This pair of terracotta depicts two draped figures, each carrying a cornucopia in their arms.
The first, a female, is crowned with ears of wheat similar to those that overflow from her horn. The latter allow us to recognize under the features of this young woman the goddess Ceres, personifying here Summer, the harvest season.
Its male counterpart carries a horn filled with autumn fruits. The latter, associated with the character's youthful features and the veil pulled up over her head, designates the god of gardens and orchards Vertumnus, personifying Autumn. Indeed, this fabric alludes to the loves of the God who, to seduce the nymph Pomone, disguised himself as an old woman in order to be able to speak to her. The veil here alludes to the denouement of the story, when Vertumnus eventually decided to reveal his subterfuge at Pomona and thus "unveil" himself. Much appreciated in ancient and classical art, the figure of Vertumnus met a particular success in the garden sculpture of the Grand Siècle. Like our statuette, we find him wearing a veil in a famous version made in 1696 by François Barrois (1656-1726) from a sketch by François Girardon (1685) for the park of the Palace of Versailles.. This Vertumnus was part of a series of four terms alongside Pomone as the personification of Spring (François Barrois), Cérès in Summer (Dumont and Coustou) and Winter (Raon).
Figured on a plate from Charles de Clarac's work on the "Musée de sculpture Antique et Moderne du Louvre", this set suggests that our pair would have once been completed by two other figures, Pomone and Winter, thus forming a complete seasons cycle.
On our pair, the assertive classic profile of Vertumnus, with a powerful straight nose, as well as the softness and amiability of the faces, or even their idealized nudity, are reminiscent of the art of the academic sculptors of the second half of the 18th century, like Guillaume II Coustou (1716-1777) or his pupil Pierre Julien (1731-1804). Thus, the flourishing canon of our Cérès can echo that of the Three Graces attributed to Pierre Julien, now preserved in the collections of the Cognac-Jay museum, and the physiognomy of Vertumnus to that of his Bust of Albinus, probably made in the 1760s.
Within our group, each of the cornucopias has a hole in its upper part, suggesting that these could be projects aimed at confirming the final shape of a spectacular set of candelabra.