4 September 2013

The Oceanides, aka The Naked Ladies, Twickenham

An amazing sight greets any unsuspecting member of the public walking through the riverside area of York House Gardens, Twickenham. These are the Oceanides, commonly known as the Naked Ladies, in Italian Carrara marble. The interesting thing here is that these are not static nudes, but very active ones obviously created out of a love of the female body: they are in fact very sensual.
 
An interpretation plaque at the side states that these have come from the Roman school of Orazio Andreoni, dating from the turn of the 19th century. It claims that the name of the sculptor is unknown, although the Victorian Web seems to have found another (more recent, presumably) source of information, and confidently states that they were made by Oscar Spalmach (1864–1917) in Andreoni's studio.
 
Whitaker Wright brought them to England for his Surrey property, although they didn't stay there very long: Wright was found guilty of fraud and killed himself in 1904, and the last private owner of York House – Sir Ratan Tata – bought the statues in 1909. After he died nine years later his wife sold the house to Twickenham Urban District Council. The statues weren't included in the sale but remained in place, although neglect and vandalism led to them falling into a sorry state by the late 1980s. But Elizabeth Bell-Wright encouraged local societies to fight to save the statues, which received further restoration in 2007. And here, in all their glory, are more detailed shots of the Naked Ladies:

 
 
 
 
 
 

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