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  • Sotheby's to Offer Work of Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse
    March 17, 2005 LONDON, UK.

    Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, Marble figure of Angélique, based on the character in Ludovico Ariosto's 16th century poem Orlando Furioso.

    Sotheby's is delighted to offer for sale the most important known work of eminent French sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse. The marble figure of Angélique, based on the character in Ludovico Ariosto's 16th century poem Orlando Furioso, has not been seen in public for 137 years. The work, which is likely to cause as much of a stir as it did when it was first exhibited at the Salon of 1866, has been in a private collection since it was last exhibited in Belgium in 1868. Angélique will be the highlight of Sotheby's European Sculpture & Works of Art 900-1900 sale on Wednesday, April 20, 2005.

    Alexander Kader, Head of Sotheby's Sculpture department in London, said; "Of Carrier-Belleuse's Salon marbles, this is the most important ever offered at auction and the most spectacular known example still in private hands. We are delighted to be able to present the opportunity to purchase such a rare sample of the ultimate of Belleuse's oeuvre."

    Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse (1824-1887) produced very few large scale Salon marbles, in fact only a total of nine in the 30 years he exhibited at the Salon. It was his practice to make only one full-scale marble of each of the subjects he treated, although he subsequently made smaller scale editions in a wide variety of materials. This is true of Angélique which was carved at the height of the French sculptor's career and epitomizes his very best work. Until its recent re-emergence from a private collection, only smaller terracotta versions were known.

    When the dramatic marble depicting a girl chained to a rock in angst, made its debut at the 1866 Salon, it had a dramatic effect on its spectators. Théophile Thoré, writing under the pseudonym W. Bürger, observed that it was the most talked about statue at the Salon. Edmond About's review of the Salon expressed a mixture of criticism, shock and admiration. He said: "Carrier-Belleuse is not only the most prolific contemporary sculptor and the most active at popularizing the art of sculpture, he is endowed with a rare audacity. His Angélique is one of the boldest works that has been seen at the Salon for a long time......the block of marble is superb and the flesh full of life. It represents womankind manipulated and moulded by a genius."

    After its debut at the 1866 Salon Carrier-Belleuse sent the work to the 1867 Exposition Universelle and wrote to Count Nieuwerkerke in the hope of selling the marble to the state. When the Government did not purchase it, it was sent for exhibition in Brussels the following year, where it has remained in private hands until now.

    Carrier-Belleuse was trained as a goldsmith when he entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1840 and went on to study decorative arts at the Petite Ecole. He worked in London between 1850 and 1855 and from 1857 began exhibiting at the Salon. During this time Napoleon III offered him many commissions during the rebuilding of Paris. His sculpture encompassed a range of artistic movements and influences, such as Rococo, Neo Baroque, Realism and Naturalism. Pupils that trained under him in his workshop included many of the greats, such as August Rodin. The beautiful Angélique carved in white marble on a red marble base, is estimated to fetch £200,000-300,000.