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Agathon Léonard "Joueuse aux Pipeaux" Gilt Bronze Sculpture


This rare gilt-bronze "Joueuse aux pipeaux" or "Pipe Player" hails from Léonard's series le jeu d'écharpe. Originally conceived as a porcelain group and executed by Sèvres, was was first exhibited at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. The series of fifteen figures consisted of fourteen female figures presented in a dance around a central figure, on bases of three differing heights. The edition sold out at the Exposition, and was so popular that it was reproduced in various editions, and ultimately issued in gilt bronze in conjunction with the Parisian foundry Susse Frères.

This female musician wears a crown of Poppies, a Greek chiton, and large flared sleeves. reinterpreted by Mariano Fortuny with his Delphos dress. With her flared sleeves lifted by the slightest breeze, the flutist resonates with the dancers sculpted by the artist. She plays the aulos or Grecian double pipe. Double pipes were used by the great musicians of ancient Greece and notably at the musical contests at Delphi. The type of double pipe depicted in this sculpture was likely the Parthenoi auloi, also known as the maiden's auloi. Aristotle praised the power of the double pipe for its power to elicit ecstasy and emotion. When played, it had a voice-like quality that pairs beautifully with the singer.


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  • Curator's Notes

Item #: B-20481
Artist: Agathon Léonard
Country: France
Circa: 1900
Dimensions: 8.66" height, 5.12" width, 5.51" depth
Materials: Gilt Bronze 
Signed: "A Léonard sclp", caster's stamp "Susse Frères Editeurs Paris" and letter "M"
Literature: A similar sculpture is pictured in: Agathon Léonard: Le geste Art Nouveau, by Ingelore Böstge, Paris: Somogy editions d'art, 2003, p. 61, cat. no. 54. Also pictured in - Pierre Kjellberg, "Les Bronzes du XIX Centuries", Les éditions de l'Amateur, Paris, 2001, model reproduced on page 434.


The sculptor Agathon Léonard was born in Lille in 1841 as Van Weydvelt but adopted a pseudonym for his professional life as a sculptor. He studied first under De La Planche and ultimately was elected to the Lille Académie de Beaux-Arts. In 1889, he received the Silver medal at the Exposition Universelle, and in 1900, he received the gold medal. This sealed his reputation within the art establishment, and he was named a Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur in that year.

The dancers of the jeu de l'écharpe series are noted for their elegance, and their exquisite balance between classical form and Art Nouveau taste. There are several full sets in existence, one of the most important being the one presented to Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna by the French Republic during their state visit to France in September of 1901. Kept in the private apartments of the Empress at the Winter Palace, the suite is now in the Hermitage Museum. In addition, works by Léonard are in the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Musée de Nantes, among others.