Félicie de Fauveau (1801-1886) was one of the first professional sculptresses in the world, and this is one of the several public statues she sculptured.
Fauveau was born to French parents in Tuscany and grew up in Florence. She moved to Paris, studied painting and sculpture, and opened an art studio (1826-1830) that was also a gathering center for fellow artists. She became a full-time sculptress, receiving commissions and awards for her work.
After Napoleon’s downfall, de Fauveau supported the return of the bourbon king to France and even had an active role in the rebellion of the royalists. She got punished for her part in the unsuccessful revolution and spent six months in prison; upon her release, she decided to return to Florence in 1834 and stay in exile until the Count of Chambord succeeded as king of France. A wish that never came true.
In Florence, she became a celebrity in the artistic and high society circles, founded a studio on Via Degli Serragli, and sculptured foreign travelers and members of the royal families of Europe and Russia.
In 1854 de Fauveau created this marble monument that pays tribute to the West Indian poet Louise de Favreau, who died at only 17. Inspired by the poem de Favreau wrote before her death, De Fauveau immortalized her in this monument at the Church of Santa Croce.
In 1966, it got severely damaged from the flooding of the Arno River, and over time, the stone became discolored from daily exposure to outdoor elements. In 2012 the Advancing Women Artists Foundation restored this monument and the Santa Maria del Carmine’s Monument to Anne de la Pierre, which de Fauveau sculptured in 1859, depicting a realistic portrait of her mother. The restoration and maintenance project enabled a deeper understanding of de Fauveau’s sculpting techniques.
De Fauveau’s final resting place is at the central chapel of the San Felice a Ema cemetery, south of Florence; her art still exists and is displayed in European museums, including the Museo D’Orsay and the Louvre in Paris.
Advancing Women Artists Foundation (AWA) was founded as an American not-for-profit organization in 2008 by Dr. Jane Fortune; their mission was to highlight and celebrate the work of women artists, including identifying, restoring, and exhibiting artwork by women in Florence’s museum storages. Sadly, AWA stopped operating in 2021, leaving its website to remain a resource for learning more about pioneer artists.
Restoration of Fèlicie de Fauveau's sculpture in Santa Croce.
Advancing Women Artists Foundation's Restoration of Fèlicie de Fauveau's Monument to Louise Favreau in Florence's Church of Santa Croce.
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Restoration of Fèlicie de Fauveau's sculpture in Santa Croce.Advancing Women Artists Foundation's Restoration of Fèlicie de Fauveau's Monument to Louise Favreau in Florence's Church of Santa Croce.
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