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Work Beatrice, Laura, and Vittoria Colonna

Department of Sculptures: France, 19th century

Beatrice, Laura and Vittoria Colonna

© 2001 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

France, 19th century

Valérie Montalbetti

Ferdinand Philippe, Duke of Orleans, elder son of King Louis-Philippe and renowned patron of the arts, shared a passion for the Italian Renaissance with sculptor Henri de Triqueti. At the duke's request, Triqueti sculpted a veritable monument to the glory of Italy, its poetry, and its famous women: a historiated bronze vase, and a bronze and marble pedestal, whose niches were adorned with three statuettes which have recently been acquired by the Louvre.

A pedestal with three niches

These three statuettes probably adorned the niches of the pedestal designed by Triqueti in 1838 to support the large bronze vase commissioned in 1836 by the Duke of Orleans. The vase, decorated with reliefs to the glory of Dante and Petrarch, has not been found. The general form of the pedestal seems inspired by that of Benvenuto Cellini's Perseus (Florence); the details are evocations of Italian monuments. Triqueti's preparatory drawings (now in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts) demonstrate the sculptor's hesitations with regard to the design of the pedestal and the choice of the third famous woman. The definitive composition of the trio was confirmed when the three figurines (with tenons at the back to attach them into the niches) appeared on the art market. The sculptor chose Vittoria Colonna after having considered Lenonora d'Este and Maria d'Aquino (illegitimate daughter of Robert d'Anjou and muse of Boccaccio, who addressed her in his sonnets as Fiammetta).

Three esteemed women

Dante was inspired by Beatrice Portinari, a 13th-century Florentine lady with whom he fell in love after meeting her when he was nine years old, and whom he celebrated in his writings. In the Divine Comedy, she played the role of his intercessor in the quest for Salvation. With her head to one side and her hand holding back her veil, she is reminsicent of Simone Martini's Virgin of the Annunciation (Florence, Uffizi), but she has real sensuality, with long hair flowing loose (as in a portrait of Mary Magdalene), with transparent drapery hugging the curves of her body. Laure de Noves was the poet Petrarch's muse. He was inspired with a lifelong Platonic love for her after their meeting in Avignon church on February 6, 1327, and he sang her praises in his Canzionere. Images of saints from the 14th century were Triqueti's inspiration for this pure, gentle figure with its simple attire and hairstyle.
The poetess Vittoria Colonna, beloved by Michelangelo, was a major figure of the Italian Renaissance. She never recovered from her husband's death, but sublimated her unhappiness with a quest for mystical perfection. Michelangelo came into vogue in the 1830s, which may have influenced the choice of Vittoria. Triqueti portrayed her as an elegant and sophisticated woman, gracefully posed with one hand on her heart, the other holding her mantle.

A poetic re-creation

The Piedmontese sculptor Triqueti produced a poetic evocation of the first Italian Renaissance, which he greatly admired. When the Duke of Orleans met with an untimely death (after a carriage accident), Triqueti was asked to make the recumbent statue for his funerary chapel at Neuilly (funerary portrait of the duke now in the Louvre).


Un âge d’or des arts décoratifs 1814-1848, cat. expo. Grand Palais, Paris, 1991, p.357.
Isabelle Leroy-Jay Lemaistre, « Des sculpteurs et des bronziers », in Le Mécénat du duc d’Orléans 1830-1842, cat. expo. DAAVP, Paris, 1996, pp.128-132.
Isabelle Leroy-Jay Lemaistre, « Nouvelles acquisitions du département des sculptures (1996-2001) », Paris, 2002, n°40 à 42, pp.89-93.

Technical description

  • Henri de TRIQUETI (Conflans, 1804 - Paris, 1874)

    Beatrice, Laura and Vittoria Colonna


  • Bronze (sand cast)

    H. 0.38 m; W. 0.11 m; D. 0.11 m

  • 2000

    R.F. 4658, R.F. 4659, R.F. 4660

  • Sculptures

    Richelieu wing
    Ground floor
    Room 226
    Display case 8

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