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Source nymph

Sculpture, XVIII century, 82 cm

Description of the artwork «Source nymph»

Have "Nymphs of the source" Etienne Maurice Falcone is rather intricate and complex, as for such a small and chamber work, fate. Now she is represented in the State Hermitage, and her birthplace is France.

Falcone finished the plaster figure with a height of only 82 cm in 1757, ten years before he was invited to Russia to create a monument to Peter I (the “Bronze Horseman”). At that time, young Falconet worked on sculptures in the church of St. Roch and at the same time was in charge of the sculpture workshop of the Sevres Porcelain Manufactory. There, under the patronage of Madame Pompadour, omnipotent in those years, Falcone created small elegant sculptures that caused pure delight among the French public. Falconet, as those who had a good understanding of it, said there was a gift of noble simplicity. In his performance, grace remained grace, not turning into pretentiousness. His miniature sculptures - bathers, nymphs, flora - were perfection itself.

Two of his most successful sculptures are GCupid"And" Bathing nymph source "- Falcone decided to present in the Salon of 1757. Everything went well. Critics shot Amur with praise and enthusiasm, and reviews of Nymph were also supportive. Denis Didro stated in an essay for the journal Literary Correspondence: “Nymph is the embodiment of youth, purity and feminine charm".

Didro and Falcone became friends. They often argued, but their views on the state structure coincided in many respects. In particular, they both were impressed by the figure of the Russian emperor Peter. The French considered him a revolutionary transformer of bone and rough matter of Russian statehood.

One day, during a small dinner party in the house of Diderot, the fate of Etienne Maurice Falcone made an unexpected turn. The Russian ambassador Golitsyn, who was present there, said that he was looking for an artist for the statue of Peter, which Catherine II planned to erect in memory of the emperor in the new capital he created. According to legend, the master of graceful figures, who had secretly cherished the dream of ever creating something truly monumental for many years, became furious and right on the corner of the depleted table, on a snow-white tablecloth, he depicted a horse galloping galloping and holding him back over a steep abyss rider. And Didro said to Golitsin: here is your master and found what a coincidence!

Of course, it looks more like a legend. Most likely, even before that memorable dinner, Didro recommended Falconet to Catherine II in personal correspondence. But be that as it may, Falcone was getting into Russia. In front of himself, he decided to send several of his sculptures by sea - so that they could be presented to the Empress, the Academy of Fine Arts or someone important and influential.

On August 25, 1766, the L'Aventurier ship sailed from France. The destination of the direct flight was St. Petersburg. In the hold of the ship, along with the works purchased by Golitsin for the imperial collection, three original Falcone gypsum floated - Bathers, Milon Krotonsky, and Nymph of the Spring.

Swimming turned out to be difficult. The sculptures suffered from the effects of sea water, and the "Nymph of the spring" also crashed. And it was doubly disappointing, because Falconet repeated the other two sculptures more than once in marble or in bronze, but everyone didn’t get their hands on the Nymph. Although it was obviously dear to the author, it remained in the form of a plaster model, in a single copy.

«Falconet himself already in Russia restored this original plaster, - writes art historian Zinaida Zaretskaya. - Numerous seams are visible on the surface. The traditional allegorical figure of a river deity with an urn from which water poured was turned by the hand of a talented sculptor into a female image, enchanting with its grace and spontaneity".

In the collection of the State Hermitage, the “Nymph of the Source” was transferred in 1926 from the Museum of the Academy of Arts.
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About the artwork

Art form: Sculpture

Materials: Gypsum

Date of creation: XVIII century

Size: 82 cm

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