Time Ravishing Youth and Beauty, Ivory, German or Austrian

Time Ravishing Youth and Beauty

first half 18th century
German or Austrian
H. 11-3/16 in. (28.4 cm.)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Blumka Gallery, Alexis Gregory, and Alexis Gregory Foundation Gifts, and Promised Gift of Alexis Gregory, 1998
Accession Number:
Not on view
This remarkably ambitious allegorical carving presents the morose and grizzled winged figure of Time in the act of seizing the voluptuous open-mouthed Beauty, leaving behind her wanly protesting companion, Youth. The animated spirit of the group, the sinuous beauty of its intricate composition, and the enchanting characterizations of its principal actors rivet the onlooker's attention in an extraordinary fashion, given the group's small scale. During the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries in Germany and Austria a few virtuoso ivory workers delighted in the challenge of extracting intricate compositions from a single precious tusk, delineating minute anatomical features with exquisite precision. Here the carver has also exploited the natural texture of the ivory grain to stress the contrast of bony old fingers against youthful flesh and to evoke the nervous texture of hair. The composition derives from a large lates eventeenth-century sculpture at Versailles representing Boreas and Orithyia. However, in altering its subject to express a melancholy fact of life, the artist has transformed the character of the group, couching its evident eroticism in a quasi-moralizing guise.
Alexis Gregory , New York ; [ sale, Christie's, London , July 16, 1980; lot 27 ] ; [ sale, Sotheby's, London , December 11, 1986; lot 360 ] ; [ Blumka Gallery , New York, until 1998; sold to MMA ]