Mythological French bronze sculpture “Libellule” signed Mathurin Moreau

Large French bronze sculpture “Libellule” signed Mathurin Moreau

Superb French bronze sculpture “Libellule” (meaning dragonfly) by Mathurin Moreau (1822- 1912), depicting a graceful young woman symbolizing Ondine, goddess of the waters. Sitting on a rock surrounded by reeds she looks down, her head delicately bent, seeming to be lost in her thoughts. She is sensually dressed covered only by a light veil in front hanging from her small decorated wings. Her beautiful face is accentuated by her curly hair which is raised upon her head. Beside her on the ground we see a jug from which the water flows continuously. This French bronze sculpture is also know as “Ondine”.

As can be seen from the naturally flowing fabric of the clothes and the fine facial expressions, this splendid bronze sculpture “Libellule” by Mathurin Moreau is very refined, perfectly illustrating the beauty of the female body.  It has a warm brown patina which is in very good condition and carries the signature “Moreau Mathurin” on the terrace of the sculpture. The sculpture stands on an elaborately detailed bronze base with openwork decorations, resting on five feet.

Details of the sculpture “Libellule” by Mathurin Moreau

France, second half of the 19th century.
Dimensions: 56 cm high, 25 cm wide and 24 cm deep.
Weight: 13,8 kg.

Mythology of Ondines

Ondines are beings associated with water, stemming from the alchemical writings of Paracelsus. Later writers developed the ondine into a water nymph in its own right. Ondines continue to live in modern literature and art through such adaptations as Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” and the Undine of Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué. Also Ondine is a goddess of the waters in Norse mythology.

Mathurin Moreau (1822- 1912)

Mathurin Moreau, born in Dijon on 18 November 1822 and died in Paris on 14 February 1912, was a French sculptor. He was famous for his decorative sculptures and he was an expert at portraying feminine grace.

Mathurin Moreau was born from the marriage of the sculptor Jean-Baptiste-Louis-Joseph Moreau and Anne Marianne Richer. His brothers Hippolyte and Auguste were also sculptors. He attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1841 in the workshops of Jules Ramey and Auguste Dumont. Moreau won the second prix de Rome in 1842. And he made his debut at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1848 and stood out there with the statue L’Élégie. He obtained a second class medal at the Universal Exhibition of 1855 in Paris, then a first class medal in 1878. In 1897, he received a medal of honor at the Salon of which he became a member of the jury during the Universal Exhibition of 1900 in Paris.

From 1879 and until his death, Mathurin Moreau was mayor of the 19th arrondissement of Paris. He was appointed Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1865 and promoted to Officer of the same Order in 1885.


  • Pierre Kjellberg ,“Bronzes of the 19th century” p. 511-518.
  • Christie’s New York, 17 October 2017, where a version of this sculpture appeared in auction.

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