Tomasso Brothers: Important European Bronzes

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Important European Bronzes


Important European Bronzes TOMASSO BROTHERS FINE ART

at CARLTON HOBBS LLC 60 East 93rd Street, New York, NY 10128 21 – 30 January 2016

In memory of Gianfranco Antichi




it is with great pleasure that Raffaello and I, and all at Tomasso Brothers Fine Art, are able to present what we hope will be a thoroughly enjoyable exhibition of a select number of important European bronzes which are currently held by the Gallery. Through careful consideration, the forthcoming works have been chosen to convey to the reader, and visitor to our exhibition, the enthusiasm and genuine passion that Raffaello and I have for the field of early European bronzes. Naturally, we are drawn to all areas of fine art. However, over the past few decades the allure of European sculpture and the fascinating world of small-scale bronze statuettes has captivated our attention. The commercial side of our business has always been somewhat secondary to our intrinsic love and passion for the works of art themselves – hence our desire to inspire and move the reader as we too have been inspired. The works we have chosen represent a time scale from circa 1433, with Filarete’s highly innovative representation of The Triumph of Caesar over King Juba, to Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi’s aesthetically beautiful rendition of Giambologna’s Cesarini Venus of circa 1720. We feel these works, from the early Renaissance to the high Baroque, encapsulate and exemplify three centuries of enormous development in the world of European decorative art. As I am sure most of our readers will be aware, Tomasso Brothers Fine Art is not just a duo; we are continuously supported by many people too numerous to mention. Here, however, I would like to acknowledge an exceptional few: first and foremost, the nucleus, which enables the Gallery to function effectively and consistently, consists of Kelli, Emanuela, Elliot and Rob, who are closely supported by Tani, Jamie, Francesca and, more recently, Jordana; secondly, our contributors to the catalogue Carlo Milano and Charles Avery; and, thirdly, Doug Currie. Thanks to the undeniable quality of his photography the catalogue exists independently as a beautiful tome. All at Tomasso Brothers Fine Art earnestly wish you, the reader, the greatest pleasure in viewing the catalogue. Finally, I would like to say a special thank you to Stefanie, Carly and their staff for the gracious and stylish way in which they have embraced all of us at Tomasso Brothers Fine Art. I have known Carly a lifetime and he has always been a constant inspiration to my brother and me, whilst Stefanie’s care for details and the conscientious way she has led our New York exhibitions recently is a source of great support. dino tomasso Vivat Sculptura!




pietro simoni da barga (active c. 1571–89) Bacchus


italian, late 17th century The Infant Hercules Wrestling a Snake


giulio del moro (1555–1616) Cristo Benedicente, c. 1610–15


giovanni francesco susini (1585–c. 1653) The Farnese Bull


giambologna (1529–1608) The Hohenzollern Mars


north italian, 16th century A pacing horse


antonio susini (1558–1624) Cristo Morto


giovanni francesco susini (1585–c. 1653) Pacing Lion


antonio di pietro averlino, called il filarete (c. 1400–1469) The Triumph of Caesar over King Juba, c. 1433


the master of the budapest abundance (active c. 1550) Allegory of Abundance


fran Ç ois girardon (1628–1715) The Abduction of Proserpina


massimiliano soldani-benzi (1656–1740) Bacchus Venus de’ Medici


hans reichle (c. 1565–1642) Christ at the Column


massimiliano soldani-benzi (1656–1740) Charity, c. 1695


francesco da sangallo (1494–1576) A pair of allegorical figures, possibly Oratoria and Grammatica


fran Ç ois girardon (1628–1715) Bust of Modios Asiatikos


giovanni battista foggini (1652–1725) Bacchus and a Young Satyr


giovanni francesco susini (1585–c. 1653) The Wild Boar (Il Porcellino)


french, early 18th century Marsyas


north italian, c. 1500–20 Head of Cupid Weeping


massimiliano soldani-benzi (1656–1740) The Cesarini Venus


french, early 18th century Aeneas carrying Anchises from Troy, accompanied by Ascanius

pietro simoni da barga (active c. 1571–89)


Bacchus, c. 1571–89 Bronze 11 in. (28 cm) high

fig. 1 Pietro Simoni da Barga Bacchus, c. 1571–89 Museo Nazionale de Bargello, Florence, inv. no. 383


this bronze statuette depicts Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and ecstatic revelry, striding forward and reaching high to pull a large bunch of grapes from a vine. There is a balletic grace to Bacchus’s pose, which is amplified by his slender body and limbs and confers upon the work a great elegance of form. The surface of the bronze also possesses a wonderful tactility and sensuality, which seems generated by the loose and expressive modelling style for which da Barga has become known. The present bronze by Pietro Simoni da Barga is a variant of another work by the sculptor in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence (figs. 1 and 2), representing Bacchus with two bunches of grapes, one held aloft and the other above a panther lying on the ground. Our version differs from the Bargello’s in the absence of the panther and the addition of a loincloth. Both casts could have derived from two antique satyr figures, now in the Museo Nazionale di Napoli (inv. nos. 6331, 6332), which stand on their tiptoes, holding bunches of grapes and tazzas. These were formerly in the Farnese collection, then in Rome, which is where da Barga would have seen them. Yet there are marked differences between the present work and the Farnese models, so it is also entirely possible that Da Barga was inspired by a source that is now lost, or indeed produced this work from a conflation of other examples surviving from the ancient world (De Nicola 1916, p. 370). Contemporary sources refer to da Barga as “Scultore di Sua Signoria Illustrissima”, or Sculptor to his Eminence (De Nicola 1916, p. 369). Indeed, the sculptor is largely known to connoisseurs of sixteenth-century sculpture as the artist who, between 1571 and 1588, made around 24 beautiful, small-scale bronze versions of revered ancient works for Cardinal Ferdinando I de’ Medici. These were to be displayed in a cabinet, or ‘Stipo’, that was commissioned by the Cardinal from the painter Jacopo Zucchi circa 1576. The cabinet did not survive the eighteenth century and twelve of the statuettes were subsequently transferred to Florence in 1769 (Massinelli 1987, pp. 57– 58). Ferdinando was a voracious collector of antiquities and incorporated the famous Della Valle-Capranica collections into his own. However, certain works, such as the Farnese Hercules and the Laocoön, were too famous and valuable even for the Cardinal to obtain. This may have been the factor that prompted Ferdinando to commission da Barga to make a series of works after, and inspired by, his favourite antiquities that were not part of his collection. The works da Barga made are all around 12 in. (30 cm) high and some of them are listed in the Medici ‘Inventari di Guardaroba’ of 1571 to 1588. His work for the Medici, making small-scale bronze sculpture inspired by the Antique, has prompted comparisons to the activity of Antico (Pier Jacopo Alari Bonacolsi; c. 1455–1528), who worked for the Gonzaga of Mantua in a similar capacity.




The bronze statuette genre was revived during the fifteenth century and became established as one of the most intimate art forms inherited from antiquity. An important example of the Romans’ appreciation of small-scale bronze statuary known to the Renaissance was the passage eulogizing a model of Hercules in the house of Novius Vindex penned by the first-century ad poet Publius Papinius Statius: “I fell deeply in love; nor, though long I gazed, were my eyes sated with it; such dignity had the work, such majesty, despite its narrow limits. A god was he … small to the eye, yet a giant to the mind! To think that so tiny a body should create the illusion of so great a fame. What precision of touch, what daring imagination the cunning master had, at once to model an ornament for the table and to conceive in his mind mighty colossal forms” (Statius, Silvae, IV, vi, 32–38, translation in D. Lewis, ‘On the Nature of Renaissance Bronzes’, in Renaissance Master Bronzes from the Collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, exh. cat., Smithsonian Institution Travelling Exhibition Service, Washington, D.C., 1986, p. 23). It was in part due to such laudatory accounts surviving from ancient times that the artistic production of small bronze statuettes was revived in the Quattrocento and continued to be appreciated in the Cinquecento in terms akin to those outlined by Statius’s response. The aesthetic concept of a bronze statuette being ‘small to the eye’ but ‘giant to the mind’ – therefore giving the illusion of monumentality despite its size – is manifest in da Barga’s work and central to understanding the essential beauty and technical achievements intrinsic to the creation of reduced bronze versions of the most revered ancient statues. Other important examples of da Barga’s work, outside the holdings of the Bargello, Florence, include those in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which possesses two masterful bronzes representing the Farnese Hercules and Neptune.

