The Spirit of Seafaring

“ Le Génie de la Marine” by Jean Baptiste Joseph De Bay (Nantes 1802-1862 Paris) Rome, 1832
Height: 101 cm – Length: 85 cm – Width: 48 cm

“The Spirit of Seafaring” by Jean Baptiste Joseph De Bay

Impressive marble sculpture representing the allegory of the sea by depicting a Cupid braving the current in a small shell-shaped boat. He steers with an oar, sitting on a folded sail next to an anchor. Cupid’s determination to follow his own course and speed, with no desire to stop, may allude to the persistence of love against all odds.
The present marble sculpture has been partially executed and exhibited, unfinished, in Rome in 1832. It has then been sent to Paris on the 15th of June of the same year to be exhibited, still unfinished, at the Petits-Augustins in Paris.
The next year, in 1833, the sculpture was exhibited for the first time completely finished at the Paris Salon where is was immediately bought by the Amsterdam banker Mr. Hoppe.

Provenance : 

  • 1832 – Rome
  • 1832 (June) – Paris – Exhibition at the Petits-Augustins
  • 1833 – Paris – Exhibition at the Salon de Paris
  • 1833 – Amsterdam – Mr. Hoppe Collection
  • 1833 – 2010 : Private Collection

Jean Baptiste Joseph De Bay (Nantes 1802-1862 Paris) 

Known as Jean De Bay, same name as his father which was also a sculptor. Jean De Bay was born in Nantes on 31 August 1802. A pupil of his father and Baron Bosio, he entered the École des Beaux-Arts on the 22nd of December 1820. After having obtained all the medals, he won, in 1823, the second great prize for sculpture with a bas-relief, and, in 1829, the first great prize with a figure in the round, the Death of Hyacinth. He had already exhibited at the 1819 and 1827 Salons and had made bronze bas-reliefs for the church of Saint-Sulpice and two statues commissioned for Russia.
When his time as a boarder in Rome was over, he returned to Paris where, until the end of his career, he regularly sent numerous works to the Salon. He worked for the Louvre Palace, the Hôtel de Ville and the churches of Madelaine and Saint-Eustache. He is the author of the statues of General Cambronne and Marshal Oudinot, the former erected in Nantes and the latter in Bar-le-Duc. We also owe him a figure of Anne of Brittany, in the Jardin du Luxembourg, and a bronze group in the park of the Château de Compiègne. Today several of his works are preserved in the Museum of Versailles.
Jean De Bay received a first class medal in 1836 and a second class medal at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1855. He was made a knight of the Legion of Honour on the 25th of May 1851.
He died in Paris, at his home, 75, rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, on 7 January 1862, leaving some sculptures unfinished, which were finished by his brother Auguste De Bay.

Works in Museums and Castles : 

Louvre Museum
The Genius of the Hunt (inv. n° RF 149) – Bronze group.
General Baron Daumesnil – Marble bust.

Château de Versailles 
Pierre-François, marquis de Rougé, lieutenant general of the king’s armies – Marble bust.
Jean-Baptiste de Cassagnet, marquis of Tilladet,  lieutenant general of the king’s armies – Marble bust.
General Jean-Louis Debilly – Marble bust.
General Guyot de Lacour – Marble bust.

Nantes Museum of Art 
Hercules as a child suffocating the snakes sent by Juno. Marble statue.
General Cambronne – Bronze bust.

Castle of Fontainebleau
Modesty yields to Love – Marble statue.

Museum of Angers
Napoleon III – Marble statue.
Baron Tharreau – Marble bust.

Bibliography :
LAMI, S.(1916).Dictionnaire des sculpteurs de l’école française au dix-neuvième siècle.Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honoré Champion Edouard Champion, tome 2, p. 126-132.
LENORMAND, A.(1981) La Tradition classique et l’Esprit romantique. Les Sculpteurs de l’Académie de France à Rome de 1824 à 1840.

Material: White Carrara Marble

Period: 1832

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