Dany Gamage (Honolulu, 14/3/2005)
My mother is making the final transition in life and
it is nice to talk with her about things. She has a
sculpture that was given to her many years ago. It has a
lamp attached to its wooden base and there seems to be a lot
of green shading (verdigris) on it. I know it's not a special
Pradier piece. It is the bust of a woman with leaves on her
head and with a hint of a dress on her shoulders. If you
could tell us more about it or give us the email address of
someone who could it would make for great conversation with
Douglas Siler (14/3/2005)
Without pictures of your sculpture I can only guess at what
it might be. Could you send me one, or possibly several,
taken from different angles? Also, I need to know the
How tall is the
sculpture in inches or cm., not including the wooden base?
Is the name "Pradier" inscribed on it?
If so, where, and does it include the initial
Is there any other writing on the sculpture or under
the base? Any numbers or foundry marks?
Is the sculpture in bronze? If not, what is it
made of and is it hollow inside?
Is the woman looking straight ahead, down, or to
the left or right?
Are there any other features you could describe?
Do you know how long it has been in the family
and where it was before that?
If you can answer these questions and also send some
pictures, I may be able to identify the work and tell you
more about it.
Dany Gamage (25/3/2005)
I made attempts in sending you pictures of the sculpture and
failed. So let me answer your questions:
Height is 11 inches [28 cm] without the base.
The name J. PRADIER is inscribed on the front
above the wooden base, on a
bronze supporting piece for the sculpture.
There are no other markings we can see,
however when looking under the base it seems as
though it were originally just a sculpture, not a
lamp. What kind of marks would we look for?
Yes, my wife states it is of bronze, and I
believe it is hollow.
The woman is looking down and a little to her
left. Plus she has a little necklace tight
around her neck.
She has leaves on her head and part of a dress or
wrap around her bust.
My mother may have acquired the sculpture in the
1930's or 40's. We know nothing else about
Douglas Siler (25/3/2005)
Without photos of your sculpture, it's difficult to
know what it might be. Please try again to send some. In the
meantime, I am attaching one here of a work which was
recently put on auction in New York. Is it the
same as or similar to yours?
Dany Gamage (1/4/2005)
As far as I can tell it's the same sculpture.
Attached are 5 pictures. The lampost in the
background is attached to the wooden base.
on photos to enlarge them
Douglas Siler (4/4/2005)
Your sculpture is indeed the same as the one I
sent you a picture of which was put on auction at
Christies, New York City, last January. It seems to be a less
refined version and may be a surmoulage, i.e. cast
from the mold of another bronze version and not from a
mold of the original plaster model. Its patina seems to have
suffered from exposure to the elements. Perhaps it stood
outside in a garden for several years before the
lamp was added.
What is very interesting about this work is that it is
derived from one of the five monumental statues sculpted
by Pradier for the famous fountain erected in Nîmes in
southern France. The fountain's central statue, a standing
female figure symbolizing the city of Nîmes, is surrounded
by four other seated figures. Two of these are nude male
figures symbolizing the Rhône and Gardon
rivers. The other two are scantily-clad female
figures symbolizing two local springs whose Latin
names are Ura and Nemausa. Your bust
is derived from the statue of Nemausa. Four or
five years before the fountain was inaugurated in 1851, small
reductions of the statues were already in circulation.
Larger copies were later cast in bronze, such as two of Ura
recently located in Rio de Janeiro. Some reductions of
the female figures differ from the original marble statues in
that they are fully draped. We don't know for sure if these
versions were made by Pradier himself or if
their elegant robes were added later by the editors
who produced them. We do know, however, that Pradier was
in the habit of creating two versions of some of his works,
one "dressed" and the other "undressed".
The figure of Nemausa symbolizes the natural
spring around which the roman colony of Nîmes grew up. She
has nenuphar leaves in her hair and holds a mirror in her right
hand. Her counterpart, Ura, holds a lyre and wears a
wreath on her head. Only reductions or copies representing
the entire figures from head to foot were known before the
bust derived from Nemausa was marketed last January
in New York. Your example of that same bust is therefore very
rare. My article on the Forum Pradier
website entitled "Les
enfants nomades de la fontaine de Nîmes" ("The
'nomad' children of the fountain of Nîmes")
focuses on the reductions and copies of the marble
figures and includes numerous pictures which you can
compare with your sculpture. Sorry I don't have an English
version but to get the jist of it you might try running it
through one of the machine translators available on the
Several other works derived from the Nîmes figures have
recently come to light. There will be a new article
about them shortly and I will let you know as soon as it is online.
I hope these few remarks are helpful. If you have any
further questions I will be happy to answer them if I can.
Dany Gamage (6/4/2005)
Thank you for all your help, the information you sent is
incredible. My mother passed away Monday morning. We
shared with her the information and she was elated, clenched
her fist and stated: "I knew it!" That
was beautiful to see.
Now we would like your advice on how to clean the
sculpture up. The reason it is so green is because of
all the salt air. I believe it can look as nice as the
picture you sent. And the lamp pole and wire are easy
to remove. What is your advice?
Douglas Siler (15/4/2005)
I was so sorry to learn that your mother
passed away. Please accept my deepest condoleances. How
fortunate it was that the information I sent you only a few
hours before got there in time to be shared with her.
You ask how you should go about cleaning the sculpture. I am no
expert on the matter and it can be a very delicate operation.
Before doing anything, it's important to know if the verdigris
coating is not, in fact, intentional. Your version of the
work did not necessarily look like the one which was put on
the market in New York. The coating may have been applied
deliberately at the very beginning to give it an "antique"
appearance. With regard to the lamp, you might consider
removing it and the wire but I think the wood base should
stay. It seems well adapted to the sculpture and could be
revarnished. If you do want to clean the sculpture you should
first try to get some advice from a local
specialist. Here's the internet address of an article I
ran across about a restorer who works in Honolulu:
If he can't help he can probably direct you to someone else.
Otherwise, here are two other internet addresses about
You can find many, many other addresses by
searching in Google on the words « cleaning
bronze statues ».
Dany Gamage (22/4/2005)
Thank you for the imformation on how to clean the scuplture. We will do our best in cleaning her up...
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A lire aussi :
→ Étude: Les enfants nomades de la fontaine de Nîmes
→ Forum: Réductions des statues de la fontaine de Nîmes