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Antique19th Century French Chalk-Molded Sculpture of Christ in Napoleon III Frame
From the Napoleon III era, c. 1850-70, give or take 10 years, this ebonized 8.5" square and 1" deep wooden frame comes to us complete with the original and 'new process' sculpture of Christ. The artist's sculpture in wax is signed 'Mattei', and a mold made from that original sculpture has been cast with an early mixture of chalk, plaster and a binder, to form a stunning casting not unlike a bronze, but of hard-formed plaster/chalk. Still mounted in the original frame, this would have been a revolutionary process in the mid-1800s, and we've shown you the backside so you can see how the material was poured into the mold, and how the sculpture was mounted into the frame, as well. A superb piece, not the least of which is the beauty of the visage of the Christ in crown of thorns. This one looks very much like the idealized face and beard treatment we see in the much earlier carved ivory Christ figures from Dieppe, France, dating late 1700s and perhaps earliest 1800s, but this one is not ivory. It's too early for any of the recognized processes we would later come to know as 'plastic', and is a chalk-based casting. Very beautiful, and very interesting.
Very good to excellent condition throughout, with only the slightest malformation of the crown of thorns, a flaw in the early casting process and not one representing a break. There might be a tiny nip on the point of the beard on one side, but again, this may well be where the chalk material did not quite penetrate the mold. The frame has been beautifully crafted and is the type we see over and over again from the Napoleon III era, dating approximately 1850-70. A fine collection piece!
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San Marcos, CA
Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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