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Statuette - Orpheus and Eurydice
  • Orpheus and Eurydice
    Baur, Johann Leonhard, born 1681 - died 1760
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Orpheus and Eurydice

  • Object:

    Statuette

  • Place of origin:

    Augsburg (made)

  • Date:

    1716 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Baur, Johann Leonhard, born 1681 - died 1760 (maker)

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased under the bequest of Capt. H. B. Murray

  • Museum number:

    A.49-1926

  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 6, The Lisa and Bernard Selz Gallery, case CA6

The subject is taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Orpheus's wife Eurydice, bitten by a snake, descends into the underworld. Orpheus descends to bring her back to life and is told he must go ahead and not look back at her; he cannot resist turning round and so loses her for ever. Here the two semi-nude figures are shown with the snake at their feet. Eurydice rests her right foot on Orpheus's left thigh and embraces him with her right arm. She stands on a rocky mound with a tree stump slightly above him, and he gazes up at her. A frog is visible on the rocky base. A hole drilled into the tree stump may have been used to affix another animal, or perhaps an extra branch. Other holes are to be seen drilled into the foliage. The group is signed underneath the base with the inscription 'LEON BAUR/1716'. The figure of Eurydice in particular is reminiscent of the female nudes by Giambologna (1529-1608), such as his bronze versions of the Woman Bathing, a composition which probably dates from the 1580s. The entwined figures recall perhaps even more forcefully the bronze figure groups by Giambologna's assistant and follower, Adriaen de Vries (1556-1626), such as his Hercules, Nessus and Deianara of 1603-8.

Baur (1681-1760) practised as both a sculptor and goldsmith. He trained in Augsburg under the sculptor Joseph Höschler (Heschler) from 1695-9, and then travelled, probably spending several years in Berlin, where he may have been influenced by the work of the sculptor and wax modeller Raimund Faltz, before returning to Augsburg, where he was working as a sculptor by 1708. He carved stone sculpture, and also produced designs for silver and furniture, as well as executing small-scale reliefs in wood, based on engraved sources.

Physical description

The subject is taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Orpheus's wife Eurydice, bitten by a snake, descends into the underworld. Orpheus descends to bring her back to life and is told he must go ahead and not look back at her; he cannot resist turning round and so loses her for ever. Here the two semi-nude figures are shown with the snake at their feet. Eurydice rests her right foot on Orpheus's left thigh and embraces him with her right arm. She stands on a rocky mound with a tree stump slightly above him, and he gazes up at her. A frog is visible on the rocky base. A hole drilled into the tree stump may have been used to affix another animal, or perhaps an extra branch. Other holes are to be seen drilled into the foliage. Signed.

Place of Origin

Augsburg (made)

Date

1716 (made)

Artist/maker

Baur, Johann Leonhard, born 1681 - died 1760 (maker)

Marks and inscriptions

'LEON BAUR/1716' inscribed under the base.

In 1968 a second inscription was spotted by Charles Avery, Deputy Keeper of Architecture and Sculpture, on the back of the rocky base reading 'J. [or 'I.'] Leo:', a faint and incomplete signature for his full name
underneath

Dimensions

Height: 24.5 cm

Object history note

Bought by the Museum for £68 5s. in 1926, using funds from the bequest of Captain H.B. Murray. Christie's London, 8 July, 1926, lot 65 (Bateman-Hanbury Heirlooms, removed from Shobdon Court, Herefordshire, sold by direction of the Rt. Hon. Lord Bateman), there catalogued as 'Italian, early seventeenth century'.

Descriptive line

Figure group, ivory, Orpheus and Eurydice, by Johann Leonhard Baur, Germany (Augsburg), signed and dated 1716

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

Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1927-1929, Part II, p. 96
Victoria and Albert Museum, Review of the Principal Acquisitions During the Year 1926. London, 1927, p. 7, pl. 4
Theuerkauff, C. Johann Leonhard Baur a German 'Kleinmeister' of the baroque. Apollo. April 1986, CXXIII. no. 290, pp. 274-279
Penny, N. Catalogue of European Sculpture in the Ashmolean Museum. II. Oxford, 1992, p. 9
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013, cat. no 60

Labels and date

ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE
German (Augsburg); signed and dated 1716
Ivory
By Johann Leonhard Baur (1681-1760)
Purchased under the bequest of Capt. H. B. Murray
[1993 - 2011]

Materials

Ivory

Techniques

Carved

Categories

Access to Images; Images Online; Sculpture; Myths & Legends

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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