“Tritons sounding a conch shell”, Important Louis XIV style pair of sculptures in bronze with green patina by the Valsuani Foundry

Bronze with green patina.

Height 3' 1'' ⅜ (95cm) ; Width 2' 3'' ⅛ (69cm) ; Depth 2' 5'' ⅞ (76cm)

Seal of the founder : « Cire perdue/C. VaLsuani /Paris » (« lost-wax casting / C. VaLsuani / Paris »)

Second half of 20th century.

Stone bases are from the 19th century.






Two Tritons, with swollen cheeks and muscular body, are sounding a conch shell. These two magnificent sculptures were created in the second half of the 20th century in bronze with green patina from a study by Annibale Carracci for the Palazzo Farnese in Rome dated circa 1597-1602 and exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There is the seal of the founder : " Cire perdue/C. VaLsuani /Paris ".




Annibale Carraci, Triton Sounding a Conch Shell,
ca. 1597–1602, black chalk on paper,
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
.

 






A model inspired by a study by Annibale Carracci for the Palazzo Farnese:


The two Tritons were made from the drawing by Annibale Carracci "Triton sounding a conch shell". We can see a similar triton on the right in the renown fresco "Triumph sailor" executed on the ceiling of the Palazzo Farnese’s gallery from 1597 : the triton has the same posture, but he is represented from another angle.

Although Annibale Carrache has created most of the robust figures on the frescoes of the Farnese Gallery - nearly ninety of his drawings for it are extant and declines different postures - this fresco is not the work of Annibale, but the one of his brother, Agostino Carracci, and it is admitted that Annibale intervened in this work, including for this triton blowing in conch.


Agostino Carracci, 1597, Palazzo Farnese, Rome.
It is admitted that the triton on the right of the fresco is inspired by Annibale Carrache.


The theme of this fresco is vague but is traditionally identified as a representation of the triumph of Galatea. The two artists also seem to have designed this monumental work bearing in mind the famous Raphael fresco "The Triumph of Galatea" made in 1513 for Villa Farnesina in Rome.





A model from the French 17th century :


The extreme quality of these statues, the modelling of the flesh and muscles and the careful details, undoubtedly bring them close to the 17th century art of Versailles.

Currently exhibited at the Toledo Museum of Art (Ohio, USA), a statue from the same model as the Triton was made around 1700 in lead. Its provenance is prestigious: coming from the Paris collection of Edmond de Rothschild, this statue was subsequently bought by the great New York antique dealers, Wildenstein & Co, specialised in 18th century French painting and sculpture. In 1973, the Triton joined the collections of the Toledo museum, bestowed as a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Edward H. Alexander.


Triton Sounding a Conch Shell, circa 1700, lead, The Toledo Museum of Art

Knowledge of the Toledo statue proves the pre-existence of a model inspired by Carracci dating around the late 17th century, most certainly coming from French royal collections. Indeed, these models are firmly fixed in a period which is that of the creation of large sculptures and fountains in the garden of the Palace of Versailles, where the first decor in lead was created between 1666 and 1672.

The Tritons of the Apollo fountain, with their protruding muscles, are sounding hard a conch shell and thus they seem to have strongly inspired the creation of the model of our Triton. As much of the first decor in lead in the Versailles gardens disappeared as of 1674, including the sculptures of the Grotto of Thetis, precise knowledge of them is yet to be discovered.


Apollo fountain, Chateau de Versailles.

The tradition of French garden decorations:


The art of the French garden, whose the most extraordinary example is the Palace of Versailles, is especially the art of the jeux d’eau ( literally water games) with the installation of ponds and monumental fountains.

Although our two tritons were not originally designed for fountains (they are not pierced, but can be), their theme and the existence of similar models adapted to fountains, as the one exhibited at the Toledo Museum, bring them close to the art of French fountains.

Created by the master gardener André Le Nôtre at the request of Louis XIV, the gardens of Versailles are characterized by their spectacular gardens especially with their water games. The very important basins are pretext for the realization of large sculptures created by Marsy, Girardon, Guérin or Tuby, from drawings by Charles Le Brun, most important Court painter.

