Exceptional Pair of Winged Sphinges
Signed E. Piat and dated 1873
Exposed under the n°3097 at the Salon of 1874
Height : 146 cm (57,5 in.) ; Width : 94 cm (37 in.) ; Depth : 57 cm (22,4 in.)
Each of these sphinges, sculpted in white Carrara marble, stands on a serpentine base made of a large scroll and a phylactery decorated with coats of arms of fantasy. These fantastic creatures are composed of a winged greyhound body with a female head, wearing a tiara and a turret. Their back is covered with a fleur-de-lys serrated saddle pad, decorated with coats of arms and tassels. Their chest is decorated with a lion’s muzzle. Squatting on an animated base, composed of volutes and phylacteries, including one placed under the legs presenting coats of arms.
Before being sculpted in marble, Frédéric-Eugène Piat executed a plaster model of smaller size (70 cm high), described as Sphinx – Renaissance style, and now preserved in the Fine Arts Museum of Troyes (Inv No.75). That plaster model was bequeathed by Frederick Eugene Piat with several of his works and models in 1894 to the city of Troyes.
Cover page of the Catalogue of the Musée Piat, Museum of Troyes, 1905.
Plaster model created by F.-E. Piat, described under n°75 in the descriptive Catalogue of the Musée Piat.
– Sphinge, plaster model of smaller size, preserved at the Fine Arts Museum, Troyes (Inv. n°75).
– Sphinge, iron cast by Val d’Osne factory, preserved at the Fine Arts Museum, Troyes (Inv. n°76).
Frédéric-Eugène Piat (1827-1903) worked as soon as 1840 in the workshop of his father, a carpenter. He entered apprenticeship in 1841 with the decorator Martin producing mainly for bronze-casters. He then went to the Didier and Hugues Portal’s workshop where he learned modeling and the art of ornamentation; he completed his training in the sculpture manufacture of Gossin. Endowed with a great capacity for invention and a remarkable ease of composition, Frédéric-Eugène Piat became self-employed since 1845, therefore, he participated in many World’s Fairs (1864, 1867, 1873, 1878, 1889 and 1900) for which he collaborated with various bronze-casters to whom he provided models. Meanwhile he continued to work on other materials and exhibited regularly works of great plastic originality at the Salon des Artistes Vivants and then at the Salon des Artistes Français. In 1894 he bequeathed to the city of Troyes several of his works as well as his models, constituting in the Museum of Fine Arts of Troyes a decorative arts museum that beared his name.
– Art décoratif, Musée Piat, Catalogue descriptif et raisonné, Musée de Troyes, 1905.
– Un ornemaniste français du XIXe siècle, Frédéric-Eugène Piat, Jean-Pierre Sainte-Marie, in Le Cahier des Musées de Troyes, n°2.
– L’Art en France sous le Second Empire, Exposition Grand-Palais, Paris, 1979, p. 238-239.
– Art Décoratif, Trente-cinq compositions inédites, Croquis au fusain, Frédéric-Eugène Piat, Librairie J. Rouam et Cie, Paris, 1897.
– Le Salon de 1875 par Nestor Paturot, 1874, p.44
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