Terracotta Sculpture After Clodion | Antique & Art Exchange

Terracotta Sculpture After Clodion

This week we are featuring an amazing statue, which is not entirely as it seems. I like to think of some of my purchases as lottery tickets. This statue was in a private collection for at least 70 years. Fortunately, and unfortunately, it was signed by famous artist Clodion. His romantic sensual and realistic statues were made late in the 18th century and furnished most palaces. During Clodions’ lifetime, his work was imitated for commercial purposes and, less surprising, his work continued to be copied long after he died. Artists eat too, and these sculptures were and still are easily sold. As a general rule, the older the collection, the less likely you are to run into imitations. I was unaware that experts were running for the hills. Simply put, the economic pressure of the last decade has precipitated the liquidation of many collections. Pieces once considered authentic were placed under fresh scrutiny. Where expert opinion and provenance was once enough to authenticate a piece, scholarship and scientific analysis advanced the mark. My friend Jose contacted the Clodion foundation in Paris many times by phone without success. I approached the American expert for Clodion, admittedly recently retired, and I still am waiting to hear back. When I asked a friend at our local fine arts museum about Clodion, he laughed and admitted that there is practically no agreement among experts. Finally a friend that used to run an important museum made a few phone calls. In about a hour I was able to learn that there are three other known examples of this sculpture. Two evidently belong to the Rothschild collection at Waddesdon Manor. But it’s the third example that holds more significance. I learned that this last example, found at the Louvre, has undergone scientific testing in order to determine the date at which it was fired. While my memory is a little fuzzy, I believe the test results placed the last firing of that particular example around 1860–well after Clodion had retired. Thus because all four of these examples (ours included) bear identical resemblance to on another, it is ultimately likely the case that the remaining untested examples are indeed also copies of the same period, even maker. But nevertheless, what I am left with is a very wonderful statue in the style of Clodion made in the 19th century. This news is not all bad. It is still beautiful and desirable. While my lottery ticket might not have paid out in full, the statue is still wonderful artifact. Click here for more details


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