Bartholomé : serene sensuality

Published by the Gazette Drouot International 


The sleeping beauty's unbound hair cascades over the crumpled sheets of her bed. The sole adornment to her nudity is a double row of pearls around her neck, mingling with the little curls at the nape. Her lips are slightly parted ; her face with closed eyes rests on her bent left arm, while the right one barely conceals her breast. This body carved in marble invites a caress, but is otherwise an astonishingly chaste nude. Paul-Albert Bartholomé, inconsolable widow of the beautiful Prospérie de Fleury, known as Périe, abandoned his brushes to model clay, shaping it into forms of his beloved wife, whose tomb he also made. Together, they had formed one of the best-known couples in Paris, receiving musicians, writers and artists (including Jacques-Émile Blanche and his close friend Edgar Degas) at 8 Rue Bayard. In 1886, the pregnant Périe died, bringing an end to this ideal life. In 1901, Bartho- lomé married his model Florence, after which his style became more classical, marked by a serene solemnity. For him, love's magic was inseparable from Périe, and this sculpture is probably a memory of her in marble. It will be joined in the sale by an ebony cabinet inlaid with ivory (€100,000/150,000) stamped by Ferdinando Pogliani (1832-1899), the great Milanese specialist in Renaissance-style pieces. 

8 November 2017