fig. 2 Pietro Simoni da Barga Bacchus, c. 1571–89 (reverse of fig. 1) Museo Nazionale de Bargello, Florence, inv. no. 383

related literature G. de Nicola, ‘Notes on the Museo Nazionale of Florence – II’, The Burlington Magazine, vol. XXIX, December 1916, pp. 363–73 W.L. Hildburgh, ‘A Note on Some Small bronzes by Pietro da Barga’, The Burlington Magazine, vol. XXXVII, no. 209, August 1920, pp. 78–79 and 83 A.M. Massinelli, ‘I bronzi dello stipo di Cosimo I de’ Medici’, Antichità Viva, vol. 26, 1987 Le Collezioni del Museo Nazionale di Napoli, Rome, 1989, pp. 174–75, figs. 138–39 J. Pope-Hennessy, Italian Renaissance Sculpture, 4th edn, London, 1996


italian, late 17th century


The Infant Hercules Wrestling a Snake Based on a model by Alessandro Algardi (1598–1654) Bronze 15 ¼ in. (38.5 cm) high 19 ¼ in. (49 cm) wide 11 in. (28 cm) deep provenance Eugène Secrétan (1836–1899), Dives-sur-Mer, France, before 1889 His sale, Galerie Sedelmeyer, Paris, 1 July 1889, lot 247

the inspiration for the present bronze was surely the composition cast around 1650 by the Roman Baroque sculptor Alessandro Algardi (1598–1654), whose authorship was first recognized by Jennifer Montagu in her major study on the artist (see Montagu 1985, II, pp. 405–08). A rare model, it exists in a fine bronze version at Burghley House, England (fig. 1), where it was already recorded in 1763 as by Algardi. The present Hercules varies only slightly from the Burghley version – in the configuration of the drapery in which the infant is entwined and the unusual physiognomy of the snake’s head. Indeed in our bronze the snake has a somewhat canine character, which appears to be an idiosyncratic interpretation deriving from the sculptor of this piece’s own design. The subject of our bronze is taken from ancient mythology. The goddess Juno, wife of Jupiter, had sent serpents to kill the infant Hercules because he had been born from the union of her husband with Alcmena, the bride of the Theban warrior Amphitryon. However, when the beasts entered his cradle, Hercules strangled them

fig. 1 Alessandro Algardi Hercules and the Serpent, c. 1650 Bronze, 34.5 × 46 cm Burghley House




with his bare hands. Ironically, though probably not for the goddess, the hero’s name in Greek means ‘glorious gift to Hera’ ( Juno). In Algardi’s sculptural re-telling of the story the hair and fabric are modelled in such a way as to imbue the composition with considerable movement and dynamism, masterfully conveying the sense of Hercules’s struggle with the serpent. The drama of the scene is therefore intensified, as one feels that the child’s life could be in imminent danger. These affective qualities and characteristics are redolent of the High Baroque style, of which Algardi was one of the leading proponents. However, what marks out the sculpture of Algardi among his contemporaries is that passages of his work display a restrained, classical realism, seemingly inspired by the Antique. A possible reason for this is that, soon after his arrival in Rome around 1625, the artist was commissioned to restore ancient statues, and is thought to have engaged in this activity until about 1635. His intimate knowledge of classical statuary during this period clearly influenced his work for the rest of his career. For example, one sees in the present model an obvious echo of the antique work of the same subject in the Musei Capitolini, Rome (fig. 2), formerly in the Albani collection. Algardi perhaps drew on the way the infant is seated, with one leg bent, and on his thickly curled hairstyle. Although the somewhat benign and serene character of the ancient example appears to have been rejected by Algardi himelf in an attempt to increase the sense of danger in the encounter, it has been largely re-discovered in the present late seventeenth- or eighteenth-century version, for the child’s body is not so contorted and the hair and fabric are less tumultuous than in its seventeenthcentury forebear. The intriguing stamp that appears on the lower edge of our cast may be associated with Eugène Secrétan, in whose collection the work was to be found before the end of the nineteenth century. Secrétan, an incredibly successful French industrialist, famously donated 60,000 kg of copper towards the construction of New York’s Statue of Liberty. His remarkable collection of Old and modern masters was sold by Galerie Sedelmeyer in 1889, the year of Paris’s Exposition Universelle, being showcased in the Tour Eiffel. The sale attracted buyers from all over the world, and was the arena of a memorable bidding war between the Musée du Louvre and the American Art Association over Jean-François Millet’s seminal painting L’Angelus (1859), now in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

fig. 2 Roman Hercules Strangling a Serpent, 2nd half 2nd century ad Musei Capitolini, Rome, inv. no. mc 247

related literature J. Montagu, Alessandro Algardi, New Haven and London, 1985


giulio del moro (1555–1616)


Cristo Benedicente, c. 1610–15 Bronze, with rich, dark brown patina and extensive traces of lacquer 18½ in. (47 cm) high

this bronze of remarkable presence portrays Christ standing, in a dynamic pose, his right foot forward and the torso slightly turned. In large folds, the drapery elegantly descends across his back and around his waist until it reaches the thin round base of the figure, therefore serving a structural purpose as well as an aesthetic one, by bearing the weight of the statue together with the right leg. The traits of the face are typical of Venetian sixteenth-century sculpture, with the eyes neatly incised and the hair built as a series of curls developing into long wavy strands that continue over the shoulders of Christ and behind his neck. There is an austerity in this figure evocative of classical art, and from antiquity also derives the gesture of the right hand, with the two fingers raised. It is the traditio legis, an early Christian iconographic motif, which can be found for example in fourthcentury sarcophagi (the most famous being that of Junius Bassus in the Vatican, dating to ad 359), and symbolizes the role of Christ as lawmaker. In this bronze, however, the other typical attribute of the traditio legis, the scroll, does not appear. The iconography has changed, and the act is that of blessing. The present Christ Blessing is not known in other casts, except for one in the Palazzo Venezia in Rome, which is visibly different in the positioning of the arms, the size (5 cm higher, mostly because of the thicker base) and additional smaller details. First suggested in 1964 by Santangelo, the attribution of this model to Giulio del Moro has been universally accepted. Before that date, the names of Gerolamo Campagna and of Danese Cattaneo had been put forward. The son of a painter, Giulio del Moro was born in Verona in 1555 and worked as a painter and a sculptor, learning the latter skill most likely under the guidance of Gerolamo Campagna (c. 1550–after 1626). It is indeed no coincidence that some sculptures by del Moro have been erroneously attributed to Campagna, and in some cases to Sansovino. By 1573, Giulio del Moro was in Venice, where he worked for the following four decades on a series of prestigious commissions, ranging from paintings for the Ducal Palace to church statuary and funerary monuments. Amongst the former were canvases for the Sala del Maggior Consiglio and Sala dello Scrutinio, whilst amongst the latter were the altarpiece representing the Martyrdom of Santa Fosca in Torcello (dated 1608), the effigies on the façade of San Giorgio Maggiore and the Redeemer for the tomb of Andrea Dolfin (d. 1602) in San Salvador. His sculptural works reveal an emphasis on portraiture, with several marble busts of prominent aristocrats and merchants still visible in churches and palazzi across Venice. Observing these, we find parallels between del Moro’s oeuvre and our bronze, and are enabled to narrow down the date of its execution. The Blessing Christ in marble in the counter-façade of Santa Maria del Giglio dates to the years straddling the two centuries. Because of its position very high from the ground, it is difficult to







judge this statue fully and properly, but the traits of the face are closely comparable to those of the present model. The drapery of the bronze figure of Saint Peter (San Felice, Venice, signed Iuli Mauri Opus) has the same characteristics as that of this Christ, closely enveloping the body in wide flat folds with long straight ridges. On the base of the marble Redeemer for Dolfin’s monument del Moro proudly leaves his signature and qualifies himself as painter, sculptor and architect. The similarities between this Christ and ours are truly striking. The pose of the legs, although inverted, is almost identical, and the arms are in almost the same position in relation to the torso. But it is the structure of the body, athletic and in a nearly hieratic stance, that above all demonstrates the same artistic sensibility. The iconography of Christ standing, blessing or as Redeemer, was clearly fundamental in Counter-Reformation Venice, as it responded to the Catholic Church’s principle of art as the visual expression of its teachings, specifically in its emphasis on the redeeming function of the Saviour’s sacrifice. To del Moro, this image would also have represented an opportunity to relate to prominent sculptors such as Danese Cattaneo, whose Redeemer in the tomb of Giano Fregoso in Sant’Anastasia in Verona served as a prototype for the Dolfin Redeemer. In creating this composition, del Moro certainly also used his knowledge of antique sculpture, visible in the great Venetian collections, where not only Roman but also Greek statues were displayed. The Blessing Christ here presented is a beautiful example of the religious and humanist culture of the period and witness to the Venetian tradition of the bronzetto, dating back to the early Renaissance. carlo milano related literature A. Bacchi, La scultura a Venezia da Sansovino a Canova, Milan, 2000, pp. 730–31 P. Cannata, Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia. Sculture in bronzo, Rome, 2011, pp. 113–14


giovanni francesco susini (1585–c. 1653)


