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Zawiejski, Mieczyslaw Leon (Polish, 1856-1933)
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This elegant white marble sculpture of the Greek poet, Sappho, was produced in the late 19th Century in Florence. Sappho, who can be identified as such by an inscription at the base of the plinth, is pictured in a seated position, with her head slightly bent and eyes lowered. Sappho's hands are clasped together on her knee, and her right foot is placed before her so that it projects out freely from the marble block. Sappho wears a laurel wreath on her head and she is dressed in a classical garment, which slips off her right shoulder slightly. At her feet, propped up against the stone wall she sits on, is a lyre, which Sappho would play when she sang her poems to an audience.
An inscription on the base identifies the sculptor as 'Mieczyslaw Leon Zawiejski' and informs us that the piece was produced in 'Firenze' (Florence) in '189*' - the exact date remains unknown, since the final number has, over time, worn off the marble block.
Zawiejski was a Polish sculptor who worked in Florence at the end of the 19th Century, and was clearly influenced by Italian experiments in genre sculpture. In the course of his career, Zawiejski is known to have worked in New York as well as Italy.
In this sculpture of Sappho, Zawiejski shows himself to be highly skilled at rendering the different textures of curled hair, smooth skin, folded drapery and rough stone. The sculptor has also managed to represent the delicate strings of a lyre in hard marble, which is no easy feat.
This marble figure of Sappho is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship.
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