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Birth of the Rose more
Engraved by T. W. Knight from the statue by B. Jennings.
This statue won first prize for sculpture in the Great Exhibition of 1851. It was given to Birmingham Free Library in 1914; I do not know whether it still survives.
The artist, Benjamin Jennings junior, later had his own shop, “Benjamin Jennings Marble & Stone-mason” at King Street and Victoria Street in Hereford. He died at the age of 40 on the 26th of May in 1859. Read more about Benjamin Jennings.
The original of this small figure was exhibited at the Royal Academy in the present year; it is the work of a young sculptor who has been studying for some time past in Rome; and to whom the conception and execution of the statue does high honour. It may be accepted as the promise of future fame. The following lines suggested the idea:—
“Se dar volesse una rcgina al fiori
O Glove, un trone alia Beltà donando
Sa rosa figlia dè tuoi primi amore
Da un Ode di Saffo
Which will bear some such literal translation as this:—“O Jupiter, if thou desirest to give a queen to the flowers, a throne to beauty, I recommend thee the rose, daughter of thy first love.”
The above extract is from the lyric poem, by Sappho, entitled “The Rose,” one among the few which have been handed down to us; in it Cupid asserts the right of the rose to be made the Queen of flowers. This is the point aimed at by the sculptor. Cupid is supposed to be standing in the presence of the celestial deities exhibiting to them the rose which he has just culled from the Cyprian flowers, and is claiming their admiration of it. The attitude of the figure has been well and appropriately studied; the limbs are finely set and proportioned; while there is an air of youthfulness and gaiety quite in keeping with the subject. Round the trunk of the tree which support tho figures, are wreaths of lilies, emblematical of their rejection in favour of the new favourite that has risen up to occupy its place in celestial regard.