A pair of white marble sculptures



Late 18Ith century, circa 1800

Red Griotte marble circular base

Measurements :

Overall height : 30 5/16 in.

Height without base : 29 1/8 in.

This pair of white marble sculptures depicts a couple of children. The little girl is standing with her head tilting down holding a bird in her arms. There is a dolphin at her feet, a symbol of wisdom and prudence. The boy is resting against a tree trunk, eyes looking up, holding in his left hand an elegant drapery hanging from his shoulder to his legs.

These two figures can be associated to two bronze statues of the same dimensions depicting « Enfant à l’oiseau » and « L’Enfant au nid » executed by the famous French sculptor Jean-Baptiste Pigalle (1714-1785) and kept in the Nissim de Camondo museum in Paris. The delicate face of these children particularly expressive with roundness, theirs chubby and smooth bodies and the very sensitive work granted to both the hair and drapery make us think of Pigalle’s work.

Jean-Baptiste Pigalle is most well known for his marble and bronze portraits depicting famous figures of his time such as King Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour, Voltaire or Diderot which are kept in Louvre museum in Paris and in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He is also famous for his sculptures of children such as « L’Enfant à la cage », « La Fillette à l’oiseau et à la pomme » and a statuette of a crying boy in marble kept in Louvre museum and Calouste Gulbenkian museum in Lisbon.

Some of his other works are visible at Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Getty Museum in Los Angeles and Musée Carnavalet in Paris. Thus, we wonder if we could possibly attribute our two sculptures to the artist himself or his studio.

During the reign of Louis XIV, artists were concerned with glorifying the king as opposed to the 18th century that saw artists aiming at satysfying their clients’ taste. Indeed they turned away from monumental sculpture to decorative sculpture with a more human dimension. They gave up work of splendor in favour of decorative and graceful creations which were essential elements of interior design.