The Farnese Bull Bronze, dark olive patina with traces of translucent lacquer 18 ¼ in. (46.5 cm) high 15 in. (38 cm) wide 15 in. (38 cm) deep provenance Private collection, United Kingdom

born in florence towards the end of the sixteenth century, Giovanni Francesco, or Gianfrancesco, Susini learned the art of bronze casting from his uncle Antonio, one of the most talented disciples of the undisputed master bronzier of the period, the great Giambologna (1529–1608). Indeed, the biographer Filippo Baldinucci (1624–1697) writes in his Notizie on Antonio Susini (ed. Ranalli, 1846, IV, p. 110) that the sculptor was greatly esteemed by Giambologna, who sent him to Rome to make copies of the finest statues in that city. Among these was the monumental marble group referred to as the Farnese Bull, which had been excavated in 1545 in the Baths of Caracalla and had entered the prestigious Farnese collection the following year, to be restored by Gian Battista Bianchi in 1579. Antonio Susini made several bronze statuettes of this ancient marble, though interestingly Baldinucci describes the model at some length as being one of the works of his nephew Gianfrancesco, whom the writer knew personally (ed. Ranalli, 1846, IV, p. 118). This spectacular bronze group is expertly cast (in several components invisibly joined together) and chased. The nude parts of the human bodies and the hides of the little animals are well polished, while the whole surface of the mound on which the action takes place is treated with a matt punch in neat lines that carefully follow and emphasize its contours, while one or two areas are left smooth, by way of contrast. The group is a massive, hollow cast that conforms inside to the shape of the mound. To this some figures were attached by shaping the ends of their casting sprues into tangs, which were then hammered through holes in the mound, for example beneath the rear legs of the dog – visible from below; or by tapping on a screw thread, to which a nut might be applied, once it had passed down through a hole bored in the mound – as, for example, in the complete figure of the attendant at the rear right corner. Beneath the collapsed body of Dirce awaiting her punishment, thick iron-wire armatures project down around some refractory material from the core. Some rectangular insertions of metal (for example, when seen from below, one more or less in the centre and others in the lower left and upper right corners) are not fixings for figures above, but patches for holes. These may have been rectangular in the first instance, having been formed in the wax casting model by iron rods passing through by way of armatures to centre and secure the whole heavy casting when invested with its core material and plaster cope.






The lower edges of the mound are pleasingly uneven and vary in thickness. At the rear right corner an extra area of thickness is caused by a repair made with a second run of metal. The model is probably taken from the same set of cleverly designed piece moulds that were made by Antonio Susini when he executed the several casts that he signed and dated 1613. The design here is virtually identical, save for a few insignificant details. Another variation, perhaps introduced to simplify the laborious process of manually chasing every square centimetre of the surface, is the fact that the rope with which the men are restraining the bull, by winding it round its horns, is here rendered by a continuous length of spiral wire, whereas in the cast signed by Antonio the length bound round and strung between the horns is cast on to the curly crown of hair on the bull’s head. The bony ridge of the beast’s eyebrows and the sharp breaks in the folds of the cloaks slung round the necks of Amphion and Zethus, as well as the dress of the female in attendance, have been smoothed over, again for ease of production. This sort of minor alteration indicates a later date within the span of activity of the firm of the Susini, and points to the activity of Gianfrancesco. Admittedly, the smoother, rounder feel of the piece may also be a reflection of a change of taste in the early Baroque period, moving away from the stylized, staccato visual effect of Giambologna’s and – more pronouncedly – Antonio Susini’s idiosyncratic technical handling. Antonio Susini’s cast in the Galleria Borghese (no. CCXLIX) is inscribed: ANT.II SVSINII FLOR.I OPVS/A.D.MDCXIII (on the base, between the feet of the man with a rope) and it was noted in the Borghese collection as early as 1625 by Crulli (Grandezze di Roma, 1625, p. 50v). Subsequent references in the eighteenth century mention that the bronze was placed on a pedestal of ebony ornamented with hard stones, which has since been lost. This and the virtually identical cast in the Hermitage, St Petersburg (inv. no. 1210), are scrupulously careful reductions of the monumental marble group and the reliefs round its base; the hypercritical and perfectionist German critic Winckelmann (Monumenti antichi [1767], 1830, V, p. 23) noted on the Borghese statuette only a few discrepancies from the original. Every tiny detail,


each fingernail, for instance, is meticulously executed, while extraordinary variety is achieved in the drapery patterns and rendering of texture. The small work is a tour de force technically and offers a vocabulary of Susini’s bronze finishing methods, which were highly praised by his contemporaries. Examples of Gianfrancesco Susini’s variant versions mentioned by Baldinucci are thought to be those in the Liechtenstein Collection (recorded in an inventory of 1658) and the Grünes Gewölbe, Dresden (bought by Le Plat in Paris in 1715: see Holzhausen and Kersting 1933). The rather obscure story behind this sculpture is recounted in detail by Lemprière in his famous Classical Dictionary (1788): “Dirce was a woman whom Lycus king of Thebes married after he had divorced Antiope. When Antiope became pregnant by Jupiter, Dirce suspected her husband of infidelity to her bed, and imprisoned Antiope, whom she tormented with the greatest cruelty. Antiope escaped from her confinement, and brought forth Amphion and Zethus on Mount Cithæron. When these children were informed of the cruelties to which their mother had been exposed, they besieged Thebes, put Lycus to death, and tied the cruel Dirce to the tail of a wild bull, which dragged her over rocks and precipices, and exposed her to the most poignant pains, till the gods, pitying her fate, changed her into a fountain, in the neighbourhood of Thebes.” charles avery, ph.d

related literature W. Holzhausen and E. Kersting, Prachtgefäße, Geschmeide ... Darin: Verzeichnis der Dresdner Goldschmiede, Tübingen, 1933 I. Faldi, Galleria Borghese. Le sculture dal secolo XVI al XIX, Rome, 1954, no. 59 C. Avery and A. Radcliffe, Giambologna, Sculptor to the Medici, exh. cat., Arts Council of Great Britain, London, 1978, nos. 180–81



The Hohenzollern Mars giambologna

giambologna (1529–1608)


Probably cast by Fra Domenico Portigiani (c. 1536–1602)

The Hohenzollern Mars, c. 1580 Bronze 15 ½ in. (39.4 cm) high provenance Possibly Paul von Praun (1548–1616), Nuremberg, before 1616 The Princes von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, Schloss Sigmaringen, Germany

the driving force behind the development of High Mannerist sculpture across Europe, Jean Boulogne, or Giambologna as he came to be known, created daring and innovative invenzioni that would influence generations of artists to come. His first encounter with Italy, his adoptive country, had taken place in 1550, when as a young sculptor from Flanders he set off for Rome to learn from its great masters. On his way back to Northern Europe Giambologna stopped in Florence, where he was fortunate to receive the patronage of Bernardo Vecchietti, scion to an influential aristocratic family with close ties to the Medici grand dukes, to whom he was soon introduced. Giambologna’s first major commission from the Medici came in 1560, when he executed the large-scale marble Samson Slaying a Philistine now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, for the future Grand Duke Francesco I (1541–1587), who was to employ him as his court sculptor the following year. It was in this decade that Giambologna began producing bronzes, later establishing his own foundry at Borgo Pinti in 1587. He died in Florence, the city he had left on only three occasions after 1553, revered as the greatest master of his age, in 1608. A remarkably inventive, skilled and prolific artist, his influence on both his contemporaries and generations of artists to come cannot be overstated. His models, from mythological scenes to representations of Christ crucified, were central to the development of sixteenthand seventeenth-century sculpture in Florence and beyond, and remain amongst the world’s most celebrated compositions today. The present bronze depicts a nude mature male figure, vigorously striding forward with his right foot and holding a sword at the ready in his right hand, while the left arm is held forward at an angle, with its hand empty and the fingers artificially distended, as though in a spasm of anxiety. The bearded head is turned sharply to his left, while his muscular body is shown in a diagonally upward rising movement. The figure stands in a carefully calculated, complex posture, as prescribed in late Renaissance art theory and recommended by Michelangelo. By means of the turning of the upper body, the centrifugal movement of the arms and the striding motion, the figure is designed to be seen from all round, while physically – and thus also psychologically – it dominates the surrounding space. For this composition Giambologna seems to have been inspired – perhaps – by a bronze statuette of Antonio Pollaiuolo’s from the second half of the fifteenth century (now lost), which is documented by a couple of drawings showing a similar 32




