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By Rivière, Théodore (French, 1857-1912)
This fantastic bronze sculpture, rich in pathos and emotional force, is a fine work, depicting the tragic denouement of Flaubert's novel Salammbo.
This lost-wax bronze sculpture is the work of Théodore Rivière and was cast by the Susse Freres foundry in Paris. It depicts a male figure on his knees, holding a standing female figure, on a circular plinth and it takes as its inspiration the closing scene of Gustave Flaubert's 1862 historical novel Salammbo, with the chracters Salammbo and her lover Matho.
The novel is set in ancient Carthage in the 3rd century BC, hence the title, soon after the first Punic war, and this work depicts the moment when Matho, a rebel chief, enamoured of Salammbo, the daughter of a Carthaginian general is exectued at her feet. A very popular image for artists in the late 19th century, particularly for the femme-fatale character of Salammbo, this piece is made after by Theodore Riever and cast by the Susse Freres foundry, the larger original of which is currently on display at the Musee d'Orsay, as it has been since its exhibition in the 1895 Salon exhibition. Rivievre's work was acclaimed at the time, not least for the way in which it so successfully rendered the pathos and tragedy of the literary scene; qualities which are conveyed here by the superb lost-wax recasting.
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