2.500 - 3.500
28 September 2021
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White marble sculpture
Signed and dated 1866
(minor restoration to an epaulet)
Height: 40,5 cm
ANATOLE CÉLESTIN CALMELS
Anatole Célestin Calmels, was born on March 26, on the year of 1822 in Paris, and from the year 1858 he developed his artistic activity in the city of Lisbon. As a disciple of one of the most classic statuary of French Romanticism, it was with James Pradier (1790-1852) that he learned to formalize sensuality with a formal allusion to Hellenism and to consider the refinement of execution as a fundamental factor in the honorability of sculpture. From 1837 he attended the École des Beaux-Arts where he was a student of the sculptor François Joseph Bosio (1768-1845) and of the neoclassical painter Merry-Joseph Blondel (1781-1853). In 1839, he took part in the “Prix de Rome”, where he won 2nd place. From the year of 1843 he began to participate in the salons and universal fairs of Paris, which were fundamentals for collecting the results of his work, and the maximum prize he achieved was the 3rd Class gold medal in the year of 1852, with the model in bas-relief Birth of the Virgin to the church of St. Mauritius in Lille. Meanwhile in 1849 he was awarded with an honorable mention by the Bust of Géricault, in 1850-51 with the Denis-Papin Statue for the facade of the Paris Chamber and in 1853 with the Calypso statue commissioned by Emperor Napoleon III for the Tuileries Palace. The fact that he was a disciple of such influential names as Pradier, Bosio and Blondel, based on his artistic dispositions and a persistence in the practice of sculpture, allowed him to move influences with the figures of power. In this way, he was asked by the Seine master to make a S. Clement for the Tower of S. Jacques, present at the Universal Exhibition of 1854. For the pavilion of Rohan in the Louvre palace, he produced a Massena. We highlight the sculptures of S. Napoleon, St. Eugénio and S. Joseph, which he produced for the Eugénio-Napoleão house, commissioned by the Seine city hall, and which featured in the Universal Exhibition of 1856. These are just his best-known works in France. In a list of works published in Lisbon in 1860, more than five dozen pieces are described. This is the only document that allows an approximation to the work he carried out and which anticipates his activity in Portugal. He arrived in Portugal in 1858, at a time when King Fernando II was trying to reformulate the Academy of Fine Arts, and in a text of his authorship, published in the Diário Ilustrado of 10 April 1904, to honor the 3rd Duchess of Palmela, we find the following words: “A illustre Mãe da Duquesa honrou me com o encargo de dar as primeiras lições a sua filha, então solteira, com desasete anos férteis de promessas d’ espirito e de coração”. The 17th birthday of the Duchess of Palmela coincides with the year of 1858. The fact that he was a foreigner did not prevent the municipality of Porto from assigning him the risk of the Monument to D. Pedro IV. Work in which he followed the instructions of his master Bosio, who recommended for the basreliefs the picturesque and the vividness of realistic detail pointing to fidelity in costume and portrait. However, the sculptor did not disregard the competition that with the same purpose was taking place in Lisbon, and the enormous interest that manifested itself around the memorial to be built in the capital. He was certainly aware of the series of failed attempts that had taken place since 1834, and we can observe that this led him to settle in Lisbon in 1858 and present a first model of the equestrian figure of King Pedro IV, which was followed by another project of a column with a statue, both without implementation. From this year is also a colossus of Hymeneus for the wedding festivities between King D. Pedro V and Queen D. Estefânia. At the same time, he received the first royal commission, carried out by the young king, for an image of a Baby Jesus, destined for the young Queen. Around 1862 he was acting as professor at the Lisbon Academy of Fine Arts, and it is known that he formed a restricted circle of artists in his studio – installed in the church of the extinct monastery of São Bento in Lisbon – among which Leandro Braga (1839-1897) José Rodrigues Vieira (1856-1898), Jorge Augusto Pereira e Margarida de Lima Mayer (1876-1962) e António Alberto Nunes (1838-1912) stands out. This same sculpture workshop is intrinsically associated with the activity he carried out for the Câmara dos Pares, which is the true repository for the portuguese constitutionalism iconography. As an example, we mention the medallion in high relief carved in marble that represents King Pedro IV, flanked by the allegorical figures of Liberty and Valor, and the one that represents Queen D. Maria II, flanked by the allegories of Wisdom and Maternity. We also highlight the bronze effigies of the 1º Duke of Palmela and the one of the Patriarch D. Guilherme as examples of the parliamentary collection that contributed to the affirmation of the prestige that this French sculptor had with the institutions of Portuguese power. In our country, he assumed the attitude of an official sculptor under the reigns of D. Pedro V and his brother D. Luís, an essential attitude to obtain commissions and which was evident, in a broad sense, in the spirit of the artists of the time. Of note is the representation of King D. Pedro V (from the collection of the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda).
