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By Picault, Émile Louis (French, 1833-1915)
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This patinated bronze figurative sculptural group was crafted in the late 19th Century by the celebrated French sculptor Émile Louis Picault.
This sculpture depicts the classical Greek goddess Hebe, the daughter of Zeus and Hera, who served as the cupbearer for the gods of Mount Olympus. She is pictured in flight, seated on the back of an eagle—the eagle being Zeus, her father, in animal guise.
Hebe, youthful and beautiful, strikes a dynamic pose, her left arm and leg extended, and her right limbs contracted—a combination that creates a sweeping curve along the line of her body. Hebe wears a piece of diaphanous drapery, which catches the wind and is thrown backwards as if blown by movement. She looks down to her left, surveying the world below. Zeus, in eagle form, rests on a stormy cloud, sending lightning bolts hurtling to earth.
On the base of the sculpture an inscribed scrolled reads 'Des mysterieuses profondeurs elle apporte a l'homme l'étincelle divine' ('From mysterious depths she brings to man the divine spark'). This is accompanied by the artist's signature, 'E. Picault', and the mark of the foundry, 'E. Colinage Paris'.
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