John Paul Bogart (Paris, Martin du Louvre, 18/5/2004)
Please excuse me for writing in English, my native language.
Martin du Louvre
has, for many years, dealt in rare works by Pradier. Among
those of special interest, which we would like to point out,
A group entitled Amour et
The group was alluded to in Statues de Chair,
where it is listed as a: "Groupe, marbre. Non
retrouvé. Réductions attestées."
The original plaster for Amour et Psyché was bought
at the Pradier atelier sale by his pupil, Louis-Auguste Roubaud
(1828-1907). After Roubaud's death, the plaster was
bequeathed to the
Musée de Brou, Bourg-en-Bresse. The plaster, in the
museum reserves, was in bad condition when I saw it last. It
bears an inscription: pté de Roubaud, which caused
it to be mis-catalogued as a work by Roubaud for over a
Our bronze, whose dimensions and surface details
corresponded exactly to those of the plaster, was
apparently produced shortly after Pradier's death. It
was signed Pradier, and bore the inscription:
Roubaud prop taire. It was sold, through our
offices, through a New York Gallery, and is now in a
Shortly after the re-discovery of this bronze, another
example came to light on the Parisian art market. I
signalled the presence of this cast to the musée
de Brou, and they subsequently acquired the work.
So far as we are aware, Amour et Psyché, a model of exquisite beauty, is one of Pradier's very
last. Thus, he did not have time before his death to
realise a version in marble. We would like to find
out if there is any evidence to the contrary.
Négresse aux calebasses
a) We currently own a version of the Négresse aux
Calebasses in, to use your terminology, a "version impudique".
Our danseuse is completely nude,
strange loin cloth that usually snakes up her
leg is missing. Although Pradier's drapery is
extremely aesthetic as always, we personally find the nude
version lighter and more graceful.
The cast is of exquisite quality, measuring 31cm. It
bears no foundry mark, but it is signed with Pradier's
signature, not in block letters.
Could the cast be by Fontaine, I wonder?
b) We have had another nude version of the Négresse
in the past (we found an example in 1993) measuring 43cm. The
cast was beautiful, but less successful than the smaller one
- on the heavy and clunky side.
Do you have any information about these nude versions which
might shed any light on them?
c) We had a sublime small version of the Négresse
about ten years ago. It was silver, and the accouterments
were vermeil. It was exquisite. The cast is now in an Italian
With regard to your
Chasseresse au Repos, we saw a small
bronze version of it at Univers du Bronze about ten years ago.
We considered buying it, but didn't... for whatever reason. I
believe that it is now in a Swiss collection.
As I recall, there was no founder's mark on the cast.
It may have been a réduction sauvage by Susse
Frères, or taken from Pradier's plaster in smaller working
dimensions. It is perhaps more plausible that Susse acquired
a plaster in convenient dimensions from Pradier, whom they
had under contract, rather than a large marble. This plaster
may have been realised by Marchi, which would conveniently
explain why there was a Marchi version in the atelier sale.
In any event, one thing is certain: the work exists in small
Alain Richarme and Michel Poletti of UDB might be able to provide you with more information regarding this cast.
La Naissance de l'Amour
We presently have a miniature version of La Naissance de
l'Amour in very fine quality. The interior of the mussel-shell
is lined with silver - a very happy device.
Some reference is made to this version in Statues de
Chair in a footnote of the article concerning the work.
The founder Thiébaut announced a version 9 cm high in both
their 1852 and 1867 catalogues. A silvered mussel shell
interior is alluded to only in 1867, in large dimensions.
I have the sneaking suspicion that our cast is earlier than
1867, and am wondering if the deluxe double-patinated version
existed early on.
There is an odd gilt, multi-patinated example of the larger
cast in the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, but I am very
suspicious of this version, which seems to me to be very late.
Do you have any precisions?
A cigar holder (Naïade) signed Pradier
We have found a cigar holder signed Pradier. The bronze has no founder's mark.
We once saw another example of the same work signed
Feuchère. It depicts a beautiful and rather sexy
riding the back of a fish with open mouth, which
serves to hold the cigars. The erotic connotations
are delightful. Do you know whether the work is by
Pradier or Feuchère?
In the Lami, a plaster is listed in the Feuchère
atelier sale: Une Nymphe sur un poisson.
Susse apparently bought this plaster, since they
offer a porte-cigares by Feuchère in their
1860 catalogue under the title: Nayade portée
sur un poisson.
Both titles correspond admirably to our work, and so
I would imagine that the cigar holder is by Feuchère
(but not necessarily a Susse cast).
Perhaps you have information in your records linking it to
Pradier? A similar confusion exists with a similarly erotic
Léda that alternately bears signatures by both
Feuchère and Pradier.
It was a great pleasure to discover your site, and I'm
certain that we will be communicating in the future.
Douglas Siler (17/6/2004)
Amour et Psyché
A very beautiful work indeed! Many thanks for the photo.
In a letter which can be dated 28 June 1850 to his praticien
Charles Poggi, who was working at the time in Nîmes on
Pradier's statues for the Fontaine de l'Esplanade,
Pradier writes: "Pour le moment la poche est maigre
et suis toujours sans travaux. Cela m'est égal car je pense
toujours aller en Italie faire quelque chose - mon groupe d'Ulysse
et celui d'Amour et Psyché." This is the only
letter I recall in which Pradier mentions the latter group.
It proves that he had not begun a marble version before that
The architect of the Fontaine de l'Esplanade,
Charles Questel, in a letter to the Maire of Nîmes dated 5 October
1883, wrote: "Je m'empresse de vous transmettre les
renseignements que vous m'avez fait l'honneur de me demander
[...] concernant la construction de la fontaine de l'Esplanade,
en répondant à vos questions dans l'ordre où elles ont
été posées. [...] J'ai toujours cru et je crois encore que
c'est l'État qui a fait don à la ville de Nîmes de la
statue de la Poésie légère [Salon de 1846], mais
je n'ai jamais entendu dire qu'une autre statue, celle de Psyché,
dut être donnée par dessus le marché." Questel
might be alluding to the group Amour et Psyché. He
can hardly be referring to the standing Psyché
shown by Pradier at the 1824 Salon and acquired by the State
In the inventaire après décès, Pradier's heirs
declare that they own "le droit de propriété
complète pour la reproduction, soit en plâtre soit en
bronze, des statuettes ci-après: [...] groupe de l'Amour et
The published catalogue of the 1852 atelier sale lists, among
the plaster models: "7. - L'AMOUR ET PSYCHÉ. Groupe
de 40 centimètres de proportion. Dans cette composition
charmante, l'Amour sollicite Psyché, assise à côté de lui
dans une pose d'une délicieuse candeur." This
description clearly matches your bronze. Did it also measure
A second, smaller, sale took place in July 1855 in Pradier's
former atelier at the Institut, then occupied by Lequesne.
