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Hubert Le Sueur (c. 1580-1658)

Boy with a thorn in his foot, 'Spinario' 1636-37

Bronze | 78.0 x 53.0 x 60.0 cm (whole object) | RCIN 26319

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  • This bronze statue of a boy picking out a thorn from his left foot with his right hand is a cast from the marble statue of Spinario made by Agasias circa 100 B.C. It was commissioned from the artist, Hubert Le Sueur, for Charles I.

    In 1631, the sculptor in bronze Hubert Le Sueur (c.1580–1658/68) was employed by Charles I to travel to Italy, and to bring ‘from thence the moulds and patterns of certain figures and antiques there’. Following the king’s execution in 1649, two of the many bronze casts that Le Sueur had made for Charles I were specifically recorded in the inventory of the sale of the king’s goods as being garden sculptures: these were ‘The Gladiator in brass wth the Marble. /peddistall standing in ye garden’, and ‘Ye boy or pick Thorne in brass in ye garden’.The Borghese Gladiator, taken after a model of an antique sculpture in the Villa Borghese in Rome, must have been created in 1629–30, when its pedestal was prepared for the Privy Garden at St James’s Palace. The bronze figure of a boy removing a thorn from his foot, known as Spinario, was created for Queen Henrietta Maria’s garden at Somerset House in 1636–7.

    The statue stands on a later ebonised wood base.

    Text adapted from Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden, London, 2015.
    Provenance

    Purchased by Charles I for £50, 1636/7; Privy Garden, St James's Palace; sold to Edmund Harrison and others, 23 October 1651; probably recovered for Charles II in the 1660s; first recorded after the Restoration at Windsor Castle in George Bickham's Deliciae Britannicae, or, The curiosities of Hampton-Court and Windsor-Castle (1742).

  • Medium and techniques

    Bronze

    Measurements

    78.0 x 53.0 x 60.0 cm (whole object)

  • Alternative title(s)

    Spinario