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FRENCH, EARLY 19TH CENTURY
FRENCH, EARLY 19TH CENTURY
FRENCH, EARLY 19TH CENTURY
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FRENCH, EARLY 19TH CENTURY
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Please note that at our discretion some lots may b… Read more
FRENCH, EARLY 19TH CENTURY

Thalia

Details
FRENCH, EARLY 19TH CENTURY
Thalia
marble; on an integrally carved base
57 3⁄4 in. (146.7 cm.) high
Literature
COMPARATIVE LITERATURE:
J.-L. Martinez, Les Antiques du Louvre: une histoire du goût d'Henri IV à Napoléon III, Paris, 2004, pp. 53-54 and 203, figs. 51, 52 and 222.
D. A. Brenneman and I. Leroy-Jay Lemaistre, The Louvre and the Masterpiece, Atlanta, High Museum of Art, 2008, pp. 84-87, nos. 34 and 35.
A. Maral and N. Milovanovic, Versailles et l'Antique, exhibition catalogue, Château de Versailles, 2012, pp. 52-53, fig. 11.

Special notice

Please note that at our discretion some lots may be moved immediately after the sale to our storage facility at Momart Logistics Warehouse: Units 9-12, E10 Enterprise Park, Argall Way, Leyton, London E10 7DQ. At King Street lots are available for collection on any weekday, 9.00 am to 4.30 pm. Collection from Momart is strictly by appointment only. We advise that you inform the sale administrator at least 48 hours in advance of collection so that they can arrange with Momart. However, if you need to contact Momart directly: Tel: +44 (0)20 7426 3000 email: pcandauctionteam@momart.co.uk.
These lots have been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

Brought to you by

Clementine Sinclair
Clementine Sinclair Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

In Ancient Greek mythology the Muses were the goddesses of creative inspiration associated with literature, the arts and sciences, and were the companions of the god Apollo. As is the case with many mythological subjects, their origin stories vary, however, they were usually described as the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (Memory) and typically were nine in number. The Muses became a popular feature in literature, famously evoked by Homer in the opening lines of both the Iliad and the Odyssey, and by many later authors including Dante, Milton and Shakespeare. In the visual arts, the Muses were a means by which erudite themes could be alluded to through the depiction of nine beautiful women. The present lot, dating to the early 19th century, attests to the enduring popularity of the subject throughout the ages. While the attributes of each muse have varied in artistic representations over the centuries, sometimes making each individual sister difficult to distinguish, the theatrical mask and scroll held by the figure offered here identifies her as Thalia, Muse of comedy and pastoral poetry.
The composition of the present lot finds its earliest origins, albeit in reverse, in a lost Greek marble known as the ‘Leaning Aphrodite’, attributed to the sculptor Alkamanenes, from circa 420 BC (see Brenneman and Lemaistre, loc. cit.). However, the more direct inspiration for this lot is a fragmentary Roman copy after the Greek original that was part of the collection of Louis XIV and is today housed in the Louvre, Paris (inv. no. MA 414). The appearance of this piece in the 17th century and its location, in the Tuileries Palace, is known from an engraving by Claude Mellan dated 1669 [fig 1.]. As the engraving illustrates, the missing arms and head of the antique marble had been restored with attributes of Thalia, the same attributes that are depicted in the present lot. Along with other works of art, in 1798 the antique marble was seized at Versailles and became part of the Louvre collections. The marble was eventually re-restored to show the figure holding two flutes, the attributes of the Muse Euterpe. This change occurred in the early 19th century under the direction of Ennio Quirino Visconti, who was the Director of Antiquities from 1799 until his death in 1818, and was likely prompted by the purchase of a second ‘Leaning Aphrodite’ figure that had been restored with the attributes of Euterpe, bought by Napoleon in 1807 (see Martinez, op. cit. p. 53). Given the close similarities between the present lot and the marble of Thalia known today from Mellan’s engraving, it is probable that the author of the present marble was inspired by the latter, and must have sculpted the lot offered here prior to Thalia’s re-restoration into Euterpe, probably in the years 1807 to 1818.

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