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Ivory Group: Boreas Abducting Orithyia After G. Marsy & A. Flamen

Maker(s):  Anselme Flamen (1647-1717)
Materials/Techniques:    Carved ivory
Dimensions: h 19.0 "
Origin: German (Probably Erbach)
Inventory #: 229
After G. Marsy (1624-1681) and Anselme Flamen (1647-1717)
Height 48.5cm


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The original life-size marble group (now in the Louvre), completed in 1681-87, was originally paired with another marble group depicting Pluto Abducting Proserpine (Versailles), by Francois Girardon (1628-1715). Both groups, taken from Ovidian mythology, were conceived in 1674 for the gardens of Versailles and were based on designs by Charles Le Brun. The original subject shows Boreas, the winged powerful north wind of Thrace, abducting Orithyia, daughter of the King of Athens, while a rival male figure (said to be Zephyr, the South Wind) gets trampled below.

In the present ivory group artistic license is taken by the carver in replacing the Zephyr with a female figure who reaches up to rescue Orithyia, possibly depicting Cyane, a water nymph who, interestingly, is represented in the pendant group of Pluto Abducting Proserpine. Both groups have been enormously popular since their inception and many bronze reductions were made throughout the 18th century. Ivory examples are of course extremely rare, even in the 19th century, partly owing to the large piece of ivory required for such a complex group, whilst overcoming the natural curve of the tusk. An early carving of the same subject (11 3/16” high) attributed to the ivory carver Jacob Auer (ca. 1645-1706), circa 1690- 1700, was in the collection of the Blumka Gallery in 1997. 


Related literature:

Robert Wenley, French Bronzes in the Wallace Collection, The Trustees of the Wallace Collection, London, 2002.

Blumka Gallery, Medieval and Renaissance Sculpture And Works of Art, Exhibition Catalogue, New York, 1997.