Antigone Pouring a Libation over the Corpse of Her Brother Polynices
William Henry Rinehart (American, Union Bridge, Maryland 1825–1874 Rome)
1867–70; carved 1870
70 1/4 x 24 x 39 1/2 in. (178.4 x 61 x 100.3 cm)
Gift of the family of John H. Hall, in his memory, 1891
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 732
Rinehart's sculpture represents a climactic scene from Sophocles's tragedy, "Antigone," written in or before 442 B.C. Antigone's brother, Polynices, was killed by Eteokles, and then denied a proper burial because he was considered an enemy of Thebes. Against the orders of the new ruler, Creon, Antigone courageously interred Polynices. Rinehart chose to depict the moment when she pours libations over her brother's grave, thereby stressing to the viewer the importance of fighting against tyranny for one's civil liberties. Of all Rinehart's sculptures, Antigone may be the most closely related to antique prototypes, showing an affinity with a draped figure once in the Vescovali collection in Rome.
Signature: [right side of base]: WM. H. RINEHART. SCULPT. 1870