Style Napoleon III / Ref.13733
Laurent MARQUESTE -« Galatea », Marble sculpture, circa 1885
Width: 7'' ⅞ 20cm
Height: 32'' ¼ 82cm
Depth: 9'' 23cm
France, 19th century
This beautiful Galatea was sculpted by Laurent Honoré Marqueste (1848-1920) in Carrara marble after 1885, year when the original was presented in the Salon.
French sculptor born in 1848, Laurent Marqueste studies with Alexandre Falguière (17831-1900), considered as one of the most important French Realist sculptor in the 19th century and François Jouffroy (1806-1882). In 1871, he wins the Prix de Rome with his bas-relief Jésus’ Flagellation and is received in the villa Medici in Rome from 1872 to 1875.
He exhibits very regularly all along his career in the Salon with a first participation in 1874 by presenting Jacob and the Angel, a bas-relief which allows him to win a third class medal. Two years after, he receives a First class medal for his sculpture Perseus and the Gorgon, two years after he is unrivaled in the Salon. He also participates to the World Fairs and especially in 1878 when he receives a Second class medal. In 1889, he receives a gold medal and a Grand Prix in 1900. Thanks to his many rewards and his reputation, he’s asked by the city of Paris to create many sculptures like in the jardin des Tuileries, the palais du Luxembourg, or even the Alexandre-III bridge.
He creates here a sculpture depicting Galatea, one of the thirty two Nereids, especially known for her story with the cyclops Polyphemus told by Theocritus then in the Metamorphoses by Ovide. The story is first told in the Idylls XI untitled « The Cyclops » by the Greek poet Theocritus who writes about the rude Polyphemus, sat on the shore, in front of the sea, madly in love with « the white Galatea more delicate than the lamb”. Ovid follows the model but develops what the Greek poet has told in a short story by imagining a love story between Galatea and the Sicilian shepherd Acis. Polyphemus who had surprised the two lovers, kills his rival by throwing at mean a rock from the Etna volcano. Galatea changes then Acis’s blood into a river bearing his name in Sicily. Our sculpture takes the code of the Ancient Classical sculpture by presenting a young woman naked in a contrapposto position, where the whole body weight rests on her left foot creating the wiggling of her hips. Her arms risen above her head and shoulder reveal a sensual attitude also translated by her face’s expression.
The plaster of this sculpture was presenter in the 1884 Salon and the marble the following year. It was bought by the State and attributed to the Louvre Museum before the Orsay Museum in 1986. Since 2019, we can see it in the musée départemental Dobrée in Nantes. Thus, our sculpture was made by the sculptor in small versions from the original model.
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