A Bacchante and a satyr

Joseph-Charles Marin

(1759 - Paris, 1854)

A Bacchante and a satyr

42.5 cm (16 ³/₄ inches)
Signed and dated 1785


Lady Jane Abdy


Pierre Sanchez, Dictionnaire des artistes exposant dans les salons des XVII et XVIIIeme siècles à Paris et en province 1673-1800, II, Dum-Me, L’échelle de Jacob (Dijon) 2004, p. 1140

Stanislas Lami, Dictionnaire des sculpteurs de l’école française au dix-huitième siècle, 1911 [Kraus Reprint, 1970], pp. 108-111


Playing with fire. European terracotta models, 1740-1840, exhib. cat. by James D. Draper and Guilhem Scherf, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, January-April 2004

De Pigalle à Canova. Terre cuites européennes 1740-1840, musée du Louvre, Paris, September 2003-January 2004

Joseph-Charles Marin (1759-1834), exhib. cat., Galerie Patrice Bellanger, Paris, March 1992

Clodion, 1738–1814, exhib. cat. by Anne L. Poulet and Guilhem Scherf, musée du Louvre, Paris, March-June 1992, pp. 405-41

This charming relief of a Bacchante reclining with a young stayr exhibits a freshness and quality of modelling that could only be the work of Clodion's most talented student, Joseph Charles Marin. Marin worked most frequently in clay and favoured bacchic themes, a taste he shared with Clodion. While he emulated the latter’s graceful style, he created original works which show his remarkable ability to render subtle material contrasts, and an added touch of realism. Marin enjoyed a successful career working for private patrons and exhibiting at Salons from 1791 to 1833. Most of his works are terracotta busts and statuettes in the tradition of Rococo eroticism, showing a marked interest in varieties of texture. In 1801 he won the Prix de Rome for sculpture with the classicizing plaster bas-relief of Caius Gracchus Leaving his Wife Licinia to Rejoin his Partisans (Paris, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts); this work and the bold and free terracotta sketch of Roman Charity (c. 1805; Besançon, Musée des Beaux-Arts) show that Marin was able to produce original works in different styles.

Reliefs by Marin are relatively rare. On the present one, the composition and the free quality of the modelling clearly display the artist’s remarkable skill in handling clay. Marin smoothed, scored and chiseled the surface in such a way as to create an enchanting variety of textures, from the barely marked details of a tree and leaves, to the thick fur found on the satyr' legs and behind the bacchante.

The late Lady Abdy was a familiar and respected figures in the salesrooms of London and Paris. 19th Century French sculpture which was one of her areas of passion and expertise, and encouraged by her husband the celebrated connoisseur Sir Robert (Bertie) Abdy Bt., she had a remarkable understanding of French 18th Century art and culture. At the Ferrers Gallery in Piccadilly Arcade, named after Bertie Abdy’s romantic home in Cornwall, she mounted exhibitions on artists such as Jacques-Émile Blanche, Alphonse Mucha, Jean-Jacques Tissot, Giovanni Boldini