At the end of the 17th century, the gardens of the Chateau de Versailles will become a major reference among the royal courts in Europe, which in turn will create majestic French gardens with fountains and statues.

These Tritons, thanks to their material and their style, are significantly related to the art of the French gardens of the 17th century. This two sumptuous models recall this major art of the great period of King Louis XIV.


Apollo fountain, Chateau de Versailles..



The Valsuani Foundry:


The Valsuani Foundry is a bronze French art foundry located in Chevreuse (in the Parisian Region). Created in 1899 in Châtillon (near Paris) by Claude Valsuani, the foundry settled in 1905 at 74 rue des Plantes in Paris. Valsuani quickly acquires a certain notoriety thanks to its technical mastery and the excellence of his lost-wax casting production. He is especially noted for the beauty of its patinas, one of which, the most famous, is called black Valsuani.

The seal of the Valsuani Foundry
on the pair of Tritons
Auguste Rodin, The Thinker (1903), Valsuani cast,
Mexico, Soumaya Museum.



When he died, his son Marcel took over the family business before selling it to a Swiss company. In 1980, the sculptor Leonardo Benatov, who had smelted his first bronzes at the Valsuani Foundry, bought the seal and transferred the foundry to Chevreuse with the aim of perpetuating the savoir-faire of the original foundry while staying on the cutting edge of technology.

Renowned for the quality of these lost-wax casting productions, the Valsuani Foundry has worked with many great artists including Rodin, Bourdelle, Renoir, Picasso, Matisse, Degas, Gauguin, Pompon, Carpeaux, Daumier and Dalí.

 

 



Two cast iron dolphins, historical ornaments from the Bridge of Porte de France in Grenoble by Gustave Eiffel

Cast iron.

Height : 176 and 150 cm (69’’ 1/4 and 59'' 1/16) ; Width : 47 cm (18’’ 1/2) ; Depth : 66 cm (26’’)

Originating from the erstwhile Bridge of Porte de France in Grenoble (South of France).

Circa 1892.





Historical remains of a now disappeared work by Gustave Eiffel, these two chimeric dolphins in cast iron come from the former Pont de France in Grenoble. The railing of this beautiful iron bridge was then adorned with sixty-eight cast iron dolphins, emblems of the province of Dauphiné which Grenoble was the capital..
Built in 1892, the bridge was destroyed in 1956 to answer to the intensification of road traffic. So, the dolphins were partly melted, and some were saved like the two pieces that we have the pleasure to present here.
Rare historical witnesses of a work of art by Gustave Eiffel, being moreover beautiful sculptures of superb quality, these pieces can from now on be adapted as fountains or adorn a pleasure garden


Bridge of the Porte de France, Grenoble, antique postcard.


Gustave Eiffel, a prodigious engineer

Known throughout the world, the name of Gustave Eiffel is forever associated with the Eiffel Tower, erected in 1889 for the Universal Exhibition of Paris.
Born in Dijon on December 15, 1832, the young Gustave was admitted to the Ecole Centrale in 1852, and studies metallurgy from 1856. It was while he was working for Charles Nepveu that the young engineer carried out his first bridges projects, which allows him at the age of 25 years to take charge of the immense Pont de Bordeaux. As a result of this major success, he realized several bridges in the South-West of France.
Portrait of Gustave Eiffel by Aimé Morot, 1905, private collection.




Prodigy of the mid-19th century, Eiffel starts his own business in Levallois-Perret, a workshop that conceives all the parts destined to be assembled on the sites. Between 1870 and 1880, the whole world appealed to G. Eiffel et Cie, notably for the framework of the Statue of Liberty in New York (1882), the Pest Train Station in Hungary, but also in Java, Bolivia or Algeria. His career culminated in 1889 with the realization of the highest monument of the time, the Eiffel Tower.

The bridge of Grenoble and its dolphins is therefore one of its first constructions realized after the Eiffel Tower, in 1892. Although Gustave Eiffel is better known for the Iron Lady, the dolphins of the bridge of Grenoble are therefore very representative of his career.


