Gaston Choron (1931-2015), Wiesbaden. His sale, Van Ham, Köln, Germany, “Des Couturiers Gaston Choron”, 14th May 2016, lot 1539.
An extremely fine Empire gilt bronze statuette of Venus Victrix after the Antique, showing the figure of the goddess of love as a classical nude wearing ribbons in her upswept hair with her right arm held up and holding in her left hand an apple which she looks down toward. The figure standing on a circular plinth placed upon a rectangular pedestal inscribed on the front Venus Victrix and mounted on the sides with a lyre entwined and crossed by sprigs of berried laurel, the pedestal with a stepped base with a stiff leaf border
Paris, date circa 1810
Height 69 cm.
This charming statuette was as much inspired by ancient marble statues of Venus Victrix as by the many engravings after the same subject, such as one from 1734 showing the goddess of love standing in a similar pose and holding the golden apple in her hand. The apple was awarded to her as a prize by Paris after she had beaten her competitors, the deities Minerva and Juno in a beauty contest – this was the Judgement of Paris. According to myth, Jupiter gave Paris the role of judging who was the most beautiful among the three contestants. Before Paris came to his decision, bribery ensued. Juno promised Paris land and riches if he chose her. Minerva bribed him with victory in battle while Venus promised to reward him with the love of any woman he chose. She then described Helen, the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta in glowing terms, which convinced Paris to award the beauty prize of the golden apple to Venus. Paris subsequently sailed for Sparta where he succeeded in abducting Helen and took her back to Troy. This chain of events then ignited the Trojan war.
The mount on the sides of the plinth include laurel sprays since laurel was used to make a victor’s crown. Venus Victrix was the war cry that Caesar used to rally his soldiers during the Battle of Pharsalus (458 B.C.). In addition to ancient classical sculptures of Venus Victrix, the imagery was also used in later portrait sculptures such as Canova’s marble depiction of Princess Pauline Borghese (1804-8; Galleria Borghese, Rome).
It is not surprising, that this beautiful Empire statuette of Venus Victrix was acquired by the celebrated couturier Gaston Choron for he was a man of great discernment with a particular passion for classical art. This work was included in the sale of his art collection, following his death in 2015. Among the sale were a number of nineteenth century copies of famous antique statues as well as some of the finest Empire clocks, bronzes and furnishings in addition to equally fine Louis XVI pieces. Choron, who had been born at Compiègne in 1931, knew that he wanted to be a fashion designer from an early age. He was also still a boy when his mother took him to visit the Louvre and many other museums in Paris. This fired his interest in Neo-Classicism, which for him represented the ideal art. He also began to draw some of the Neo-Classical monuments of Paris such as the Madeleine and its columns. Following his youth in France, in 1949 he began a professional career in Wiesbaden, where he completed his apprenticeship with the famous fashion designer Max Zinnecker. Choron subsequently returned to Paris, where he worked for the legendary Jacques Fath. In 1964, at the age of 25, became a self-employed fashion designer in Wiesbaden, producing his own couture collection and also working for major fashion houses such as Nina Ricci in Paris, Emilio Schuberth in Rome and the Berlin tailor Alfred Fisch. Success followed which enabled Choron to pursue his passion for the arts and to amass a superb collection of fine and decorative arts, predominantly dating from the Louis XVI and Empire periods which graced his home - the Villa Nerotal at Wiesbaden.