'Salammbo' 1899

Maurice Ferrary (1852 – 1904)

Marble and bronze, 272 x 89 x 100.5cm
Purchased by Lever from the sculptor, 1900
Accession Number LL205

This work is based on Flaubert’s great historical novel, ‘Salammbo’, of 1862. It tells of how, during the wars between the Carthaginians and the barbarians in the 3rd century BC, Salammbo, the daughter of the Carthaginian leader, ‘entwined herself with the genius of her family, with the very religion of her country under its most ancient symbol’, that is with a huge snake.

With this sacred protection she then went out to the barbarian camp to retrieve the famous veil, the loss of which had caused defeat for the Carthaginians.

This subject was widely condemned as indecent even within Flaubert’s novel. It was very popular with a group of late 19th century French sculptors preoccupied with erotic and sensual themes.