Le Reveil (The Awakening)
Signed P. PHiLiPPE
Bronze with a brown and red patina and lighter brown highlights
Height: 29 1/2'' (75cm)
Conceived and cast circa 1920-5
Paul Philippe was a French-German sculptor born in Berlin in 1870. After spending his early years in Germany, he moved to Paris in 1900 to study at the École des Beaux-Arts under the sculptor Antonin Larroux, exhibiting at various French Salons and making his debut at the Société des Artistes Français in 1902.
Philippe continued to hone his style throughout his time studying with Larroux and became known for his female figures in mid movement, sculpting primarily in bronze, ivory and onyx. He is nowadays considered one of the fundamental figures of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements.
Before 1918, Philippe’s stylised bronzes were either cold-painted or patinated in a variety of colours, reminiscent of the style of Art Deco sculptor Claire Colinet. However, the sculptor’s most important compositions, including the present model of Le Reveil and Russian Dancer (both dating after WW1), boast more traditional patinas.
In Le Reveil, a young woman is depicted as she awakes from slumber, sensuously stretching her body. Her right arm reaches out, while the other bends as she reaches the back of her head with her hand. The figure’s back is arched while she stands on the tips of her toes, increasing the elegance of the composition. The highlights of rich brown, red and earth-like tones in the patination add to the warming, sensual presence of the figure.
Le Reveil had an incredible success with the public, leading the Austrian firm Goldscheider to issue the piece in a variety of sizes and media, such as wood, ivory, marble and bronze. While the Goldscheider models were produced on mass scale, the present bronze is likely a supervised cast by the artist. This is evident if one considers the crisp detailing in the figure’s fingers, toes, thighs and knees, and the sharpness of the signature. In addition, the lack of a foundry mark sets this cast aside from the Goldscheider ones.
Sharing similarities with the model of the Nymph Awakening by Maurice Guiraud-Rivère, Le Reveil represents a key moment in the development of the Art Deco movement between the two World Wars.