List Price £15,000
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After Bousseau, Jacques (French, 1681-1740)
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This fantastic piece is a wonderful 19th Century replica of a marble sculpture completed in 1715 by the famed Neoclassical sculptor Jacques Bousseau (French, 1681-1740). Bousseau was a pupil of the celebrated Baroque period sculptor Nicholas Coustou (1658-1733), and went on to bear the prestigious title of Sculptor to the King. His fine Neoclassical works were much in demand during the 19th Century, and inspired a number of copies in both bronze and marble, such as the present figure.
This figure, known as 'Ulysses Bending his Bow' or in French as Ulysse tendant l'arc dont Pénélope doit être le prix, is a depiction of a famous scene from Homer's epic poem The Odyssey. In it, Odysseus, also known as Ulysses, had been away for over 20 years, during which time his wife, Penelope, had remained loyal to him, even in the face of numerous potential suitors.
As a means of warding off potential suitors, Penelope devised a competition, claiming that she would marry whoever could fire an arrow from Odysseus's bow through twelve rings. Not one man is able to complete the challenge, with the exception of a humble court beggar, who later reveals himself to be the returned Odysseus.
Bousseau's sculpture depicts the moment when the hero Odysseus is stringing his bow, ready to fire. He is shown sitting on a tree stump, which is naturalistically modelled, on a square base with a quiver of arrows shown at the hero's feet. The strain of his muscles and the dynamism of the pose make the sculpture a true masterpiece. The original sculpture was Bousseau's admission piece to the French Royal Academy in 1715, and can now be found in the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.
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