The Elements Paying Tribute to Friendship (Les Élements rendant homage a l'Amitié)

Louis-Simon Boizotabout 1783

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

The identities of the allegorical figures in this marble relief are suggested by the worlds they inhabit--a swirling mix of clouds, flames, waves, and earth. Together they represent the four elements paying tribute to Friendship. To the left, Friendship, who wears a wreath of myrtle, stands on a pedestal with her arm wrapped around an elm tree stump. Cybele, who personifies Earth, leans over two kneeling lions. Triton and Nereid emerge from the sea, representing Water. Zephyr, the Wind, reaches toward Jupiter--who, in the form of an eagle, holds a bolt of lighting that symbolizes Fire.

In this sculpture, Louis-Simon Boizot varied the depth of carving to simulate space and physical presence. The foreground--the lions and Cybele, Nereid with her offering of sea treasures--pops forward. The sky with Zephyr and Jupiter, the drapery behind Friendship, and even the lions' rear ends, appear to recede into the background. Considering that the depth of this relief is less than three inches, the illusion of dimensionality is remarkable. The frame carved as part of the sculpture, and the fact that the figures don't protrude beyond it, however, evokes two-dimensional media such as painting.

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  • Title: The Elements Paying Tribute to Friendship (Les Élements rendant homage a l'Amitié)
  • Creator: Louis-Simon Boizot
  • Date: about 1783
  • Location Created: France
  • Physical Dimensions: 43 x 53.2 x 6.5 cm (16 15/16 x 20 15/16 x 2 9/16 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Marble
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Object Type: Sculpture
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 2003.1
  • Display Location: Currently on view at: Getty Center, Museum West Pavilion, Gallery W101
  • Department: Sculpture & Decorative Arts
  • Culture: French
  • Classification: Sculpture