C1900 French Bronzed Speltre Sculpture of Two Girls

$650.00 the charming sculpture


Standing 37 cm tall, and 22.5 cm wide, this antique bronzed speltre statue of two young girls stands on a Belgian Black Slate plinth. The figure is probably French. There was a foundry medallion on the piece originally, which would have been most helpful, but it has fallen out and replaced by a Spanish one paseta coin. The girls appear to be fascinated by an olive branch, while they have abandoned a (horticultural?) book on the ground. The modelling is deft and confident and the finish a soft golden brown patina. The sculpture is very similar to several by Mathurin Moreau.

The girls are much cleaner and shinier now they have had a good bath. My auction receipt lists them as bronze, but they are speltre, a white metal, mostly zinc, that is much, much more easily cast than bronze. The advent of electroplating in the 1840s made speltre a popular material as it could be gold or silver plated, or plated in copper that could be oxidised to simulate bronze. While speltre is much less durable and hardy that bronze, it is also much cheaper, and often more detailed. Unlike recalcitrant bronze, which needs expensive hand finishing after casting, speltre arrives out of the mould almost perfectly formed. Speltre is usually about 25% of the cost of an identical looking bronze, which increases a decorative budget fourfold!

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