ďŹ gure partially from different angles (ďŹ g. 1). In posture, stride and movement of the arms Giambologna’s ďŹ gure resembles that statuette. However, the exemplary fusion of strength and elegance in the present ďŹ gure could only be achieved by a Late Renaissance artist like Giambologna. He may also have known some vibrant pen sketches by Leonardo da Vinci (ďŹ g. 2) of a muscular – almost ayed – nude warrior-executioner, made perhaps in connection with a painting of The Massacre of the Innocents. One of Giambologna’s most successful models, this ďŹ gure, now generally known as Mars, is described in several early records as a gladiator. Indeed, “Un Gladiatoreâ€? appears in the list of authentic subjects by the master drawn up by Markus Zeh as early as 1611. The most accurately documented example of this composition and perhaps, though not necessarily, the earliest was given by the sculptor himself to Christian I, Elector of Saxony, soon after an ofďŹ cial diplomatic gift to him of three signiďŹ cant bronzes by Grand Duke Francesco I in 1587. It is recorded in the inventory of the Elector’s Kunstkammer in Dresden as “A picture of Mars cast in brass, given by Johan Pollonia [sic] to his Grace the Electorâ€? (“MĂśssing gegossen Bildnus Martis, hatt Johan Pollonia S[einer] Churff[Ăźrstlichen] gn[aden] zugeschicktâ€?; now Bayer AG, Leverkusen; ďŹ g. 3). This is the ďŹ rst use of the name of Mars for the statuette, which may well have some authority that is not known to us. Christian I rewarded the sculptor with a gold chain with his portrait medallion attached, but gave him no commissions. The iconography was perhaps invented by Giambologna, who was notoriously indifferent to the subjects of his ďŹ gures,1 simply as an abstract exercise in male beauty and strength. Another remarkable version of the Mars – initialled s)s"s (standing for the Latin version of Giambologna’s name, Iohannes Bononiensis) – is the bronze now in the collection of the Power Corporation of Canada, Montreal (ďŹ g. 4), in which even the smallest details were lovingly modelled with a stylus in the wax casting model.2 They have a fully sculptural quality, which in other examples, seemingly produced by Antonio Susini, is lessened by overly zealous chasing, of which – ironically – Giambologna in a letter warned a client to be wary, lest the intervention of the goldsmith should destroy the subtleties of the modelled surfaces. Notably, the best – and possibly therefore autograph – statuettes of the Mars show the man striding

fig. 1 Antonio Pollaiuolo Figural studies Pen and ink MusĂŠe du Louvre, Paris fig. 2 Leonardo da Vinci Preparatory drawing for The Battle of Anghiari Pen and ink Biblioteca Reale, Turin fig. 3 Giambologna Mars Bronze Bayer AG, Leverkusen


fig. 4 Giambologna Mars Bronze Power Corporation of Canada, Montreal fig. 5 Giambologna The Rape of a Sabine (detail) Marble Florence, Loggia dei Lanzi fig. 6 Detail of the present bronze


with a springy step and his left heel raised off the ground (as in the present example), which gives an impression of latent energy. This feature was subsequently modified into a position flat on the ground by Antonio Susini, presumably to permit easier and firmer mounting on a planar surface. The only reasons to suppose an origin for the model pre-dating the 1580s – now superseded – were the fact that a modified and rather weak version of the Mars appeared alongside a series of copies in bronze, mostly after the Antique, dated to 1574–77, and a reference among payments to Giambologna in 1578 for a figure in silver whose description appeared to correspond, more or less. The series of bronzes (which are now in the Bargello) are documented as by Pietro da Barga, who was sculptor to Cardinal Ferdinando de’ Medici in Rome from 1574 to 1577: the Mars is not mentioned, though its similarity is undoubted. Da Barga’s span of activity for Ferdinando has now been extended to 1588 and so he could have made this archaizing copy to match the others, even if Giambologna invented it around 1580, or indeed as late as 1587.3 As to the silver figure, the entry reads, “Una figurina con uno sgudo in mano et uno bastone, innuda” (A nude figurine with a shield in its hand and a baton/stick). The sculptor received a supply of silver on 3 July 1578: this was brought into connection with the Mars by Herbert Keutner in 1978,4 but Manfred Leithe-Jasper has pointed out – justifiably in my view – that the attributes are quite different, although it is possible to imagine a variant model of this figure with such items. Further possible objections are the use of the term ‘figurina’ for a statuette of this quite substantial size, though it does occur elsewhere. The run of feminine endings (though grammatically correct) also, for an English reader, hints – perhaps misleadingly – at a female subject for the silver piece, for example in this case perhaps a Minerva.5 It is highly likely that the model for a striding male nude warrior came into being some years before Giambologna’s personal gift of the perfect bronze cast in 1587 to the Elector of Saxony. Its subject and appearance – particularly the high quiff of hair over the forehead – are similar to those of the Roman heroically carrying off a Sabine woman in the group standing under the Loggia dei Lanzi (figs. 5 and 6).6 According to an amusing tale told by Baldinucci, this man was modelled from life around 1580 after a handsome soldier, a nobleman called Bartolommeo di Lionardo de’ Ginori. Standing seven feet six inches high, he was commonly known by foreigners as ‘Il grande Italiano’.


fig. 7 Giambologna Mars Bronze Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto


Giambologna thanked him with the gift of one of his own crucifixes.7 It was worth a considerable amount, and the gracious method of rewarding him indicated that the sculptor regarded himself as a gentleman, just as the recipient was a nobleman. Might not the figure that we are considering, though it looks facially a little older than the ‘Roman’ from the Sabine group, be one of the ‘studies and models’ that the sculptor made from this ‘robust young man’, as recorded in Baldinucci’s lengthy and fascinatingly human account? What more natural than that the sculptor should start his studies of the handsome soldier by having him pose in the nude, like some ancient god, hero or gladiator, as though in mid-stride, ready for action? No such studies in wax or clay of Bartolommeo Ginori exist today, but Giambologna might well have chosen the best, most characteristic and evocative of various poses to preserve for posterity by casting it into bronze when the occasion arose – as perhaps happened in 1587, when he hoped to ingratiate himself with the new Elector of Saxony. In addition to this, it must be noted that Mars’s stance – with the upper body’s twist to the right, the head’s turn to the left and the hands’ dynamic positioning in front and behind the torso – is reminiscent of another Giambologna invenzione, the monumental bronze Neptune for the eponymous fountain in Bologna, commissioned by Pope Pius IV in the 1560s. In 1590 or 1592 the important German international merchant-banker Sebastian Zeh (before 1534–1598), a friend and near-contemporary of Giambologna’s, may have purchased from the master a small collection of his bronze statuettes, including a cast of the Mars.8 This has recently been surmised from the fact that in 1611 his son Markus Zeh (d. 1620), another merchant-connoisseur, possessed just such a collection, featuring “Un gladiatore”, in Augsburg, which presumably came to him by inheritance. In 1660 this passed en bloc into the collection of the noble family of Schönborn at Schloss Pommersfelden and is now in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (fig. 7). The next two documentary references to Giambologna’s Mars also occur in the German-speaking lands.9 Between 1607 and 1611 one appeared in the inventory of the Emperor Rudolf II’s Kunstkammer in Prague, under no. 1900, as “Ein einzele figure von bronzo, ist ein gladiatore”: this may be the example now in the National Museum, Stockholm (inv. no. Sk334), having been looted by Swedish troops in 1648. By 1616 “Un bravo o un lottatore … del Giambologna” featured under no. 257 in the posthumous inventory of Paul von Praun of Nuremberg: this had probably been acquired perhaps twenty years earlier, in the 1590s, when the silk-merchant lived in Bologna.10 This very early connection between Giambologna’s Mars and German collections is all the more fascinating when we consider the provenance of the present bronze, the German princely house of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. This senior Swabian branch of the prominent Hohenzollern family, with roots that can be traced as far back as the eleventh century, ruled the county of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen from their seat




at Schloss Sigmaringen. Whilst documentary evidence has yet to confirm the present Mars’s earlier provenance, it is entirely possible it formed part of the HohenzollernSigmaringen collection since the time of its creation in the late sixteenth century, when the formidable Charles II (1547–1606) was head of the family. Subsequently, models of the Mars begin to appear in the inventories of worldly ecclesiastics in Rome: in 1623 Cardinal Ludovisi owned one with a scimitar and his coat-of-arms on its gilded pedestal: “Un Gladiatore di metallo con una scimarra in mano alto palmi 1, ¾ con piedistallo dorato con arme di Sig.r Card[ina]le”. This had descended to a nephew, the Prince of Venosa, by 1633: “Un marte tutto ignudo alto un p[al]mo e mezzo incirca con La spade in mano. Piedistallo e cartella dorata”. It may be one that was acquired from the Ludovisi collection by Charles Errard, head of the Académie de France in Rome, who later gave it to King Louis XIV: it was allocated no. 243 among the bronzes de la Couronne and is now in the Louvre, inv. no. OA 5439 (fig. 8). In 1628 yet another one appeared in the inventory of Bishop Alessandro del Monte as “Un Gladiatore di metallo”, but its present location is unknown. Thereafter, the model makes its appearance in a number of distinguished French collections, but these have no bearing on its early history or the authorship of individual pieces. Much ink has been spilt in vain trying to establish a pecking order in terms of quality, authorship and date for the documented Mars statuettes, and the best examples of those that lack helpful provenances. An attempt was made in the exhibition of 1978 to aid this process by direct comparisons between six of them, but the results were disappointing, in as much as no clarification emerged, for it turned out that there are too many variables in the equation. Each example proved in its details to be ‘different’ – albeit sometimes only slightly.

