ANTOINE-LOUIS BARYE FRENCH, 1795-1875 TROIS FEMMES ASSISES: VENUS, MINERVE ET JUNON (THREE SEATED GODDESSES)
signed faintly: BARYE
bronze, dark brown patina, on veined yellow alabaster base
Barye's group of three goddesses originated in the fabulous nine light candelabra commissioned as part of a garniture by the Duc de Montpensier. Barye was given complete freedom to choose the subject and style of the garniture. Having focussed on the theme of romantic hunt groups for the earlier surtout de table for the Duc d'Orleans, Barye now chose to explore the female nude.
Barye devised three different types of nude figure. The base of each candelabrum consists of the three seated goddesses, Venus, Minerva and Juno. Above a register of winged dragons are the lights which are surmounted by the smaller standing Three Graces. The group of Roger Rescuing Angelica forms the centre of the garniture.
Poletti and Richarme comment on this model: 'There is some question over the existence of this edition. We know of only one unique version of this model. There are probably one or two artist's proofs which exist, because this model is listed by Barye in two catalogues'. Another cast of this model appeared as lot 138 in these rooms on 5 November 2002.
Benge has examined the artistic sources for the three goddesses from the Antique to Raphael and Italian Mannerism. It is the combination of Barye's respect for his artistic heritage with his readiness to apply this 'high art' inspiration to essentially everyday functional objects which is amongst his greatest innovations in mid-nineteenth century French sculpture.
Richarme & Poletti (2000), pp.99-105, nos. F22-30; Benge, pp.150-154