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  • Henri Chapu (French, 1833-91) Bronze Sculpture "Allegory of Truth", Thiebaut Freres
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Henri Chapu (French, 1833-91) Bronze Sculpture "Allegory of Truth", Thiebaut Freres

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From a monument to Gustave Flaubert, signed lower right, stamped foundry seal of Thiebaut Freres left side
Item # 511SFT01

This relief bronze sculpture by Henri Chapu is based on his more substantial “Allegory of Truth”, a monument to Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) held at the Musee des Beaux Arts, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France. Cast almost exclusively by the Thiebaut Freres foundry, the present example is sealed with their mark on the lower left side. Finely cast and detailed, the sculpture captures a classical female figure faithfully rendering words from her scrolls onto the monument wall, resting on the column draped in her flowing garment beneath the thin branches and foliage of a small tree.  The column is signed at the base “h. Chapu” and the entire sculpture rests over a rouge marble base and is backed by the marble with beveled corners and a broken-arch tympanum.  The sculpture disassembles from the back with three original nuts, these allowing the custom brass plate added verso to be easily removed for a different presentation.   

Born in Le Mee (Seine-et-Marne) in September of 1833, Henri Michel Antoine Chapu was something of a rags-to-riches story of success, eventually becoming one of the official court sculptors of the Third Republic. He began his studies at Petit Ecole, later studying under Pradier and Duret when he joined Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1849. He spent some years in Rome, where he won the second grand prize for sculpture (Prix de Rome) and garnered his largest commercial success upon exhibiting the present example in 1872. Much of his professional life was invested in Paris, eventually being elected as a member of the Institut in 1880. He died in Paris in April of 1891.

Sale Results:

  • Sotheby’s, April 14 2010, lot 260 (common marble base and backing absent), Thiebaut Freres, 14” H; hammer price $3,221 USD

Measurements:  17 1/8" H x 4 1/8" D x 11 3/8" W (total dimensions including brass plate); 13 5/8" H x 2 1/4" D x 8 5/8" W (bronze relief only)

Condition Report:
Old repaired cracks in rouge marble; brass plate backing added. Minor patina wear, light chips to marble. Cleaned, sealed and polished - presentation ready condition.