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Sèvres biscuit figure of Pygmalion and Galatea by Falconet
Pygmalion and Galatea”. The Sèvres biscuit porcelain group (second size) depicts the awestruck kneeling figure of the sculptor, Pygmalion, as his statue of Galatea comes to life while her hand is being kissed by Cupid, the emissary of Venus. A second amor with an arrow he is about to plunge into Pygmalion’s heart floats on a cloud behind Galatea. The charming allegory is about the power of art as well as how stony indifference can be overcome by the power of reciprocated love. Many works were written about Ovid’s tale in the 18th century, including a melodrama by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and an opera by Jean-Philippe Rameau. The marble version of the piece, presented in the Salon of 1763, is in the Louvre and was highly praised by Diderot in his review of the Salon.

By Etienne-Maurice Falconet, (1716-1791) and marked “F’ for him in his role as Director of sculpture at Sèvres from 1757-1766. The Sèvres versions first appeared in 1764 and were thought to be among the finest sculptural productions of the manufactory. Technically demanding, each piece is composed of seventeen separate parts. Since it bears Falconet’s mark, which was used only until 1766, this must be a quite early version.

Versions were owned by Madame de Pompadour and the last King of Poland, Stanislas-Augustus Poniatowski. [Cupid’s arrow is missing; small surface blemishes.]

Exhibited: Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour: A Love Affair with Style: Nº 26.
 Dixon Gallery and Garden, Memphis, Tennessee. March 11 - April 15, 1990
Rosenberg & Stiebel, Inc., New York, New York. May 3 – June 15, 1990

Literature: Penelope Hunter-Stiebel: Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour: A Love Affair with Style: Rosenberg & Stiebel; New York, 1990. Page 77, Ill. 56. Page 91, Nº 26.

Aileen Dawson: French Porcelain: A Catalogue of the British Museum Collection. British Museum Press; London, 1994. [Noted on page 179.]

Height (ins.): 14.25 (37 cm.)      Length/Width (ins.): 8.75 (22 cm.)      Depth (ins.): 6.5 (16.5 cm.)
Origin: France, 1757-1766     Period: Louis XV



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