Sculpture, faith, and the many worlds of Victorian sculpture: W. F. Woodington, Genesis (1862)

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Abstract

This roundtable comment piece raises questions about the significance of materials, subject matter and form, and location and display to interpretations of W. F. Woodington’s 1862 Genesis panel at St Paul’s Cathedral. The panel was commissioned as an adjunct to the Wellington Memorial, and depicts the conclusion of the first military engagement in the bible, the Battle of the Vale of Siddim. It features eighteen human figures, three sheep, and two cows, and is inscribed with a passage from Genesis 14. 20. My comment piece reconceptualizes the panel as an assemblage bringing together many worlds, human and non-human, alongside the worlds of faith which were the impetus for the roundtable. It brings together biblical subject matter with the commemoration of military heroes; Italian marble quarry workers; the racially-charged material of white marble; memories of sheep on their way to slaughter at Smithfield market; archaeological discoveries; the figure of Sodom in Victorian culture, and classical sculptural form. It asks how these varied geographies, time periods, and contributors to this object, human and non-human, might shift or mediate our understanding of this frieze as something more than an adjunct to a memorial to a military hero.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Victorian Culture
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 11 Apr 2022
EventWorlds of Faith: Sculpture and Faith at St Paul’s Cathedral, c.1796-1916 - Online
Duration: 6 Jul 2021 → …
http://pantheons-st-pauls.york.ac.uk/conference/

Bibliographical note

Advance version available on JVC from 14 May 2022

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