RIVIÈRE, Théodore
(b. 1857, Toulouse, d. 1912, Paris)

Salammbô and Matho

Bronze, gold, ivory, and turquoise, height 40 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

The subject of this work was taken from Gustave Flaubert's novel, Salammbô, published in 1862. The story takes place between 241–238 BC, during the war between Carthage and its mercenaries in revolt. The Libyan Mathô, the chief of the barbarian soldiers, fell in love with Salammbô, the daughter of his Carthaginian enemy Hamilcar Barca. Rivière has chosen the moment when, mortally wounded by the people, Mathô dies at the feet of his idol crying: "I love you! I love you!" The figure of Salammbô, the femme fatale, inspired many other Symbolist artists.

This group is modelled as Salammbô standing wearing a pointed head-dress, her flowing robe with jewelled clasps, Matthô kneeling with his right leg outstretched, embracing her passionately, on a mound base.