National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Neapolitan Fisherboy (Pêcheur napolitain à la coquille) Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (artist)
French, 1827 - 1875
Neapolitan Fisherboy (Pêcheur napolitain à la coquille), 1857-after 1861
marble
overall: 92 × 42 × 47 cm, 390 lb. (36 1/4 × 16 9/16 × 18 1/2 in., 176.903 kg)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
1943.4.89
Not on View
From the Tour: Marble Sculpture from France
Object 8 of 8

Carpeaux received many important public commissions, but, like other sculptors of his day, increasingly made uncommissioned works on speculation. Neapolitan Fisherboy, for example, was a subject Carpeaux had submitted in plaster to the French Academy while a student in Rome. He carved this marble version several years later, showing it eventually in the Salon exhibition of 1863. It was purchased, perhaps even before leaving Italy, for Napoleon III's empress, Eugènie. The work was enormously popular, and Carpeaux created a number of reproductions and variations in marble and bronze. Some years later, capitalizing on its success, he made the Girl with a Shell, also in the Gallery's collection, as a pendant.

Carpeaux challenged the academic tradition, which was still dominated by the influence of ancient sculpture. He sought subjects in the streets and treated them with decidedly unclassical vigor, demonstrated here in the boy's vitality, detailed anatomy, and intricately balanced pose. Carpeaux claimed that he based the Neapolitan Fisherboy on a boy he had seen during a trip to Naples, giving French audiences an exotic glimpse of the spontaneity and excitement found in Italian life.

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