Multi-tone patinated sand-cast bronze | signed in script to stool "A. Carrier" | cast circa 1870
Item # 307WTP19D
An exceedingly fine model of Carrier-Belleuse's "Orpheus", this large and powerful figure captures a contemplative Orpheus seated on a beautifully developed klismo chair with its dramatic sabre legs peeking through the draped animal hide flowing across the seat and spilling onto the floor with a head and horns. In his clenched hand is an intricately cast harp while he rests his chin lightly on his other arm, entirely lost in thought as he looks off into an infinite distance. He is dressed in a simple toga, the complex garment with endless undulations to the fabric falling from his legs and across his raised knee. His feet are exquisitely depicted with leather thongs tied up his calf, his raised knee resting on a small footstool, the top of which is signed A. Carrier in script.
Note the exquisite chiseling of the figure with fine engraving work to the laurel-leaves surrounding his head, the delicate texturing of each individually incised portion of hair, the flawless smooth skin and careful chiseling of his fingers and toes.
This cast would almost certainly have left the initial gallery raised on a marble base, hence why the stool is signed. The same model was also produced situated over a simple bronze base, whereby the base itself is signed, often together with an engraved foundry marking.
For a model of the same size, quality and casting period, see the Cleveland Museum of Art, acc. no. 1978.44. A rather scarce model, it was offered in the present form over a marble base in the same dimensions at Sotheby's in New York on the 18th of April, 2015 (achieved $ 11,250 USD) and Christie's, London on September 20th of 2012 (achieved 6875 GBP, at a 1.61 conversion the date of the sale approximately $ 11,100).
In ancient Greek mythology, Orpheus was a figure of exceptional musical talent, the son of the Muse Calliope and either the god Apollo or the king Oeagrus. His skills with the lyre were unrivaled, his music capable of captivating not just humans but even animals, plants, and inanimate objects. Orpheus fell deeply in love with Eurydice, a beautiful nymph. Their blissful union was tragically short-lived, as Eurydice died from a venomous snake bite. Overwhelmed with grief, Orpheus decided to do the unthinkable: journey to the Underworld to bring her back. Using the power of his music, he softened the hearts of Hades and Persephone, the rulers of the Underworld, who agreed to release Eurydice with one condition – Orpheus must not look back at her as they ascended back to the living world. Unfortunately, just before reaching the surface, doubt crept into Orpheus's heart. He turned back to look at Eurydice, causing her to vanish into the Underworld forever. Heartbroken, Orpheus wandered aimlessly, playing sorrowful music. Eventually, he met a tragic end, variously attributed to being torn apart by either the Maenads, the followers of Dionysus, or by being struck by Zeus's lightning for revealing divine secrets. Orpheus's legacy endures as a symbol of the transformative power of love and art.
Measurements: 19 1/4" H x 10" D x 24" W
Patina with wear and discoloration, notably to his garment where high-points of the garment show lighter bronze hue along with some patina wear to the crevices and folds of the garment and relief to the decorated border on his lap; the figure presents with a complex reddish patina that is mottled and complex with a range of hues and tones, perhaps some from oxidization over the centuries; the model would have been raised on a marble base originally and we can have a marble base fabricated (quote available upon request).