Skip to main content

Comedy and Tragedy: Sic Vita: M.1-2003

An image of Figure

Photograph copyright © The Fitzwilliam Museum

Terms of use

These images are provided for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons License (BY-NC-ND). To license a high resolution version, please contact our image library who will discuss fees, terms and waivers.

Download this image

Creative commons explained - what it means, how you can use our's and other people's content.

Colours in this image

Alternative views

Object information

Titles

Comedy and Tragedy: Sic Vita
Translated as: Comedy and Tragedy: Such is Life

Maker(s)

Gilbert, Alfred (Sculptor)

Description

Bronze, cast, supported on green figured marble base. A nude youth, wearing a visor-like mask pushed back above his face, and holding in both hands a large gaping mask of Comedy, stands on the ball of his left foot and looks down towards his bent and raised left leg. A bee has just stung the calf and he grimaces in pain to form the mask of Tragedy. The octagonal base rises up in the middle into a circular socle with a depression in the top in which the circular base of the bronze stands.

Notes

History note: Purchased from The Fine Art Society Ltd., Bond Street, London W 1, for £60 by Derek Parsons in 1943; sold by him to G.C.Arnallt Jones on 21 December 1944; his brother-in-law Ivor Glyndwr Davies,Cardiff; his niece, Mrs Margaret Rowena Davey, née Davies (1917-2002); accepted by H.M. Treasury in lieu of capital taxes and allocated to The Fitzwilliam Museum from the estate of Mrs Davey.

Legal notes

Accepted by H.M. Treasury in lieu of capital taxes and allocated to The Fitzwilliam Museum

Measurements and weight

Height: 37 cm

Place(s) associated

  • London ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Allocated (2003-10-20) by H.M. Treasury

Dating

Late 19th Century
Victoria
Circa 1891 CE - Circa 1892 1892 CE

Note

Comedy and Tragedy was the name of a play by W.S. Gilbert which the sculptor had seen several times. He added the comment ‘Sic Vita’ (such is life) . The bee symbolizes love, and its sting, the pain love causes.The bronze originated in a sketch made in 1890, and in 1891, Gilbert developed his idea, using an Italian, Angelo Colorossi, as a model for the youth. The polychromed plaster sculpture was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1892. Bronzes were cast in two sizes, 29 in (73.7 cm) and 14 in (36.8 cm). Between 1902 and 1905 Gilbert or his son ordered casts of several of his most popular works through the Compagnie des Bronzes in Brussels, but this bronze does not bear the foundry’s mark.

Sir Alfred Gilbert RA MVO (1854-1934) was an English sculptor. He studied in London, Paris and Rome, returning to England in 1884. Gilbert was the leading artist in the New Sculpture movement, which revitalised sculpture in late nineteenth-century Britain. He was also a vital force in reintroducing the lost-wax technique for casting works of art in bronze in England (sand-casting had been the norm for bronze sculpture since the 18th century, with lost-wax casting used only for small-scale work and jewellery). His commissions included the jubilee memorial to Queen Victoria in Winchester and the statue of Eros, in aluminium, for the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain in Piccadilly Circus, and in 1900 he was appointed Professor of Sculpture at the Royal Academy. A period of bankruptcy and divorce followed, and Gilbert moved to Bruges. On his return to England in 1926, his fortunes improved, the highlight being the bronze Queen Alexandra Memorial, at Marlborough House, London, 1926-32. He was knighted by George V in 1932. Gilbert died in poverty in 1934.

Cast by the indirect lost wax process

School or Style

New Sculpture Movement

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Figure: composed of patina ( applied) bronze ( presumed) Base: composed of marble ( dark green figured) Width 9.9 cm
Bee:

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.1-2003
Primary reference Number: 95764
External ID: CAM_CCF_M_1_2003
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Thursday 12 November 2020 Last processed: Thursday 8 April 2021

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2020) "Figure" Web page available at: https://collection.beta.fitz.ms/id/object/95764 Accessed: 2021-11-30 00:38:48

Citation for Wikipedia

To cite this record on Wikipedia you can use this code snippet:

{{cite web|url=https://collection.beta.fitz.ms/id/object/95764|title=Figure|author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2021-11-30 00:38:48|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

Bootstrap HTML code for reuse

<div class="text-center my-3"> <figure class="figure"> <img src="https://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/imagestore/aa/aa20/M_1_2003.jpg" alt="Comedy and Tragedy: Sic Vita" class="img-fluid" /> <figcaption class="figure-caption text-info">Comedy and Tragedy: Sic Vita</figcaption> </figure> </div>

Please enter your name as you would like to be addressed
Please enter your email address
The object accession number - this is prefilled
Please enter your query with as much detail as possible

More objects and works of art you might like

Tragedy

Accession Number: C.937-1928

Tragedy

Accession Number: C.936B-1928

Comedy

Accession Number: C.936A-1928

Suggested products from Curating Cambridge

You might be interested in this...

Sign up for updates

Updates about future exhibitions and displays, family activities, virtual events & news. You'll be the first to know...

University of Cambridge Museums logo
Arts Council England Logo
Research England logo
The Technology Partnership logo
Brewin Dolphin Logo