Demetre Chiparus: Civa

The Romanian artist Demetre Chiparus, who studied and worked in Paris, produced most of his bronze and ivory sculptures — including this one — in the 1920s in the prevailing Art Deco style.

Civa is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. In this work, Chiparus represents the exoticism of the East, as the elegant figure meditates in the lotus position. The work recalls the dances of the Ballets Russes, one of the artist’s primary inspirations, and embodies the essence of the age — particularly the rediscovery of ancient Egyptian art. (Tutankhamun’s tomb was excavated in 1922.) Chiparus depicted most of his figures in a sensual, curvilinear fashion. His subjects always look beautiful and at ease.

Civa is an excellent example of the artist’s impeccable casting, particularly the detail work in the bronze body and the expressively carved ivory face with the deep-set eyes.

The decorative base is also noteworthy. Chiparus made them integral to his compositions, using an assortment of materials, including onyxes, marbles, and colored stones.

Before fully defining his style, Chiparus studied under in Italy under sculptor Raffaello Romanelli before moving to Paris to attend École des Beaux-Arts to study under the French sculptors Anton Mercié and Jean Boucher. He continued making sculpture into the 1940s.

Interest in Chiparus’s Art Deco-era sculpture reignited in the last 20 years, and collectors have since placed a high value on the rare works and drawn more attention to the elegant and beautiful figures.