293
293
Claude Michel dit Clodion
THE MERCHANT OF LOVE, CIRCA 1773
Estimate
100,000150,000
LOT SOLD. 447,000 EUR
JUMP TO LOT
293
Claude Michel dit Clodion
THE MERCHANT OF LOVE, CIRCA 1773
Estimate
100,000150,000
LOT SOLD. 447,000 EUR
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Une Dynastie Américaine en Europe - Collections Eleanor Post Close & Antal Post de Bekessy

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Paris

Claude Michel dit Clodion
NANCY 1738 - 1814 PARIS
THE MERCHANT OF LOVE, CIRCA 1773
terracotta relief; in a grey marble frame with gilt bronze mounts;
signed CLODION;
a label on the back inscribed "Clodion 1779. 8 avril. Vente du Prince de Conti Marchande d'Amours 6 figures H. 8 pouces L. 9 pouces 200 livres".
terracotta
21 x 26,5 cm;(cadre) 37 x 37 cm; 8 1/5 by 10 2/5 in. ; (frame) 14 3/5 by 14 3/5 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

First sale of the collection of the Prince de Conti, 8 April 1777, lot 1284 (acquired by M. Feuillet for 200 livres)

Exhibited

Salon of 1773, n° 249.

Literature

A. Poulet, G. Scherf, Clodion 1738-1814, exh. cat. Louvre Museum, Paris, 1992, p. 198, fig. 113; S. Lami, Dictionnaire des Sculpteurs de l'Ecole Française du XVIIIe siècle, vol. II, Paris, 1910 (reed. 1970), p. 145.

Catalogue Note

Both of these reliefs are exquisite and have belonged to the prestigious collection of the Prince de Conti. Clodion presented both, La Marchande d'Amours and Le Sacrifice à l'Amour, at the 1773 Salon. They appear together as n°249 in the exhibition catalogue, described as: "Two bas-reliefs under the same number: one is a Sacrifice to Love and the other is a Merchant of Loves. They are both one foot wide by ten pouces high".

The Prince de Conti probably spotted our two reliefs at the 1773 Salon and bought them there for his collection. Louis François de Bourbon (1716-1776), prince de Conti, was one of the 18th century's greatest art collectors. He was Louis XIV's great grandson, a cousin of Louis XV and the son of Louis-Armand de Bourbon and Louise-Élisabeth de Bourbon. As one of the princes who opposed Louis XV, the Prince de Conti played a central role at the court of Versailles in the 1740s and 1750s.

After his death, his son promptly sold his collection in two sales organised in 1777 and 1779. The catalogue from the Conti sale offers a glowing description of what was a highly sought-after motif at the time: "A beautiful bas-relief of the Merchant of Loves by Clodion, a composition with six figures: 8 pouces high, 9 pouces wide, in a gilded frame". The work was purchased by a certain Monsieur Feuillet for the sum of 200 livres.

Our two reliefs show how French artists in the second half of the 18th century were rediscovering and adapting classical sources, heralding the rise of Neoclassicism in France. Clodion took the composition of three figures playing with cherubs from a classical painting discovered at Herculaneum in 1759 and engraved by Carlo Nolli in 1762. (cf. Le Pitture antiche d'Ercolano,t.III,1762, pl.41). Joseph-Marie Vien's famous painting exhibited at the 1763 Salon shows the same composition and most probably influenced Clodion's choice of motif. Vien's Merchant of Loves was received with much critical acclaim at the time. Diderot especially praised the frivolity of the subject.

The marble relief of La Marchande d'Amours is at the musée de Nancy (fig. 1), another marble was presented as one of a pair by Trinity Fine Art in New York in 1994. There appears to be only one other known terracotta relief, which is in an American private collection in Boston (cf. Poulet, Scherf, op.cit., fig. 113).

Clodion's great talent is evident in our terracotta, where he builds the relief by degrees, incising outlines into the clay as a contrast to the raised forms of the figures' bodies. The sculptor achieves perfection in his careful modelling of the elaborate hairstyles and the plump flesh of the cherubs, one of whom is in flight while the other has already settled lovingly next to the seated woman. There is a remarkable delicacy to the faces and silhouettes of the three young women, who are dressed in classical style with long draped tunics finely sculpted to fit their figures.

Une Dynastie Américaine en Europe - Collections Eleanor Post Close & Antal Post de Bekessy

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Paris