Beneficial to his career was the production guaranteed by the French government and the large-scale projects that appeared in his curriculum, which attracted the attention of King-Consort D. Fernando II. What prompted him to commission a work from him, highlighting the sculpture Amor Maternal dated 1859 (today in the collection of the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda with inventory number 3463), an Amor Filial (location unknown) and a Cupid playing a lyre dated from 1860 and which appeared in the gallery of King Fernando II at the palace of Necessidades. Also within the scope of popular decorative sculpture, but adopting a popular typology, the sculpture Woman with a jar on her head stands out (also in the collection of the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda with inventory number 562) and there is news of a Varina, made in 1867 for the gallery of D. Fernando. Alongside these works of art, an Ovarina stands out, which was presented at the Porto International Exhibition of 1865, where it was acquired by Alfredo Allen. Considering these pieces, we can assume that Calmels quickly allowed himself to be imbued with the taste of the time, evidencing the influence that popular themes had on his work. Such antecedents predisposed King Luís I to order a bust (it can be found in the collection of the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda with inventory number 4087) decorated with magnificent attire which includes the uniform of an army officer, with an assertive coat, buttons with the Portuguese royal coat of arms, and a collar embroidered with oak and laurel leaves. In the collection of the same museum, the feet and hands of Queen Maria Pia are also noteworthy, who probably carved between the years of 1870 and 1889, as he also taught sculpture to the Queen. In the year of 1889, he was responsible for carrying out the inventory and evaluation of the royal sculpture collection. If we do not stop admiring his busts, which allowed him to seduce the bourgeoisie, the power, and the world of letters, not least the graceful statues he created, we must recognize that his versatility as a sculptor enabled him to supply the city of Lisbon with the sculptures for the top of the triumphal arch at Praça do Comércio. A sculptural set that exhibits a quality of an experienced sculptor that only a foreigner with his profile was able to fulfill. Artist of the absolute trust of the family of the 3rd Duchess of Palmela, he continued to work at her service, making in 1879 a bust of Alexandre Herculano for the Duke. A work that was exhibited the following year at the Sociedade Promotora de Belas-Artes. In the same year, he also presented the work A Dor, destined for the tomb of D. Pedro, son of the Duchess of Palmela who died in 1869. But it was in the last decade of the 19th century that the author created one of his most emblematic works for Dona Maria Luísa. Motivated by the premature death of her only son, the Duchess commissioned two imposing sculptures to decorate the vestibule of the Rato Palace. Returning to the 1880s theme, Calmels was responsible for the execution of a masterly Dor, en pendent with a maternity hospital, signed by Guillaume. Finally, one of the last commissions by the House of Palmela, which we believe is also one of Calmels' last works, was the sculptural decoration for the portal of the same palace. According to its layout, in 1886 the main door of the building was remade, whose project included two allegorical sculptures of Moral Force and Work, the two sculptures were only displayed in 1902. He died in March 1906 and was buried in Prazeres Cemetery in the early afternoon of March 25th.
Brief characterization of Calmels' work
The ostentatious statuettes he created reveal a plastic sense and belong to the same order of aesthetic values rooted in classicism, which appealed to a restricted circle of amateurs who were not exempt from academic conventions. Representing the last echoes of romanticism in our country, if Calmels contributed little to an update of stylistic values in Portugal, he conveyed to his students the refinement of execution that was the hallmark of his work. Ramalho Ortigão, when speaking about artistic education, recalled that, in a context where “escultores como Soares dos Reis, Simões de Almeida, Tomás Costa, Teixeira Lopes, Nunes, Duquesa de Palmela, pode-se afoitadamente dizer que há uma arte, e deve-se acrescentar que há uma escola”, a corporatism that included two of Calmels' most notable disciples.
The bust of Dom Pedro VI
At least two proofs of the plaster bust of D. Pedro IV are known, dating from 1860, and it was taken by the sculptor when the King was 23 years old. The same time when the journalist José Maria Latino Coelho (1825-1891) describes the king commenting on a drawing by Nogueira da Silva recorded for the 1st volume of the “Pitoresco Archive”: fronte juvenil onde quase já se podiam descobrir vincos precoces deixados pela assiduidade ao estudo, uma fisionomia denunciadora de hábitos de reflexão e afeição aos encargos da magistratura.” This model was presented at the Industrial Exhibition of Porto in 1861, which the monarch inaugurated, having appeared at the Universal Exhibition of Paris in 1867 Expressive enough, the monarch's face is presented on a pedestal with the king seen from the front, dressed in a charlater's uniform and without laces (unlike the bust in the PNA collection). The face is smooth and with correct features, she wears a small fluff and hair parted on the left and has a determined look. From a stylistic point of view, the influence of the Frenchman James Pradier is evident, whose bust of the Duke of Orleans (the bronze can be found in the Louvre) must be confronted.
TIAGO FRANCO RODRIGUES
Literature: AA. VV. – As Belas-artes do romantismo em Portugal, Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis, Porto Diário Ilustrado, Lisboa, nº 11:869, 25 Março 1906, p. 2. F. de Pamplona - Dicionário de pintores e escultores portugueses ou que trabalharam em Portugal. Vol. 1. Lisboa: 1954, p. 173 R. Mendonça - The reception of classical sculpture in the Lisbon Fine Arts Academy, Tese de Doutoramento em Belas Artes na Universidade de Lisboa, 2014. S. C. Saldanha - “Maria Luísa de Sousa e Holstein Beck”, in Dicionário no Feminino, Vol. II, Lisboa, Livros Horizonte. S. C. Saldanha – “Nobre ama-dora, Mulher escultora. A obra de Maria Luísa de Sousa Holstein (1841-1909)”, 3ª Condessa de Palmela”, Margens e Confluências, Nº 1, Guimarães, Escola Superior Artística do Porto. S. C. Saldanha- “Filantropia e Arte. A obra de escultura da 3ª duquesa de Palmela” in Cidade Solidária – Revista da Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa. N.º 18, Ano X.