Homme Libellule II

Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930 - 1993)

Bronze sculpture


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  • Image of Homme Libellule II
  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road
    A headless, winged male figure is suspended in a moment of frozen action, his left leg striding forward. Despite its modest scale, this bronze sculpture by Elisabeth Frink conveys an air of triumphant confidence. Its forceful upright stance and torso also suggests the heroic pose of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the 3rd-1st century BC Hellenistic sculpture in The Louvre, Paris. In Frink’s sculpture, Homme Libellule II (translated as ‘Dragonfly Man II’) there is an underlying sense of fragility, as if its torn wings and headless state have suffered at the hands of a larger, invisible creature. This sculpture is one of several bronze studies which the artist made in 1965, some of which were inspired by birds of prey and standing figures. Just as Frink’s large bronze human heads were inspired by Roman sculpture, so these smaller studies related to the symbols and imagery of imperial Roman and classical Greek sculpture, genres which usually centred on human or divine forms in poses of warfare, combat or sport. Frink’s interest, (almost obsession) with birds and winged figures, many represented as imaginary predators, stemmed from her childhood memories during the Second World War. As the daughter of a cavalry soldier, she grew up in Suffolk surrounded by R.A.F. air bases where she was struck by the heroism of the soldiers and airmen passing through. At the same time, this notion of male heroism was offset after the War by her growing awareness of the horrors of human violence in Nazi concentration camps, footage of which she saw in films and photographs. This realisation was a major influence on the apparent contradiction between courage and violence in Frink’s sculptures of male figures and predatory animals. As Elspeth Moncrieff wrote in the exhibition catalogue of Frink’s work held at Beaux Arts, London in 2004, Frink’s sculpture: … went through periods of extreme pessimism where man is portrayed as a brutal assailant, to periods where he runs naked with the ease and confidence of Adam before the Fall.
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  • Details
    Homme Libellule II
    Bronze sculpture
    height: 38.00 cm, width: 17.00 cm
    Purchased from Waddington Galleries, July 1965
    GAC number