A SUPERB 19th CENTURY FRENCH SIDE CABINET SIGNED LEON BERTAUX - REF No. 4006
H: 43 3/4 in / 111 cm ; W: 49 3/4 / 126 cm ; D:16 in / 40 cm
A Very Fine Ebonised and Ormolu Mounted Napoleon III Style side cabinet. Each door centered with relief-cast oval plaques showing cloud bourne putti emblematic of astrology, inscribed Mme Leon BERTAUX. Surmounted with acanthus leaves, ribbons, and female masks.
Mmm Leon Bertaux, French 1825 - 1909
Bertaux decided to open a drawing and modelling workshop in 1873, and opened a sculpture school exclusively for women in 1880. The following year, she founded the "Union des femmes Peintres et Sculpteurs" and served as its first President until 1894.
She exhibited regularly at the Salon. Her first major recognition came in 1864, when she received a commission for a new pediment at the Tuilleries.. Later, in 1878, she did another pediment, for the Place du Carrousel. She received a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle for her statue of Psyche.
In 1894, she resigned her position at the Union, to devote herself full-time to gaining admission for women at the École. As a result of her efforts, the school accepted its first female student in 1897 and began admitting them on a regular basis by 1900. She continued to sculpt during this period, however, and was a candidate for the Prix de Rome in 1903.
In the Dictionary of Women Artists, Tamar Garb used three works by Madame Léon Bertaux "to illustrate ... [her] work as a sculptor". The first highlighted work, Young Gallic Prisoner, features a male subject, which went against the accepted art world and societal etiquette. Female artists were generally forbidden from using male models due to societal norms about guarding "female modesty and male dignity". Bertaux's sculpture, Young Girl Bathingdisplays a more sensual scene. It shows a "pubescent woman" sitting on grass with a snail crawling up her back. The elements of this sculpture emphasize the woman's sexuality: "The invitation to touch here borders on an invitation to caress the body of the woman ..." The third work of art and Bertaux's most famous work, Psyché sous l'empire du mystère, is similar to Young Girl Bathing in that it features a standing sculpture of a nude woman "idealized, remote, and abstracted". These three pieces let Bertaux exemplify her sculpting ability, defy societal norms, and remain "true to her mission as a woman"