Some 19th century Sculptures Acquired by the Metropolitan Museum


1. Pierre Jean David, known as David d’Angers (1788-1856)
Profile of Bonaparte, after 1837
Patinated plaster - 36.8 × 17.9 × 7.3 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan

29/8/13 - Acquisitions - New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Several late 19th century sculptures, most of them French, joined the collections at the Metropolitan in 2012 and 2013. Three profiles stand out in this ensemble, each in a different material. Purchased in 2013 by Eugene V. Thaw from the Parisian gallery, Jacques Fischer, with the intention of donating it later to the museum, Bonaparte’s likeness produced in plaster by David d’Angers after 1837 (ill. 1), presents the general’s features as they appear on the pediment of the Pantheon. It was commissioned from the sculptor in 1830 and finished in 1837, illustrating the Fatherland distributing laurel crowns to the men who served it - among them, Napoleon Bonaparte - while History inscribes their names in the stone. The David d’Angers museum holds the plaster model of this vast composition.
David d’Angers designed another posthumous portrait of Bonaparte for a medallion, face on, with disheveled hair, in a Romantic vein. The sculptor had specialized in these medallions, setting down the features of those he judged worthy of posterity, much in the same way as History at the Pantheon (see our article in French, the exhibition at the Bnf in 2011-2012).

Another portrait of a less well-known model, but technically interesting, is that of Fanny Prunaire in glass paste by Henry Cros after 1880 (ill. 2) and purchased by the museum from David and Constance Yates. Fanny Prunaire, the wife of the engraver Alfred Prunaire, also produced wood engravings. As for Cros, he was a sculptor, ceramist, painter and worked with both glass paste and wax. The Petit Palais, which holds a beautiful ensemble of his works, presented these in all their diversity in 2009. This medallion joins two other glass paste reliefs by the artist already residing at the Metropolitan.


2. Henry Cros (1840–1907)
Fanny Prunaire, après 1880
Pâte de verre - 9.3 x 8.8 x 1.3 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan

3. Jean-Désiré Ringeldit Ringel d’Illzach (1847–1916)
Alexandre Dumas, son, 1885
Bronze - D. 17.8 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan


Yet another artist who worked with pâte de verre, Jean-Désiré Ringel, nicknamed Ringel d’Ilzach, the name of his hometown, experimented with different procedures for casting metals and glass, also developing a material from wax and clay. However, he chose bronze [1] in 1885 to render the profile of Alexandre Dumas, son (ill. 3). The artist produced portraits of many prominent figures in the shape of medals : Sarah Bernhardt, Rodin, Zola, Dumas son, even Léon Gambetta. This medallion, for which the museum in Strasbourg owns a plaster cast, was donated in 2013 by Michael Schlossberg and joins another version, in bronze from 1886. Alexandre Dumas provides a link between the various sculptors presented here as he was a patron of Henry Cros and was portrayed by Ringel as well as Carpeaux.

4. Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1827-1875)
Le Trait d’Union, 1872
Terracotta - 20.2 x 9.4 x 9 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan

The Metropolitan also acquired a terracotta study by Carpeaux dating from 1872 (ill. 4) at the Talabardon et Gautier gallery in 2012. The work, which depicts a man and a woman embracing, united by a child whose arms wrap around the couple, was apparently moulded when the sculptor’s son was sick, an event which brought his parents closer together. The composition is similar to that of La Confidence.. Posthumous castings in bronze were made of this study by the artist’s family, notably one now found at the Petit Palais, while another was recently sold in Paris with the Fabius collection.

Finally, two Americans round out this ensemble of late 19th century sculptures. Daniel Chester French executed bronze allegories, one of Architecture (1898), the other of Painting and Sculpture (1899), donated to the museum by the Morris K. Jesup Fund in 2013 (ill. 5 and 6). They call to mind the monument erected in memory of the architect Richard Morris Hunt, who designed the façade of the Metropolitan. Commissioned in 1898 from Daniel Chester French and Bruce Price, it stands on Fifth Avenue, next to Central Park : in front of a semi-circular colonnade, the bust of Morris Hunt is framed by two allegories. The woman representing Painting and Sculpture holds a palette and a mallet. Architecture is carrying a mockup of one of Morris Hunt’s most famous buildings : the administrative offices of the 1893 Universal Exhibition in Chicago. French produced several bronzes from the preparatory studies for these sculptures, including the ones here, which are of course less accomplished than the final versions. The Metropolitan also holds another replica of Architecture. However, Daniel Chester French is known above all for his statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C.


5. Daniel Chester French (1850-1931)
Architecture, 1898
Bronze - 31.4 x 10.5 x 7 cm
New York,The Metropolitan
Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan

6. Daniel Chester French (1850-1931)
Painting and Sculpture, 1899
Bronze - 31.1 x 10.5 x 7 cm
New York,The Metropolitan
Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan

7. Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848–1907)
Abraham Lincoln Standing or The Man, 1911
Bronze - 102.9 x 41.9 x 76.8 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan


The museum purchased another likeness of Lincoln in 2012 by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (ill. 7), a sculptor with a French father and an Irish mother who was brought up in New York before coming to Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. He also spent time in Rome from 1873 to 1874 where he became fascinated by the Renaissance. When he returned to the United States, he founded the American Academy of Arts and Letters with six other people. This bronze dating from 1911 is a smaller version of the monument dedicated to Abraham Lincoln in Chichago produced in 1887, showing a reflective president who has just gotten up from his chair, the back of which bears an American eagle with widespread wings, and is about to address the public.

Version française


Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, jeudi 29 août 2013


Notes

[1] One of his masterpieces was recently acquired by the Getty Museum.



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