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silla was born out of a passion for beautiful objects: special pieces with aesthetic and historical significance. In 2009, after years of collecting, Andrew Silla and his wife Grace began to work privately with clients from their residence in Southern Maryland. Quickly outgrowing the space, the business was moved from Maryland to Pennsylvania in 2012 and after several warehouse location changes it was firmly settled in the present brick-and-mortar location in downtown Shippensburg.

The 9000 square foot brick-and-mortar gallery is home to a large collection of works of art and estate jewelry. We specialize in sculpture circa 1860 through 1930 with a particular emphasis on the Animaliers and as such the gallery always has a very large collection of exceptional European and American sculpture available on display.

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French Orientalist "Fruit Seller" | Marcel Debut

Debut, Marcel

Price: $1,900.00
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catalog text

French, 1865-1933

French Orientalist Model of a Young Boy Selling Fruit

Polychromed and patinated bronze | signed "Debut", sealed with editeur cachet "Bronze Garanti Au Titre Paris", applied plaque attached "PRIX DE ROME"

Item # 311CSG30P-4

A very good quality cast after the original model of a "Fruit Seller" by Marcel Debut, the sculpture depicts a young Tunisian boy working hard to sell the fruit carried in the large woven basket under his arm. These were generally cast in the 1920s and 1930s and the surface and casting quality can vary greatly between the various examples; this sculpture is a rather good quality casting with a brilliant surface patina that glows under layers of wax. It features an overall reddish-brown and medium-brown multi-tone patina achieved first with a chemical base and then with layers of various "secret" pigments laid up on the surface to achieve the complex hues. His hat is finished in a ruby pigment likely sealed in lacquer. The naturalistic base is signed "Debut" in script and is sealed with the editeur cachet.

These French Orientalist studies of the Arab and African nations found a large collecting audience in France and England. There was a fascination with what seemed like a timeless and unchanging traditionalism in these non-Western communities that piqued the nostalgia of collectors. The same sentiment that drove collectors to acquire landscape scenes of rural farms and buccolic views of domestic animals in fields gave a deep well for artists like Marcel Debut to draw upon in preparing studies of the tribal communities of "The Orient". Much of the original material came from travel in Tunisia, which was easily accessible as a French colony and a favorite destination for painters and sculptors.

We have many of these wonderful models by Marcel Debut, Jean Didier Debut, Edouard Drouot, Emile Pinedo and Louis Hiolin available, all of roughly the same size and sealed by the same editeur.

Born to sculptor Jean Didier Debut in Paris on March 27th of 1865, Marcel Debut studied first with his father and then at the École des Beaux Arts under Henri Chapu. He began to exhibit at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1883, including such works as Sommelier du XVe siècle (1889), Petit Pêcheur au harpon (1893), Actéon (1897), Le Génie des arts (1898), Une gueuse (1905), Watteau (1890), a vase with the theme of Persée et Andromède (1896), Labourage (1898) and L'Hiver (1913). He also executed numerous vases and bas-reliefs, designed some models for Sèvres to manufacture as statuettes and a bronze called Le Fauconnier which was offered at 85 cm in total height. In 1895 he received an honourable mention for his submission. Beyond his sculptures, he also dedicated himself to painting having studied under both Boulanger and Jules Lefebvre at the Academy; these views are often scenes of Paris. He died in 1933.

Artist Listings & Bibliography:

  • Bronzes: Sculptors & Founders, 1800-1930, vol. IV, Berman, Abage, 1980, p. 949, ill. 3637
  • E. Benezit Dictionary of Sculptors, vol. IV, Gründ, 2006, p. 541
  • Bronzes of the 19th Century: A Dictionary of Sculptors, Kjellberg, Schiffer, 1994, p. 266-267
  • The Dictionary of Western Sculptors in Bronze, Mackay, Baron, 1977, p. 95
  • Art Bronzes, Forrest, Schiffer, 1988, p. 473 [biography]

Measurements: 12 1/8" H x 6" D x 4 1/2" W

Condition Report:
Cleaned and polished, sealed in conservator's grade wax; some rubbing wear patina in a few areas including to the outside of one arm and several areas in his hat; overall remaining in a very fine state of preservation, a very fine presentation, ready to place.