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Théodore Rivière "Salammbô" Gem-Set Patinated Bronze Sculpture


This French Art Nouveau gem-set patinated bronze sculpture, by Théodore Rivière, features two intricately-sculpted figures from the story of Carthage, inspired by the Gustave Flaubert novel, Salammbô. The female figure stands proud and tall, resolute and impassable, her garments draped as the Ancient goddesses were depicted, her crown a marvel of gothic architecture in miniature. The male figure's anguish can be felt palpably though we cannot see his face, demonstrating the mastery with which the piece was executed. Of note is that the woman has emerald eyes and her crown is accented with rubies.

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  • Curator's Notes

Artist: Théodore Rivière
Item #: S-782
Circa: 1900
Dimensions: 16" height, 7" diameter
Materials: Patinated bronze, Rubies, Emeralds
Signed: "Susse Freres Paris"
Literature: Sculpture pictured in Art Nouveau 1890-1914, by Paul Greenhalgh, p. 122; Sculpture also pictured in Nineteenth Century Sculpture, by Maurice Rheims, p. 372, #15

The subject of this figural sculpture is taken from Gustave Flaubert's novel, Salammbô, which takes place between 241 and 238 BC, during the war between Carthage and its mercenaries, who were in revolt. Mâthô, the Lybian rebel chief, fell in love with Salammbô, the daughter of the Carthaginian leader. This scene depicts the moment when the mortally wounded Mâthô dies at Salammbô's feet, declaring his love for her. The figure of Salammbô, the femme fatale, also inspired other Symbolist artists.