Two rare ornaments of the Porte de France Bridge in Grenoble (1892)
The bridge of the Porte de France, Grenoble, postcard, circa 1914.
The city of Grenoble widened considerably in the 19th century, from 10,000 to 74,000 inhabitants. Around 1880, the city wall was enlarged, which required the construction of a bridge over the Isère River.
Around 1890, after the success of the Eiffel Tower, the city of Grenoble appealed to the great engineer for its bridge, and work began in 1892. Holding on two piers in the Isère River, the bridge of the Porte de France, also called Esplanade bridge or Bastille bridge, has three spans and the railing is adorned with cast iron dolphins.
Becoming too narrow in the twentieth century for traffic needs, the bridge was destroyed in 1956, and replaced by a construction of Pelnard-Considere and Co. The 68 dolphins of the Eiffel bridge were partly melted, but some were preserved by the towns of the region and by private individuals.
Current bridge of the Porte de France in Grenoble, built in 1956.


Indeed, one of these dolphins is now in Tullins, a small town near Grenoble, that made a public fountain of it about 1960, called "Paradise Fountain". Two dolphins also adorn the town hall of Colombe, another town of Isère, and two others adorn the entrance of the Paraboot shoe factory in Sceaux. The founder of the factory was indeed from the region and wanted to celebrate his native origins.


Paradise Fountain, Tullins, Isère.
Paraboot Factory, Sceaux, Ile de France.


Some private people have also saved these dolphins, so that they periodically resurface on the art market. The two we are presenting today were saved by a former municipal employee of Grenoble, at the time of the destruction of the bridge that was the pride of the city. Remaining in the family since then, it is the first time that they reappear since the dismantling of the bridge.


The dolphins, symbols of the Dauphiné Province

Coat of arms of the Dauphiné region, carved on the Palace of the Dauphiné Parliament, Grenoble.



Preciousely preserved in the region, these dolphins are indeed the symbol of the Dauphiné Province, of which Grenoble was the capital, and have been represented on the coat of arms since the 12th century. It was then an independent state, the Dauphiné of Viennois, under the authority of the counts of Albon who call themselves the Dauphins of Viennois, “dauphin” being the French for dolphin. Hence the title of “Dauphin of France” for the heir to the crown, for since the annexation of Dauphiné in 1349, this province is the prerogative of the crown prince.



The Eiffel dolphins have the chimerical form of Neptune's dolphins, as they have been represented since antiquity, as evidenced by the mosaics of Ostia, the ancient port of Rome.
The artists of the Renaissance drew on these ancient representations, so that the mythological dolphin marked the spirits in extraordinary works, such as the Triton Fountain that Gian Lorenzo Bernini sculpted for Pope Urban VIII in 1643.
A drawing of Jean Le Pautre fixes the features we find in these cast dolphins: the body covered with scales, the eyes surrounded by concentric volutes, a dorsal fin and two fins on each side of the head.
Mosaics of Ostia antique harbor, Roma.
Bernini, Triton Fountain, Piazza Bernini, 1643, Roma.
Jean Le Pautre, Putti playing with dolphins, 1673,
Château de Versailles.
Dolphins and putti of the Lavalette Fountain, 1884,
place Grenette, Grenoble.




Thus, the chimeric dolphins already decorate the city of Grenoble in 1825, with the Lavalette Fountain cast by Crozatier. Eiffel prefers a more harmonious shape for his bridge of 1892, enabling to soften the angles of the railing with the beam. Repeated all along the bridge, these dolphins were discreet from afar while offering a pleasant decoration closer.

The pair of dolphins we present is therefore of historical importance, being a rare vestige of a destroyed work of Gustave Eiffel. Authentic ornaments of the guardrail of the former bridge of Grenoble, with the exceptional quality peculiar to a public purchase, they bear the memory of the incredible progresses, in particular technological, which were realized thanks to the company G. Eiffel and Co. .