The marble works included "une statuette, la
Baigneuse, ébauche fort avancée par Pradier et terminée
par Lequesne, vendue sans droit 545 fr. - Une Psyché et une
Danaïde, des mêmes auteurs, se sont vendues, la première
800 fr., et la deuxième 690 fr." (Revue des
Deux Mondes, 15 septembre 1855, p. 322.) If this Psyché was L'Amour et Psyché,
Lequesne must have executed
it in marble after the original model. Judging from the price,
it could only have been a statuette.
Guillaume Garnier, in his unpublished thesis on Pradier (École
des Chartes, 1978), notes that one or perhaps different
marble versions of the group appeared in the following sales:
vente du Cte de Paris, 12 nov. 1859, n° 2;
vente Cte de Septmaisons, Paris, 15 mai 1866, n° 210;
vente A..., Paris, 21 mars 1878, n° 29.
He also mentions a bronze cast:
vente Alessandro de Cetner, Rome, 10 May 1897, n° 147,
and states, without giving its dimensions, that a version in
white marble signed Pradier belonged to a private French
collection around 1920. He includes photographs of this work,
one of which bears the following handwritten annotation:
"Pradier / Coll. A. Parent." These
photographs (or the work itself?) may belong to the Musée
des Arts Décoratifs, as suggested by the presence on each of
them of the stamp "A.D."
Can you tell me how you know that the plaster model
bequeathed to the Musée de Brou was acquired by Roubaud at the atelier sale? Also, do you know in what year it was
bequeathed to the museum, and whether the inscription "pté
de Roubaud" appears to have been engraved on the original plaster or to have been etched on afterwards? This
inscription and the one on the bronze cast may indicate that
Roubaud had acquired the reproduction rights.
Garnier's thesis states that "Un des deux frères
Roubaud, élèves de Pradier, avait exécuté un groupe [Amour
et Psyché] en marbre d'après le modèle de Pradier. Il
exposa son oeuvre à Blois en 1859 (cf. L'Artiste,
LXII, p. 83); l'oeuvre ne figure pas au catalogue des
sculptures des frères Roubaud établi par S. Lami. Cette
uvre en marbre est peut-être le groupe qui a figuré
à une ou plusieurs des ventes signalées plus haut."
I am almost certain that your Roubaud and Garnier's are the
elder brother, François-Félix Roubaud (Cerdon [Ain], 1825 -
Lyon, 1876), who exposed for the first time at the Paris
Salon in 1853 and who executed the relief of Pradier's La
Poésie légère on Pradier's tomb in the Père-Lachaise.
Pradier's son John remained in contact with both brothers but
was especially close to the eldest. When the latter died, he
wrote in his diary: "Mon pauvre Roubaud était mon
meilleur ami. Il est mort à Lyon le 13 décembre 1876.
François-Félix Roubaud aîné statuaire, élève de mon
père, avait 52 ans accomplis. C'est le meilleur coeur que j'aie
connu. Aux sentiments les plus délicats et les plus élevés
de l'artiste, il joignait le génie de l'amitié." In
another diary entry John notes that among his father's pupils,
Roubaud aîné was "le meilleur de tous sans aucune
exception, le seul digne de se jeter dans les bras de mon
père." Roubaud executed a medaillon portrait of
John when John passed through Lyon on his way to Algeria in
1874. Roubaud's sisters donated it to John in 1878. In the
year following Roubaud's death, John composed an epitaph for
his tomb in the Guillotière cemetery at Lyon.
L'Amour et Psyché is not exactly one of Pradier's
very last works, seeing that he executed the model in or
before 1850. But there definitely is evidence that one or
more marble versions exist, as indicated above. However, they
were most certainly executed after Pradier's death. There is
no trace of a marble version before his death or in the inventaire
Négresse aux Calebasses
You ask if the cast could be by Fontaine. I believe you are
referring to the maison
Delafontaine. Bernard Metman's repertory (see below)
mentions that they edited "un petit nombre des
uvres de Pradier, mais il semble bien que cette maison
ne put commencer l'édition de Pradier qu'après le procès
que le fils de Pradier intenta à la maison Susse en 1863, et
après lequel la maison Susse abandonna la reproduction des
uvres de cet artiste." Metman goes on to list
La Comédie légère (Fontaine Molière), Phryné,
La Pêche, La Chasse, and Femme mettant
ses bas, but not the Négresse aux calebasses.
Another "version impudique" measuring 45.5
cm was sold on 13 March 2004 at Soissons. As on your example,
the signature is not in block letters. However, it bears the
foundry mark "Cresson". All I know about
the latter comes from Bernard Metman's alphabetical repertory
of bronze editors published by Jacques de Caso in Archives
de l'Art français (nouvelle période, tome XX, 1989, p.
175-218). The brief entry on him reads as follows: "CRESSON.
Avait un magasin de bronzes d'art au coin du passage des
Variétés, vers 1848. A signé une statuette représentant
la Négresse aux calebasses de Pradier."
I have seen the UDB stand at recent Eurantica exhibitions here in
Brussels but I had no idea that they once owned a reduction
of the Jeune chasseresse. Nor did I know that this
work had been cast in bronze. I will certainly try to find
out more from the UDB. I'm certain the musée de
Quimper, which recently acquired the marble,
will be interested to know about it. As you suggest, it could
very well have been produced by Susse Frères, who owned
the marble version in the 1840's.
Unfortunately I know little more about this work that what is
in Statues de chair. I have seen an example in a
private collection but I don't recall whether the interior of
the shell is lined with silver or not. I'll ask the collector.
I will also ask him his opinion on the Amsterdam example,
which I believe he has seen. It does appear to be very late.
Cigar holder (Naïade)
The Musée d'Art et d'Histoire in Geneva has a terracotta
statuette entitled Femme sur un dauphin acquired in
1925 (inv. 1925-0027) which bears Pradier's signature and is
dated 1844. However, according to the Garnier thesis the
model was registered by Feuchère at the dépôt légal
in 1844 (A.N., F18 48, "Femme sur un monstre marin").
Garnier also mentions that there is a bronze cast at the
Musée des Arts déco. I don't recall having seen it in
Geneva and unfortunately I don't seem to have a photo. If you
need one, you can order it directly from the MAH.
Yes, Feuchère's Léda et le cygne is sometimes
attributed to Pradier. According to Garnier, the marble and a
reduction in bronze were part of the Richard Wallace
John Paul Bogart (Paris, 18/6/2004)
Gallery "Martin du Louvre"
Our gallery [is] located on the first floor of number 69 rue
du Faubourg Saint-Honoré [...] We began our professional
activities by specialising in academic art of the XIXth
century, and we gradually slid into the XXth. This does not
prevent us, however, from acquiring the occasional rare work
from an earlier period, when we encounter it. We have always
had a particular weakness for Pradier, who can often say more
with a small statuette than most other sculptors with a great
After the publication of Statues de chair, there was
a flurry of activity. Things have quieted down since then (as
they have for art of the XIXth century in general). One sees
far less of Pradier's work on the market...the upside is that
whatever appears is usually affordable. [...]
