The beauty of Chryselephantine sculptures



Exquisite, fine and decorative arts are recognized and valued for craftsmanship, attention to detail, and timelessness, and are coveted and admired by avid collectors and established tastemakers from around the world.  

Located in Dubai’s premiere location, the Boulevard at Emirates Towers, 19th Century Antiques is an exclusive gallery offering the largest selection of genuine antique furniture, clock sets, bronzes, paintings, and vases.

Currently the gallery is promoting Chryselephantine sculptures. With two precious materials, gold and ivory combined, the result is called chryselephantine (from Greek, chrysós, gold, and elephantinos, ivory).

Chryselephantine sculptures first appeared in Ancient Greece and were considered as the highest form of art due to its adornment of the main temples depicting cult idols. An example is Statue of Zeus at Olympia, one of the 7 Wonders of the World.

Chryselephantine sculptures are highly valuable and are considered investment pieces, representing the wealth and cultural status of owners. They involved a number of master-craftsmen, with skills in ivory carving, sculpture, goldsmithing, carpentry, and jewelry art.

These sculptures usually consist of removable golden parts that could be melted in unstable periods and recovered during periods of prosperity. Many of them were taken apart and didn’t survive to the present.

Chryselephantine sculptures were popular in European nineteenth century art, especially Art Nouveau. Similar techniques from ancient Greece were repeated by 19th century sculptors, such as the use of ivory to depict bare skin and gold for clothing.

A number of chryselephantine sculptures can be found at 19th Century Antiques gallery, such as Cleopatra. The ivory face, arms, hands, and feet are finely carved, containing details such as hair accessories and bracelets. The figure sits on a wooden chair in the style of ancient Roman time. The chair is decorated with a lily flower, the symbol for royal families and aristocracy.

In addition to decorative sculptures, ivory and gold were used to decorate mantel clocks. Amodel after Antoine Foullet depicts a figure symbolizing Prudence, considered as the mainvirtue. The figure holds a mirror in one hand as a snake wraps around her other arm.

Chryselephantine works by Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, Dominique Alonzo, Adrien-Etienne Gaudez and Affortunato Gori are in world-famous museums, private collections and may be acquired from 19th Century Antiques gallery.