Cast in Bronze: French Sculpture from Renaissance to Revolution
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Special Exhibition Space, 1st Floor
Ends May 25, 2009
François Lespingola , Hercules Delivering Prometheus,
Probably Paris, ca. 1675–1700,
Bronze group; 16 3/4 x 23 1/4 x 14 1/8 in.,
Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Grünes Gewölb
Approximately 125 of the finest French bronzes from the Renaissance through the reign of Louis XVI are on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art until May 25, 2009. After this date, you will have to travel to California where the exhibit will go on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
Right now, take the opportunity to study these superb sculptures. There are portrait busts, monuments and statuettes. The works are arranged chronologically. The installation is well-spaced and allows for close viewing. It is one of those exhibits that seem to have just enough work presented to illuminate but not overwhelm. I wager this will be the only time for decades to see such a survey.
Funerary Genius From the Tomb of Christophe de Thou,
Bronze statue; 29 15/16 x 42 1/8 x 13 7/8 in.
Paris, Musée du Louvre,
I have several favorites in the show but urge you to spend time here and select your own. Some of the works that caught my attention were the tomb figures after Michelangelo by Barthélemy Prieur (Berzieux, ca. 1536–Paris, 1611); the super hero Heracles Delivering Prometheus by François Lespingola (Joinville, 1644–Paris, 1705); and, the pairing of Martin Van Den Bogaert’s, called Desjardines, (Breda, 1627– Paris, 1694) unfinished bronze statuette of Louis XIV on Horseback from Copenhagen next to an example of the finished work lent by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The unfinished work still has the uncut sprues, channels that were used to permit the molten alloy into the mold. It also includes the pouring cup through which the thick alloy entered the sprues. The juxtaposition of the finished and unfinished gives quite a lesson in casting methodology.
Also of interest to me was an engraving of the sculptor François Girardon’s (Troyes, 1628-Paris, 1715) gallery of his great sculpture collection – several works depicted in the engraving are on exhibit here.
The show’s catalogue with over 500 pages is a tour de force of scholarship. It is a reference book worth owning.
Remember: only two more weeks. Go now for you will want to make more than one visit before these bronzes leave New York.