A French Art Nouveau silvered bronze sculpture by Leo Laporte-Blairsy featuring a glass globe by Daum Nancy. The globe is in translucent blue glass decorated with white five-pointed stars. "La Voie Lactée" (The Milky Way) was first exhibited at the Société des Artistes Français in 1904 for which Laporte-Blairsy was a awarded the high honor of a first class medal.In this daring work by controversial Art Nouveau sculptor Laporte-Blairsy, the spirit of creation is depicted as a regal, elegant beauty. Resolving herself out of a swirl of cosmic dust scattered with stars, she gently suspends the expanding galaxy (of Daum glass) with an expression of intelligence and pride of creation. The sculptor''s early embrace of electricity is integral to the design: the figure is lit from within by this new form of illumination which, at the time, represented the revolutionary soul of invention. Laporte-Blairsy is also famous for a statuaryfountain, situated in the central square of Toulouse, of the graceful and mysterious Clémence Isaure, a legendary Renaissance noblewoman who was the benefactor of and inspiration for the first poetry festival in Europe.The young woman holding the glass globe wears a collar in the shape of a five-pointed star. The collar is decorated along its border with more five-pointed stars. The woman also wears a five-pointed star in her hair, and the lower portion of
her flowing dress and her cape are covered with more five-pointed stars, including some that pierce the metal. Her billowing sleeves help to frame the globe. She wears bows on each shoulder.Laporte-Blairsy was an incredibly divisive artist in his time. To the critics of the avante-garde literary magazine, "La Nouvelle Revue," the lighting of Laporte-Blairsy was a revelation. The magazine lauded Laporte-Blairsy as being "infinitely ingenious.... the Scheherazade of electric lamps.... bringing about a second enlightenment." By comparison, the lighting of Leo Laporte-Blairsy offended the immutable sensibilities of the Parisian old-guard. Maurice Hamel remarked in the 1904 "Revue des Arts Décoratifs" that Laporte-Blairsy broke the artichtectonic laws of decoration, labeling the artist a rulebreaker, or "hors-la-loi". In comparison to the inoffensive figuration of the French Renaissance, the rhythmic drapery of Laporte-Blairsy was tormented. Part of Laporte-Blairsy''s technical innovation was bringing out the unique characteristics of incandescent lighting. While gas powered lighting required vents and open structure, Laporte-Blairsy used the globe and balloon motif to trap and emit bewitching glows. The end of the 19th century marked the centenary of the invention of the hot air balloon. The recent flight of the Wright Brothers, coupled with numerous high profile hot air balloon flights, made balloonmania rise to an all time high. A similar sculpture is featured in "Art Nouveau and Art Deco Lighting," New York, 1978, by Alastair Duncan, p. 111, fig. 52. Also in "The Paris Salons 1895-1914, Vol. V: Objets D''Art & Metalware," Woodbridge, 1999, p. 367 (design illustrated). And in Victor Arwas, "Art Nouveau: The French Aesthetic," London, Andreas Papadakis, 2002, modèle reproduit p. 270.
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