fig. 8 Giambologna, cast by Antonio Susini Mars Bronze Musée du Louvre, Paris figs. 9–12 Details showing the back of the heads of the Quentin, Bayer AG and New York versions, and of the present bronze


figs. 13–16 Details showing the faces of the Quentin, Bayer AG, Montreal and New York versions fig. 17 Detail of the face of the Louvre Mars (fig. 8)

Indeed it has to be borne in mind that, crucially, every example of the same model by any artist is actually a unique work of art. Alterations from the sculptor’s original master model, albeit minute, can occur at two points in the process of production by the lost-wax method – first when the various hollow wax shells of components (typically heads, arms, legs and attributes) are adjusted and attached to one another by melting their ends or joining them with warm wax; and secondly, after casting, when the investment is broken open, the sprues are cut off and the bronze has to be cleaned and finished for presentation with rasps, hammers and chisels. Minor losses of metal or flaws in the surface have to be patched and smoothed over and accidental accretions disguised or filed off. The chasing of details is often governed by practical necessities beyond the control of the artist and therefore varies from piece to piece. It is nonetheless important to compare the present cast with the known autograph versions (figs. 9–16). In this respect, much depends on the assessment of the ‘freshness’ of detail. The handling of the hair, for example, is indicative. If one compares the datable Bayer Mars and the initialled example now in Montreal, the handling is visibly diverse, with the former freer and spontaneous and the latter more calligraphic, but less natural, which is not to say that it is stiff or harsh. If one then factors in the Quentin collection cast, it looks even freer and broader in handling than the one in the Bayer collection, though not necessarily on that account ‘better’, nor closer to the master model by Giambologna.11 At the other end of the spectrum, an excellent statuette in a New York private collection (formerly Tomasso Brothers Fine Art/ Hall & Knight) and the present example show the path followed from the dated Bayer head by the firm, but wavy, calligraphic approach to indicating the locks of hair (figs. 9–12). A similar exercise offers itself in the treatment of the face (figs. 13–16 and detail facing). Through careful analysis, therefore, the present cast can be securely placed within the firmament of the good, autograph, early casts of Giambologna’s Mars, before the serious involvement of Antonio Susini, who began to create tighter, more detailed versions, such as that from a Roman collection now in the Louvre (figs. 8 and 17), where the facial features are drawn into the wax of the casting model with a stylus, so firmly as to look stylized and to resemble in some respects a theatrical mask. charles avery, ph.d.



APPENDIX Bartolommeo di Lionardo Ginori, the live model for Giambologna’s statue of the Roman in his group of the Rape of a Sabine, and perhaps for the Mars

F. Baldinucci, Notizie dei professori del disegno, Florence 1688, p. 126 (cited by Dhanens, 1956, p. 382): Viveva in quei tempi nella nostra Città Bartolommeo di Lionardo della nobil famiglia de’Ginori, uomo di sì alta statura, che nulla più le manacava per giungere a quattro intere braccia … [2.30 m/ 7ft 6 in. high!]; onde fra quei di fuori erasi acquistato il soprannome del grande Italiano; Questo, tutto che soldato di valore, era uomo pio, e spesso a sua divozione trattenevasi nella Chiesa di San Giovannino de PP Gesuiti: accade un giorno, ch’e’ vi capitasse Gio. Bologna in quell tempo appunto, ch’e’ faceva quegli studii, e date d’occhio alla grande, e ben proporzionata persona del Gentiluomo con tanta attenzione, e cosi fissamente andavala osservando, che il Ginori, a cui (per essere trovato fuori in varie occorrenze di suo stato, e fortuna) non mancava da sospettare, ebbe per bene d’andare alla volta sua, e con modo amarevole interrogarlo, s’egli alcuna cosa da lui ricercasse; a cui Gio. Bologna: “nulla più Signor ricerco io da voi, che osservare la bella, anzi maravigliosa proporzione della vostra figura; e giacchè voi con gentilezza tanto m’invitate, io passerò avanti a narrarvi un mio bisogno, ed è, che dovendo io, che sono Gio. Bologna da Dovai, Scultore del Granduca, fatigare intorno ad alcune grandi statue, con che devo rappresentare un certo ratto, stimerei di poter sodisfar molto a me stesso, ed all’arta mia, quando io potessi far qualche studio dalle membra vostre”: il Ginori, che amorevolissimo era, ed amico de’ virtuosi, e che forse avea cognizione per fama delle qualitati dello Scultore, perchè di lui molto si parlava in Firenze, benchè non mai veduto l’avesse, subito s’offerse al suo bisogno; ondè potè poi lo Scultore far da sua persona gli studi, e modelli, che fece per la figura di quell robusto giovane, che in sì bella attitudine regge quella femmina; il che fatto, Gio. Bologna per corrispondere alla benignità di quell Signore, donogli un bel Crocifisso di bronzo fatto con suo modello. There lived in those days in our city Bartolommeo di Lionardo of the noble family of the Ginori, a man of such great height that he stood only just short of four braccia [standing seven feet six inches high] … hence he was nicknamed by foreigners ‘The Big Italian’. Though he was a valiant soldier, Ginori was very pious and often went for his devotions to the church of the Jesuits, San Giovannino: it came about one day that he caught the attention of Giambologna, just when the sculptor was working on [The Rape of a Sabine], and he was eyeing the gigantic and well-proportioned body of the Gentleman with such attention and went on looking at him so fixedly, that Ginori, who (owing to the fact that he had been caught out in various events in his circumstances and down on his luck) became suspicious and decided to go right up to him and ask – in a perfectly pleasant way – if he wanted anything of him. To which Giambologna replied, “No, sir, I want nothing more from you than to observe the fine – indeed marvellous – proportions of your figure; and because you have asked me with such kindness, I’ll go on to tell you what I need: I am Giambologna of Douai, 44



Sculptor to the Grand Duke, and I have to work on some big statues with which I am to depict a particular abduction. It would satisfy me personally and my art, if I could make some studies of your limbs.” Ginori, who was very pleasant and a friend of artists, and perhaps because he had heard of the fame and qualities of the Sculptor, because he was being much talked about in Florence, though he had never seen him in person, straightaway offered to satisfy his needs: so it came about that the Sculptor was able to make studies and models from his person for the figure of the robust young man who lifts up the woman in such a graceful pose. This done, Giambologna, wishing to reciprocate the kindness of this Gentleman, presented him with a fine crucifix made from his own model. translation by charles avery 2015 related literature S. Meller, ‘Dr. Wittmann Ernö Kizplaszikai gyüjtemenye’, Magyar Müveszet, vol. X, 1934, p. 240 E. Dhanens, Jean Boulogne, Giovanni Bologna Fiammingo, Brussels, 1956, pp. 198–99, pl. XXXVI C. Avery and A. Radcliffe, Giambologna, Sculptor to the Medici, exh. cat., Arts Council of Great Britain, London, 1978, nos. 42–46, pp. 93–98 J. Montagu, ‘The Giambologna Exhibition’, The Burlington Magazine, vol. CXX, 1978, pp. 690–93 C. Avery, in sale catalogue, Christie’s, London, 7 June 1987, lot 22 C. Avery, Giambologna: The Complete Sculpture, Oxford [1987], 1993, no. 69, pp. 28, 137, 261, pl. II, figs. 137, 303 V. Krahn, “Von allen seiten schön”: Bronzen der Renaissance und des Barock, exh. cat., Altes Museum, Berlin, 1995 M. Leithe-Jasper and P. Wengraf (eds.), European Bronzes from the Quentin Collection, exh. cat., The Frick Collection, New York, 2004, no. 10, pp. 120–33 M. Leithe-Jasper, B. Paolozzi Strozzi and D. Zikos (eds.), Giambologna, gli dei, gli eroi: genesi e fortuna di uno stile europeo nella scultura, exh. cat., Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, 2006, pp. 208–13 Wilfried Seipel and C. Kryza-Gersch (eds.), Giambologna, Triumph des Körpers, exh. cat., Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, 2006, pp. 218–26 [cited as ‘Exhibition 2006b’] M. Woelk, entry, in D. Syndram, M. Woelk and M. Minning (eds.), Giambologna in Dresden: die Geschenke der Medici, exh. cat., Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, 2006, pp. 34–41


