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Albert Bartholomé
1848 - 1928
FRENCH
FEMME AU CHIGNON, SORTANT DU BAIN ET S'ESSUYANT LES PIEDS, ASSISE, LES JAMBES CROISÉES (BATHING WOMAN WIPING HER FEET)
signed: ABartholomé
white marble
40 by 46.5cm., 15¾ by 18¼in. 
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來源

With the artist, until 1928;
thence by descent to his wife, Florence Bartholomé, until 1956;
her estate sale, Hotel Drouot, Paris, 12 June 1956, lot 3;
purchased at the above sale by Jean Braunwald, cousin of the artist

出版

T. Burollet, Albert Bartholomé, 1848-1928: la redécouverte d'un grand sculpteur, Paris, 2017, p. 257, no. S37/I

相關資料

This sensuous marble nude bears witness to a defining phase in Albert Bartholomé’s career: the introduction of Florence Letessier into his professional life as a model, and into his personal life as his second wife. Tragically widowed in 1886, Bartholomé married the beautiful young woman in 1901. She had begun posing for the artist in 1899, at the age of 21, and in return, he supported her singing lessons at the conservatoire de musique. Bartholomé’s choice of wife proved controversial among his circle not only because of Florence’s comparative youth and humble background, but because of her risqué status as his former model; his friend Edgar Degas, though acknowledging her fine looks, remained sceptical of the match. Yet Florence’s effortless beauty, youth, and tenderness provided the sculptor with a new artistic inspiration. This manifested itself most prominently in the creation of a series of female bathers modelled by Bartholomé after Florence from 1899, whose execution in white marble represented the culmination of his engagement with the subject.

According to Thérèse Burollet, the author of the recent monograph on Bartholomé, the sculptor’s bathers epitomise 'une nouvelle vision de la femme qui conjugue un réalisme plus charnel et l’expression d’une beauté à la fois calme et lumineuse' ('a new vision of women which combines a more carnal realism with the expression of a calm and luminous beauty', op. cit., p. 92). In the present marble this aesthetic is exemplified through an intimate composition that focuses on the woman's supple lines. A side view emphasises the smooth contours of the her back, while the rear view creates a subtle eroticism through the soft modulation of flesh. The seemingly mundane activity of bathing, and the spontaneous pose, are tempered by an impressionistic treatment of the marble surface, resulting in an at once fresh and sublime celebration of the female form. The Femme sortant du bain exists in several variants, of which versions in plaster, a limited bronze edition, stone versions and only two examples in white marble have been recorded. The present marble, dated to around 1905, remained in the collection of Florence Bartholomé until her death; it is thus a very personal testament to her intimate and stimulating relationship with the sculptor.

Albert Bartholomé was an autodidact who focused on painting for much of his early career. Following the early death of his wife in 1886, he devoted himself to sculpture. His most famous work, in part a tribute to his deceased wife, remains the Monument to the Dead at Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, which he completed in 1899. Together with Rodin's Gates of Hell, this has often been regarded as one of the greatest expressions of symbolist sculpture. Bartholomé won the Grand Prix for sculpture at the Exposition Universelle in 1900 and continued to have a successful career as a sculptor. While his fame was later eclipsed by that of contemporaries such as Rodin, Bartholomé's considerable eminence in early Modernist sculpture is in the process of being rediscovered. The present marble is arguably the most important of his works to come to auction in recent memory, following the sales of two other marbles in these rooms on 12 July 2017 (lot 84) and 13 December 2017 (lot 104).

RELATED LITERATURE
T. Burollet, Albert Bartholomé, 1848-1928: la redécouverte d'un grand sculpteur, Paris, 2017, pp. 87-95, 255-257

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