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Statuette - Small girl with finger at her mouth
  • Small girl with finger at her mouth
    Lücke, Johann Christian Ludwig von, born 1703 - died 1780
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Small girl with finger at her mouth

  • Object:

    Statuette

  • Place of origin:

    Germany (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1753 - ca. 1755 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Lücke, Johann Christian Ludwig von, born 1703 - died 1780 (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ivory

  • Museum number:

    A.16-1954

  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery, case 9

The small girl or baby is shown in a long gown with a bow at her neck, and wearing a small bonnet topped by a bow. She rests her left finger on her chin. The figure, like its pendant (Museum no. A.17-1954) is fully carved at the back, the clothes being doubled up behind her. These pieces have been convincingly attributed to Johann Christoph Ludwig Lücke. They relate most closely to his partly painted ivory figure of Prince Frederick of Denmark (1753-1805), who is shown as a baby in swaddling clothes, wearing the Order of the Elephant, and to an ivory swaddled baby mounted in ormolu formerly in a private English collection, and now lost, as well as to a Vienna porcelain box in the form of a swaddled baby.

This ivory and its pendant have been seen as a playful doll-like parody of representations of the Laughing and Weeping Philosophers, Democritus and Heraclitus. Lücke executed pairs of these in a different materials, including steatite. However this girl is not laughing, but pensive; even the fact that she is female seems to contradict the idea of a direct parallel with the ancient philosophers. Her finger at her mouth suggests she is requesting silence, and since she is paired with the yelling baby (probably a little boy), Museum no. A.17-1954, it seems likely that the meaning of this piece is a representation of restraint and temperance, as opposed to uncontrolled anger and frustration. It is notable that she lies unswaddled, whereas her partner is tightly bound to prevent him misbehaving.

Physical description

This statuette represents a baby-girl with a finger in her mouth. The small girl or baby is shown in a long gown with a bow at her neck, and wearing a small bonnet topped by a bow. She rests her left finger on her chin. The figure, like its pendant, cat. no. A.17-1954, is fully carved at the back, the clothes being doubled up behind her.

Place of Origin

Germany (made)

Date

ca. 1753 - ca. 1755 (made)

Artist/maker

Lücke, Johann Christian Ludwig von, born 1703 - died 1780 (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques

Ivory

Dimensions

Height: 15.24 cm

Object history note

Provenance - Bought for £55, together with cat. no.A. 17-1954 from M. Hakim, 33 Cranbourn Street, Leicester Square, London in 1954. Said to have been formerly in the collection of Earl Fitzwilliam, presumably William Henry Lawrence Peter Wentworth-FitzWilliam, 8th Earl FitzWilliam (1910-1948) of Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire.
These pieces have been convincingly attributed to Johann Christoph Ludwig Lücke. They relate most closely to his partly painted ivory figure of Prince Frederick of Denmark (1753-1805), who is shown as a baby in swaddling clothes, wearing the Order of the Elephant (Hein 2000, cat. no. 58 on pp. 88-9), and to an ivory swaddled baby mounted in ormolu formerly in a private English collection, and now lost, as well as to a Vienna porcelain box in the form of a swaddled baby (Theuerkauff 1982, p. 23, figs. 7, 8 and 11). A pair of comparable silhouetted ivory reliefs against a black background also showing a crying boy and a small girl is in the Grünes Gewölbe in Dresden.

Historical context note

This ivory and its pendant have been seen as a playful doll-like parody of representations of the Laughing and Weeping Philosophers, Democritus and Heraclitus. Lücke executed pairs of these in a different materials, including steatite (see Trusted 2007, pp. 102-3, pl. 179; see also Theuerkauff 1982, figs. 22-5). However this girl is not laughing, but pensive, and even the fact that she is female seems to contradict a direct parallel with the subject of the ancient philosophers. Her finger at her mouth suggests she is requesting silence, and since she is paired with the yelling baby (probably a little boy), cat. no. A.17-1954, it seems likely that the meaning of this piece is a representation of restraint and temperance, as opposed to uncontrolled anger and frustration. It is notable that she lies unswaddled, whereas her partner is tightly bound to prevent him misbehaving.

Rasmussen also suggested these representations are secular versions of the Christ child; however this does not sufficiently explain why they were produced as a pair. He proposed in addition that they were made while Lücke was in London (from 1757-60). There is no strong evidence to support this, and it seems more probable that they are roughly contemporary with the ivory Prince Frederick as a baby, which is likely to date from 1753-5. The cap the little girl wears can be compared with that worn by the young woman in the Bode Museum, Berlin (Theuerkauff 1986, cat. no. 53 on pp. 199-200).

Descriptive line

Statuette (one of a pair), ivory, small girl with finger at her mouth, by Johann Christian Ludwig von Lücke, Germany, ca. 1753-5

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Theuerkauff, Christian, ed. Elfenbein, Sammlung Reiner Winkler, Vol I, 1984, p. 82
Trusted, Marjorie, ed. The Making of Sculpture. The Materials and Techniques of European Sculpture. London: 2007, pp. 102-3, pl. 179
Theuerkauff, Christian, ‘Johann Christoph Ludwig Lücke - “Ober-Modell-Meister und Inventions-Meister” in Meissen, “Ober-Direktor” zu Wien. II’, in: Alte und Moderne Kunst, XXVII, 183, 1982, pp. 21-32
Rasmussen, Jörg, Barockplastik in Norddeutschland, Hamburg: Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, 1977.
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013, cat. no. 77

Labels and date

TWO BABIES
German; middle of the 18th century
Ivory
By Johann Christoph Ludwig Von Lücke (b. 1705; d. 1780)

[1993 - 2011]

Materials

Ivory

Subjects depicted

Bonnet; Baby

Categories

Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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