AUGUSTE JEAN-BAPTISTE CLÉSINGER
Restoration of the "Two Fates"
Gilt and patinated bronze | signed in cast "BARBEDIENNE FONDEUR" and sealed with the A. Collas cachet
Item # 303YUC23A
An exquisitely cast parcel gilded example of "Two Fates", the model is based on the marble sculpture of Antiquity that originally formed a portion of the east pediment of the Parthenon and is now held in the permanent collection of the British Museum. In this example, Clésinger filled in the arms, heads, hands and implements missing from the original to provide the deeper context of the sculpture. The sculpture depicts Clotho and Atropos, two of the three sisters that together are the Three Fates. Together they begin, sustain and end the essence of all life, the threads of life encircling the spindle in the hand of Clotho while Atropos holds scissors in hand to cut short the thread of life. Missing in the original marble and also missing here is Lachesis, the third sister who is often shown measuring the threads, determining the time and length of life.
The sculpture offered by Barbedienne is almost without exception unsigned but is catalogued in Barbedienne’s 1886 catalogue as the Restauration Dudit Groupe par M. Clésinger, “La reduction aux deus dix.” where it was offered for 425 francs. Interestingly, when using the price of gold to convert the French franc of the 1880s, this reduction by Barbedienne was being offered for approximately $ 7,000, closely in line with its value on the open-market today when found in pristine condition.
AUGUSTE JEAN-BAPTISTE CLÉSINGER
Born in Besançon, France on October 22nd of 1814, Jean-Baptiste was a student of his father, the academic sculptor George Philippe Clésinger. As he began his career, he decided he would be known as Auguste instead of Jean-Baptiste and his work reflects that. He studied under sculptor Thorvaldsen, a Danish neoclassical artist whose influence is clear in Clésinger's choice of subjects; he also studied under architect Salvi and briefly under David d'Angers. A somewhat distracted and highly ambitious spirit, Jean-Baptiste moved around from Switzerland to Florence and in 1845 settled in Paris. He was aggressive in making connections and arranging proper critical acclaim for his works, an effort that paid off in his 1847 debut of Woman Bitten by a Snake, a moving Romantic work that created a sensation among critics. He was awarded first-class medal at Salon in 1848 for his Reclining Bacchante and was awarded membership in the exclusive Legion of Honor in 1849 - later he was promoted to officier in 1864. While he also worked to market his own works, organizing public auctions and publishing a catalogue with Théophile Gautier in 1868-70, much of his work was cast by and promoted by the Ferdinand Barbedienne foundry. The firm's 1867 catalogue features Clésinger's work prominently and the majority of works executed during his lifetime bear the stamp of this founder. He died in Paris on January 5th of 1883.
Artist Listings & Bibliography:
- Catalogue des Bronzes d’Art F. Barbedienne, Paris, 1886, p. 21
Measurements: 11 3/8" H x 18 1/8" W x 4 1/2" D
A very well-preserved cast. Open seam in the upper arm of Artemis (mostly seen ohnly when viewed from the back). A fine presentation.