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Dalou and Lantieri practiced a romantic naturalism that was on the line of descent from the French Romantics to Rodin, and their move to England transplanted these roots among the young English sculptors who, like Rodin and his circle in France, were searching for a style of sculpture that would make sense in the new world developing explosively around them, a world of photography, machines, and mechanized warfare. While Dalou's students were in their formative years, Sir Frederic Leighton, an eminent academic painter associated with the Pre-Raphaelite movement, having used small modeled figures extensively in laying out his paintings, became increasingly interested in the figures themselves. With the assistance of the young academic sculptor Thomas Brock (later Sir Thomas Brock) he developed one of the models into the full-sized bronze Athlete Wrestling with a Python. Leighton was a 47 year old painter when he exhibited Python at the Royal Academy, and though he was a candidate for the presidency of that organization (he was elected the following year) it was his first significant work of sculpture. The Victorian art-viewing public was a sophisticated audience, but deeply accustomed to the predictable norms of Neoclassicism, and Python violated those norms right and left. Technically speaking, it violated them from infinitely many sides, because Neoclassicism favors frontally oriented compositions with the figures at rest, or caught in the instant of repose between motions. Python was a highly dynamic composition of an figure in motion, designed to be seen from any viewpoint. It flamboyantly turned its back on the chilly formality of Neoclassicism, and moved towards a more naturalistic style which, though idealized, did not conform to the classical canon. The Pre-Raphaelite influence in Python is also evident, and a similar romantic quality recurs frequently among the work of the members of the New Sculpture movement. Moreover, Python was bronze, a medium that in the Neoclassical Victorian tradition was thought unsuitable for a piece of such importance. Significantly, the composition would not have been practical in stone because it relies on the tensile strength of bronze, and in stone it would not be strong enough be safely self-supporting. (Leighton eventually, and reluctantly, had the piece executed in marble as well, but with the addition of the conventional tree stump to the composition to adequately support the stone.) Leighton was anything but an art outsider, but he had never been a sculptor. His piece shook the 1870's world of sculpture not only because it was a piece of great power that flouted the conventions of Neoclassicism, but because it entered the world of sculpture not only from outside, but at the top, bursting on the scene fully formed, like Athena from the brow of Zeus. It injected into sculpture some of the excitement that Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood had brought to painting a generation earlier. The students of Dalou and Lantieri, already infected with the spirit of contemporary French sculpture, seized upon Leighton's example, combining the freedom of Leighton's spirit with the gentle naturalism of the French realists. Landmark Clock Time Cityscape Street Views Landscape Dreamscapes Landscape Photography Skyline Frankfurt Waterscape Westminster Cathedral Architecture Blue Bridge Bw Built Structure Day History Landscape With Whitewall Outdoors Religion Sculpture Sky Spirituality Statue Travel Destinations Urban Skyline Westminster Abbey Westminster Colorado Westminster Palace