auction record for a work by a living artist.
8. Unknown artist: " The Guennol Lioness ", c.3000 bc - $57.2million
Sotheby's NY, Dec 2007
This work is also the most expensive antiquity ever sold.
9. Alberto Giacometti: " Grande Tête Mince ", 1955 -- $53.3 million
Christie's New York, May 2010
Giacometti had the distinction as the most expensive artist to
have ever lived until having to relinquish the title to Picasso.
10. Henri Matisse: " Nu de Dos, 4 Etat (Back IV) ", 1958 -- $48.8 million
Christie's New York, Nov 2010
The Back Series are four plaster bas-relief sculptures which are
projected images with a shallow overall depth as seen in coins.