From our European Collection, a fine late 19th-early 20th century carved marble bust of Madame Recamier, modeled after the original by Joseph Chinard circa 1801-02, which was previously on display at the Getty Center Los Angeles, where the museum description read as follows:
"Coyly looking down, Madame Recamier holds a veil across her chest. The sheath both demurely conceals and reveals her breasts. Sculptor Joseph Chinard cleverly compensated for the artificiality of the bust form by elongating the bust to mid-torso and covering the transition between the body and pedestal with drapery, creating a work of surprising naturalism. The softly modeled limbs and the slight twists of her head and shoulders suggest a living presence while the upswept hairstyle suggests Recamier's elegance. "
Our current offering is a later 19th century interpretation (possibly very early 20th century) carved in marble, most likely by a French sculptor though the piece is unsigned. The original by Chinard himself was executed in terracotta. The carving here is superb, and both honors and captures the beauty of the original.
About Madame Recamier: (Courtesy of www.HistorysWomen.com:
Madame Recamier was a celebrated French beauty, considered by many as the most beautiful and graceful woman of her day. Because of the brilliancy of her conversation, manners, and the charm of her person, she made her home a haven for men of education and genius.
Jeanne Francoise Julie Adelaide Recamier (Madame Recamier), affectionately known as Juliette in her social circles, was born in Lyons on December 3, 1777. Not much is known about her youth, but she was the daughter of a banker named Bernard, with whom she eventually moved to Paris . At the young age of fifteen, Juliette married Jacques Recamier, a wealthy banker much older than herself. In fact, he was three times her own age.
Her home was a place of rest for great men of her day. She was a hostess of great wit and beauty, and her salon attracted prominent literary and political figures. To be invited to her house, one was assured of plenty of food and good company. To be invited to her salon meant you were somebody and that you would be rubbing shoulders with the great men of the day. Under the rule of the French directory and during the consulate and empire, her salon was constantly visited by such distinguished people as Lucien Bonaparte, Moreau, Bernadotte, La Harpe, and Benjamin Constant. Her distinguishing traits were an extreme sweetness of disposition and tenderness of heart, which obtained her the affection of all who knew her. It should be noted that she was quite unspoiled by the homage that she was paid because of her extraordinary beauty. Because of her temperament, there was never a scandal about all the men who were guests in her home.
Because her husband was financially ruined by Napoleon’s policies, the salon of Madame Recamier took on a form of opposition to the government, and was eventually compelled by Napoleon to leave Paris . She resided for some time at Lyons, then with the celebrated Madame de Stael at Coppet, which featured her in her novel “Corinne”. It was here that she met Prince August of Prussia who wanted to marry her, if her husband would consent to a divorce. He did consent, but Juliette would not desert him in his time of adversity.
She then went to Italy and did not again enter France until the fall of Napoleon, when she returned to Paris and re-opened her salon. Because of further financial setbacks in 1819 , Juliette moved to a suite in the Abbaye-aux-Bois near Paris, but her house nevertheless continued to be the resort of eminent men, among whom was the writer and statesman Viscount Francois de Chateaubriand, who was her devoted admirer. Though she was not an author and wrote nothing herself, through her connections, including her friendship with Madame de Stael, she exercised considerable influence upon French literature.
For some years before her death, Juliette became blind. This affliction she bore with the most gracious serenity, never complaining of it except as it prevented her from giving attention to her friends.
Size and Condition: 24 inches tall. Overall very good condition, but there are some flaws: There is a small chip to her right forearm about 1/2 inch long; a small crack in the back on the base about 1 inch, though it is purely cosmetic and not at all structural; a small chip to one curl of her hair; a faintly stained line along her right shoulder about 3-4 inches long, and a stained line across her left cheek about 2 inches in length.