This work by the French sculptor Louis Ernest Barrias (1841 – 1905) is currently in the Orsay Museum in Paris.
It is a work whose title of Nature revealing itself to Science, already tells us that it is an allegorical figure, with its symbolism that is captured here in a very descriptive.
Nature reveals itself to the science of Barrias
Literally we see how Nature is going to undress, and therefore reveal itself as it is before science. An allegory in which the sculptor has resorted to the female form, as had been done for centuries, although Barrias to make the figure he has used various materials, many of them quite expensive and also difficult to work with. And it is that in this sculpture there is marble, but also onyx, granite and even precious stones such as malachite or lapis lazuli. With this, the artist achieves different qualities in his work, and of course gives a colorful touch to the sculpture.
Louis Ernest Barrias is a very characteristic artist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (this work was done in 1899). A moment in which many trends come together, and in some way the most conservative movements and others that are much more renovating face each other.
However, if Barrias's art had to be qualified in any way, that would surely belike that of a very precious artist. We can appreciate that taste for precious detail in any of the elements of this work, from the posture itself to the finish. And even if we compare him with other contemporary sculptors like Auguste Rodinhimself, he can be described as somewhat mannered, something that was already done in his time. However, any sculptor can look like one compared to the great Rodin.
On the other hand, many of his works, including this one, can be ascribed to aSymbolist current, which is always very close to the most literary Symbolism, because the His creations are characterized by having a lot of plot. And he does all of this with a solid classical education, since his father was a neoclassical painter, and Barrias began his career in that style and artistic discipline. Although, he soon turned to sculpture.
As a sculptor he was soon influenced by the art of Jean Baptiste Carpeaux, the author of the work The Dance which was initially placed in the Paris Opera, where by the way Barrias also worked as a young man.
In short, Barrias was a peculiar sculptor who made his own artistic evolution throughout the second half of the 19th century and enjoyed a certain prestige, in fact in the last years of his life he was part of theNational Museum Council.