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Pythian Sibyl

Marcello (Duchesse de Castiglione-Colonna, born Adèle d'Affry), Swiss, 1836 - 1879

Made in Paris, France, Europe

After 1869-1870


Height: 31 1/2 inches (80 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Fiske Kimball Fund and the Marie Kimball Fund, 1973

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Like the contemporary writer George Sand, Adèle d'Affry, widow of the Duke of Castiglione-Colonna, gave her name a sexual shift when she exhibited and signed her work "Marcello." She was one of the most celebrated women artists of her day, receiving several commissions from the French state during the Second Empire (1852-70) and exhibiting regularly at the Paris Salon. Her artistic biases were very much those of her close friend Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux with sixteenth-century Italian sculpture, particularly that of Michelangelo, as their standard. Marcello often did figures of heroic women, and in the 1870 Salon showed a Pythian Sibyl, one of the mythical seers of antiquity. Charles Garnier commissioned it in bronze at twice the size of life for his new opera house in Paris, where it is placed as if in a grotto, the snakes and lizards rising up from a pool of water that casts an eerie up-light on the twisting figure. This bronze is a reduction of the one in the Paris Opéra. Joseph J. Rishel, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 194.