Lot 116
  • 116

Louis-Ernest Barrias French, 1841-1905

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  • Louis-Ernest Barrias
  • La Nature se decouvre devant la science (Nature unveiling herself to Science)
  • signed: E. Barrias and inscribed: Susse Fres Edtrs and with the SUSSE FRERES EDITEURS PARIS pastille and initialled: P

  • bronze, mid to dark brown patina
  • 97cm., 38¼in.

Catalogue Note

Barrias exhibited the model of La Nature mysterieuse et voile se decouvre devant la Science in white marble at the salon of 1893. This first version of La Nature was entirely nude apart from the veil which hung over her head and fell to her feet at her back. Suitably, given its title, the marble was purchased by the Medical Faculty of Bordeaux. Barrias exhibited the model again in 1899 partly clothed, like the present model, and fashioned out of coloured stones, fitting into the vogue for chryselephantine sculpture. The contemporary allegory of the title reflects its modernity and thinly disguises the essence of the composition: a beautiful woman undressing.

La Nature was edited by the Susse foundry who retained the multi-material and colouration approach which Barrais had himself experimented with in the model. In the present example the bronze is carefully patinated with a varied colour to distinguish the different elements of skin and drapery. The deeply charged mood is reflected in many Symbolist paintings, while the general treatment relates to the emerging Art Nouveau.

An over-life-size marble of the first version was purchased by Carl Jacobsen for his 'Barrias Room' at the Carlsberg Glyptotek.

Romantics to Rodin, p.118-120, no.10; The Colour of Sculpture, pp.185-6, no.58; Carlsberg Glyptotek, no. 12, pp. 56-57