Félicie de Fauveau Exhibited at Orsay

1. Félicie de Fauveau and Hippolyte de Fauveau
Fountain with Nymph and Dolphin, 1846-48
Marble - H. 273 cm. D. 120 cm
Saint-Pétersbourg, Musée de l’Ermitage
In back : Monument to the Memory of
Antoine-Jean Gros and Augustine Dufresne,
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins
Photo : Didier Rykner

12/6/13 - Exhibition - Paris, Musée d’Orsay - The exhibition Félicie de Fauveau has now opened its doors in Paris after having been at the Historial de Vendée.
We should begin by making this observation : we had seen the Orsay catalogue in proofs only, without the appendices. And contrary to what we had said, though it does not provide individual entries, the critical apparatus is very rich and the list of works on view details in a very thorough manner, the ownership history, bibliography, sources and related objects for each item. Given the quality of the essays, this catalogue is in fact an invaluable contribution to our knowledge of the artist.

We refer our readers to our previous article and will simply limit ourselves here to point out that the quality of the museum setting is just as fine as at the Historial, despite the fact that the space is quite different. The only drawback is that these narrow rooms do not allow visitors to walk around the pieces -with only a few exceptions -,as was the case in Vendée.
Visitors will appreciate the beautiful blue color of the walls which helps the sculptures to stand out particularly well (ill. 1) and also the last section where an evocation of the chapels in a Gothic church does an excellent job of enhancing the religious sculptures.

Unlike the show in Vendée, this presentation does not display any comparative works except for the bronze of Saint George Fighting the Dragon by Paul Delaroche for which Félicie de Fauveau produced a companion piece which today is lost. However, the remains of the frame for Lady Jane Grey by the same Delaroche have been replaced around a grisaille reproduction of the canvas, thus avoiding any ambiguity by helping us to understand the effect it provided (ill. 2).
We also find another contextual addition here : the pedestal Félicie de Fauveau sculpted for the Henri IV by Bosio holds a version of this sculpture, though this is not the original one which now resides in an English collection. Finally, we would like to mention a point we had not discussed in our review : the existence of sculpted busts which are more Classical, and of excellent quality such as (ill. 3) ...

2. Félicie de Fauveau (1801-1886)
Fragments of a Frame for Lady Jane Grey
by Paul Delaroche
, c. 1845-1855
Gilded Wood
London, National Gallery
Photo : Didier Rykner

3. Félicie de Fauveau (1801-1886)
Funeral Bust of François Bautte, c. 1848-1849
Marble - 43 x 32 x 19 cm
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins
Photo : Didier Rykner

After Auguste Préault, Félicie de Fauveau is the second Romantic sculptor to be highlighted in a retrospective at the Musée d’Orsay. Although her dates theoretically place her instead at the Louvre, we are pleased to see that this leading 19th century museum took the initiative of breaking through the at times artificial chronological barriers which result in mistreating certain artists whose work straddles the first and second half of the century [1]. What matters is that Parisians are now afforded the chance to admire an artist who is still far from being duly known.

Curator : Ophélie Ferlier.

The exhibition is being held at the Musée d’Orsay from 13 June to 15 September 2013.

Version française

Didier Rykner, jeudi 13 juin 2013


[1] In fact, this is still the case for those whose birthdates are around 1820, but not for Félicie de Fauveau who was born in 1801.

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