Jean Baptiste Auguste Clésinger, Marble Bust, Rome 1868


Imposing marble bust representing Helen of Troy signed “J. Clésinger Rome 1868”.

Jean-Baptiste Auguste Clésinger, French sculptor and painter, born in Besançon on October 20, 1814, died in Paris on January 5, 1883. Son of sculptor Georges Clésinger, Auguste studied sculpture with his father, who took him to Rome, the age of eighteen. In this city Clésinger follows the teaching of the Danish sculptor Thorwaldsen.
He returned to France and joined Paris in 1838 (after a stay in Switzerland), in 1839 he entered the studio of David d’Angers without staying long.
Between 1840 and 1841 he worked in Switzerland, in Lausanne, and produced many portrait bust: Dr. Secretan, General Laharpe …
Then he stays in Florence, where he sends a bust of Jules Valdahon for his first participation in the Salon (1843).

We arrived in 1844: this year actually dated the career of the artist. In 1845 his reputation grows every day, it is discussed in the newspapers, he has ardent supporters, including Alexandre Dumas and Emile De Girardin: there are some who proclaimed him the greatest statuary of the time.
In 1847 he married Solange Dudevant, the daughter of Georges Sand and Baron Dudevant. In the same year Clésinger is provocative with “the woman stung by a snake” (Museum of Orsay), that makes scandal in the Salon for the subject treated and the way in which it realizes it. He is criticized for the indecency and eroticism of the subject and especially for having made a molding on nature of a “demi-mondaine”, Apollinie Sabatier. To answer these accusations, he performs a very sensual “Bacchante reclining” Variant a little larger than nature, which is presented at the Salon of 1848 and considered by Teophile Gauthier as “one of the most beautiful pieces of modern sculpture” .
Critically attacked by critics for his “François 1er à cheval”, Auguste Clésinger moved to Rome. Here he strives to lead the lavish existence of the great artists of the Renaissance, believing to increase its reputation by dazzling Italian society with its luxury.
For several years he had been away from the exhibitions in 1859, to draw the attention of France to his name, he sent to the Salon of his studio in Rome two marble statues Sappho and Zingara, a marble statuette, the Sappho’s youth, a Roman bull, the busts of Christ, Charlotte Corday and a Transteverine, and a great painting of Eve attempted during his sleep, and it is a success, almost a triumph.
In 1864 he returned to France, to Besançon and then to Paris. He would continue to carve until his death on January 6, 1883.
Bibliography: biography of Jean-Baptiste Clésinger by À.Estignard, Maison Delagrange edition, 1900)

Our bust resumes the subject of Helen of Troy, already used by the sculptor for a full length statue dated 1861. Numerous similar details, among them the pearl necklace and the tiara.
The bust is signed ‘J. Clésinger Rome 1868.’ In 1868 Clésinger had already returned to Paris from his Roman residence, but it was in that year that the sculptor’s Roman studio was transferred to France and united to the Paris studio for to be dispersed later in an auction which documents are still preserved today In this context Clésinger he may have resumed and completed the test of a bust of the Roman workshop or more simply signed and dated an existing work from Rome, in fact the bust belongs to this series of portraits with a strong classical imprint inspired by Clésinger by the study of the old masters led to Rome.
Still on this work we have a document according to which in 1868 would be acquired by the Laurent-Richard collection of Mr. Augustine LR Durvis then Charcot, wife of the famous neurologist, a bust of Helen of Troy signed Clésinger, the same then appeared in the auction catalogs dozens of years later to the dispersion of the collection.
(Gallica, Catalog of works of the Laurent-Richard collection, Inha, portal of documentary resources, Library of the Catalogs of Sale, where we can find the auction sale of the workshops of Rome and Paris in 1868).

The bust is perverted to the present day in very good condition.

Measure Height Cm 71.
Shoulder width Cm 45.

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