Barthélemy Prieur (c. 1536 - 1611)
- Woman Braiding her Hair
- Paris, France
- c. 1600
- Copper alloy and varnish. Lost-wax cast.
- Height: 19 cm
- Sixteenth Century Gallery
- Initially thought to be the work of a Flemish artist influenced by Italian sculpture, a group of bronze statuettes of women caught in everyday actions, once attributed to the so-called “Master of the Genre Figures”, is now solidly ascribed to the French sculptor Barthélémy Prieur. The attribution is based on the comparison with the sculptures for the funerary monument of Anne de Montmorency in the Church of the Celestines in Paris (1570-80s), particularly for the facial features.
Prieur’s inventory après décès, published in 1949, lists a series of small-scale bronze statuettes of men and women. Although the inventory does not describe the subjects, their height is given and corresponds to that of the various surviving models. This has been cross-referenced with the 1700 inventory of Andre Le Notre who owned many casts whose description and height can be identified with the surviving bronzes and matched the details given in Prieur’s own inventory.
This cast is generally regarded as the most finely detailed of all twelve known versions of this model. The face and hair are especially finely detailed, with one of the plaits having been chased so that it cuts into the body beneath.
Prieur worked in Rome and Turin during the 1550s and 60s and the lesson of the antique, evident in his naturalistic and every-day approach to the theme of the seated nymph, is evident as much as the influence of Giambologna’s figures of women at the bath.