notes 1 In a well-known letter of 1579 to his patron, Ottavio Farnese, the artist had explained with regard to a bronze group of two figures that “the subject was chosen to give scope to the knowledge and study of art”. 2 Avery and Radcliffe 1978, no. 42, p. 96; Leithe-Jasper, Paolozzi Strozzi and Zikos 2006, no. 25, p. 213. 3 A.M. Massinelli, ‘Identità di Pietro Simoni da Barga’, Critica d’Arte, vol. 52, 1987, pp. 57–61. 4 Avery and Radcliffe 1978, no. 43, p. 96; Krahn 1995, no. 114, pp. 368–69; LeitheJasper, Paolozzi Strozzi and Zikos 2006, no. 24, p. 212. 5 Indeed, owing to a faulty reading of the document, omitting the final, crucial word “innuda”, I once wrongly associated this document with a bronze statuette in the Bargello of a modestly draped Minerva holding the shaft of a spear and a shield, which looks like a product of the Giambologna-Susini duo (C. Avery, La Spezia, Museo Civico Amedeo Lia: 4: Sculture – bronzetti, placchette, medaglie, Milan, 1998, no. 79, pp. 132–33, fig. a). One can actually imagine an alternative version with her nude, as the goddess is sometimes shown. 6 C. Avery, ‘“… per dar campo alla sagezza et studio dell’arte”: il ratto della Sabina di Giambologna’, in S. Bracci and Lia Brunori







(eds.), Il modello del ratto delle Sabine del Giambologna, Florence, 2015, pp. 10–33. F. Baldinucci, Notizie dei professori del disegno, Florence 1688, p. 126 (cited by Dhanens, 1956, p. 382): see Appendix. D. Diemer, ‘Giambologna in Germania’, in Leithe-Jasper, Paolozzi Strozzi and Zikos 2006, pp. 118–19: an album of souvenirs of Sebastian Zeh (now in London) includes under 1592 signatures of Giambologna, his associate Francavilla and Michelangelo Buonarotti il Giovane, while in 1590 the book was signed by the Senator Bernardo Vecchietti, Giambologna’s life-long patron and friend, just before his death. For much of this listing, I am indebted to M. Leithe-Jasper in Leithe-Jasper, Paolozzi Strozzi and Zikos 2006, pp. 210–11, with exact documentary references. D. Diemer, ‘Giambologna in Germania’, in Leithe-Jasper, Paolozzi Strozzi and Zikos 2006, p. 114. Indeed, if one notes the row of tiny ‘kisscurls’ along the hairline over the forehead, and the even more exaggerated quiff of curly hair piled high above, it might even be seen as a more luxuriant and slightly finicky ‘variation on the theme of his master’ by a gifted sculptor imitating Giambologna – someone like his Flemish associate Pietro Francavilla.


north italian, 16th century


A pacing horse Bronze with brown patina, on an ebonized base inset with lapis lazuli 7 ¾ in. (20 cm) high 8 in. (20.5 cm) wide 11 ¾ in. (30 cm) high including base provenance Dr Eduard Simon (1864–1929), Berlin, until 1929 His posthumous sale, P. Cassirer & H. Helbing, Berlin, 10–11 October 1929, lot 60 The estate of Hugo and Ruth (née Baroness von Riedel) Klotz

the present cast´s rich brown patina and vibrant handling of the surface, perfectly exemplified by the freely textured tail and mane of the horse and theidiosyncratic rendering of the tense skin around its hooves, all point in the direction of a North Italian master bronzier, as opposed to the more highly polished modelling of central Italian bronzes. Intriguingly, it appears that this bronze was left unfinished, which endows it with a unique impressionistic, almost painterly quality. Arguably the most influential examples in the extensive canon of equine sculpture, the majestic Horses of St Mark’s in Venice – with their strong, yet elegantly poised gaits and broad, powerful necks – have clearly provided the prototype for this fine sixteenth-century North Italian bronze. The earliest mention of the Horses’ presence in St Mark’s appears in a letter, dated 1364, by the famed Italian scholar and poet Petrarch. Tradition has it that they were brought to the Serene Republic in 1204 by Crusaders returning from Constantinople. Of antique origin and cast in bronze, they most likely would have been part of a chariot group, known as a quadriga. Their date remains elusive. To this day, scholars have proposed dating their execution to periods as far apart as the time of Lysippus in the fourth century bc and that of Emperor Constantine in the early fourth century ad. From the mid thirteenth until the late eighteenth centuries the Horses stood atop the loggia above St Mark’s entrance, crowning with their striking silhouettes the main portal of the façade. On 13 December 1797, following the fall of the Venetian Republic at the hands of Napoleon’s troops, they were removed from the basilica and subsequently taken to Paris, where they remained until 1815, when, after the Congress of Vienna, they were returned to St Mark’s. Today the Horses are preserved in the basilica’s museum for their conservation, while replicas adorn the basilica’s façade. Widely admired throughout the centuries, alongside the ancient Roman Marcus Aurelius on the Capitoline Hill, the Horses were central to the development of Renaissance and later equestrian portraiture, as testified by monuments such as Donatello’s Gattamelata from 1453, in Padua’s Piazza del Santo, and Andrea del Verrocchio’s Bartolomeo Colleoni in Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice (1480– 88). In both cases the horses’ anatomy is powerfully muscular, the eyes alert and highly defined, the nostrils and the foreheads’ veins accurately outlined and the tails elegantly arched, all elements that find parallels in the Horses of St Mark’s. In addition 50


fig. 1 The Horses of St Mark’s in situ, early 20th century

to this, in each monument the front left hoof is raised from the ground and strides forward, a suggestion of movement borrowed from two of the four Marcian horses. As observed by Hans Weihrauch, small-scale bronzes inspired by the Horses appear from the beginning of the sixteenth century (Weihrauch 1967, pp. 49–51). A fascinating testimony of such works, and of the type of setting in which they would have been displayed, is offered by Carpaccio’s painting of Saint Augustine in his study (Scuola di San Giorgio, Venice), where a small bronze horse with its left foreleg raised stands on a ledge alongside another bronze statuette, a candelabrum, a preciously bound book and maiolica vases (see Haskell and Penny 1981, p. 239). In the early twentieth century this statuette was in the collection of Eduard Simon, one of the richest men in Berlin and a partner in the successful textile firm Gebrüder Simon. An eminent art collector, he housed his treasures in his villa by the Tiergarten, which he had purpose-designed by the renowned architect Alfred Messel, with rooms furnished in different historical styles. His music room, for example, featured elaborate Rococo panelling, mirrors and wallpaper, whilst his dining room was decorated with Giandomenico Tiepolo’s stunning series of six gold ground grisailles representing the deeds of the Porto family of Vicenza (circa 1760). Upon Simon’s death in 1929 our horse was auctioned at his posthumous sale, and subsequently entered an equally remarkable collection, that of Hugo and Ruth Klotz, a German couple who settled in New York shortly after World War II. Hugo Klotz was a successful Wall Street stockbroker, while Ruth was the youngest daughter of a highly respected baronial Bavarian family. Their extensive collection included Rembrandt’s Abduction of Europa, now in the J. Paul Getty Museum, and a beautiful painting of Saint Barbara in a Wooded Landscape by Lucas Cranach the Elder. related literature H.R. Weihrauch, Europäische Bronzestatuetten 15–18 Jahrhundert, Brunswick, 1967 F. Haskell and N. Penny, Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1550–1900, New Haven and London, 1981, pp. 236–40, no. 49, figs. 121–122



antonio susini (1558–1624)


