After Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1827–1875) Notre-Dame du Saint-Cordon (Our Lady of Saint-Cordon). Antique bronze with dark brown patina. 34cm (13.5ins) high.
The original sculpture was created 1864. This cast is late 19th/early 20th century.
This sculpture is typical of the free, naturalistic style for which Carpeaux is particularly notable. Almost impressionistic, the observer finds increasing detail where such seemed absent at first glance. He captures the warm relationship between the three figures. If this were not identified as a religious subject, it might have been titled “Motherhood”.
MARKS (see images):
Incised Signature JB Carpeaux. Incised Susse Frères Editeurs Paris and “Cire Perdue” (lost wax). Impressed “M”, possibly for ciseleur Mangenot, the bronze finisher at the foundry.
See Michel Poletti and Alain Richarme, 'Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux sculpteur, catalog raisonné of the published work', Paris, 2003, pg164 .
In excellent original condition.
Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux. (1827 - 1875) Sculptor. French, Second Empire. Romantic.
Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux was born to a Valenciennes family of stonemasons, the trade of both his father and grandfather, where, as a boy, he was apprenticed under Pierre-Joseph Debaisieux as a plasterer. Here he also attended the Académie de Peinture, Sculpture et Architecture until the family moved to Paris in 1838, where, until 1843, he was a pupil at the École Gratuite de Dessin, a school founded (1766) for industrial workers, and which taught enamelling, masonry, engraving, horology and various types of woodwork. Drawing, detailed and accurate, was necessary to each of these métiers. Carpeaux developed his practice by copying 18th Century sculpture. However, critics such as Baudelaire, were beginning to describe this style as limited, and as “slavish mimicry”.
By fortune, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s time at the École Gratuite de Dessin followed the 1831 arrival of Hilaire Belloc as new Headmaster, who brought in a different curriculum focusing on plastic art, looser, naturalistic and more free-flowing. In 1844, aged 15, Carpeaux was accepted into the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, where his early studies were with Romantic sculptor, François Rude. In 1850 he moved on to the studio of Francisque Duret, in which year he attained honourable mention for his work ‘Achilles Wounded in the Heel’ in the Prix de Rome; as well as gaining second place for his ‘Philoctetes on Lemnos’. He went on to win the Grand Prix de Rome for his group ‘Hector and His Son Astyanax’ in 1854 - the year he then moved to Rome.
Whilst in Rome, Carpeaux went from artist to master. In 1856, he began a five-year intensive course at Villa Medici, studying and creating ever more complex pieces and refining his skills. Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux produced his first masterpiece fulfilling his first-year assignment to create a marble statue: ‘Fisherboy with a Shell’, subsequently exhibited by the French Academy in 1858. A second marble version was created several years later, and was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1863. A similar study, ‘Girl with a Shell’, followed.
Carpeaux drew fervently during this time, absorbing his surroundings, and developed a keen eye for the movement in Michaelangelo’s works, assimilating his figurative gestures into his own works. It was at this time that Carpeaux produced the work which brought him instant fame: his multi-figure plaster cast of ‘Ugolino and His Sons’. He later executed the work in marble, and in 1867 it was displayed at the Exposition Universelle in Paris, where it won first prize for sculpture.
A now highly celebrated artist and sculptor, Carpeaux returned to France, receiving a number of commissions, including: a portrait of the nine-year-old Prince Impérial, son of Napoleon III - ‘Imperial Prince with his Dog Nero and Pietà’ (c. 1864, terracotta); the relief decoration for the Pavilion of Flora at the Tuilieries (1864), the sculptural group ‘The Dance’ for the facade of Charles Garnier’s newly completed Opéra (1865), a monument to the painter Antoine Watteau and the Sketch for the Marshal Moncey Monument (1864, Petit Palais, Paris); as well as a Parisian fountain featuring a globe held by four female figures representing the four continents titled, ‘The Four Quarters of the World’ for the Fountain of the Observatory in the gardens of the Luxembourg Palace (1867)
At this juncture came the fall of France’s Second Empire (c1870), with patrons of Carpeaux unable now to support him. Carpeaux therefore now turned from such monumental pieces to pieces of more commercially viable size, smaller editions, and portrait commissions. Works of this period include: ‘Amélie de Montfort’ (1868, terracotta, Musee d'Orsay, Paris); ‘The Genius of the Dance’ (1872, bronze, Musee d'Orsay); and ‘Bacchante with Lowered Eye’ (1872, terracotta, Metropolitian Museum of Art), plus the portrait bust ‘La Negresse’ (1872). Further commissions followed, with notable works such as a posthumous portrait of Napoleon III in 1873 and a bust of Alexander Dumas Fils (1873, marble, Comédie-Francaise, Paris).
It is most likely that our piece hails from this period.
Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux died in 1875 at the young age of 48, highly esteemed by his peers and the recipient of many honours in his too-short-a-life. Just two months before his death he was awarded the Cross of the Legion of Honour, and he leaves behind a legacy of work which can today be seen in some of the best art galleries in the world, many in the museum of his native Valenciennes.
After Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (French 1827–1875) Notre-Dame du Saint-Cordon (Our Lady of Saint-Cordon) Antique bronze Sculpture
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