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Auguste Clésinger (1814-1883) - Phryne in front of the Areopagus


Ref : TA2100104 Category


Jean-Baptiste Clésinger also known as Auguste Clésinger
Besançon, 1814 – Paris, 1883

“Phryne in front of the Areopagus”

Carrare marble
Signed : J Clésinger
Dated : 1875
Height : 171 cm

Phryne (in ancient greek Φρύνη, literally “toad”, because of her yellowish skintone) is a hetaira, famous greek courtesan of the 6th century BCE. Born in Mnesarete (” the one who remember the virtue”) in Thespiae, in Boeotia, she goes to Athens where she become a hetaira. She will have as lovers many men, the most distinguished of this time. The sculptor Praxiteles who, according to Athenaeus and Pliny the elder, used her for his model of Aphrodite of Cnidus. Athenaeus add the paintor Apelles, who used her as his model for Aphrodite Anadyomene.
She’s famous for her high prices, according to the comical poet Machon. the scholiast of v. 149 of Ploutos of Aristophane talk about a price of 10 000 drachmes, a talent. Still according to Machon, her prices varies as her moods She acumulated riches, accorditing to Callistrate she had offer to build the walls of Thebes. The offer was refused
She’s the organizer of a religious brotherhood devoted to the cult of the god Isodaetes. She’s accused by one of her lover of introducing a foreign deity in Athens and to corrupt the young girls. She’s defended by Hyperide one of her lover. According to Athenaeus he knew that it was a lost cause and had riped the tunic of Phryne revealing to the heliastae her chest : she’s acquitted and transported in triumph in the temple of Aphrodite.
According to Elien, the Greeks had erect on a column, in Delphi, a statue of Phryne. Athenaeus of Naucratis precise that it’s the work of Praxiteles Plutarc says that it’s the work of Praxiteles in the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi.
(Bibliography :

Provenance :
2017: Tibermont Gallery (Paris)
1914-2017 : Mr. Rives collection (France)
1923: acquisition by Mr. Rives in the sale of the Clésinger workshop in the Drouot hotel of Paris
1916 -1923: Mr. Jean de Gourmont collection by inheritance (France)
1883-1916: Ms. Berthe de Courrière by inheritance (France)
1874-1883: Jean-Baptiste Clésigner (France)

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