French Bronze Amalthea and Jupiter’s Goat Barbedienne

Amalthea and Jupiter’s Goat (after Pierre Julien)

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    Cast by Barbedienne et A. Collas

    From our Sculpture collection, we are pleased to offer a French Bronze Figure of Amalthea and Jupiter’s Goat cast by Barbedienne. The Bronze beautifully cast after the original by Pierre Julien (1731-1804) named “Amalthée et la chèvre de Jupiter”  was executed by the renowned Ferdinand Barbedienne foundry during the last quarter of the 19th century and is featured in their 1886 catalogue as Baigneuse. It features the Goat-tending nymph Amalthea with Jupiter’s (Zeus) Goat. It was offered in five sizes: 86 cm for 1050 francs, 69 cm for 600 francs, 52 cm for 350 francs, 43 cm for 250 francs and 34 cm for 200 francs. The figure is signed to the front F. Barbedienne. Fondeur and to the rear with the A. Collas seal dating to the late 19th century circa 1890. The model depicted is the middle size measuring 52cm originally retailing for 350 francs which converts to approximately £45 British Pounds.

    Amalthea & Jupiters Goat The goat of Amalthea is a divine goat that fed the baby Jupiter (Zeus) with its milk. Its name is translated from ancient Greek and means “gentle goddess.” The legend begins with Zeus’ father, Kronos. It was told that Kronos swallowed up all his newly born children in fear of losing his power. His wife (Zeus’ mother) Rhea suffered greatly from the loss and when the next child was born, she slipped a stone wrapped in diapers to Kronos instead of the baby, Zeus. Kronos unknowingly swallowed the stone and so the baby had to go into hiding. Rhea hid him on the island of Crete in the cave of Mount Ida. This was where a goat (Amalthea/Amaltheas Goat) saved the life of the future supreme god. She produced two ‘kids’ and fed Zeus with the abundance of milk that came with pregnancy. Amalthea was said to have baby Zeus in a cradle on a tree so that he could not be found on the ground, in the sky, or in the sea if Kronos searched for him.

    Zeus was extremely fond of his saviour and Amalthea received from him a golden dog who guarded her until her death. Further to the dog, an accidentally broken goat’s horn became a cornucopia and the legend of the goat Amalthea became the source of the phraseologist from the myths of ancient Greece, where the “cornucopia” term is used. The legend says that the one who held the cornucopia in his hands could get everything he wanted. It is a symbol of abundance and nourishment, depicted as a large horn-shaped container overflowing with produce, flowers, or nuts.

    Amaltheas Goat served Zeus even after death. According to the ancient Greek mythology the god used her unusually healthy skin for the shield during the war with the titans. Covering his shield with Amalthea’s skin, it made Zeus invincible and under the auspices of his protection, he began to fight with the titans. Thus, another popular expression, “under the auspices,” appeared. There is two parallel stories of Amalthea and Jupiters goat, according to another version Amalthea was not a goat, but a mountain nymph to which this goat belonged as seen in the sculpture above.

    Ferdinand Barbedienne (1810-1892) Born in Saint-Pierre-en-Auge, Northwestern France. Barbedienne began life as a wallpaper salesman before going into partnership with Achille Collas in 1838 the founder of a mechanical device capable of replicating miniature models of famous sculptures. From 1838 Barbedienne grew substantially to become one of the most well known French founders and sculptures of the 19th century. See our article Insight | Ferdinand Barbedienne for further information.

    Achille Collas(1795–1859) Born in Paris, France. He was an a celebrated engineer, inventor, writer and engraver who developed a way of mechanically creating engravings and a machine to copy sculptures at a smaller scale, the so-called Réduction Méchanique, which popularised small sculptures and has been credited with being almost entirely responsible for the transformation of the bronze industry.

    Ormolu is the technique of applying finely ground, high-carat gold–mercury amalgam to an object of bronze. The mercury is driven off in a kiln leaving behind a gold coating. The French refer to this technique as bronze doré and in English it is often referred to as gilt bronze. It is a finishing technique which adds an overall gold look to any object without the massive cost and impracticality of making an object out of solid gold. Mercury was outlawed in the 1830’s in France however it was still used until the early 1900s.

    Bronze is a metal alloy consisting of copper, about 12% tin and often other metals such as aluminium, manganese, nickel, or zinc and sometimes, non-metals such as phosphorus, arsenic and, silicon. The additions produce a range of alloys that are harder than copper alone and often have other useful properties such as strength, ductility, and/or machinability.

    Measurements  52cm x 31cm x 23cm  (20.5 x 12.2 x 9 Inches)

    Condition Excellent antique condition

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    Additional information




    Bronze, Ormolu


    Late 19th Century, 19th Century


    Circa 1890


    Ferdinand Barbedienne, Achille Collas