Lot 59
  • 59

Chauncey Bradley Ives American, 1810 - 1894

100,000 - 150,000 USD
212,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Chauncey Bradley Ives
  • Undine Rising from the Water
  • signed C. B. IVES FECIT ROMAE
  • Carrara marble raised on a lévanto rouge marble revolving pedestal
  • height of sculpture 5 ft. 3 in.; height of pedestal 26 in.
  • 160 cm; 66 cm


Christie's New York, May 18, 2004, lot 31, illustrated


William H. Gerdts, American Neo-Classic Sculpture: The Marble Resurrection, New York, 1973, pp. 88-9
Wayne Craven, Sculpture in America, Cranbury, New Jersey, 1984 ed., p. 287
Joy S. Kasson, Marble Queens and Captives: Women in Nineteenth-Century American Sculpture, New Haven, Connecticut and London, 1990, pp. 168-73
Martha N. Hagood and Jefferson C. Harrison, American Art at the Chrysler Museum: Selected Paintings, Sculpture, and Drawings, Norfolk, Virginia, 2005, no. 68, pp. 112-13

Catalogue Note

After establishing himself and achieving great success in Boston and New York, Chauncey Bradley Ives moved to Rome in 1844 where his technical virtuosity could be fully developed and he would achieve wider, international acclaim.

Undine Rising from the Waters represents a departure from the portrait busts and depictions of children that had been popular among wealthy Americans making their Grand Tour. The subject is drawn from the popular novella by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, Undine, in which the namesake’s water nymph falls in love with a human, but to gain his love she must take on a human form herself. She soon learns of her love’s infidelity and to exact her revenge she emerges from the fountain in the courtyard and drowns him with her tears. Ives’ portrayed the sensational moment of Undine’s return through the fountain, which Motte-Fouqué described in Chapter XVIII:  “An Appearance, from the opening of the fountain, filled them with awe, as it rose like a white column of water; at first they imagined it to be a spouting fountain… until they perceived the form to be a pale female, veiled in white.” As Undine rises up from the water bubbling at her feet, Ives’ talent is revealed. As she stretches upwards the thin wet drapery hanging from her hands becomes translucent.  Her veil flows water-like downwards and clings provocatively to her body. The delicate treatment of the marble and the intricate carving produce an exquisite sculpture.

Undine has inspired great works of art across disciplines, including musical adaptations by Tchaikovsky and Debussy, paintings by J.M.W. Turner, John William Waterhouse, Paul Gauguin and others, and even a film by Andy Warhol. Versions of this sculpture can be found in the collections of the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, and the Chrysler Museum Collection, Norfolk, Virginia.