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Sarah Bernhardt
FRENCH
FANTASTICAL INKWELL, SELF-PORTRAIT AS A SPHINX
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66
Sarah Bernhardt
FRENCH
FANTASTICAL INKWELL, SELF-PORTRAIT AS A SPHINX
前往

拍品詳情

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Sarah Bernhardt
1844-1923
FRENCH
FANTASTICAL INKWELL, SELF-PORTRAIT AS A SPHINX
signed: SARAH BERNHARDT and inscribed: THiEBAUT FRÈRES FOnDEURS
bronze, rich brown patina
19cm., 7 1/2 in.
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來源

Citadelle Vauban, Belle-Ile, France

相關資料

Sarah Bernhardt enjoyed a legendary acting career that spanned six decades and earned her the nickname, The Divine Sarah.  After a shaky inaugural production, during which she was suspended from the theatre for slapping an older actress, she found fame with roles such as Cordelia in King Lear and Floria in La Tosca, as well as with her more controversial portrayals of Judas Iscariot and Hamlet.

In the late 1860s, and reportedly to remedy boredom, Bernhardt turned to other creative outlets to subsidise performance, enlisting instruction in the arts of sculpting and painting. She sculpted for the remainder of her life and exhibited in London, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Paris. Unfortunately, only a few of her sculptures can be located today: a mere seven, out of an estimated forty works.

The present bronze is an inkwell, modelled as a self-portrait in the semblance of a sphinx. She has the body of a griffon, the wings of a bat and the tail of a fish; on her shoulders are the theatrical masks of Tragedy and Comedy. This fantastical work of art serves as a metaphor for Bernhardt’s ability to transform herself for her performances and assume any guise. It would seem that Bernhardt sculpted the model in 1879, as a cast was shown in London that year and another in New York the following year. At this time, Bernhardt would have been rehearsing for the role of Blanche de Chelles in Le Sphinx; one can presume that the mysterious connotations of her character in the play resonated with Bernhardt and provided the inspiration for how to conceptualise herself.

This wonderfully imaginative bronze references contemporary Art Nouveau jewellery and the Symbolist aesthetic, as well as evoking Renaissance grotesque bronzes, for example the works of bronze master Andrea Riccio. As such, with an intentionally meta-theatrical design, the present bronze ‘performs’ many roles itself: it is an inkwell, a work of art, a monument to the concept of performance and perhaps most importantly a testament to Bernhardt’s sculpting skills and sensational imagination.

A larger version is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (inv. no. 1973.551a-d).

RELATED LITERATURE
H.W. Janson and P. Fusco, The Romantics to Rodin. French nineteenth-century sculpture from North American Collections, exh.cat., Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, 1980, pp. 141-143

品味之擇:丹尼 • 卡茲精選收藏

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