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Style Other / Ref.15003

Mathurin Moreau for the Val d’Osne Foundry, The Four Elements, between 1849 and 1879

Width: 22''   56cm
Height: 46'' ½  118cm

Between 1849 and 1879

Good condition.

The son and brother of sculptors, Mathurin Moreau (Dijon, 1822-Paris, 1912) is one of the most reknown sculptors in the 19th century. He won the Second Prix de Rome at the age of 21. He worked for the Val d’Osne art foundry between 1849 and 1879. He won numerous prizes at the Salons and at the Universal Exhibitions; in 1897, he was awarded a medal of honour at the Salon. The sculptor was also a committed public figure: he published an essay on poverty in 1851 and was elected mayor of the 19th arrondissement in Paris in 1878.

He created the Four Elements as part of his collaboration with the Val d’Osne art foundry at the end of the 19th century. The elements are personified by putti endowed with various attributes and accompanied by animals or objects echoing the element they evoke. Air, with its cheeks puffed out, blows into a foghorn; it sits on the body of a lamb with its eyes closed. Water is crowned with a reed and holds a long stick; the putto is riding a large sea turtle. Fire is holding a lighted lamp. He places his foot on a salamander, an animal reputed to be able to pass through flames without damage, or even to be engendered by fire. Lastly, Earth is crowned with a pampre and holds a bunch of grapes in one hand and a sheaf of wheat in the other. She is placing her foot on a wineskin.

The artist’s eye for detail is visible in the different treatment of each putto’s hair. While Earth’s hair is natural, Air’s is made up of swirling curls and pulled back as if by a strong wind; Water's hair is soggy and almost similar to seaweed, while Fire’s imitates flames.

Our set appears in the catalogue of the Société anonyme des grands fourneaux et fonderies du Val d’Osne.

In 1878, a Four Elements fountain was erected in Valence, based on a model similar to the one in the foundry’s catalogue: the four statues in the lower basin are identical to ours.

Price: on request

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