Cristo Morto Bronze 10 in. (25.4 cm) high 8 ¼ in. (21 cm) wide

born in florence, Antonio Susini initially trained as a goldsmith with Felice Traballesi. Little known, Trabellesi was, however, crucial to our artist’s career, as it was thanks to his acquaintanceship with the noble family of the Salviati that, by 1580, Susini was introduced to the great Giambologna. With this encounter began a collaboration that spanned two decades and saw Antonio rapidly assimilate the master’s style, whilst also retaining his distinctive character as a draughtsman, typified by highly classicizing, carefully chiselled, supremely finished and meticulously detailed compositions. These qualities were certainly admired by Giambologna, who occasionally even bought casts from Antonio, after the latter had set up his own workshop in 1600. The present bronze is a beautiful example of Antonio’s reading of Giambologna’s prototypes, in this case the crucified Christ also referred to as Cristo Morto – the traditional portrayal of the Saviour on the cross, his head cast down and eyelids lowered, caught in the moment of his ultimate sacrifice. Remarkably, the biographer Filippo Baldinucci informs us that Antonio “had in his room two chests for glasses, in which he used to keep all his finished works, and when prelates or laymen from all over the world called on him and asked him for a crucifix of such and such a size, or some other figure, Susini very quietly got up from his work, went to the chest, took out the figure and showed it to them, telling them the price. If the priest or whoever else made a counter-offer, and it did not please him, you would see him take the little figure, wrap it in its covering, put it back in the chest and go back and sit down again at his work without saying anything.” It is interesting to note that, among all the subjects treated by Susini, this anecdote – at once an acknowledgement of the master’s skill and a subtly humorous observation of his character – mentions first and foremost “a crucifix”. This testifies to the importance and desirability of such objects, which would have been acquired to adorn a prominent church altar or a refined domestic tabernacle. The size of the present Cristo Morto suggests it was meant for private devotion, its exquisitely detailed finish further indicating that it was conceived to be held and admired closely, by a single pair of hands and eyes. Such devotional practice faithfully responded to the teachings of the Catholic Reformation, as spelled out by the Council of Trent (1545– 63), which advocated a closer communion with the divine through intimate reflection on Christ’s redemptive sacrifice. As mentioned above, this composition is inspired by Giambologna’s Cristo Morto, of the type exemplified by the crucifixes for the convent of Santa Maria degli Angiolini (before 1588; 46.8 cm) and the Salviati Chapel in San Marco (1588 or before; 45.8 cm high), both in Florence, and by the one now in Douai (Musée





Municipal de la Chartreuse; 31.5 cm). However, far from being a simple version of this model, our bronze constitutes a refined and individual elaboration of the theme by Susini, characterized by his distinctive handling of the surface and subtle changes to Giambologna’s iconography. These qualities are visible in the vivid yet composed chiselling of Christ’s hair and facial features – which distance themselves from Giambologna’s Northern sensitivity, his vibrant realism, in favour of a more classicizing approach – in the accurate yet soft outlines of the limbs, in the miniaturelike observation of the anatomy, and in the well-studied perizonium, marked by elegantly restrained folds that do not adhere to a specific Giambologna example. In addition to this, Susini draws the inclination of Christ’s head almost imperceptibly forwards compared to his master’s model, endowing the present figure with a less angular appearance. related literature K.J. Watson, entry, in C. Avery and A. Radcliffe (eds.), Giambologna, Sculptor to the Medici, exh. cat., Arts Council of Great Britain, London, 1978, nos. 104, 105, 107, pp. 142–46 C. Avery, Giambologna, The Complete Sculpture, Oxford, 1987, pp. 193–202 M. Hall, in C. Avery (ed.), Giambologna – An Exhibition of Sculpture by the Master and His Followers, exh. cat., Salander O’Reilly Galleries, New York, 1998, no. 26, pp. 61–62, 80


giovanni francesco susini (1585–c. 1653)


Pacing Lion After a model by Giambologna (1529–1608) Bronze 5 ½ in. (14 cm) high 8 in. (20 cm) wide

upon taking over his uncle Antonio’s Florentine workshop at via dei Pilastri in 1624, Giovanni Francesco, or Gianfrancesco, Susini continued its successful tradition of producing casts of Giambologna’s models, as exemplified by the present bronze. The Pacing Lion – the earliest surviving record of it being a mention in the Casino Mediceo at San Marco in 1588 – is indeed included in Filippo Baldinucci’s list of prototypes after Giambologna that were executed by Gianfrancesco, as “il leone camminante” (see Avery and Radcliffe 1978, p. 44). Versions of Gianfrancesco’s Pacing Lion, which are rare, feature in some of the world’s most prestigious collections, including those of Robert H. Smith and the Prince of Liechtenstein, the Schloss Pommersfelden and the Castello Sforzesco in Milan, whilst two that can be ascribed to Antonio Susini are respectively in Vienna (Kunsthistoriches Museum) and Florence (Museo del Bargello). Gianfrancesco’s fine stylistic signature appears distinctly throughout the present work. The delicate and refined chasing of the hair about the lion’s mane, for instance, is highly typical of the artist’s technique and contrasts with Giambologna’s characteristically looser handling and Antonio’s somewhat more meticulous and highly finished surface. The smooth, polished texture of the lion’s body is likewise distinctive of Gianfrancesco, and representative of his mastery in casting and finishing bronze. As observed by Charles Avery (Avery and Radcliffe 1978, p. 44), the typology of this lion is “consistent with those that appear in the groups showing them pouncing on horses or bulls … which certainly originate from Giambologna”, who must have found inspiration in the lions of antiquity with which he would have been so very familiar. Cast in small scale, this bronze nonetheless captures the fierce spirit of the animal and enchants the imagination of the beholder. Remarkably, Giambologna’s Pacing Lion was amongst the “confetture”, sculptures made of sugar, that adorned the extravagant banquet held in the Salone dei Cinquecento of Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, on the evening of 5 October 1600, to celebrate the nuptials of Maria de’ Medici and Henri IV of France (see G. Giusti and R. Spinelli (eds.), Dolci trionfi e finissime piegature, Florence, 2015, no. 10, pp. 96–97).

related literature C. Avery and A. Radcliffe (eds.), Giambologna 1529–1608: Sculptor to the Medici, exh. cat., Arts Council of Great Britain, London, 1978, nos. 175, 176, p. 191 C. Avery, Giambologna – The Complete Sculpture, Oxford, 1987, no. 142, p. 269, fig. 315



The Triumph of Caesar over King Juba antonio di pietro averlino called

il filarete



antonio di pietro averlino, called il filarete (c. 1400–1469)


The Triumph of Caesar over King Juba, c. 1433 Bronze 6 ¼ in. (15.4 cm) high 10 ¾ in. (27.4 cm) wide inscriptions IVLIVS CAESAR 2%8 s )6"! provenance Private collection of T.L. Thirkhill, Leeds, since the mid 20th century literature R. Glass, ‘Filarete at the Papal Court: sculpture, ceremony and the antique in early Renaissance Rome’, PhD thesis, Princeton University, May 2011, p. 520, fig. 82

the exciting rediscovery of this highly important and seminal Early Renaissance masterpiece by Antonio di Pietro Averlino, called Filarete, depicts Julius Caesar on horseback, leading his defeated foe, King Juba, in a triumphal procession. This intriguing and enigmatic work probably originates from circa 1433, just after Filarete moved to Rome and began designing the exquisite bronze doors of St Peter’s Basilica, which to this day adorn its central portal. Filarete was a Florentine and likely trained under Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378–1455). Along with Ghiberti, he was an early master of bronze relief sculpture and, with works such as the present object, had a crucial influence over the entire genre, especially with regards to the all’antica pieces with which the Renaissance has become synonymous. The bronze, presented here for the first time, illustrating the Triumph of Caesar over King Juba, is an exciting addition to the study of epoch-making sculpture of the Quattrocento and is the autograph work by Filarete of which two derivative examples are held by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and the Musée du Louvre, Paris. In his entry for the Washington relief, to be published in his forthcoming systematic catalogue of the National Gallery of Art’s plaquettes, Douglas Lewis describes the Washington example as “a slightly larger, substantially heavier, and technically sharper prototype cast of a better-known replica that has been in the French royal collections in the Louvre”. As observed by Lewis in recent correspondence, our bronze has the same “bubbly change of plane at one end of the reverse” as the Washington version, and the “colours of both the alloy, and especially the patina” on our cast are “exceptionally good”; he describes the “crispness of its details” as “striking”. Furthermore, as agreed by Robert Glass in his Princeton University doctoral dissertation ‘Filarete at the Papal Court’, the quality of the present bronze reveals it to be a fully autograph work, much finer than the others, datable in his view possibly to around 1442–43. Indeed Glass relates its conception to the arrival of the Byzantine Emperor John VIII Palaeologus and the Greeks to the Council of Ferrara-Florence in


fig. 1 Marcus Mettius Silver denarius of Caesar, 44 bc British Museum, London, inv. no. R9060;1843,0116.813

fig. 2 Silver coin of King Juba I, 85–46 bc British Museum, London, inv. no. RPK,p218A.2 JubI

