Carrara Marble Masterpieces

From the Latvian National Museum of Art Collection

The Art Museum RIGA BOURSE

Bacchant, From the collection of: The Art Museum RIGA BOURSE
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Psyche, From the collection of: The Art Museum RIGA BOURSE
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Venus, From the collection of: The Art Museum RIGA BOURSE
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There are three Carrara marble sculptures in the central niche of the Makart hall at the Art Museum RIGA BOURSE.

Bacchante (1847) by Luigi Bienaime (1795, Carrara–1878, Florence)The Art Museum RIGA BOURSE

One of them is the "Bacchant" by the neoclassical sculptor Luigi Bieneme (1795–1878).  The “Bacchant” is lazily lying on the fur, opening the jug and is about to enjoy its contents while gazing in distance.

In Roman mythology, bacchants are the companions of Bacchus – the god of wine and viticulture. They participated in bakhanalies – a festival dedicated to Bacchus, dominated by wine, dance and music. This festival freed Bacchus' followers from fears and troubles, allowing them to feel pleasure, indulge in ecstasy and orgies.

Next to the "Bacchant" there are two sculptures by the neoclassical sculptor Pietro Tenerani (1789–1869) – “Psyche” and “Venus”.

Psyche (Mid-19th century) by Pietro Tenerani (1789, Carrara–1869, Rome)The Art Museum RIGA BOURSE

The ancient Roman writer Apuleius says that Cupid fell in love with Psyche, but his mother Venus was jealous of the girl's beauty and persecuted her. Venus sent Psyche underground after a vessel, with firm instructions not to open it, but the girl could not resist her curiosity and opened the vessel, immediately sinking into a deep sleep.

The passionate love of Psyche has inspired artists for centuries.

In creating this work, Tenerani aimed to capture the position of the body when a person becomes deeply and unexpectedly unconscious. He made several drafts, four of which were found in the sculptor's workshop and are a testament to the artist’s creative search.

The plastic shape, harmonious and majestic lines, smooth marble surface and Tenerani's characteristic style gave this sculpture great fame. It has at least seven reproductions.

VenusThe Art Museum RIGA BOURSE

In turn, the “Venus”, the goddess of love and beauty, is depicted in an unusual position. This pose allows to show the natural beauty of a woman's body, but does not reveal it frontally and directly, keeping it a secret.

Its origins can be traced back to around 250 BC, when the sculptor Doidalsas of Bithynia created the first this type of Venus and gaining great popularity. The bronze original has not been preserved, but its marble copies were created by the ancient Greeks and the Romans, therefore, to this day, about 20 sculptures have been found in various museums around the world, inspiring many 19th century artists.

Usually, when a woman was depicted in the antique world, she was portrayed standing. Here one can trace the opposite. Venus is squatting, covering the body with her hands, as if about to climb out of the water after a swim. Water plays an important role in the myths about Venus – she was born from it and returns to purity after a ritual bathing.

Bacchant, From the collection of: The Art Museum RIGA BOURSE
,
Psyche, From the collection of: The Art Museum RIGA BOURSE
,
Venus, From the collection of: The Art Museum RIGA BOURSE
Show lessRead more

The sculptures belonged to Prince Alexander Liven and were located in Bukaiši manor (Fockenhof). In 1905 the manor was burned down during the Russian Revolution, but luckily the sculptures were stored in the Provincial Museum of Courland in Mītava (now Jelgava) before this tragic event.

Bacchante (1847) by Luigi Bienaime (1795, Carrara–1878, Florence)The Art Museum RIGA BOURSE

After the Second World War, the sculptures came into the collection of the Museum of Foreign Art, but since 2010 they are in the permanent exhibition of the Art Museum RIGA BOURSE.

Credits: Story

Prepared by the Curator of the Foreign Sculpture Collection Ilana Pārstrauta, LNMA / Art Museum RIGA BOURSE
Photo: Aigars Altenbergs, Kristiāna Zelča

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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