This rare and very fine bronze sculpture by French sculptor Emile Picault depicts a 15th century sculptor working on a small figure of a religious authority. Picault was well known for his historical figures and produced a series of several subjects from the 14th and 15th centuries, the most popular being his “14th Century Scholar (Escholier, 14th Siecle)” and “ 13th Century Archer (Archer, 13th Siecle)”; this is a much more rare work from that series of models entitled “15th Century Sculptor (Imagier, 15th Siecle)”. A moving subject that captures a man wholly consumed by his occupation, he looks down on the small effigy in one hand while the other hand is tucked inside his smock grasping his chisel; his eyes are distant and lost in thought as he thinks about how to proceed with his labor. Picault’s attention to detail in the subject is very moving, but it is the exquisite surface finishing seen in every aspect of the work that makes it so alive and interesting. Great casting is most evident in the details: complex garment curves, fingernails, facial features, hair; but also in the perfect smoothness of the skin and absence of any hint of surface pit. The quality of this sculpture is self evident, as the foundry’s skill is simply above reproach. Typical of Picault, the signature is crisp and tight in the naturalistic base.
Only a very few casts of this model that have been offered in the last few decades. For the serious collector of very fine Romantic period academic sculpture, this is an exquisite example that is very infrequently brought to the open market.
Literature and Further Reading:
E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Vol. X, Gründ, 2006, p. 1368 (biography and sale results)
Bronzes: Sculptors and Founders 1830-1920, Harold Berman (extensive collection of Picault bronzes, present example not included)
Art Bronzes, Michael Forest (biography, numerous Picault sculptures depicted, present example not included)
Bronzes of the Nineteenth Century: Dictionary of Sculptors, Pierre Kjellberg, p. 434-34 (biography)
Measurements: 25 1/8” H x 9” W (arm to arm) x approx. 8” base diameter
Condition Report: Very fine original condition with an original patina; light discolorations to edges of base, very minor surface scratches, minor handling wear.
"Imagier, 15th Siècle" Bronze Sculpture by Emile Picault (French, 1839-1915)