Photo of the day (72): Charonia lampas

This statue of a boy holding a shell is a work by Czech sculptor Julius Pelikán (1887–1969). Pelikán’s style is generally classified as realism, symbolism and New Objectivity. Lets suppose that the artist represented the subject truthfully and lets take a look at the shell from malacological/conchological point of view.

The shell is big, with pointed spire, and with numerous spiral ribs on the whole shell. The only conclusion is a Triton’s trumpet of the genus Charonia (family Ranellidae). Ranellidae are marine predatory snails and some of them are small while some of them are really big. There are only three extant species in the genus Charonia. Based on the spiral ribs it can be only Charonia lampas. The shell height of the Charonia lampas is up to 39 cm and it lives in all European seas.

Right side view detail:
statueLeft side view detail:
statueThe boy is listening to “the sound of the ocean”, which is in fact a seashell resonance. The sound of the ocean from a shell is a myth. Symbolist artists tried to feel with all senses, including hearing. The shell is a symbol that is uncovering a hidden secret of the thing. Those are clear signs of symbolism.

The name of the statue is Boy with a shell (Hoch s mušlí). It is a patinated plaster statue with a height of 67 cm. It was made in 1912.

Right side view:
statueFrontal view:
statueLeft side view:
statueThe statue comes from the collection of the Olomouc Museum of Art (Muzeum umění Olomouc). Fortunately this statue is on the display in temporal exhibition “Intimate Expression ‒ The fate and work of Julius Pelikán (1887‒1969) in the 20th century drama” (Intimní exprese ‒ osud a dílo Julia Pelikána (1887‒1969) v dramatu 20. století) in the Regional Museum in Olomouc (Vlastivědné muzeum Olomouc). The exhibition lasts from March 16, 2018 to April 22, 2018.


Vodrážka M. 2018: Intimní exprese ‒ osud a dílo Julia Pelikána (1887‒1969) v dramatu 20. století. ‒ Vlastivědné muzeum v Olomouci v koedici se statutárním městem Olomouc, 100 pp., ISBN 978-80-85037-88-3.

Wikipedia contributors (October 28, 2016): Seashell resonance. ‒ Wikipedia, accessed March 26, 2018.

Zatloukal P. 2011: O Juliu Pelikánovi a Pelikánově vile. ‒ Listy, (4).


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