Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus – The Grounds For Sculpture Post #1

Last week I visited the Grounds For Sculpture, a 42-acre sculpture park and museum located in Hamilton Township, New Jersey (just outside of Trenton). Founded in 1992 by sculptor and philanthropist John Seward Johnson, grandson of Robert Wood Johnson, who is one of the co-founders of the global pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson. Seward Johnson’s vision was to make contemporary art more accessible to people from all backgrounds. Nowadays, the Grounds house over two hundred large-scale contemporary sculptures, with works by Johnson and other international artists.

Visiting the Grounds for Sculpture is a great way to spend a day in a beautiful green setting—surrounded by sculptures, like a labyrinth with surprises around each corner. Enjoy my photo impression of the Grounds with all the colorful fall foliage framing these sculptures.


Photos by Simone Li


Photos by Simone Li


Photos by Simone Li


Photos by Simone Li


Photos by Simone Li

A Little Side Step into Art History

Another reason you may want to visit the Grounds could be to see the world through the eyes of famous painters. You experience being in another world where scenes of characters and landscapes of famous paintings have come to life.

I find it so moving to watch people interact with these sculptures. That is one thing that these pieces do — they invite an intimacy with the paintings that the paintings themselves don’t allow simply due to the limitation of scale, depth and access.Seward Johnson

In Seward Johnson’s series “Beyond The Frame”, which is based upon masterpieces from the Impressionist period by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh and others, Johnson creates a sculptural experience of these paintings. Since I love the artwork of the French Impressionist painter Claude Monet (1840-1926), I’d like to highlight two of his paintings that inspired Seward Johnson.


Seward Johnson’s series “Beyond the Frame” inspired by Monet’s work


Seward Johnson’s series “Beyond the Frame” inspired by Monet’s work

Another sculpture by Seward Johnson is Confrontational Vulnerabilty (2011) inspired by Edouard Manet’s Olympia (1863).


“Manet’s painting, which shows a nude woman (Olympia) lying on a bed being brought flowers by a black servent, was controversional. What shocked wasn’t Olympia’s nudity, but her confrontational gaze and a number of details identifying her as a prostitute (orchid in her hair, her bracelet, pearl earrings and the oriental shawl on which she lies, symbols of wealth and sensuality). “Olympia” was a name associated with prostitutes in 1860s Paris. “Olympia” was modelled by Victorine Meurent, Manet’s favourite model, also a French painter and a famous model for painters”. 1


Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus through the centuries

Manet’s Olympia (1863) was inspired by Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538), which in turn refers to Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus (1510).


Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus through the centuries

It’s fascinating to see how Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus has inspired many artist through the centuries. I couldn’t wait to start my own painting. So here it is. .. my inspiration of Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus!

Finally I’d like to share some of the criticism I got from my almost 5-year old daughter. So funny!

“Mom, why isn’t she wearing a shirt? Why did you only use one color? Did you forgot the colors?” And finally she gave me the advice to finish the drawing by adding more colors—in particular, a colorful shirt and pants!My Daughther (5)



  1. https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympia_(Manet)

Comments 6

  1. Hein Heling

    Hoi Simone,
    Mooie blog.

    Mooie foto’s en een prachtig park.
    Het commentaar van Anne-Fleur, geweldig, ik hoor het haar zeggen. Ze kijkt echt kritisch en heeft duidelijk een eigen mening. ???
    liefs Maria

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      Dank je wel. En Anne-Fleur weet inderdaad precies wat ze wel en niet mooi vindt en weet dat altijd heel goed te verwoorden :) Ik kan dat alleen maar aanmoedigen!

  2. Jan Hazendonk

    Beautiful sculptures in the park. The five men, waiting for a door, I find amazingly beautiful and expressive.
    Otherwise good that you have such critical daughter.

    With a greeting from Hoogerheide.

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      This park has made an unforgettable impression on me. “The five male figures lined up by the wall on the sculpture pad represent a scene from the Great Depression, a period of economic hardship during which many people were in need of government assistance to survive.”
      “Depression Breadline (1999)” by George Segal

  3. EJ

    Wow, what a great blog again. I like the way how you are guiding the reader through your experience, it’s like we are there with you. This time a complete different painting, but as beautiful as all the others, you are a true natural!

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