For us, it was a revelation to discover your site, and we
applaud your efforts.
Amour et Psyché
[Our example] measured 42 cm. The description [of the 40 cm.
plaster model in the catalogue of the 1852 atelier sale] is
Psyche is seated demurely on a rock, modestly clinging her
garment (beautifully draped, of course) to her bosom with
lowered gaze. "Candor" is the appropriate word.
Cupid, holding Psyche's hand in his and her arm with the
other, wraps his right wing around her in a gesture of
protection. I find this detail to be deliciously successful
and appropriate. It leaves no doubt in the viewer's mind that
Cupid is a smooth operator - very smooth, that he is making
his moves oh so gently, and that he has fully mastered the
ways to a woman's heart. He has come a long way from his
early career as chubby mischievous brat with twanging bow and
Pradier portrays Cupid in the nude and in a state of sexual
relaxation as if to underline his elegance and the
correctness of his manners (as opposed to those of the Satyre
et Bacchante where the genitals are concealed, but where
the expressions of the protagonists, one leering and the
other in ecstasy, leave little doubt as to their lust and the
imminence of their union) and to dispel any fleeting doubts
we may harbor. The sculpture Amour et Psyché is the
tender representation of two young people in love, not the
representation of two randy young kids. They will consecrate
their union... with time.
The Satyre et Bacchante is about drunkenness and
haste. Amour et Psyché is about sensibility,
sensuality and the leisure to explore them.
It provides the only instance that I can think of in
sculpture where a wing is used as though it were a "third
arm", with admirable flexibility and "dexterity",
if you will. I am reminded of the octopus and his tentacles.
How do they manage to deal so precisely with all of those
As a general rule, the arbitrary convention of the wing, an
improbable accretion to the human form, is very convincing in
French art. Particularly so here, where it is artfully
accorded a supplementary function.
[You ask] how [we] know that the plaster bequeathed to the
Musée de Brou was acquired by Roubaud at the atelier sale.
We believed that it was, since both the plaster and the
bronze indicated "proprieté Roubaud". If
not bought by Roubaud directly at the atelier sale, where it
was offered, it was more than likely acquired by him (along
with the reproduction rights) from Pradier's descendants
Roubaud was clearly proud of owning one of his master's last
works, and took pains to produce it in bronze and marble. On
all of the known examples of Amour et Psyché he
indicates ownership of the model, to the point that the work
was mis-attributed to him afterwards.
The inscription [on the Brou model] was sharply etched,
suggesting that it was added to the plaster afterwards.
The plaster, although in relatively bad condition, was sharp
and detailed, and there were visible piece-mould seams. It
was clearly an atelier plaster by Pradier, not a surmoulage
I don't recall having compared Pradier's signature with
Roubaud's inscription to see whether there was any difference
between the two (something I should have done). In any event,
Roubaud could have heightened an existing signature, or, if
originally unmarked, he could have signed the plaster himself
to identify its author when he apposed his inscription, since
the plaster probably served as the basis for casting.
As I recall, it was [bequeathed to the Musée de Brou] in the
late 1870's...but the museum will be able to provide you with
François Roubaud's death [in 1876] concords perfectly with
the date of acquisition of the plaster of Amour et
Psyché by the Musée de Brou. It stands to reason that
the plaster belonged to François...unless it was given to
the museum by Auguste in memory of his brother...
Once again, museum documents will clear up the mystery.
I recall that one of the Roubaud's gave himself the epithet,
"Pradier's favorite pupil".
[You point out that] there is no trace of a marble version
before [Pradier's] death or in the inventaire après
décès. The same would appear to be true of the bronzes.
I can state, having seen both known examples, that they were
exquisitely done selon les règles de l'art.
If their production was not overseen by Pradier himself, they
were executed, at least, by a good pupil who knew Pradier's
work intimately and who took pains to "get it right."
Given the close friendship between François Roubaud and John
Pradier, it might be that the original plaster was given (not
sold) to the sculptor before, during or after his having
realised the work in marble and bronze.
Négresse aux calebasses.
I have the impression that Fontaine is another founder
altogether, who is not repertoried in the Metman thesis, but
then again, perhaps Fontaine and Delafontaine are one and the
Actually the information came from a footnote in Jacques de
Caso's article in Statues de Chair (n° 3 page 259)
for the model Danseuse africaine au tambourin, where
it is stated that the "mouleur Fontaine sollicitait
le dépôt légal de la Négresse aux Calebasses le 7 juillet
Apparently, working independently and unaware of the footnote,
the author of the Répertoire sommaire of the Statues
de Chair states that the model for the Négresse
is "avant 1844."
In Isabelle Lemaistre's excellent article "L'Ascension
du bronze" in the Louvre catalogue, Un âge d'or
des arts décoratifs 1810-1848, she reproduces a
depiction of the Négresse aux Calebasses (in bronze)
placed on a mantelpiece in an engraving of Modes de Paris,
published in 1837, tome 1, page 12, and further states that
the model was expressly created for an editor in small
dimensions, and was not reduced from a larger work.
It would be more accurate, then, to date the Négresse
aux Calebasses to 1837 (or before).
One of the early editors of the model appears to have been
the mouleur Fontaine, who realised the work in
plaster (model MAH) and possibly in bronze.
We know that some editor (perhaps Fontaine) was producing a
bronze version as early as 1837. Since Fontaine applied for a
dépôt légal, it is clear that he obtained the
reproduction rights from Pradier at a point earlier in time
than 1840, and wished legally to secure his exclusivity in
the wake of the model's popularity and commercial potential.
Where our cast is concerned, I equate the exquisite lightness,
the delicate chasing, and the elegant facture of the bronze
more with early Romantic production than with the heavy and
less sensitive versions of Pradier's work produced by
Delafontaine after 1865.
If Fontaine is in fact the same founder as Delafontaine, the Négresse
that we possess is an earlier example of his work,
stylistically closer to the mid-1830's than to the mid-1860's,
and he managed to obtain the reproduction rights for that
model 25 years earlier than Metman indicates.
Cigar holder (Naïade)
[Our Naïade] has the same signature and the same
date  [as the terracotta Femme sur un dauphin
owned by the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire in Geneva.] These
were clearly present on the foundry plaster, because one
perceives that they were heightened after casting, not
engraved after casting. Our cast is on the heavy side, but it
has a very good nervous surface all the same.
