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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Between fat lions and dairy girls. The Butter sculpture of Caroline Shawk Brooks

The online talk is dedicated to Caroline Shawk Brooks who became known as the ‘butter woman’ in the late nineteenth century. It takes a close look at her work of the fullscale butter sculpture of Dreaming Iolanthe and discusses different meanings of the ephemeral material. How was this butter sculpture perceived at different times and in different geographic contexts? How does it relate to other ephemeral materials such as sugar, marzipan, or dough? And how does the material interrelate with art theoretical writings? It seems that Caroline Shawk Brooks was very aware of earlier examples of butter sculptures treated in art literature such as the most famous anecdote about Antonio Canova’s butter lion, or the story of Dairy Girl in the workshop of Joseph Nollekens, and that the uncommon material was an important part of her artistic self-fashioning.

Dr. Anna Frasca-Rath is Research Associate at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg. In 2016, she co-curated the first monographic exhibition on John Gibson at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Her book John Gibson & Antonio Canova. Rezeption, Transfer, Inszenierung was published in 2018. In 2021 she co-curated a special issue of the Sculpture Journal on ‘Marble’. Anna is a specialist for Sculpture from the 17th to the 19th century, transnational artistic exchange, especially between Britain and Italy and digital art history.

Event information

Between fat lions and dairy girls. The Butter sculpture of Caroline Shawk Brooks by Dr. Anna Frasca-Rath

An online Zoom talk, free for PSSA Members. £4.00 for non-members (join the PSSA).

Free tickets and charged tickets book via Eventbrite.

Caroline Shawk Brooks, A study in butter - The Awakening of Iolanthe


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