The visitor will be greeted by four allegories on the front wall. Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux is commissioned in 1865 to illustrate the Dance.
Despite his sculpted portraits of officials, Carpeaux is a free creator for whom sculpture must express life in its movement and joy. He designs the composition of the group of dance as a response to the heroic impulse brought in 1836 by Rude in La Marseillaise (The Departure of the Volunteers of 1792) that adorns the Arc de Triomphe.
The extent of Carpeaux's group exceeds the demand of Garnier who decides to accept such an overflow of enthusiasm. A bacchanal of nude female dancers surrounds the male genius of dance who is charming them with his tambourine. When the statue is unveiled in 1869, such an active and merry nudity viewed by any people from the street deeply shocks the rigid morality of the time.
The Franco-Prussian war stops this scandal. According to usual practice, Carpeaux and his studio prepare replicas in bronze, terracotta, plaster and marble to be offered for sale. In 1872, a plaster of the Génie de la Danse in same size as the original of the Opéra, 2.20 m high, is sold to Robert de Rothschild.
Another plaster of same size surfaces in 1927 when the artist's daughter sells it to a friend. Mme Clément-Carpeaux then certifies that it is the only plaster example realized on the model of the Rothschild specimen. The date of its make is not identified. It has no reason to have been made by the artist whose untimely death in 1875 cannot be used as a reference in terms of its chronology.
Mounted on a wooden base for an overall height of 3 m, this plaster of earlier Clément-Carpeaux provenance is estimated € 600K for sale by Christie's in Paris on September 15, lot 7.