Description In antiquity, sculptors often depicted Venus bathing or doing her hair. During the Renaissance, a bathing woman (not always Venus) was again a popular subject for small bronzes. It offered the male collector the voyeuristic pleasure of gazing at an unclothed woman who is unaware of being observed. Giambologna created famous small bronzes of this type with gracefully elongated bodies. Barthelemy Prieur, the sophisticated "Sculptor to the King" to Henry IV of France, was influenced by them but created statuettes in a more intimate format, depicting different moments of a woman's personal toilette in naturalistic poses. Conceived for the private enjoyment of the collector, they invite one's touch with their smooth curving backs. Groupings of these figures in 17th-century inventories suggest they were collected in "sets." "Woman Combing Her Hair" is not as well finished as the other two and is not from the same set.
Provenance Henry Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters
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