BL 1 04 2020 - Tireuse d'epine ebd.jpg
Renaissance bronze by Ponce Jacquio, Italy, 16th century, to be offered for sale by Beaussant Lefèvre on April 1 in Paris. ©Studio Sebert - Beaussant Lefèvre.

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Ponce Jacquio’s (c.1515-70) bronze of a naked woman pulling a thorn from her foot has been in the same Parisian family for more than five generations.

It will be offered at the Drouot auction centre by Beaussant Lefèvre assisted by the experts Jacques Bacot and Hughes de Lencquesaing.

The sculptor, known as Mâitre Ponce, was born in Rethel c.1515 and died in Paris in 1570. He spent three years in Rome, where he was a member of the Academy of Saint Luke, worked for Cardinal Ricci and is the only French sculptor of the period mentioned by the art historian Vasari (under the name Ponzio).

On his return to France he collaborated with the architect Jacques Androuet du Cerceau, with Germain Pilon and Primaticcio. French commissions included work at Fontainebleau, The Tuileries and on the tombs of François I, Henri II and Catherine de Medici at Saint Denis.


This figure, which measures 10in (25cm) in height is dated to the mid 16th century. It is related both to the famous antique bronze known as the Spinario (or Boy with a thorn) now in the Capitoline Museums in Rome and perhaps to the Venus wounded by a thorn painted by Raphael for the bathroom of Cardinal Bibbiena in Rome that was engraved by Marco Dente.

This particular model is attributable to Jacquio via a terracotta owned by the sculptor François Girardon. It is pictured in an engraving from c.1710 of Girardon’s ‘gallerie’ of artworks where it is described as a modèle de terre cuite de Paul Ponce. That terracotta, itself rediscovered in the 20th century, is now in the Louvre.

According to the 1717 inventory drawn up after his death, Girardon also owned a bronze example described as a figure cutting their nails. That is thought to be the example now in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

It is also known that Cardinal Ricci, Ponce Jacquio’s Roman patron, exported two bronze figures from Italy to France, one of them described as a woman pulling a thorn from her foot, and it is possible that this is the version to be offered at Drouot in April 1.

The figure has an estimate of €100,000.