The term "monstre marin" [in the title of
the work registered by Feuchère] is closer to the truth than
"dauphin". The beast, far from terrifying,
is a large fish with gaping mouth, definintely not a dolphin.
The Naïade is svelte, beautifully proportioned and
sexy which pleads in favor of Pradier.
A similar confusion exists with the similarly erotic Léda
that alternately bears signatures by both Feuchère and
It is true that Léda's form is fuller and rounder than one
usually associates with Pradier. I believe that it is
stylistically apparent that the model of Léda is by
Feuchère...but where the Naïade is concerned...I
am less certain, and a certain confusion is justified.
Robert Frost's proposition that the world will one day end in
fire or ice might be adapted to read that the world will one
day end in Pradier or Feuchère.
Douglas Siler (21/6/2004)
Amour et Psyché
I enjoyed very much your description of this work, in
particular your very apt comparison with the Satyre et
Bacchante. One could also compare it with Canova's Psyché
ranimée par le baiser de l'Amour. Have you seen
Isabelle Lemaistre's book on the latter (RMN, coll. solo,
n° 26)? I don't believe she mentions Pradier's group
although she is surely aware of its existence.
The difference between the height of your example (42 cm) and
the height of the example listed in the 1852 atelier sale
catalgue (40 cm) is probably insignificant and the measures
given in the catalogue may not be so accurate. Does the
plaster in the Brou museum also measure 42 cm?
Négresse aux calebasses
I don't believe that Delafontaine and Fontaine were one and
the same. Delafontaine was an édteur de bronzes whereas
Fontaine was a mouleur. A far as I know, Fontaine
only made plaster reproductions.
The Répertoire sommaire in Statues de chair,
was prepared mainly by Claude Lapaire and by myself. Although
we did know the footnote you refer to, we somehow failed to
take it into account in dating the Négresse aux
calebasses. We also knew the engraving from Modes de
Paris. Guillaume Garnier had included it in his
thesis, but without the publication date. I'm glad to learn
that Isabelle Lemaistre's article (which I haven't seen) does
give the date (1837). The Négresse therefore
definitely goes back to 1837 or earlier. GG's thesis mentions
the following examples:
bronze, H. 31 cm, signed "J. Pradier" (?), fondeur
Cresson (same fondeur as the 45.5 cm "version
impudique" auctioned last March in Soissons),
bronze, H. 31 cm, signed "J. Pradier," fondeur
Cresson, seen by GG in 1977 at the Marché Vernaison (porte
bronze, H. ? cm, signed "J. Pradier," fondeur
unknown, musée des Arts décoratifs;
bronze, H. 54 cm., fondeur unknown,
vente Laurent Richoud, Paris, 29 May 1886;
surmoulage Bonnet, H. 46 cm, MAH, Geneva.
GG also mentions examples of the Négresse au tambourin
produced by Fumière and by Thiébaut, as well as some
plaster and bronze examples identified only as Négresses
in 19th century sales catalogues.
La Naissance de l'Amour
I asked my collector friend about his example
and he replied as follows: "La moule a la même
patine brun-rouge que le reste, sauf que la base (les vagues
de la mer) est dorée." He only knows the Amsterdam
example from photographs.
Cigar holder (Naïade):
Do you plan to order a photo of Feuchère's Femme sur un
dauphin at the MAH in Geneva? I think it would be
worthwhile to know if it's the same composition.
John Paul Bogart (Paris, 22/6/2004)
Amour et Psyché
When we were researching the work, we sent a summary to
Mme Lemaistre. That summary may now be
included in the Louvre dossiers. Yes, the dimensions of our
bronze example were virtually identical to those of the Brou
plaster (allowing for miniscule differences due to
bronze shrinkage). It is clear that the plaster served as a
basis for the bronzes.
By the way, regarding Roubaud's possible purchase of the
plaster model of Amour et Psyché at Pradier's
atelier sale of 1852, footnote n° 3, page 128 of Statues
de Chair states that Roubaud purchased the sketch for Nessus
et Déjanire at that sale. I suppose that we lept to the
conclusion that he bought the plaster for Amour et
Psyché as well, and it is a reasonable assumption,
unless there is documentation to the contrary. Is there any
documentation that states who actually bought it?
Négresse aux calebasses
We once had a magnificent bronze of Pradier's Homère
et son Guide. We were convinced that it was executed in the early 1850's, since it had a cold varnish patina. The
initials S.M. were present on the terrace, heightened after
casting. We took these initials to be those of Salvatore
From that bronze, and from other works we have had in the
past, we learned that in certain rare instances a mouleur assumed the
function of "editor in bronze." It stands to
reason, since the mouleurs worked as
regular intermediaries between artists and foundries
to provide moulds for casting and foundry backup plasters. If a
mouleurposessed an original plaster after an
artist's death he was "in on the ground floor" to obtain
the reproduction rights for the models he considered
important or commercially viable. Even if he habitually
produced plasters, as was the case with Marchi, he might
occasionally have ventured into the more lucrative domain of
bronze editions, when the occasion presented itself and if
commercially warranted... and then again, an ambitious mouleur may have wished to improve his condition and to "move up in the world."
Fontaine evidently obtained (purchased?) the rights to the Negresse aux Calebasses for speculative purposes during Pradier's
lifetime. It is clear that he made plasters of the model, but
why not a few bronzes (unless his contract was limited
exclusively to a plaster edition)? Somebody, after
all, was producing bronzes of the Negresse aux
Calebasses in 1837... Perhaps Cresson was the early
editor... but Cresson appears to have marked his casts
with his griffe.
Logically speaking, an unmarked bronze cast, when it is of
superb quality, must of necessity be a foundry back-up model
by the authorised foundry (when it has removeable clavets),
a legally or illegally unmarked cast by the authorised
foundry (as an example hors commerce produced at the
request of the artist or his family, or simply pirated), or
have been produced by someone who was not an editor in bronze
per se. Such a bronze would clearly have to have been
made by someone who knew the artists style intimately (as was the case with Marchi), and who "knew
the ropes" of bronze production well enough to oversee its execution and to insist on and to obtain superior
results. A mouleur
is a perfect candidate for the category of "occasional
editor in bronze", since he is confronted with similar
technical problems as a bronzier (even if plaster is
softer than metal). A good mouleur must make
positives of excellent quality from his moulds, to chase
their surfaces, to remove traces of seams, and to finish the
models in an elegant and appropriate manner. It will interesting to find out, then, whether or not Fontaine was
the first editor to have exclusive rights to the Négresse,
and if he obtained these rights in all media. Should both
these prove to be the case, he clearly did not keep the
rights for very long, because other well-known bronze editors
produced the Négresse in their turn shortly
afterwards, as you pointed out.
Cigar holder (Naïade)
Yes, I will order a photo of Feuchère's Femme
sur un dauphin from the MAH in Geneva. From the sound
of it, it is one and the same model.
