19th & 20th Century Sculpture
Online Auction: 8–14 July 2021 • 11:00 AM BST • London

19th & 20th Century Sculpture 8–14 July 2021 • 11:00 AM BST • London

T his July’s sale of 19th & 20th Century Sculpture presents a diverse array of statuary from the neoclassical and the Romantic periods, through to early 20th century modernism. Masterpieces in marble include Pio Fedi’s arresting Cleopatra, the quintessentially romantic Reading Girl by Antonio Rossetti, and a rare marble Nymph by the French sculptor Julien-Charles Dubois. An exquisite selection of bronzes is led by Prince Paul Troubetzkoy’s beautiful Mother and Child and two of Alfred Gilbert’s ‘autobiographical’ bronzes, Comedy and Tragedy and Perseus Arming.

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In the later nineteenth century, a small number of women boldly entered the male-dominated profession of sculpture. Perhaps the most notorious was the legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt, who made sculpture her secondary career in the 1870s. Despite resistance and ridicule from chauvinistic contemporaries, she went on to exhibit her work at the Paris Salon to considerable acclaim. The Swiss-born Adèle d’Affry, Duchess Castiglione-Colonna chose the male pseudonym ‘Marcello’ when she made her Salon debut in 1863. With her bust of Bianca Capello, of which a version is offered in this sale, she caused a sensation and earned the respect of her male colleagues. Marcello enjoyed a successful career as a sculptor, but as both a woman and a member of the aristocracy, she occasionally struggled to receive due recognition.


The Animalier tradition in sculpture began in the Romantic period with Antoine-Louis Barye, who inspired later generations of sculptors with his naturalistically observed and dramatic representations of animals. Occasionally he introduced a human element to his subjects, as in his bronze of the mythological hero Theseus fighting the Minotaur. Sculptors in the early 20th century continued in the Animalier tradition but introduced a more modernist aesthetic. Albéric Collin’s Baboon shows a highly stylised anatomy, while in his sensuous depiction of Leda and the Swan, Ary Bitter translates the Art Deco idiom into sculpture.

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