Sun God (Helios)

MAKER:
Artist

Donald De Lue ( American, 1897 - 1988 )

DATE:
1937
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General Description

A radiant crown of bright sunbeams draws our eyes toward the fierce gaze of the handsome, beardless Sun god, Helios. The ancient poet Homer described how the mighty titan Helios "shines upon men and deathless gods, and piercingly he gazes with his eyes from his golden helmet. Bright rays beam dazzlingly from him, and his bright locks streaming from the temples of his head gracefully enclose his far-seen face."

Donald De Lue translated Homer's verse into sculptural form using a theme that appealed to his lifelong fascination with ancient Greek and Roman mythology. Rather than create mythological portraits, De Lue imbued his figures with classical references. Helios, therefore is not Apollo, but a more general symbolic representation of the sun god of Greek myth.

This figure is one of the artist's most beautiful early sculptures. It marks a turning point in De Lue's working method, as it is the last one that he modeled in French clay and cast in plaster himself. The final bronze version of Sun God (Helios) was De Lue's first publicly exhibited sculpture.

Adapted from

  • Olivier Meslay, DMA Label copy (1997.20), February 2011.
  • Eleanor Jones Harvey, DMA Acquisition proposal (1997.20), May 1997.

Fun Facts

  • Donald De Lue's historical inspiration came from both literature and sculpture. De Lue modeled the head of Helios after a Greek kouros.
  • Though this work is not a depiction of Apollo, the Greek god and Helios both drove a horse-drawn chariot across the sky to lead the sun on its daily cycle.
  • In 1975, De Lue returned to his figure of Helios as part of a four-figure arrangement for the unbuilt Poseidon Fountain in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.