Satyre et Bacchante
By the way, we recently purchased a terracotta of the
Satyre et Bacchante. It is not unlike the
Faune et Faunesse offered at the sale of the
Château de la Bourdaisière, reproduced in your section Ventes,
but as I did not see that one, I can not really
ascertain the quality of its surface.
was placed on a beautiful period gilt wood oval base
with bead work, which clearly dates from the 1840's.
There is just enough play between the base of the
terracotta and the raised lip of the gilt socle to
suggest that there was originally a cloche en
verre over the sculpture to protect it from dust
and that it was destined for a fireplace mantle.
Certain details differ between our terracotta and the
large marble in the Louvre. The Satyr's chest is imberbe. The beard does not grow beneath
his chin, but from his lower lip downward. He does not
have the "Robert
De Niro" beauty mark on his left cheekbone.
Otherwise, we find the facial features of both
protagonists convincing, and amazingly close to those
of the large model.
The quality of the casting is superb the
imprint is perfect, the surface is extremely nervous
(the two bodies are covered with traces of sculptural
instruments), the Satyr's hair and beard and the
Bacchante's grape-laden head are minutely heightened
before firing, and the hands and feet are delicately
rendered. Do you know anything about this terracotta
edition, which seems to us to be a deluxe production?
It is very well signed PRADIER dans la pâte en
lettres bâton, in what appears to me to be
Douglas Siler (11/7/2004)
Satyre et Bacchante
Your Satyre et Bacchante is remarkably well
preserved. Could it possibly have been restored or retouched?
It would be interesting to do a minute comparison with other
editions. Strange, the signature without the initial "J"...
This definitely precludes, I believe, that it was engraved in
the plaster by Pradier himself, who invariably signs "J.
Pradier." By the way, I recently saw at a brocante
in Brussels another example about the same size as yours in
alabaster, with a broken arm grossly repaired and signed...
The signature on your Naïade also has no initial
"J", and the "P" in "Pradier"
differs from the habitual one (on the photo it actually looks
more like Pradier's usual "J", as if the "P"
had been left out). I would be very curious to compare this
signature with the one on the terracotta Femme sur un
dauphin at the MAH in Geneva (inv. 1925-27), which also
has no initial and is followed by the same date, 1844. As I
mentioned in a previous e-mail, G. Garnier indicates that the
latter work was registered by Feuchère at the dépôt
légal in 1844 as a Femme sur un monstre marin
(Arch. Nat., F18 48). However, I don't know how he
could have been 100% certain - if he was - that the two were
one and the same. Perhaps he had seen photos of both,
although he doesn't include any in his thesis. You should
definitely order the photo from the MAH. You might also be
able to see, or obtain a photo of, the bronze example at the
musée des Arts décoratifs.
Négresse aux calebasses
There seems to be a plethora these days of the Négresse
aux calebasses. At least three have appeared in auctions
this year and I just saw one in Paris at the Louvre des
Antiquaires! The latter as well as one of the others were,
like your example, déhabillées.
John Paul Bogart (Paris, 11/7/2004)
Satyre et Bacchante
You ask if our Satyre et Bachante could possibly
have been restored or retouched. No, I don't believe so. I
believe that it is just in extremely good condition (and
amazingly clean). I examined the terracotta under a lampe
Wood. It is in pristine condition, aside from some of
the tips of the leaves in the bacchante's hairpiece, some of
which have broken off (but which in no way effects the lecture
of the image). After close scrutiny, I can affirm that there
are no visible repairs.
As you undoubtedly remarked during your visit, the base which
we found with the work is also in practically perfect
condition, except that the gold leaf has oxidized somewhat
I suspect that this is one of the rare instances where an
object simply lived on a mantelpiece for a century and a half
with a glass cloche over it, and that, as a result,
"time could not wither it, nor custom stale its infinite
variety......," to misquote the bard.
It would indeed be interesting to do a minute comparison with
[Regarding the signature and the missing initial "J":]
The capital "i" with a dot over it and the forms of
the capital letters resemble those of authentic Pradier
signatures I have seen in the past (although I would be hard-pressed to say exactly which works I am referring to,
or in which
museums I saw them... Be that as it may). It could be that I
am mistaken in this... I had a very comfortable feeling about
this signature. There is no question but that it was done in
the pâte fraîche, given the upraised edges of the
The overall surface [of the work] is delicately "nervous."
This does not necessarily show up in the photos. There are
many traces of the scalpel and other sculptural instruments
all over the work. The skin is rendered in a very realistic
manner due to a subtle texture imparted by superficial
Either the cast is an exceptional impression taken from
exceptional moulds, or someone very talented oversaw the
execution and heightened the cast before firing. I have the
impression that the latter case is the most likely scenario.
The hair of both protagonists, the fleece on the satyr's legs,
and the texture of the naturalistic base are so sharp that
one can practically cut one's fingers on them. This deep and
energetic chasing is in direct contrast with skin textures
that are so artistically conceived and delicately rendered
that it is quite clear that the chasing was done either by
the sculptor himself or by a master ciseleur of the
highest order. It cannot be the work of an ordinary artisan.
[Regarding the alabaster Satyre et Bacchante signed
Good god! Clodion would never have dared to sculpt anything
so overtly sexual!!!... Perhaps Clodion in alabaster brought
higher prices than Pradier in alabaster in those days.....
Sounds like an "Italian production," don't you
think? [...] We once saw a version of a work by the American
sculptor Hiram Powers: a "Bust of the Greek Slave."
It was signed, in all impunity, with an Italian name!!!! I
must confess, the quality of the realisation was excellent (perhaps
the work was even pirated by one of Powers' apprentices in
his very own atelier, pointed from an original plaster). It
looked very good...unfortunately it was a counterfeit.
Cigar holder (Naïade)
[Regarding the missing initial "J" in
Pradier's signature:] This signature
looks to me like a chaser's signature,
letters correspond to those of the chaser's "script
alphabet" which is commonly used on bronze casts,
since the letters are easy to execute with a chisel.
I have the impression, however, that the name "Pradier"
was signed in the foundry plaster, and heightened
after casting, because the signature is quite clear,
deep, and the edges are neither sharp nor
correspondance between the date of the "Pradier"
bronze and the date of the Feuchère dépôt légal
. Perhaps Feuchère, inspired by the ingenuity (and
success?) of Pradier's statuette, made his own version in
haste, in hopes of finding an editor.
And, a sinister thought: perhaps Feuchère quickly patented
the model (since Pradier had not) so that he could not be
attacked for plagiarism.
There were problems with Peiffer in this regard (see Metman:
Peiffer / Daubrée / Boyer). Sculptors were not entirely
above pinching a good idea from another sculptor.
