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Sculpture Thyrsis (1912) by James Havard Thomas, Tate Britain

JH Thomas’s evocative sculpture Thyrsis is on display in Tate Britain.
The description on the display caption is below.
Havard Thomas trained in Paris and then in 1889 moved to Italy, where he lived for seventeen years. In 1905 he sent a male nude ‘Lycidas’ to the Royal Academy, where its rejection caused a scandal. This is nearby in Room 11. In 1912 Havard Thomas returned to the theme with ‘Thyrsis’. The title comes from the poem of 1866 by Matthew Arnold of that name, and Arnold’s poem had itself been based on Milton’s ‘Lycidas’ (1637). Thyrsis was an ancient Greek shepherd. Arnold chose to commemorate a friend from Oxford in this pastoral character. The shepherd’s pipe was for Arnold a symbol of his own youth, and Havard Thomas’s figure itself commemorates Italy and classical art. This bronze was cast in 1948, from the original in wax.

August 2004

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