This alluring bust sculpture portrays Suzanne Reichenberg, a renowned actress of the 19th century, who was considered the queen of ingénue roles in the theatre from 1870 to 1900. A close acquaintance of Georges Clemenceau, a prominent figure in the theatrical life of the time, Reichenberg’s charm and talent caught the attention of many (Clemenceau, Michel Winock, Éditions Perrin Collection Tempus, chap. VII, p. 137).
The celebrated author, Marcel Proust, described her in 1894 as “all grace, dressed in pale pink and wearing a large white hat covered with large pink feathers” (Essais et articles, Collection Folio essais (n°236) Éditions Gallimard, p. 362-363). She even features in his magnum opus, “In Search of Lost Time”, where she is depicted reciting verses before the king, an unprecedented event in social gatherings (Le côté de Guermantes, II, Chapter two).
The artist behind this exquisite sculpture is Jules Franceschi (1825 – 1893), a French sculptor by naturalisation, born in Bar-sur-Aube on January 11, 1825, and deceased in Paris on September 1, 1893. Franceschi initially studied in Besançon before joining the atelier of François Rude in Paris.
Franceschi’s remarkable talent led to numerous public commissions. He created pieces for the Louvre, including the north side of the Flore wing: History (accompanied by two bas-reliefs); the north side of the States Pavilion: Science; and the north side of the Flore Pavilion, a Pediment (commissioned by Lefuel after the fire of the Tuileries). Other notable works include De Fourcroy (Paris City Hall), Saint Sulpice (Saint-Sulpice Churches), Saint Paul (Saint-François-Xavier), and Painting (Luxembourg Garden).
Renowned for his portraiture, Franceschi sculpted many busts of eminent figures, including Eugène Delacroix, Baroche, Sophie Croizette, Gounod, Mme Krauss, Mme Carvalho, Régnier, Mme Worms-Baretta, and Émile Augier. His contributions to the art world were recognized with his appointment as a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1874.
The “Buste de Mademoiselle Reichenberg” stands at a height of 86 cm and a width of 23 cm. It is masterfully carved from fine white Carrara marble, bearing the signature “J. Franceschi”, a testament to the artist’s skill and craftsmanship.
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