Stravinsky once said: "I do not know how to copy, but I
do know how to steal."
We know that Feuchère's version was definitely a cigar
holder as well, because it is listed as one in the Susse
catalogue of 1860 (produced by the foundry, after they bought
the "atelier plaster" from Feuchère's estate sale).
There must be a few of these Susse casts floating around
Even if [the Geneva example and the work registered by
Feuchère] were one and the same, the above situation might
apply...but who was the real author?????
I quote Stravinsky once again (in a thick Russian accent):
"I can not vouch for two people having slept together
unless I have been at the foot of their bed, have stood there
watching them and held the four feet..."
It is very difficult for us to pronounce today, since we
weren't there. But it is a fascinating art historical problem.
In any event, whether by Pradier or Feuchère, the Naïade
is a very successful work of great charm, modeled by a
brilliantly accomplished sculptor.
Négresse aux calebasses
I wonder if [the various examples you mention] were as good
as ours, which is a veritable marvel of lightness and
delicacy. I'd have to get a close look at them and hold them
in my hands.
We had the Négresse twice in the past. A large,
rather clunky nude version (sold at the Shepherd Gallery? N.Y.)
and a sublime silver and vermeil version (but draped) in the
small size, now in an Italian collection. The present cast is
as beautiful as the silver and vermeil version that we had...but,
of course, the patina is simpler and less luxurious... but it
is nude, and extremely fine. It may ultimately be the most
interesting version that we have found so far.
By the by, I would still like to know what the scoop is on
the "nude versions." Nobody seems to have done any
research on them. For example, was the nude version the
original concept for the surtout de table of the duc
d'Orléans? I should try to get a hold of Isabelle Lemaistre's
Douglas Siler (11/7/2004)
Further to my preceding e-mail, I just noticed in the MAH's
documentation on their Femme sur un dauphin that its dimensions are nearly identical to those of your Naïade:
H. 19.5 x L. 21 x W. 11 cm. Yours are H. 19 x L. 23 x W. 10,5 cm.
This and the fact that both are signed and dated "Pradier
1844" tends to confirm that they are exactly the same
work. The MAH documentation describes it as a "figure
allongée sur un poisson, base ovale [...] exécutée par
Feuchère, dépôt légal 1844."
John Paul Bogart (Paris, 12/7/2004)
Cigar holder (Naïade)
"Exécutée par Feuchère" - hmmm. I
Could a Pradier model have been produced by a Feuchère
foundry, or am I reaching? The dépôt légal was
made under which name, exactly? Which Feuchère? There were
many Feuchères, and they were all in the foundry business.
Was the dépôt meant to establish authorship or to
guarantee the rights to reproduction? Frankly, there is a
great deal of confusion surrounding this work.
The model was produced by Susse (or at least, listed in their
1860 catalogue) under the name Jean-Jacques Feuchère - after
the death of both Pradier and Feuchère.
Dead men tell no tales.
The plaster was bought by Susse at the Jean-Jacques Feuchère
atelier sale...but does that necessarily mean that the latter
sculpted it? Might he not have been friends with Pradier and
exchanged presents with him, or have admired him and owned
some of his works? (Does one know from the letters?)
As may happen in these cases: an artist stores works by
fellow artists in his atelier along with his own. After his
death, authorship is confused - sometimes for decades or even
Four major unknown paintings by Monet were recently confirmed
by the Wildenstein Institute. They were found in the atelier
of Monet's friend and colleague, André Barbier. These
paintings had been attributed to Barbier for seventy-five
years. The family had even put Barbier's cachet on
them. Barbier was an excellent artist, and his style was
closely akin to the style of Monet's later years. It took a
good eye, intuition and scholarship to unravel the error and
to re-establish their true authorship.
For what possible reason would examples of the Naïade
have been produced signed "Pradier" and dated 1844,
in the very same year as the dépôt légal? An
explanation might be that the Naïade is, in fact, a
work by Pradier but that it was produced by a Feuchère
foundry. This straightforward explanation has the virtue of
The alternative is a gothic tale, laced with intrigue,
plagiarism and scandal.
I know which scenario would make a better evening of theater,
but which is the correct one?
To be continued.....
Douglas Siler (12/7/2004)
Cigar holder (Naïade)
Yes, it's a hard one to unravel. I'll have to give it some
thought, and maybe Jacques de Caso can shed some light on the
matter. By chance I have just been re-reading an article by
Marcel Roethlisberger on "Le thème de Léda en
sculpture" (Genava, t. XXXV, Nouvelles série,
1987, pp. 65-89) which, after discussing Pradier's ivory
and silver Léda et le cygne (executed in
collaboration with Froment-Meurice), reproduces
Feuchère's Léda with the following comments (p. 81) :
ll est fort probable qu'une autre Léda d'un
artiste plus jeune et très proche de Pradier
précède de quelques années la sienne: le petit
bronze signé de Jean-Jacques Feuchère (1807-52) (fig.
29, 30). Cet auteur d'ennuyeuses sculptures
décoratives monumentales, fit aussi de petites
uvres intimes et personnelles, dont ce bronze.
Recourbée sur elle-même dans une pose précaire,
appuyée uniquement sur ses fesses, un pied et une
main, la tête penchée en arrière, les yeux fermés,
Léda étreint le cygne dont le cou décrit une
grande courbure 30. La
statuette, fort populaire en vertu de son modernisme
étonnant et, en tout premier lieu, de son érotisme
suggestif, existe en de nombreux exemplaires
souvent signés à tort du nom plus important de Pradier
30 H. Hawleg, 'Some
intimate Sculptures of Feuchère,' dans: The Bulletin
of The Cleveland Museum of Art,
1981, pp. 75-83. Il propose la date 1840-50. Une
version biscuit, vendue à Londres en 1981 (Chistie's
East, 14 nov., lot 178, repr.), est marquée à la
base LH PARIS G. MEUR et signée Gracliez. Il existe
aussi une version en marbre de cette pièce, de même
grandeur, non signée.
31 Un exemplaire non signé, de même taille, au Metropolitan Museum of Art de New York, est publié par Janson (catalogue de l'exposition The Romantics to Rodin, Los Angeles, 1980), n° 184, sous Pradier, mais comme étant d'un artste plus jeune. L'attribution correcte à Feuchère n'était pas encore connue. Il existe en effet une certaine proximité stylistique avec le pett groupe de Léda par Pradier (fig.. 34)."
It would be
worthwhile to check out the article cited in note 30, which
may have something on the Naïade. In any case
professor Roethlisberger seems to have proof (although he
doesn't give any here) that the Léda in question
was by Feuchère, not Pradier, although examples with Pradier's
signature are well known. The example he reproduces bears
G. Garnier's thesis mentions that "la statuette [Léda]
de Feuchère est parfois donnée à Pradier (par exemple au
catalogue du mouleur Lorenzi)." He also mentions a
bronze example in a private collection, signed and dated
Pradier 1844. Again 1844! I see in the Janson catalogue that
the Léda included in the Romantics to Rodin
expo was lent by the NY Metropolitain and measured 17.1 x 22.9
x 12.7 cm., not too far off the measures of your Naïade and
the MAH's Femme sur un dauphin.
