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Post Lot Text
A BRONZE FIGURE OF AMPHITRITE
AFTER MICHEL ANGUIER (1612-1686), FRENCH, 18TH CENTURY
Depicted standing, facing to sinister and holding a crayfish in her left hand and a length of drapery in her right, with a dolphin by her feet; on an associated white and black marble and blue john-veneered pedestal carved with a rosette motif; dark brown patina with reddish brown high points
It is recorded by Guillet de Saint-Georges in a biography of 1690 that Anguier created a series of bronze statuettes of gods and goddesses in 1652. The text states that he created six figures and then goes on to mention seven, including 'une Amphitrite tranquille, fraîche, délicate, claire et transparente, son visage agréable et tout le reste de son corps de mesme...ses drapperies seront amples delicattes et ondées...', which is identifiable with the present model. The crayfish in her hand and the dolphin at her feet identify her with her element, the Sea.
In the above biography, the bronze group was documented as being in the collection of 'M. Montarsis, joailler du roi', and although it is likely that Saint-Georges was referring to Pierre le Tessier de Montarsis, it is more than possible that the group was originally purchased by his father Laurent. Laurent le Tessier de Montarsis was also Keeper of the Royal Jewels and the King's Jeweller and a man of taste and sophistication, with the means at his disposal to have commissioned the bronzes as a group. Amongst other items in the extensive collection were two Raphaels, the Bridgewater Madonna and the Washington Saint George (I. Wardropper, op. cit., p. 23).
Of all Anguier's creations, the Amphitrite was to prove the most celebrated. In 1654, Anguier was commissioned by Nicolas Fouquet, Louis XIV's Finance Minister, to carve fourteen life-size figures in limestone, including the Amphitrite. A marble version was made by Massé for the gardens at Versailles, and bronzes of various sizes, often paired with male gods, are known. Of the series of fourteen, four have survived; the life-size Amphitrite is today in the Institute of Art in Toledo.