Rare pair of torcheres
Total height : 205 cm (80 3/4 in.) ; Base height : 47 cm (18 1/2 in.) ; Base width : 40 cm (15 3/4 in.)
A very fine pair of life-sized figural torcheres made of patinated bronze. Each modeled as a classicaly clad female musician, one holding a mandolin, the other a lyre on her back, both holding aloft a torch. This symbolic representation of Music, falls within Coutan’s allegorical work. Both standing on beautiful molded red marble bases and painted wooded pedestals.
Jules-Félix Coutan (1848-1939) had a highly successful career as a sculptor and designer, which began with his winning Prix de Rome in 1872 whilst studying under Pierre-Jules Cavelier (1814-1894) at the Paris Fine Arts School. He spent then the next four years at the France Academy in Rome and knew his brilliant debut at the Salon of 1876 awarding him the first class medal. His significant contribution to the decoration of the 1889 Paris Universal Exhibition, with his Fountain of Progress, earned Coutan a gold medal and the Grand Prix d’Honneur at the 1900 Paris Universal Exhibition for his monumental portico for the Sèvres manufacture pavillion. He went on to contribute to the sculptural decoration of many of Paris’ most important buildings, such as the Main City Hall, the National Library and the Courthouse. His international portfolio included a pediment in New York’s Grand Central Station and a monument to Carlos Pelligrini in Buenos Aires. He was director of design at the Sèvres Porcelain factory in the 1890s, before replacing Alexandre Falguière (1831-1900) at the Paris Fine Arts Academy in 1900. His vision was both classical and naturalistic in style and his career was highlighted by numerous accolades.
• Ajax provoking and struck by the gods, plaster, Fine Arts School, Paris.
• Fountain of Progress, shown at the “Champ-de-Mars” during the 1889 Paris Universal Exhibition.
• The Eagle hunters, plaster high-relief, 1900, Orsay Museum, Paris. The bronze cast in 1901 adorns the pediment of the Anthropology gallery at the National Museum of Natural History, (front street), Paris.
• The Glory of Commerce, sculpture decorating the pediment of Grand Central Terminal, New York, 1907-1913.
• Memorial to soldiers from the department of Vienne killed during the 1870 war, inaugurated in 1895, public garden on Magenta street, Poitiers.
• The bearer of bread, plaster model of the bronze cast placed in the Saint-Jacques garden, destroyed under the Vichy regime, Petit Palais, Paris.
• The Renaissance in France, ornamental statue at the base of the tower on the left bank upstream, Alexandre III bridge, Paris.
• The Science and Labour, two low-relief sculptures for the Bir-Hakeim bridge, Paris.
• Monumental portico for the Sèvres manufacture pavillion at the 1900 Universal Exhibition. Actually located in the Félix-Desruelles garden, Boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris.
Bénézit, Gründ, 1999, t. IV, p° 38.
The Dictionary of Western Sculptors in Bronze, James Mackay, Antique collector’s club, 1977.
Les bronzes du XIXe siècle, dictionnaire des sculpteurs, Pierre Kjellberg, 1989, Les Editions de l’Amateur, p. 227.