As regards the relations between Pradier and Feuchère, the
two were on friendly, if not intimate, terms. I recall at
least one letter (not yet published) in which Pradier thanks
Feuchère for having sent him some of his works and promises
to give them "une place d'honneur" in his apartment.
I'll try to find it and let you know what the exact wording
is. See also letter 635 in my edition of Pradier's Correspondance,
John Paul Bogart (Paris, 13/7/2004)
Cigar holder (Naïade)
I knew that it was generally accepted as a work by Feuchère...
I simply assumed that the historians in a position to have
studied it properly, did so, and so the matter was laid to
rest. Everyone seems to affirm with such utter conviction
that the Léda is a work by Feuchère these days,
that one does not even call it's authorship into question any
more...perhaps wrongly so.
Frankly, the presence of examples signed Pradier needs a
better explanation, perhaps, than that his was a "nom
A better theory would be that the Feuchère casts of Léda
are late ones, produced after both sculptors' deaths, and
that earlier ones were produced during Pradier's lifetime and
are correctly signed...that the author model is in fact by
Pradier, but that an unsigned plaster of it was found in
Feuchère's atelier, and the authorship was falsely
attributed to him by his descendants, a rather common
It seems to me that the question of Léda should re-opened,
although I am not the man to do it.
I was fascinated by the letters from Pradier that you cited,
which suggests that the two sculptors respected each other
highly, and exchanged gifts (at least, in one direction).
Incidentally, I don't really agree with Roethlisberger that
Feuchère was simply a young minor sculptor of "boring
decorative monumental works." His Satan (Salon
of 1833) alone establishes him as one of the very best
Romantic creators if the age (by the way, we currently have
one of the most beautiful casts of it I have ever seen,
double patina - green and brown, and the surface is a
masterpiece of the founder's and chaser's art).
The brooding gothic splendor of Satan does not
necessarily concord with the overt sinuous eroticism of Léda
or the Naïade. A priori, that is more the domain of
I suppose that Feuchère could have done works in the vein of
Pradier (there is Baudelaire's reference to his being a touche
à tout and an author of porte-allumettes among
other things). He clearly admired him, and could have done
them very well since he was a first-rate sculptor...but the
matter should be looked into closely.
It all begins to hang together. Could not Pradier have
confided two models to Feuchère to be cast in the family
foundry in 1844, since it was among the best of the period (Pradier
even praises his having "rendu d'immenses services a
l'industrie par le bronze"), and Feuchère was one
of the best ciseleurs of all time (we presume that
our cast of Satan was executed by him, the chasing
is absolutely incredible!!!!)?
Couldn't Pradier's original "unsigned" plasters
have remained in Feuchère's atelier as a result, and then
etc. etc.???... (see above).
Douglas Siler (15/7/2004)
Cigar holder (Naïade)
I spoke with my collector friend yesterday. He looked up the Naïade
in Pierre Cadet's publication on Susse, which I don't have,
and found it in both the 1860 and 1875 Susse catalogues, as
follows (no illustrations):
1860, under "Porte-Cigares":
"Numéro d'ordre 573. Hauteur 24. Feuchères.
Nayade (sic) portée sur un poisson. 75 frs. En bronze."
1875: "Les Feuchères, leur Naïade sur un poisson (80 frs)."
Funny, the use of the plural "Feuchères".
Satyre et Bacchante
With regard to your Satyre et Bacchante, I am
wondering if a Carbon 14 analysis or some other such test
could be used to date it or the wood base.
John Paul Bogart (Paris, 15/7/2004)
Cigar holder (Naïade)
You might tell your friend that ours is probably a much
earlier cast [than the Susse casts].
First of all, it is signed Pradier and not Feuchère. It also
has no founder's mark. Had it been a Susse cast, it would
definetely have had one (and of course have been signed
I was pondering over the question of the relative heaviness
of the Naïade, and I believe that it was
intentional. Porte-cigares conceivably served the
supplementary function of "paperweight," and so
"weight," in this particular instance, would have
been clearly a desirable quality.
The surface is excellent and detailed. I imagine that the
foundry utilised a special technique to cool down the metal
rapidly (perhaps immersing the mould in cold water. Only a
guess...), thereby insuring a good impression.
It was a bronze foundry director who explained this fine
point to me. It is for this reason that the "thinner"
the walls of a cast are in general the better its quality -
simply because the metal cools down more quickly and takes a
Satyre et Bacchante
Perhaps [a Carbon 14 analysis or some other such test could
be used to date the wood base], but I wouldn't know where to
have that done, nor how accurate such a test might be...I
mean, I don't know if they can pinpoint very exactly. The
margin of error might be for a 100-year period, which wouldn't
help us very much.
I think that it is more accurate to judge from stylistic
considerations, and given the heavy oxidation of the gilding,
that the base is from the 1830's / 1840's (Louis-Philippe).
The people who know this sort of thing like the back of their
hand are good professional "historical" framers -
Montanari on rue Miromesnil. They can appraise the style and
age in the twinkling of an eye. It is their métier. If it would be of any help, I can show it
Douglas Siler (15/7/2004)
I just ran across the letter in which I thought Pradier
thanked Feuchère for sending him some of his (Feuchère's)
works. Unfortunately my memory played a trick on me and the
letter, undated, is addressed instead to Antonin Moine.
Pradier was nonetheless on good terms with Feuchère, as you
saw in letter 635. Sorry for the mix-up.
John Paul Bogart (Paris, 16/7/2004)
Thanks for the information.
Poor Moine. A wonderful sculptor. He had a very sad life, and
there is very little work extant.
Yes, Pradier respected Feuchère highly, and his contribution
to the art of the bronze.
Regarding your previous letter, yes it is true that the
reference in the Susse catalogue of 1875: "Les
Feuchères, leur Naïade portée sur un poisson" is
very odd indeed.
The book by Pierre Cadet is interesting because it publishes
a number of contracts between the foundry and the artists
with whom they worked, including several with Pradier.
Douglas Siler (29/7/2004)
Cigar holder (Naïade)
I just finished reading the book you loaned me on the Feuchères,
Dynastie de fondeurs. On the next-to-the-last page, in
Jean-Jacques Feuchère's Chronologie, I find this:
"1853. Vente J.J. Feuchère, 8-10 mars. (...) N° 80:
Une Nymphe sur un poisson, modèle pour un porte-cigare."
