This beautifully cast bronze bust is taken from Bartholomé's full figure composition Jeune fille se coiffant
, which was first exhibited to acclaim at the 1906 Salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts. Bartholomé presents a young bather, who modestly dries her hair, her pose, with arms and hair covering her breasts, conveying a sense of modesty. The figure combines the classicism of the Crouching Venus of antiquity (see the Lely Venus
in the Royal Collection, exhibited at the British Museum), with a gentle modern naturalism. Described as one of the highlights of the Salon by the Magazine of Fine Arts
, the figure was praised by critics including Louis Vauxcelles.
Albert Bartholomé began his career as a painter after serving in the French army during the Franco-Prussian war. After the death of his first wife, Périe de Fleury, he was left distraught and turned to sculpture at the suggestion of his close friend, the painter Edgas Degas, as a way to exorcise his grief, sculpting his wife's tombstone for the Bouillant cemebrary, Crépy-en-Valois. Many of his works exhibit a mournful air, in tune with contemporary symbolist sculpture. His most famous commission is the magnificent Monument to the Dead
in the Père Lachaise cemetary, Paris. He later concentrated on female nudes, two of which are in the Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.
A. Pingeot, La sculpture française au XIXe siecle, exh. cat, Grand Palais, Paris, 1986, pp. 224-230; A-B. Fonsmark, Catalogue of French Sculpture 2: Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, 1999, pp. 66-69, nos. 17-18