Graceful sculptures top Ellie’s list of favourites
Ellie Muir, our Appraisals and Consignments Manager, talks about two of her favourite lots in our December 2017 Decorative Arts auction.
Both sculptures were gifted to the Art Gallery of Ontario and are being deaccessioned to benefit future art purchases at the AGO.
Meet “Psyche and the Butterfly” and “Dance of The Three Graces”.
“PSYCHE AND THE BUTTERFLY”
This version of Psyche shows her in a jubilant state, celebrating her new immortality and reunion with her husband, Cupid. She has accomplished momentous tasks assigned to her by Venus in order to achieve her union of love, and seems to be joyfully sending a butterfly, which symbolizes innocence as well as transformation, into flight. Everything about her is ascending up into the air, her hair, her arms, even the vines of roses encircling her body reach upward. Psyche now has her own butterfly wings as she has joined Cupid as an immortal.
Cesare Lapini made many sculptures of Psyche at various points in her journey – this one in particular shows her in her final state; self-assured and confident in her new place amongst the Gods.
CESARE LAPINI (ITALIAN, 1848-AFTER 1902) PSYCHE AND THE BUTTERFLY Carrara marble, inscribed Gall.Lapini, Firenze, 1895, height 57.25 in — 145.4 cm Provenance: Gifted to the Art Gallery of Ontario by Mrs. J. Morrow Deaccessioned to benefit art purchases at the AGO.
“DANCE OF THE THREE GRACES”
Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux is best known for his sensational marble sculpture “Dance” which adorns the façade of the Paris Opéra (a replacement is now there displayed as the original was moved to the Louvre in 1964 to preserve it from the elements).
When it was unveiled in 1868 it caused a sensation as it went against the popular Neo-Classical aesthetic of the time and instead favoured a raucous Baroque style where the figures seemed to move with joyous sensuality and abandon. Some unhappy onlookers were compelled to deface it by throwing bottles of ink. As is often the case, any publicity is good publicity, especially when it comes to art, and Carpeaux went on to produce many other iterations of “Dance”.
This lot shows three of those figures in a smaller configuration, but they are no less pleasurable to view. The swirling motion of the women with their fingers just barely touching give the sense that the centrifugal force of their dance could send them flinging outward at any moment as they emit peals laughter. Carpeaux produced plaster, terra cotta and bronze versions at his atelier right up until his death in 1875.
JEAN-BAPTISTE CARPEAUX (FRENCH, 1827-1875) DANCE OF THE THREE GRACES, 1874 terracotta, incised signature and date, and with impressed ‘Atelier-Dépôt, Paris’, and ‘Propriété Carpeaux’ seals, height 31.5 in — 80 cm Provenance: Gifted to the Art Gallery of Ontario by the Junior Women’s Fund, 1958, inventory no. 57/27 Deaccessioned to benefit art purchases at the AGO.