Pair of Picault Egyptian Figures Pair of Picault Egyptian Figures Pair of Picault Egyptian Figures Pair of Picault Egyptian Figures Pair of Picault Egyptian Figures
A Pair of Parcel-Gilt Bronze, Rouge and Black Marble Figures of an Egyptian High Priest and Scribe

Cast from a model by Émile-Louis Picault, circa 1870

Each base inscribed Picault

Each: 27 in (68.5 cm) high, 7 in (17.8 cm) square
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Émile-Louis Picault (1833-1915) trained under Royer and exhibited a wide range of sculpture at the Salon between 1863 and 1909. His Egyptian subjects are among his most popular works and follow in the tradition of ethnographical decorative sculpture in France during the latter part of the 19th century.

In all of Picault’s designs for his Egyptian figures, the previous generation’s work on ancient Egypt is immediately noticeable. Picault was inspired by ethnographic findings of the mid-19th century and drew directly from ‘Egyptomania’, the vogue for recreating this era of antiquity that found expression in the performing as well as the decorative arts. For example, Picault took direct visual quotes from the set and costume designs of Pierre-Eugène Lacoste for Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida. The present figures are clearly inspired by costumes rather than historical evidence, being wonderfully detailed but historically inaccurate. The ancient statue of Antinous at Capitoline Museum in Rome may also have been an inspiration for these figures.

The popularity of such expressions of Egyptomania spread to America. For example, Tiffany & Co opened a shop in Union Square in 1870 and incorporated orientalist sculpture and design, stocking pieces by artists like Picault. Objects of this design and subject soon appeared in many estates and homes across America and Europe.

The present pair of bronzes was probably cast by Georges Émile Henri Servant, a Parisian fondeur who specialised in Egyptian Revival pieces and who was a medallist at major international exhibitions between 1867 and 1887.

Other bronzes by Picault feature in the collections of the Museum of Chambéry: Le Semur d’Idés, The Museum of Clemont-Ferrard: Hebe, and The Museum of Maubeuge: Le Devoir.