Sarah Bernhardt Figurative Sculpture - Sphinx Inkwell
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Sarah Bernhardt
Sphinx Inkwell

1880

About

SYMBOLIST INKWELL: SELF-PORTRAIT AS A SPHINX, SARAH BERNHARDT (1844-1923) Miniature patinated bronze, signed and stamped in the mould on side of base: “Sarah Bernhardt 1880; Circular foundry mark, “Thiébaut Frères-Paris. Bernhardt's naturalistically rendered head, complete with a high lace collar, is joined to the body of a lion and completed with stylized bat wings and a fish tail; upon her shoulders are theatrical masks symbolizing Tragedy and Comedy; the whole figure is perched upon a base and grasps with its forepaws a basin which is set off by a skull and flanked by massive curling ram’s horns; the inkwell is cleverly concealed by a removable pile of books while a small opening in Bernhardt’s hair provides a place for a quill pen. “The Divine Sarah” was the moniker for Sarah Bernhardt, one of theatre’s best-known performers of all-time. Born and trained in Paris, Bernhardt’s career in theater and film included 70 roles in 125 productions. She was made a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor in 1914. In addition to acting, Bernhardt was a writer and playwright. She also painted and sculpted, exhibiting her work in the Paris Salons between 1876-1881, and in London, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. The leading Symbolist painter, Gustave Moreau, was a friend. His celebrated depictions of the sphinx were foundational; however at the time Bernhardt created this sculpture, she was rehearsing for the role of Blanche de Chelles in Le Sphynx. The object is both autobiographical and metaphorical. Noted for her “pictorial” acting in which her emoted movements created memorable tableaux, this mythical creature speaks to Bernhardt’s uncanny ability to transform into countless characters. While this object is historical and intriguing as a sculptural work, its dual functionality as an inkwell -hidden in sphinx like fashion- makes this truly a beguiling work of art.

Details

  • Artist
    Sarah Bernhardt (1844 - 1923, France)
  • Creation Year
    1880
  • Condition
    Good
  • Dimensions
    H 5.51 in. x W 6.3 in. x D 5.51 in.H 14 cm x W 16.01 cm x D 14 cm
  • Gallery Location
    Chicago, IL
  • Reference Number
    LU46734091362
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About the Seller

5 / 5
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1stdibs seller since 2016
Located in Chicago, IL
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