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A RUSSIAN ORMOLU AND MALACHITE MODEL OF AN EAGLE
A RUSSIAN ORMOLU AND MALACHITE MODEL OF AN EAGLE
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A RUSSIAN ORMOLU AND MALACHITE MODEL OF AN EAGLE

ATTRIBUTED TO PIERRE-MARIE-LOUIS AGIS, CIRCA 1805-1815

Details
A RUSSIAN ORMOLU AND MALACHITE MODEL OF AN EAGLE
ATTRIBUTED TO PIERRE-MARIE-LOUIS AGIS, CIRCA 1805-1815
Naturalistically modelled as an eagle, on a rock shape base
14 ½ in. (37 cm.) high; 17 in. (43 cm.) wide; 10 in. (25.5 cm.) deep

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Paul Gallois
Paul Gallois European Furniture & Works of Art

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Lot Essay

This magnificent and lifelike sculpture of an eagle, is a superb example of the finest gilt-bronze sculptures and bronzes d’ameublement created in Russia in the early 19th Century. Here in a naturalistic pose with spread wings, it derives from the emblems of the Russian Empire and the Russian Imperial coat-of-arms incorporating double headed eagles. Superbly chased and gilt, the quality of this masterpiece is unsurpassed. It can be attributed to Pierre Marie Louis Agis (1752-1828), a Swiss bronze smith, sculptor and jeweller, who was active in St Petersburg from 1779 to 1804 and from 1807 until his death in 1828. He taught in the sculptural ornament class of the Academy of Arts, managed the State Bronze factory from 1810 to 1812 but also owned his own bronze workshop producing candelabra, wall-lights, vases etc. from his own models (I. Sychev, Russian Bronze, Moscow, 2001, p. 222)

Apart from the superb chased and gilt finish of his gilt-bronze sculptures and objects, Agis ’s work is characterised by its naturalistic and sculptural ornamental vocabulary, usually including motifs such as maidens, birds, lion’s heads, mermaids and fish. These are generally rendered in an entirely lifelike pose and therefore very different to the work of his contemporaries. One of his earliest known works is a sculpture of Empress Catherine the Great as Minerva in the Hermitage, St Petersburg; this is signed ‘P.AGI’ and dated 1781. Conceived at approximately the same time is a set of three neo-classical lapis lazuli vases with ormolu mounts at Peterhof, which have recently been attributed to him as well also (I. Sychev, op.cit, p. 44-45). Agis continued to create elaborate and richly gilded mounts for hardstone vases in the early 19th Century, many of which were intended for the Hermitage and the ongoing furnishing of the Palace of Pavlovsk for Empress Maria Feodorovna. Two examples are particularly noteworthy: a crazed quartz vase with siren handles, which was executed by Agis after a design provided by the architect Andrei Voronikhin, as well as porphyry vase with dolphin handles, both executed circa 1802 and now in the Hermitage ((I. Sychev, op.cit, p. 84-86).

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