(1845, Saint-Jean-de-Fos - 1881, Saint-Maur-des-Fossés)
Allegory of Sculpture and Painting
Oil on canvas
H. 150 cm; L. 114 cm
Around 1880 This large painting is probably a tapestry project, or a woodwork decoration for a beautiful mansion, possibly in the Plaine Monceau. It is typical of this decorative painting as practiced by artists such as Pierre-Victor Galland, François Ehrmann, or even Alexis-Joseph Mazerolle. Two terms with female figures, of Mannerist inspiration, frame the central composition, inscribed in a box simulated by a laurel torus forming a frame with two lobes, itself surmounted by a medallion representing a profile of the goddess Athena, protector Arts. Sculpture and Painting are personified here by two young women, each accompanied by the instruments of their art: a hammer and a compass for Sculpture, a palette and a canvas on which a cherub is drawn for Painting. This one seems, moreover, in the competition between the two arts, to prevail, as suggested by her standing and dominant pose. In the corners are inscribed the names of famous artists of ancient Greece. On the left, the sculptors Praxiteles, active in the 4th century BC. JC) and Phidias (spelled, probably mistakenly, PhYdias), active in the 5th century BC. JC. On the right the painter Apelles, active in the 4th century BC. JC, and another unidentifiable one: Xeut…?
Student of Tissier, Cabanel and Cogniet, Hérault Oscar-Pierre Mathieu was an academic painter specializing in portraits and subjects of ancient and biblical history, which he exhibited at the Salon between 1864 and 1881, several of which were acquired by state to be placed in public buildings. Its decoration of the ceiling of the marriage room of the town hall of Clichy can, in its invoice, be closer to our painting.