Rubensesque Nude Bookends

14 Oct
Photo of Nude Bookends

Ruebensesque Bookends. Gray metal.  Height 7 inches.  The base looks like marble but is apparently soapstone.  Unmarked. Circa 1920. Usually attributed to Ronson but the soapstone base and globular footing are suggestive of the Hirsch Foundry.

Portrait of Helene Fourment, Kunsthistorisches Museum.

Het Pelsken (Portrait of Helene Fourment), Peter Paul Ruebens young wife, ca. 1638. Located in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria. If she drew back her cape she would probably look like the bookends.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and probably before then as well, heavier women were more appreciated than the slender fashion models we admire today.  Each of these bookends shows a softly-rounded lady wearing a cape and we guess she would have been very popular a few hundred years ago, and if she were even heavier she would have been even more desirable.  This lady must be from just before the nineteen twenties flapper era when the boyish figures of the flapper took over.

The lady on this bookend is reminiscent of the paintings of Peter Paul Rubens. In 1630 Rubens, in his fifties, remarried  after the death of his first wife. His second wife, Helene, a voluptuous 16 year old, became the inspiration for a number of his female figures. Click here to view The Three Graces displayed at the Prado Museum.

Ronson bookends featuring these female sculptures with a different base can be found in BOOKEND REVUE, figure 357, page 97 and in BOOKENDS: Objects of Art and Design, figure 280, page 120.  Another Ronson example can be found at Chuck DaCostas Antique Bookend Collection website.  He has labeled his example, “Woman in Flight.”

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Posted by on October 14, 2014 in Antiquity, Art Styles, Victorian


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