Phryne Stepping out of her Bath by Chinard acquired by the Louvre in New York

Joseph Chinard (1756-1813)
Phryne emerging
from her Bath
, c.1784/1787
Terracotta - 71.4 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : Sotheby’s

10/2/10 – Acquisition – Paris, Musée du Louvre – On Friday 29th January, at Sotheby’s New York, the Département des sculptures won the bidding for Phryne emerging from her Bath by Joseph Chinard for $482,500 (including charges) at the auction of Arthur M. Sackler’s sculptures [1]. This terra-cotta had been presented at the Louvre during the exhibition, L’esprit créateur de Pigalle à Canova (see article in French). The story of Phryne, a young Greek woman who shed her veil before the Areopagus, contained all the ingredients needed to stir an artist’s interest. In the 19th century, the subject was treated notably in sculpture by James Pradier and in painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme (the latter was reinterpreted in sculpture by Alexandre Falguière).

The Louvre already holds several works by Joseph Chinard, a native of Lyon : studies for monuments, busts, designs for clocks and tombs, an allegorical figure, a figure of a young harpist…but no amorous subjects comparable to this one. James David Draper, in the catalogue for the 2003 exhibition, points out the influence of antique sculpture, particularly the Medici Venus, a Venus held in the Vatican storerooms and the Callipygian Venus in Naples ; he also associates it with Houdon’s Winter.

The Département des sculptures has also acquired several other sculptures over the past few months which we will soon highlight in another article.

Didier Rykner, mercredi 10 février 2010


[1] See the catalogue for the exhibition Finger Prints of the Artist. European Terra-Cotta Sculpture from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, 2003, Washington, National Gallery of Art, New York, Metropolitan Museum and The Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge. The Phryne work was presented as number 87.

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