Cyprian Godebski ( 1835 – 1909)


Lot 59. Cyprian Godebski 1835-1909. POLISH

signed and dated: Cip. Godebski 1866
white marble; 194.5cm., 76 1/2 in.

Provenance. Private collection, Spain

Exhibited. Paris, Salon, 1866 (probably)

Born in France as the son of a Polish writer, Cyprien Godebski made his debut at the Salon of 1857, followed by mentions honorables in 1880, 1884 and 1886. Godebski’s prolific career brought his work to an international audience. He executed monuments for Sebastopol, Warsaw and Cracow, as well as several commissions for public sculpture in Paris, and busts of illustrious personages of his time.

This impressive marble is perhaps the most important work by Godebski to come to the international market. Its dating to 1866 suggests that it can probably be identified with the marble statue of Le Réveil (The Awakening) which he exhibited at the Salon in that year (Lami, op. cit.). The iconography of a partially draped female nude holding up a torch certainly accords with symbolist allegories, and the figure appears to be waking from a slumber (note the half opened eyes). It consequently seems likely that the present marble is the Salon sculpture from 1866. However the flower in the girl’s left hand, combined with the imagery of the torch, could possibly also invite an alternative interpretation of the figure as Persephone, the mythological Queen of the Underworld. Godebski softens the strict classicism of the girl’s pose by adding a sensual voluptuousness to her figure, which is complemented by her seductive, open-mouthed expression.

Estimate 30,000-50,000 GBP. Sothebys. 05/25/16

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