A most rare model of Fremiet's St. Celicia, it features a vibrant gilded patina over a heavily textured and worked bronze. Unlike the carefully finished and often silky surfaces of Fremiet's serialized casts, the present model exhibits more like a maquette with loose working of the details and fresh tooling of the model captured brilliantly in the bronze medium. It feels very immediate, like the surface is still in transition, the scraping and cross-hatching of garments left raw and in a state of progression.
The model is beautifully developed over the wax example held in the permanent collection of the Musée d'Orsay, which presents in slightly smaller dimensions and without the harp. The mold underlying the present example was incised FREMIET and ScA CELICIA, which transferred over to the bronze model without later cold-tooling.
The catalogue text from Shepherd Galleries where this model was exhibited and subsequently acquired from in 2014 offers some excellent overview of the model:
"Beginning around 1883, Frémiet created eight statuettes, including the present St. Cecilia. It is an homage to his son-in-law, the composer Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924). The banderole, swirling around the saint, is incised with the name G. Fauré, and with musical notations in a histori- cally correct manner: they are notations of a Gregorian chant, written on four lines with rectan- gular or square notes. Frémiet knew what he was doing there, either from research or from his father-in-law. It was - historically- the closest Frémiet could get to the Roman martyr, the patroness of musicians.
Fauré married Marie Frémiet, the artist’s sister, in 1883, the possible date of the present sculpture. The young musician had found such a close friend and advisor in Frémiet that people remarked “he has married his father-in-law”. Obviously, the sculpture of St. Cecilia was created to consolidate this friendship.
The Musée d’Orsay owns the wax model of the statuette, which is plastered with pellets of wax and appears to be much more nervous than the bronze. The chef-modèle in the Musée des Beaux Arts in Dijon is, according to the catalog description, “more hieratic...far from romantic St. Cecilias such as the one by David d’Angers.”
As of present writing, no other cast of this model has been recorded" (Source: Shepherd Galleries, 2014)
A copy of the catalogue text will be included with the sale invoice.
Provenance: Shepherd Galleries, New York, Works from the Collection of Robert Isaacson and James Draper, May 20 - July 18, 2014; acquired from the above for a Private Collection
Emmanuel Frémiet 1824-1910: La Main et le Multiple, Catherine Chevillot, 1989, p. 132
E. Frémiet, Jacques de Biez, 1910, p. 223, p. 254-55
Measurements: 21 1/8" H x 10 1/2" W (at widest point) x 7 3/4" D (at deepest point)
Rare French Antique Bronze Sculpture of St. Celicia by Emmanuel Fremiet