Collecting art is one of the most enjoyable pastimes. The thrill of the hunt for your next favorite piece is matched only by the joy of watching your collection grow. Collectors tend to have two different philosophies: the encyclopedic approach and the focused approach. Those who favor encyclopedic collections will carefully select examples from the spectrum of art history so they have a dynamic timeline of periods, artists and mediums. Focused collectors hone their tastes and collect intently on just that subject.
We have a sculpture in the gallery that would be an impressive piece for both a classical or encyclopedic collection. Venus á La Tortue depicts the captivating goddess of love as she kneels in a stream accompanied by a tortoise, a classic symbol of fertility. Sculpted in beautifully polished bronze, and resting atop a base of Rouge Griotte marble and ebonized wood base, Venus embodies the idealized female with her perfectly sculpted face and delicately proportioned body. Created after the artist Antoine Coysevox (1640-1720), a similar piece is housed in the Louvre.
Coysevox was one of the most important court painters under Louis XIV, executing many official portraits for the king and court. He is known for a mix of styles – the ornate baroque admired by the king and the classical, which resonated with aristocrats who liked the association to the great Roman Empire. Like all art students of his time, Coysevox became skilled at copying classical sculptures to develop his talent. He later progressed into what would become his greatest legacy: portrait busts. His profound ability to capture both the physical likeness and the intangible ethos of his subjects won him many commissions, in addition to the king. He created the official tomb carving for the Cardinal Mazarin, now housed in the Louvre, an honor that would have only been bestowed on the preeminent artist of the period.
This statue particularly appeals to me for its still beauty. The Roman goddess Venus is one of the most captivating figures in mythology and one of the most depicted by artists of the ages. The sensuality depicted in this sculpture is subtle, certainly an influence from Coysevox who used nuance as one his greatest tools. Classical sculptures like this one bring new understandings each time they are viewed, and this is certainly the case with Venus á La Tortue. Every time I present Venus to clients in the gallery, I am drawn to new elements, whether it’s her soft musculature, the lovely drapery or the detailed adornments.
If you are in the New Orleans area, I invite you to come see this lovely depiction of Venus. You can also view this sculpture and the rest of our collection here.