A superb mid 19th century gilt bronze sculpture of Penelope waiting for Odysseus cast by the famous Parisian foundry F. Barbedienne
A superb mid 19th century gilt bronze sculpture of Penelope waiting for Odysseus cast by the famous Parisian foundry F. Barbedienne, founded in 1838, and bearing their signature and the Achille Collas stamp.
This bronze is of Homer's sleeping Penelope who, during her 20 year wait for her husband Odysseus to return from the Trojan wars, found many clever ways to delay the dozens of suitors who begged to marry her. Each day she worked weaving a shroud for her father in law Laertes, claiming she would choose a suitor when she completed the task - and each night she unravelled her work. In Penelope's hand is a spool of yarn and further spools at her feet.
The figure of sleeping Penelope was sculpted in marble by Pierre-Jules Cavelier (b. 1814 d. 1894) and first exhibited in 1848. The sculpture received great acclaim and won Cavelier a first class medal and medal of honour at the 1849 Paris Salon Exhibition. The critics were unanimous that “With his Penelope Asleep, Mr Cavelier has established himself as one of the greatest modern sculptors. This figure, slumped in her chaste cloths, succumbed to the fatigue of labour, with the modest and severe grace of the glorious days of Antiquity; thus the work was a true success: not a single contradictory review clouded the chorus of praise: artist and society people were equally captivated” (Les Beaux-Arts en Europe, 1855). The cloths are of a remarkable virtuosity which wa srarely achieved in sculpture at the time, combining naturalism and a reference to Greco-Roman art with a tempered romantic sensitivity.
Cavelier drew his inspiration from antique statuary throughout his career. The original of Penelope Asleep is in the Musee d'Orsay, in Paris.
This beautiful gilt bronze depicted draped in the finest cloth is a reduction cast by The Barbedienne foundry which was set up in 1838 by Ferdinand Barbedienne and Achille Collas ('Reduction Mechanique A Collas Brevete'). Their work intricately and faithfully produced smaller bronze figures of renowned statues and the foundry produced many fine pieces and worked closely with many famous artists. The bronze bears both the foundry stamp, the names of Bardienne and Collas, and is stamped J Cavelier and the unique number 362. On the under face it bears the scratched initials J.C.
A superb quality large mid 19th century French Barbedienne gilt bronze in truly excellent original condition and dating from c. 1850.