Barthélemy Prieur (c. 1536 - 1611)
- Two Women Wrestling
- Paris, France
- c. 1600
- Copper alloy and varnish
- Height: 21.9 cm
Width: 10.15 cm, at outer feet
- Sixteenth Century Gallery
Images & Media
- Formerly thought to represent Diana and Callisto, this group has been linked to a series of small-scale genre figures previously thought to be the work of a Flemish artist influenced by Italian sculpture, and now attributed to the French sculptor Barthélemy Prieur (see also S128 and S129). Numerous casts of this model survive, ours being one of the finest. Although the subject remains hard to identify, the struggle between the two female figures offers a brilliant opportunity to study their anatomy and reveals the influence of the Antique. A drawing of the group by Saint Aubin describes the composition as “d’après l’antique”.
The attribution to Prieur is based on comparison with known works by this artist, particularly the funerary monument of Anne de Montmorency in Paris (1570-80s), for the facial features and body type of the women. Stylistic comparison with the smooth limbs and small heads of the other female statuettes and groups once attributed to the so-called Master of the Genre Figures, suggest that this model belongs to the same hand.
The group can be seen in a watercolour by Olof Fridsberg entitled Ulla Tessin in her Study (1763, National Museum Stockholm). A cast very close to ours is also kept in the same museum and is documented in the collection of Gustav Tessin in 1757. As ambassador and royal art dealer, Tessin was very familiar with the Parisian art market, which also supports the idea of a French origin for the model.
Prieur was a gifted bronze sculptor and his inventory après décès, published in 1949, listed a series of small-scale bronze statuettes of men and women as well as numerous functional objects in the classicising style.