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 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. 

venus hohle.jpg

 2. Types of organic materials used for creating sculptures include : stone, wood, clay, plaster, wax, ivory and       various types of metals.

Reserve Head of a Woman.jpg

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. 



Bust of Queen Nefertiti

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.

Roman Marble Portrait
Support Mechanism for David Statue
Moai Statue
Portrait of Cleopatra VII
Sculpture by Leonardo da Vinci
 Sculpture Artist Alberto Giacometti

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.

 Guan Yin Sculpture
 Ushiku Daibutsu Statue
 Laykyun Sethyar
Spring Temple Buddha Statue

#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.


 Statue of Unity the Largest Statue in the World
 Statue of Unity & the Vadodara Backdrop

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.

 Alberto Giacomettis Pointing Man
 Bronze Sculpture L'Homme Qui Marche I
 Giacomettis "Chariot"
 Jeff Koons "Rabbit"
 Brancusis "Portrait de Nancy Cunard"
 Modiglianis "Tete" Sculpture
 Jeff Koons "Balloon Dog"
 "The Guennol Lioness"
 Giacomettis "Grande Tete Mince"
Matisses "Nu de Dos"
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