Lot 12
  • 12

Mathurin Moreau French, 1822-1912

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  • Arcadian Lovers: Spring
  • signed: Mathurin Moreau Sculp.t
  • white marble, on a gilt bronze base

Catalogue Note

The Moreau dynasty were among the 19th century’s most prolific sculptors. Its founder, Jean-Baptiste-Louis-Joseph Moreau (1797-1855) was a painter and sculptor based in Dijon, best known for the restoration work he did on the pleurants  of the tombs of the Dukes of Bourgogne. His three sons, Mathurin (1822-1912), Hippolyte (1832-1927) and Auguste-Louis-Mathurin Moreau (1834-1917) all became sculptors in their own right, renowned for their elegant and graceful genre scenes and allegories.

Mathurin Moreau trained in his father’s workshop for some time, then moved to Paris to attend the Ecole des Beaux Arts when he was nineteen, and first exhibited his work at the Salon of 1848. He received many distinctions and medals during his career, including a médaille d’honneur in 1897. Besides winning medals for works exhibited at the Expositions Universelles of 1867, 1878 and 1889, he was also a member of the Jury in the 1900 edition.

The group of Arcadian Lovers, also known as Primavera, was first exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1872, no. 1798, in bronze. Apart from the present marble, only a few other marble versions have appeared on the art market. This exceptionally fine and intimate group of two lovers walking arm in arm can be seen as one of Mathurin Moreau's finest works in marble. The flowing drapery is exquisite in its suggestion of movement from all sides, and the downwards gazes of the figures create an intimate and introspective atmosphere. The details are beautifully carved, especially in the hair and the flowers. The group is a very attractive allegorical interpretation of Spring, with an extremely elegant and (light-heartedly) realistic representation of two lovers, lost in each other's presence. 


S. Lami, Dictionnaire des Sculpteurs de l'Ecole Française au dix-neuvième siècle, Paris, 1919 (1970), vol. 3, pp. 478-484;
La Sculpture Française au XIXe Siècle, exhib. cat., Grand Palais, Paris, 1986, pp. 39, 217-8, 355;
A. Pingeot and A. Le Normand-Romain, Musée d'Orsay. Catalogue sommaire illustré des sculpteurs, Paris, 1986, p. 201;
P. Kjellberg, Bronzes of the 19th Century. Dictionary of Sculptors, Atglen, 1994, pp. 511-518