Jean-Jacques (called James) Pradier (Swiss (active in France), 1790–1852)
Standing Sappho, modeled 1848, cast ca. 1851
Bronze, 33 7/8 x 14 9/16 x 13 in.
Inscribed on base, back right: J. Pradier
First shown in bronze at the 1848 Paris Salon (Collection of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, Osborne House, Isle of Wight), this statue shows the Greek poet Sappho leaning elegantly against an Ionic column, holding a lyre in her left hand and flanked by various offerings to Venus, as well as a pair of cooing doves. A scroll displays the Greek verses from her Ode to Venus (Sappho I, 25, 8): “Goddess, come again today, take away my cruel torments, make the wishes of my heart come true, do not refuse me your help.” When Théophile Gautier reviewed the work at the Salon, he claimed: “This half-life-size statue, if suitably oxidized and coated with verdigris by staying a long time under the earth or in the sea, and thereby receiving an antique patina, could pass for a true Greek or Roman work and would fetch incalculable sums.”
The present sculpture is one of two known bronze casts of this large Standing Sappho, made by the founder Victor Paillard under Pradier’s supervision, probably around the time of London’s Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851. It has the same attributes, dimensions, and dark patination of the 1848 Salon version. Another model of this sculpture was cast in solid silver (Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, England).