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Bather

Sculpture, 1757, 79 cm

Description of the artwork «Bather»

Repeatedly repeated both by the author and his imitators, the Bather is one of the most famous works of Etienne Maurice Falcone. Her first copy was bought before the sculptor finished working as a chisel. The success of the statue was so loud that its creator, who at that time had no official titles as a commoner, was offered to lead the famous Sevres porcelain manufactory, which was supervised by the favorite of King de Pompadour. Falcone will soon become her favorite and subsequently create several sculptures allegorically representing Madame de Pompadour.

Girl, you`ll be a woman soon

The sensual and at the same time chaste figure of the bather Falcone is believed to capture the moment when the girl becomes a woman. The clean lines of a slender body and graceful foot reaching for imaginary water demonstrate to the viewer the innocent shyness of the bather. Subtle overflows of the marble surface show a slight tremor of the body, which is about to come in contact with cool water.

The sculptor seizes the moment before the ablution, when the bather cautiously extends her leg forward to check the temperature of the water with her toe. Falcone borrowed this elegant gesture from a painting - the painting “The Bather” by his teacher Francois Lemoine (author of large-scale decorative works, such asHercules Salon Ceilingat Versailles)."Bather"Lemoine at one time was very popular due to the engravings removed from it.

The forms of Lemoine's Bathers are still quite Rubensian, and Falcone sets a new aesthetic for female physicality - elongated proportions, narrow hips, sloping shoulders, a flexible neck line and a small high chest. The simple hairstyle of the Bathers - smooth, with a central parting - is inspired by antiquity. A small head and a soft, almost childish little face in the shape of a heart will come into fashion for a long time along with the rococo style.

Nude does not mean immodest

The perfect nakedness of the bather, however, does not give the impression of immodesty. Her restrained posture (a slight balancing tilt forward), graceful position of her hands, her eyes lowered downward - all this, as it were, keeps the viewer at a certain distance, protects from frivolous associations.

Moreover, the statue is neither cold nor inert. A slightly protruding thigh is balanced by the oscillation of the arms in an almost dancing movement. The soft marble surface repeats the graininess of the skin covered by a slight trembling.

"Bather" was first exhibited in the Salon of 1757, Falcone was soon appointed director of the sculpture workshop of the Sevres Porcelain Manufactory. The statue was a great success and was repeatedly repeated by Falcone himself and other sculptors such as Jean-Pierre Antoine Tassard, a Flemish man who studied in Paris and became the official sculptor of the King of Prussia in 1774. Reduced "Bather" many times produced from biscuit porcelain, which was famous for Sevres manufactory. The statue from the Louvre is a marble copy of the work of Falcone himself from the collection of the favorite of Louis XV Madame Du Barry in Louvesienne. The State Hermitage Museum presents the plaster "Bather" Falconet, brought by the sculptor to Russia in the 1760s, when he was invited by Catherine II to create a monument to Emperor Peter I.
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About the artwork

Art form: Sculpture

Materials: Gypsum

Date of creation: 1757

Size: 79 cm

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