A bronze model of Sleeping Ariadne


An Empire gilt and patinated bronze model of Sleeping Ariadne 
circa 1810-1815


Height: 36 cm. (14 ¼ in.)    Width: 45.5 cm. (18 in.)    Depth: 21 cm. (8 ¼ in.)


Modelled reclining on a chaise longue with lion’s paw feet on a rouge griotte marble plinth supported by a bronze stand with conforming feet.



Knight, Frank and Rutley auctioneers, circa 1960

Collection of Anthony and Marietta Coleridge, England

The antique Sleeping Ariadne was acquired by Pope Julius II in 1512 for the Vatican’s statue courtyard where it was adapted to decorate a fountain. Because the sleeping figure wears a bracelet in the form of a serpent, she was believed to be Cleopatra, who killed herself with the bite of an asp. By the late 18th century, once moved inside the Vatican museums, the subject was correctly recognised as Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos of Crete who, after having helped Theseus overcome the Minotaur and escape the Labyrinth, was abandoned as she lay sleeping on the island of Naxos.

Although many 19th century interpretations of the statue exist, the presentation of this depiction, reclining on a chaise longue, is highly unusual. A near identical model, undoubtedly from the same foundry, is in the Royal Collection and displayed in the drawing room of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight (RCIN 3240); that example shares the same form but the chaise longue is entirely gilt bronze. The Osborne example however lacks the lower stand present to this example