Comedy and Tragedy:

Comedy and Tragedy: "Sic Vita

Sir Alfred Gilbert, R. A. (1854-1934)


Bronze, rich brown patination on a marble socle

Height: 29 1/4 inches (75.6 cm.)

In Comedy and Tragedy: "Sic Vita" "a nude youth, helmeted and carrying a comic mask, winces from a bee sting on his left leg. Viewed through the mask, the boy seems to be laughing; seen from the other side, he actually grimaces in pain. Gilbert explained to Hatton that Comedy and Tragedy, a pendant to Perseus Arming, completed "my cycle of stories," the autobiographical trilogy begun with Perseus Arming and continued with Icarus. He described how, in the early I890s, he led a double life -- at night acting the comedy of a famous man about town, but during the day enduring the tragedy of mounting debts and (although he did not say so) an unhappy home life.] . . . Whereas Perseus and Icarus require a front view, here the spectator is invited to move around the statue, constantly shifting his viewpoint, for his eye never comes to rest, and he never discovers a completely satisfactory angle from which to see it. [Victorian High Renaissance]

  • Other side
  • Detail of mask
  • Photograph and caption from Robert Bowman, Sir Alfred Gilbert and the New Sculpture (2008)

    Robert Bowman and the Fine Art Society, London, have most generously given their permission to use information, images, and text from the catalogue named above in the Victorian Web. Copyright on text and images from their catalogues remains, of course, with them. [GPL]