Don't you think this definitely confirms J.J. Feuchère's
You say that the work is signed Pradier and not Feuchère.
However, there are a number of examples of works which are
known NOT to be Pradier's but which bear his signature. And
of course, Pradier's name on a bronze has little to do with
the date it was cast
When you think about it, this porte-cigares could
hold only one cigar at a time. Doesn't that imply that it was
used to hold a lighted cigar in between puffs?
Something of a fire hazard if it was also being used as a
[The fact that thinner walls make for a better impression]
seems to make sense but if the walls of the porte-cigares
are thinner, I wonder what makes it so heavy.
Satyre et Bacchante
I have absolutely no experience in the matter [of dating wood
or gilding] but is it really possible to date gilding so
accurately simply from it's appearance? Is there a visible
difference between a gilding which is 150-160 years old and
another which is, say, only 100 years old? It would be
interesting for your clients if you could refer to an
appraisal of the type you mention. But did you receive the
page I sent you concerning a laboratory in Milan which does
spectroscopic analyses of wood (http://www.spectroscopyforart.com ? Might be worth pursuing. They claim to be pretty accurate.
John Paul Bogart (Paris, 29/7/2004)
Cigar holder (Naïade)
[Does the presence of the cigar holder in the 1853 atelier
sale inventory confirm Feuchère's paternity?]
Nyet. We can't rule out the possibility of n° 80 having been
mis-attributed at the atelier sale. Both Feuchère and
Pradier were dead in 1853. Nobody would have bothered to
worry very much about a little decorative object like the Naïade.
How do you explain the existence of early examples signed
Our Naïade has a cold varnish patina (it should be
clear by the nature of the wear and portions of the varnish
which have blackened with time, even in the photographs we
sent you). Cold varnish patinas were abandoned in the late
1840's, in favor of oxide patinas applied with heat, which
were much more stable and robust. Cold oxide patinas existed,
of course, since the Renaissance (if not the Roman times),
but they were very long and impractical to apply (the object
was immersed in wet sawdust for days).
I am already aware that a version of the Näiade was
sold at the Feuchère atelier sale, probably directly to
Susse, who subsequently made a posthumous edition of it (signed
"Feuchère"?). The atelier sale inventory is
documented in the Lami dictionary as well. But I am not at
all sure that the Naïade (in plaster, bronze, or
whatever) in this sale was signed. This is precicesly where
all of the confusion could have crept in.
If the Naïade was a work by Pradier and an unsigned
version had come into Feuchère's hands (either as a gift, or
because Feuchère made a bronze editon of the model and
retained the original plaster, or a foundry plaster, or an
example in bronze in his atelier) and it was later mis-attributed,
this would provide the simplest and most direct explanation
of the differing signatures. Occam's Razor.
If you really wish to erase all my doubts that the Naïade
is by Pradier, you will have to show me an early example (either
with a founder's mark that conclusively dates the cast, or an
example with a cold-varnish patina) signed Feuchère, then we'll
really have to scratch our heads to figure out what's going
So far, I am convinced of the following:
1. That my example is an early cast signed "Pradier,"
probably done during his liftetime, since it has a cold
2. That some sort of Nymphe sur un Poisson, modèle pour
un porte-cigare (signed? unsigned? medium? dimensions?)
was sold as n° 80 of the Feuchère atelier sale, when both
Feuchère and Pradier were dead.
3. That a posthumous edition was realised of a Nayade
portée sur un Poisson, 24cm (a larger dimension than
ours, which is only 18 x 21cm!!!), announced in Susse
catalogues, given to "Feuchères" or "les
Feuchères," and presumably signed "Feuchère."
An incomplete reference in a nineteenth century atelier sale
catalogue, without indications of dimensions, identifying
marks, nor medium of the work in question, just doesn't cut
it for me regarding paternity. It's too flimsy.
By the way, the person or persons, who affirm in passing
Feuchère's paternity of the Naïade, don't seem to
bother to go into any of these bothersome little details.
I would like to know how, exactly, Feuchère's dépôt
légal reads, which might clear up the matter.
[You point out that "there are a number of examples of
works which are known NOT to be Pradier's but which bear his
signature."] Yes, but were they done during Pradier's
lifetime, or are they posthumous? I would be interested to
know more, regarding this point.
When a forger created a spurious work, as was often the case
with Boucher, Corot or Thomas Couture, the forgeries were
usually done after the artist's death, when it would be
difficult unequivocably to establish authorship (the "Dead
men tell no tales" syndrome), and to avoid legal
Was this the case with Pradier forgeries, or was he plagued
by them from the outset?
[Concerning the weight of the cigar holder:]
The walls of this cast are not particularly thin (which is
why it's heavy), but the surface detail (the imprint) is very
sharp and nervous all the same. This suggests to me that the
founders found an ingenious technical solution to the problem
of "slow cooling and bad imprint." The solution may
have been "fast cooling," as described above.
The fishes mouth is deep and completely lined, which also
adds a certain amount of weight to the object. The extra
weight might have been a desirable quality if the porte-cigares
served also as a paperweight.
In any event, the Naïade was clearly an object for
a man's desk, destined for the privacey of a bureau. It was
meant to be admired, contemplated and, if wear on the patina
is any indication, dare I say, fondled? It was "erotic"
in nature, as are Pradier's erotic paperweights with
It is unlikely that the Naïade, with her firm
breasts, legs akimbo and looking every bit a marine hussy,
was an object that a man would have placed in a domestic
setting, what with his children and wife around.
I gather that Pradier's paperweights are often unsigned for
this reason as well. Strange as it may seem to us now, they
were considered shockingly pornographic in their day.
The Greek Slave (1848) by Hiram Powers comes to mind.
It was a simple and rather pedestrian nude, but it made a
sensation in America and England. It was exhibited in a
private room open only to men. Women and children were not
admitted, their eyes sheltered from the girl's unwilling, if
It is only the drama of Missalonghi and the "purity and
whiteness" of the marble that saved the work from being
considered pornographic. Of course, the plight of the poor
Greek girl (with a head based on the Venus de Milo) in chains
also played a role, as mythological subject-matter also
served as a pretext, in enabling the sculptor to show a woman
"naked as a jaybird."
The nipple-less bust version was in practically every great
royal collection in Europe. Why is it that women were allowed
to have breasts (even to show them on occasion) but no
Satyre et Bacchante
[You ask if there is a visible difference between gilding
which is 150-160 years old and another which is, say, only
100 years old?]
Probably, because 60 years of oxidation does make a
difference, but this would be difficult to quantify exactly.
It depends on how the object was conserved, whether it was
exposed to light or not, humidity, dust and dirt, etc.
The gilding [on the wood base] has never been cleaned and the
patina looks absolutely right for the 1830's or '40's.
Participer à cette discussion :
→ Pour participer à cette discussion,