Alfred Boucher entered L'Ecole des Beaux Arts de Paris in 1869 under the instruction of the renowned artists Paul Dubois, Antoine Dumont and Marius Ramus. He achieved immediate success exhibiting at the Exposition Universelle and was awarded a third class medal in 1874 and the Grand Prix in 1881 and 1900.
In the 1890s, Boucher became more interested in Realism and the subject of the worker, a vocation which inspired his fellow sculptors Jules Dalou and Constantin Meunier. Fulfilling an exemplary career, Boucher also helped younger artists by making models available and providing low rent artist studios in Montparnasse, called La Rotonde des Vins or La Ruche des Arts. Alexander Archipenko, Ossip Zadkine, Soutine, Chagall, Modigliani and Jacques Lipchitz, among others, were all recipients of Boucher's generosity, as was Camille Claudel, whom Boucher introduced to Rodin. The present lot, carved in three-quarter relief, is characteristic of the artist's sensual and erotic allegorical studies executed at the end of the 19th and early 20th Centuries. The seemingly unfinished treatment of the female form is often associated with the artist's exhibition piece, Volubilis (Morning Glory) 1896, also referred to as The Captive. Boucher reworked Volubilis on various occasions, concentrating primarily on the fluid movement of the young woman's flawless skin evolving from the rough-hewn surface of her marble support. Contemporary critics of Boucher looked unfavourably upon the 'unfinished' aspects of these works, however, not only was the distinctive style later to influence Boucher's student, Camille Claudel, but it can also be compared with some of Auguste Rodin's expressive works.