Neapolitan fisher boy playing with a turtle by Rude

Neapolitan fisher boy playing with a turtle by Rude
Neapolitan fisher boy playing with a turtle by Rude

This is a work in marble that the French sculptor Françoise Rudé (1784 – 1855) presented at the Salon d'Art in 1833, although two years earlier he had presented the same theme in its embryonic state in a previous material such as plaster.

The work is a magnificent example of how this artist of the Romanticism had a much more personal aspect and differentiated from the great official commissions such as the relief of La Marseillaise for the Arch of the Star of Paris or other works in the form of a monument such as the one he made in homage to Marshal Ney.

Neapolitan boy playing with a rude tortoise

Neapolitan boy playing with a turtle by Rude

Of course in these more intimate works, almost as a whim, he shows us a much freer and more picturesque creator, in the most particular aspect of romantic art that is sometimes stops at anecdotes as simple as a child playing with a turtle.

However, there are details of great interest in that anecdote. For example, the cap worn by the boy, a hat of Phrygian origin, that is, classic. While the posture could remember or be inspired in some way by the Hellenistic work of the Spinario.

The fact is that this work was one of his greatest successes, and with it he received theLegion of Honor in 1833,which undoubtedly helped him to receive later asignificant number of orders of all kinds. And this work also serves to verify that Rude was one of the most complete sculptors of his time, and that he was capable of working in various registers, from the most personal like this work to the more official with the monuments that we have already mentioned. But in addition to that he made other mythological works, portraits, and even religious art such as hissculpture of Saint Joan of Arcor a Calvary

But he also executed private commissions, such as his funerary works, where of course we see much more serious forms. An example of this other facet would be the bronze that he made inmemory of deputy Cavignac. Although, he always had as inspiration works from classical antiquityor from the Renaissance, albeit passed through the sieve of the romantic art of the first half of the 19th century.

Furthermore, we must bear in mind that Rude had the friendship of the great French painter of Neoclassicism, Jacques Louis David, author of paintings such as The Abduction of the Sabine Women or the Oath of the Horatii, who would undoubtedly show him endless models of classical art, since the neoclassical painters above all knew theGreco-Latin sculpture, as it does not have works of painting from ancient times.

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