Exceptional set of Val d’Osne cast iron statues forming fountain coming from the Chateau du Pian near Bordeaux

Cast iron. After a model by Mathurin Moreau.

The couple of Acis and Galatea was presented at the World’s Fair of 1855 by Mathurin Moreau
on a fountain realized in collaboration with Michel Joseph Napoléon Liénard.

Dimensions of the original fountain : Height : 370 cm (145'' 11/16) ; Length : 1095 cm (431'') ; Width : 627 cm (246'' 7/8).

Signature on bases : « Val d'Osne Paris ».

Circa 1870 - 1880.








This fountain of exceptional quality includes a set of iron cast sculptures realized in the late 19th by the famous Val d'Osne foundry. Designed by the great sculptor Mathurin Moreau in 1854, the group of the two large back to back statues represents Acis and Galatea and is illustrated in the album nr. 2 of the Val d'Osne foundry under the numbers 272 and 273.


Fountain of Acis and Galatea designed by Mathurin Moreau for the Val d’Osne foundry, album nr. 2, models 272 and 273.


The story of Acis and Galatea, narrated by Ovid, is here cleverly chosen by Mathurin Moreau as the subject of a fountain because Galatea, a beautiful nymph desired by the Cyclops Polyphemus, transforms her beloved Acis into a river so that he rejoins the sea and does not totally die of the wounds inflicted on him by the Cyclops. This is why Galatea designates with her gesture the water that flows from the lion's head.
This one, as well as the two sirens, are also present in the album n° 2 of the Val d'Osne, while the vases appear in the 1888 album.
The sirens were designed by Provin Serres, a sculptor and disciple of Mathurin Moreau.






Coming from the Chateau du Pian, in Bouliac near Bordeaux (South of France), this fountain could be installed at the same time as the architecture of the house was completely transformed in 1873. The feudal residence had indeed been destroyed, and a Bordeaux wine merchant, Henri Deffès, bought it in 1866 and then entrusted the works of renovation to an architect of the public monuments, Victor Pierre Mialhe. The architect designed the elegant Chateau du Pian in the style of the second half of the 19th century, a period of great influence for the Val d'Osne foundry. Henri Deffès lived in Bordeaux when the city triumphed over the arrival of spring water with the fountain of Mathurin Moreau in 1857 ; We can therefore attribute to him the commission of this work intended to illustrate the extreme refinement of the domain.
The property belonged at the latest in 1897 to a rich farmer, Ferdinand Petit, owner of several vineyards and worldly friend of the President of the American Chamber of Commerce, who came to the Chateau in 1918.

The Chateau du Pian in Bouliac near Bordeaux.


Original settng of the Fountain at the Chateau du Pian before 1993.


The couple of Acis and Galatea was presented at the World's Fair of 1855, for a fountain designed in collaboration with Michel Liénard where this group was leaned in cross with another couple, Neptune and Amphitrite. This model of a monumental fountain made a strong impression on the World's Fair jury, which awarded it a gold medal, and several copies immediately found purchasers as public monuments. In 1857, the city of Bordeaux inaugurated this fountain celebrating the arrival of fresh water in the city center. This one, called "Fontaine de Tourny" now takes place in Quebec City, Canada.


« Fontaine de Tourny » installed on the Parliament Place in Quebec. Originating from Bordeaux.


The viceroy of Egypt Said Pasha also acquires it for Cairo during the World's Fair of 1855, while Tasmania installs a similar one in his Park of the Prince. In 1863, the same is installed in Geneva in the English Garden, then another copy is bought in 1867 for Boston. Only twenty of these fountains exist all over the world.

At the Chateau du Pian, the sculptures were rearranged into a new composition, lighter and more adapted to an exceptional private residence, in order to create a superb fountain taking place in the park of the chateau.

Signature of the Val d'Osne foundry on the cast iron sculptures.


All the cast iron statues are shown in our showroom in Saint-Ouen, on appointment. You can call us : +33 (0)6 60 62 61 90


Cast iron statues only are available. A precise schema of the stone elements was made and a quotation is available for the realization of all the stone elements, which can be carved in our workshops.