Sculpture Journal

Column bodies: the caryatid and Frederic Leighton’s Royal Academy sketchbooks

Sculpture Journal (2016), 25, (3), 421–432.


Frederic Leighton’s sketchbooks at the Royal Academy offer an exceptional insight into the formation of the artist and his practice, since they display the origins of his painted figures in certain figure types which he sketched and drew repeatedly. This article examines several drawings of female figures from these sketchbooks, and draws attention to two predominant characteristics: an association between the figure and the column, and the supporting of a vessel on the head. It combines a reading of these drawings with written statements by Leighton, in relation to the artist’s finished works, to reveal the key role that the caryatid, and especially the British Museum’s Erechtheion sculpture, played in his use of antique sources.

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Author details

O’Neill, Ciarán Rua