The Stockholm Museum Purchases a Terracotta by Stouf


Jean-Baptiste Stouf (1742–1826)
Faithful Friendship, 1795
Terracotta - 58 x 36 x 23.5 cm
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum
Photo : Stockholm, Nationalmuseum

29/4/13 - Acquisition - Stockholm, Nationalmuseum - Faithful Friendship was on view at the Daniel Katz Gallery for the terracotta exhibition held in 2010 [1]. It is now a permanent resident of the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm which has just purchased it from the English art dealer. The work, auctioned at Piasa on 15 December 2004, was first attributed to the circle of Jean-Baptiste Stouf. Today, it is presented by the museum as being by the sculptor himself, who had exhibited a terracotta statuette on this same theme at the Salon of 1795.

It is in any case characteristic of the period, due to its edifying, almost Romantic theme, its Neo-classic style tinged with sensuality - Stouf was the student of Guillaume II Coustou and studied Antiquity in Rome as of 1770 - as well as its technique. A woman draped in an antique robe leaning on the altar of friendship and love holds her right hand over her heart ; with the other she is caressing a dog, a symbol of loyalty, while the dove poised on her shoulder embodies love. She is wearing a crown of pomegranate flowers. In part, the artist respects the description made by Cesare Ripa in his Iconologia : after quoting Aristotle who defines Friendship as "a mutual correspondence of affection between two people of the same humor and who establish Reason and Virtue as their guides", he adds that it is "simply dressed with a white robe and her left shoulder is almost as nude as her beautiful throat which is totally uncovered. Her garland is of interwoven myrtle leaves and pomegranate flowers [...] Her right hand shows her heart [...]". She is barefooted and her garment shows no decoration "as a sign of honesty which can stand no artifice or disguise". Ripa adds an elm encircled with a vinestock which Stouf chose not to represent.

The theme of friendship was a favorite notably of Madame de Pompadour a few years earlier after becoming the friend and confidante of Louis XV rather than his mistress. Falconet and Pigalle represent it as well, in either ceramics or marble.
Stouf preferred terracotta here, used apparently for itself and not just as a preparatory study, in the same way as other artists to create final sculptures, for example Clodion, some of whose works can be seen in the Nationalmuseum collections, alongside those of Sergel, in fact a friend of Jean Baptiste Stouf.

Version française


Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, samedi 4 mai 2013


Notes

[1] "Extraordinarily Beautiful. An exhibition of French terracotta and plaster sculpture, 1765-1815", from 30 November to 23 December 2010, Daniel Katz Gallery.



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