Friday, November 12, 2010

Object of the Day: “Voix Celeste” by Rancoulet

Voix Celeste (The Celestial Voice) was sculpted by French artist Ernest Rancoulet in 1880. Once again, Rancoulet shows his enormous talent in depicting the female form. The figure is a woman in flowing robes (one of Rancoulet’s specialties) who leans upon a crescent moon, her feet comfortably resting on an undulating cloud. She is the voice of the heavens as she extends her hand outward toward the earth. Her face—just about to speak—is peaceful with wide eyes and a hopeful countenance. We’ll never know what glorious message she’s bringing, but in bringing it, she reminds us that something lovely always exists, often within reach.

Signed by Rancoulet on the front of the moon-shape, this sculpture was painted white—covering its original bronzed finish. As tastes changed, many spelter sculptures such as this one were painted. In the 1920’s and 1930’s when bronze-finishes were considered “old fashioned,” these objects were frequently altered. In this case, the attempt was to make the piece resemble marble or parian. I’ve long debated whether to strip her of her coating of white paint. My conclusion is that doing so might damage the piece. I think she’s lovely as she is.

No comments: