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Pythian Sibyl

After 1869-1870
Marcello (Duchesse de Castiglione-Colonna, born Adèle d'Affry) (Swiss, 1836–1879)

The prophecies of the Pythian sibyl, the high priestess at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, were considered the most powerful in ancient Greece. Generations of priestesses summoned the Greek god Apollo’s oracles while seated on a tripod-shaped seat. The frenzied, trancelike state the sibyl entered while predicting the future or giving orders was ably captured by sculptor Adèle d’Affry, the Duchess of Castiglione-Colonna, who exhibited her artwork under the masculine name "Marcello."

Marcello identified so closely with the Pythian sibyl that she used her own neck, shoulders, and breasts as models for the figure. A full-size version of the sculpture was shown at the Paris Salon in 1870 and later installed in the central staircase of the Paris Opéra, where it remains today.

Object Details

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