Lot 34
  • 34

Antoine-Louis Barye

50,000 - 70,000 GBP
55,250 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Antoine-Louis Barye
  • Trois femmes assises, Vénus, Minerve et Junon, qui supportent une vasque (three seated goddesses)
  • signed: BARYE
  • bronze, brown-green patina
  • 32.5cm., 12 3/4 in.

Catalogue Note

Barye's Trois femmes assises formed the base of his Candelabres à neuf lumières, décorés de six figures, mascarons et chimères. These candelabra were designed to be set either side of his fantastical Angélique et Roger and together make up the garniture de chiminée commissioned by the duc de Montpensier, King Louis-Philippe's youngest son. The candelabra consisted of three main elements: three seated goddesses, a group of chimerical beasts on the stem with the whole surmounted by a group of the three graces. The critic Gustave Planche applauded the candelabra in 1851, writing: "I have no qualms about affirming that the Renaissance never conceived anything more ingenious nor more pure." Renaissance and antique sources can be cited for the various elements of the candelabra. In the present group Giambologna's Architecture inspired the figure of Minerva and the mascarons at the base of the groups may reference heads which appear on the lids Roman sarchophagi dating to the 2nd century A.D. The decorative complexity of the full candelabra is a highly impressive tour-de-force, but, as Saunier noted, "Eventually Barye separated the three groups, and each gains by the separation, for in themselves, they are very beautiful."

At the time of Poletti and Richarme's catalogue raisonné the authors only knew of one example of the Trois femmes assises – the version in the musée de Brou in Bourg-en-Bresse. However, they noted that the model was offered in Barye's catalogues of 1857-8 as no. 12 and of 1862 as no. 14. The model was not offered at the vente Barye in 1876 and no posthumous casts were made. The model is certainly rare, with only two other versions appearing at auction in these rooms. The opportunity to acquire a pair is an even greater rarity. The two groups would originally have held matching glass bowls. The last single group to appear at auction sold in these rooms on 8th July 2005 for £48,000.

C. Saunier, Masters of Modern Art: Louis Barye, London, 1926, p. 33; M. Poletti and A. Richarme, Barye: Catalogue raisonné des sculptures, Paris, 2000, pp. 101-2, no. F27; R. Johnston and S. Kelly, Untamed: The Art of Antoine-Louis Barye, ex. cat., The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, 2006, p. 133, nos. 39a & 39b