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Saint Mary Magdalene, a marble medallion after Etienne Le Hongre
Saint Mary Magdalene, a marble medallion after Etienne Le Hongre  - Sculpture Style Louis XIV Saint Mary Magdalene, a marble medallion after Etienne Le Hongre  -
Ref : 93243
Period :
18th century
Artist :
(probablement d'après) Etienne Le Hongre
Provenance :
Medium :
Dimensions :
l. 13.58 inch X H. 16.34 inch
Sculpture  - Saint Mary Magdalene, a marble medallion after Etienne Le Hongre
Stéphane Renard Fine Art

Old master paintings and drawings

+33 (0) 61 46 31 534
Saint Mary Magdalene, a marble medallion after Etienne Le Hongre

This high relief shows strong similarities to Etienne Le Hongre’s reception piece at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, which is now kept in the Notre-Dame Church in Versailles. While the suppleness of this sculpture evokes the Italian workshops frequented by Le Hongre before his arrival in Paris, the use of marble (and not terracotta, as was generally the case for the modelli) indicates that it is an independent artwork. It has not been possible, however, to determine whether this marble is an early work by Etienne Le Hongre, or a later interpretation of his reception piece, executed in a reduced format, by one of the Academy's students.

1. Etienne Le Hongre

Etienne Le Hongre was admitted to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1653, after his apprenticeship in the workshop of the sculptor Jacques Sarazin (1592 - 1660), and a three-year sojourn in Italy. He was finally admitted to the Academy in 1667 after the presentation of a marble high-relief featuring Saint Mary Magdalene.

From 1660 onwards, he became "ordinary sculptor of the King's buildings" and took part in almost all of Louis XIV's decorative projects (the Louvre, the Tuileries, Fontainebleau, the Versailles labyrinth, etc.). The last decade of his career was mainly devoted to the creation of sculptures for the gardens of Versailles, as well as to an equestrian statue for the Place Royale in Dijon, which was destroyed during the Revolution.

2. Description of the artwork

This high relief reflects a traditional representation of Mary Magdalene, identified as the sinner who came to anoint the feet of Jesus during his meal at Simon the Pharisee’s home in Bethany: she is depicted naked, with long untied hair behind which she tries to hide her chest. On her left is her most frequent and oldest attribute, the nard vase that will be broken to anoint Jesus' feet.

The 1667 reception piece was kept in the Royal Academy's staircase in the Louvre until 1815. In 1815, it was transferred to Versailles, along with other medallions presenting religious subjects, to decorate the aisles of Notre-Dame Church.

We have not found a good quality reproduction of this medallion which is difficult to photograph, as it was placed high on a poorly lit pillar. The comparison between a photo we took of the reception piece and the one of our high-relief is very interesting: in our high relief the size of the head and the rest of the body is slightly disproportionate (partly due to the photographic shot, which was taken from a different angle to that of the medallion in Notre-Dame). However, it is full of life and sensuality, whereas the reception piece is much colder and more academic. The treatment of the hair, in particular, seems far superior, enveloping the entire figure in an undulating flow, whereas the Saint's left shoulder is uncovered in the 1667 piece.

Our high-relief is also very close to a terracotta modello acquired a few years ago by the Lille Museum of Fine Arts, which represents Dido killing herself. In this terracotta medallion, the very supple treatment of the draperies is particularly close to the one we are presenting.

It was not customary for sculptors to make marble modelli, and it seems legitimate to assert that this high-relief is an autonomous artwork, with marked differences from the medallion of 1667.

An attractive hypothesis would be an earlier work, produced by the young sculptor during his stay in Italy, a sort of in nucleo of his reception piece which was produced a dozen years later. In the absence of any inventory supporting this hypothesis, the most likely alternative is that it was crafted later, during the end of the 17th century or the early 18th century, by another student of the Academy where Le Hongre’s sculpture was exhibited.

Delevery information :

The prices indicated are the prices for purchases at the gallery.

Depending on the price of the object, its size and the location of the buyer we are able to offer the best transport solution which will be invoiced separately and carried out under the buyer's responsibility.

Stéphane Renard Fine Art


Marble Sculpture Louis XIV