Monday, September 10, 2012

Sculpture: The Athlete by Borjesson


It was my birthday yesterday, not a big one, not one that ends with a nought or a five even, so a low key but thoroughly pleasant day which included a trip to Chichester for a collector's and antiques fair and it was R who spotted this beauty among the thousands of postcards on sale (click to enlarge). Although the card must date at the most from the first few decades of the twentieth century, the figure looks spookily modern, he might easily have been a piece of public art commissioned for the London2012 Olympics. I find only a little about the sculptor online and no other images of this amazing piece of work.

UPDATE: Thank you to Iolaos and to Olov for their very kind, insightful and knowledgeable comments on this post and I'd encourage you all to click on the comments below for more information. At the very least you should go here to view a much large and more detailed photograph of my lieutenant/athlete/swimmer... when you get there, click on the small image for the full experience.

4 comments:

iolaos said...

The sculptor's name can be spelled as John Börjeson or Börjesson. He is Swedish, and his works appear in several cities in Sweden. Your photo appears to be of a statuette that was sold recently at an auction for a few hundred EU. There is a full-sized version that seems to be labelled "Simmaren", "The Swimmer".
Others are "Fången (Captured) Viking", "Bröderna (The Brothers)", "Yngling med sköldpadda (Youth with turtle)", and, sorry to say, the atrociously fat and pompous "Karl X Gustav" on a horse at a square in Malmö.

Olov said...

Congratulations! And it was a pretty picture of a pretty statue. I guess you already know it's by John Börjeson, but under the statues Scandinavian names (Svømmeren in Danish, Simmaren in Swedish - both of course meaning The swimmer), there's actually a few pictures of it's different bronzen incarnations, residing in both Copenhagen and Saltsjöbaden outside Stockholm (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sv%C3%B8mmeren.jpg and http://www.saltsjobadenshembygdsforening.se/statyer/index.htm). And the plaster, which I much prefer visually, can be viewed in a different setting here: http://www1.ub.lu.se/externt/apps/bagge/visaInfo.cfm?ID=10874

Olov said...

Obviously, i didn't catch iolaos' comment before posting my previous, so sorry for the repetition...

Sleuthing on regarding the work itself, it seems that a young lieutenant posed for it in 1885. Börjeson decided to cast the legs, rather than sculpting them, but in the process he must have gotten a little to eager - he forgot to lube the poor lieutenant up, causing quite some pain when the cast came off. The chap didn't seem to mind, though, as he later expressed great pride in the resemblance. And rightfully so...

Callum said...

Iolaos and Olov, thank you both so much for your insightful and very helpful comments. How strange that you should both comment within minutes of each other. It's great to be able to see the bronze full-sized version but I think I am with Olov on preferring the plaster statue.

I will update the main post to direct people to your very helpful and kind comments.

Best

Callum

 
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