1438–39, the event that brought the famous antiquarian Ciriaco d’Ancona and Filarete together again and in the following years inspired them to produce new all’antica objects. Conversely, Lazzaroni and Muñoz, Cannata and Lewis date its ‘Triumph of Caesar’ composition earlier, to around 1433, in part because of the inclusion of a ‘giant figure’ trailing the retinue. Lewis suggests that the insertion of this figure was possibly inspired by Niccolò da Parma, the legendary giant that Filarete said he had seen as part of Emperor Sigismund’s procession through Rome on 31 May 1433. The design might also be tied chronologically with the bronze relief narratives on the central doors of St Peter’s basilica, which Filarete began in 1433. In any case, the present autograph work, with its supremely fine and strikingly crisp details, should be considered for obvious reasons as prior to the examples in Washington and Paris: it is likely to be the earliest Renaissance bronze relief depicting a scene from antiquity, thus representing a truly remarkable turning point in the history of Western art. By the middle decades of the Quattrocento, the demand for all things antique had reached a peak, and this burgeoning interest in the ancient world can be clearly seen in Filarete’s work. He reinterpreted classical subjects and motifs that appeared in ancient art and responded to the artistic inheritance from antiquity that was being rediscovered by artists and humanist scholars of the period. The multifigured, processional, ‘Triumph’ scenes that proliferated on the Roman historical reliefs of the imperial monumental arches and helical columns understandably provided much inspiration to Filarete in creating his own vision of Caesar’s triumph. Here Filarete translates into bronze their essential compositional and formal characteristics – a series of overlapping equestrian figures modelled in relief and set in a rectangular frame. In the portraits of the two protagonists, Filarete’s principal sources were clearly ancient coins – a silver denarius of 44 bc by Marcus Mettius for Caesar (fig. 1) and for King Juba a numinous artefact reading REX.IVBA (fig. 2), an inscription which he also used on our relief. Caesar’s pose appears to stem from a sestertius of Hadrian (fig. 3), while the standard-bearer to the far right of the scene and the leaf and dart moulding around the work’s perimeter appear to derive from a number of antique marble relief sources. In conjunction with this, Filarete’s design is indebted to certain Roman ‘virtues’, or ideals, inherited from the ancient world. An available source of these for Filarete might have been the literature of Virgil, and particularly his Aeneid: But you, Roman, must remember that you have to guide the nations by your authority … to show mercy to the conquered and to wage war until the haughty are brought low (Aeneid VI, 851–53)

fig. 3 Sestertius of Hadrian, ad 117–38 British Museum, London, inv. no. 1872,0709.606


It is these particular virtues of authority, waging war on the haughty and showing mercy to the conquered that are demonstrated in the present relief. For in Filarete’s bronze relief, although the Roman triumph was clearly intended as a humiliation for the defeated parties, Caesar is depicted demonstrating a degree of mercy, or clementia, by allowing King Juba to ride alongside him in the procession, rather than bound and naked like the enslaved ‘giant’ trailing behind. Filarete also makes it clear that Caesar’s

fig. 4 Filarete Doors of St Peter’s Basilica, Rome, c. 1433–45, detail: Eugenius IV and Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund process to the Castel Sant’Angelo on horseback fig. 5 Filarete Doors of St Peter’s Basilica, Rome, c. 1433–45, detail: Abbot Andrew of Egypt leads the Coptic and Ethiopian delegates to the Council of Florence on a pilgrimage to Rome

victory is over a powerful and haughty foreign rival, for not only is Juba’s army represented by a single gigantic figure but the king’s regal attire (note the lionskin saddle) appears resplendent and his head is proudly and insubordinately raised, demonstrating that he was the ruler of a great and powerful empire. However, the design of this particular relief was perhaps not a straightforward exercise in antiquarian emulation, but rather a highly creative endeavour. First, the composition as a whole has no known antique precedent and, secondly, what Filarete depicts here is in fact apocryphal. King Juba actually died in Numidia soon after his defeat by Caesar, and his son, Juba II, who was brought to Rome and was included in Caesar’s African triumph, was an infant at the time. As Lewis has identified, Filarete merged the histories of King Juba I of Numidia (reigned c. 60–46 bc) and the infant prince (born c. 50 bc), creating a scene more symbolic than realistic, constituting “a creative, personal interpretation of an undocumented intermediary moment between Caesar’s victory and King Juba’s death or suicide”. As shown by the Roman reliefs that depict the triumphal processions of Caesar, it is clear that he would have travelled in a chariot, rather than on horseback, which was in fact more in line with the ceremonial processions of the Quattrocento – as indeed illustrated in the scene that depicts the procession of the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund and Eugenius IV to the Castel Sant’Angelo on horseback, shown on Filarete’s doors of St Peter’s (fig. 4). There also appears to be an inclusion on the far left of the scene of a helmeted character similar in scale to the aforementioned giant Niccolò da Parma, a famed character in Renaissance court culture, whom Filarete saw as part of King Sigismund’s retinue in 1433. Similiarly, on the crossbar reliefs on Filarete’s doors of St Peter’s, the depictions of Abbot Andrew and his companions entering Rome are highly comparable to the oversized heads of King Juba and the captive giant (fig. 5). Taken together, Filarete’s representation of an ancient scene in such a stylized contemporary manner, his deviations from the ancient historical sources and the insertion of details specific to more recent Renaissance processions can be interpreted as an imagining of Caesar’s mythical ancient procession with Juba I in Quattrocento terms. This was perhaps part of a deliberate strategy to heighten the work’s appeal to certain contemporary patrons. It is important to note that, at court centres since the medieval period, Julius Caesar was the most celebrated of all the ancient Caesars, in part owing to the belief that he was the first emperor and founder of the Roman Empire, besides his reputation as an unsurpassed military leader. It therefore seems

possible that Caesar would have been considered the archetypal ruler and ideal model by a Renaissance prince who was enthralled by the glories of antiquity and perhaps aware of the power that harnessing this classical visual language could bring. There is a possibility that Filarete’s conflation of antique details and elements from contemporary processions in this work created an ‘exemplum’ object, which could have formed a persuasive visual argument for a Renaissance prince’s kinship with the admired, all-powerful Caesar. Its further purpose may have been to hearten such a ruler in his struggle against his foreign adversaries. Although we are unable to identify any particular patron at this stage, Glass lists a number of candidates who may have been receptive of such a gift in the mid Quattrocento, or who indeed might have commissioned a relief of this nature. They include the Emperor John VIII Palaeologus of Byzantium, Leonello d’Este, Alfonso of Aragon, Domenico Malatesta Novello in Cesena, the Papal Legate Giuliano Cesarini, John Hunyadi and King Ladislas. In conclusion, the recent emergence of our bronze relief provides scholars and collectors with an opportunity to study a truly innovative and highly important autograph bronze sculpture by one of the most influential artists of the Renaissance. By its own definition the ‘Renaissance’ was a rebirth due to the study and influence of the ancient world on contemporary discourse and imagery during the Quattrocento. The present bronze plaquette representing the Triumph of Caesar over King Juba, a subject which would appeal to learned circles, captures a moment in the history of sculpture which was to influence European art for centuries to come.


related literature A. Graf, Roma nella memoria e nelle immaginazioni del medio evo, Turin, 1882, vol. I, pp. 248–307 E. Molinier, Les Plaquettes. Catalogue Raisonné, Paris, 1886 E. Piot, ‘Les Plaquetttes de la Renaissance’, in L’Art Ancien à l’exposition de 1878, 1879 G. Migeon, Catalogue des Bronzes & Cuivres du Moyen Âge, de la Renaissance et des Temps Modernes, Paris, 1904, no. 426, pp. 327–28 M. Lazzaroni and A. Muñoz, Filarete: scultore e architetto del secolo XV, Rome, 1908 E.F. Bange, Die Italienischen Bronzen der Renaissance und des Barock: Reliefs und Plaketten, vol. II, Berlin and Leipzig, 1922 E. Maclagan, Catalogue of Italian Bronzes in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1924 F. Gundolf, The Mantle of Caesar, trans. Jacob Wittmer Hartmann, New York, 1928 S. de Ricci, Gustave Dreyfus Collection of Renaissance Reliefs and Plaquettes, Oxford, 1931 J. Pope-Hennessey, Renaissance Bronzes from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Reliefs, Plaquettes, Statuettes, Utensils and Mortars, London, 1965 U. Middeldorf, ‘Filarete?’, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, vol. XVII, no. 1, 1973, pp. 78–81, figs. 6–7 F. Rossi, Placchette secolo XV–XIV (Cataloghi Musei Civici Brescia), Vicenza, 1974 B. Elthammar, Julius Caesar inför eftervärlden: Studier i Caesaruppfattningen under medeltid och italiensk renässans, Stockholm, 1976 J.R. Spencer, ‘Filarete’s Bronze Doors at Saint Peter’s’, in Collaboration in Italian Renaissance Art, ed. Wendy S. Sheard and John T. Paoletti, New Haven and London, 1978, pp. 33–57 A. Martindale, The Triumphs of Caesar by Andrea Mantegna in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen at Hampton Court, London, 1979, p. 59 P. Cannata, Rilievi e Placchette dal XV al XVIII secolo, exh. cat., Museo di Palazzo Venezia, Rome, 1982 P. Bober and R. Rubinstein, Renaissance Artists and Antique Sculpture, London, 1986 E. Parlato, ‘Il gusto all’antica di Filarete scultore’, in Da Pisanello alla nascita dei Musei capitolini: l’antico a Roma alla vigilia del Rinascimento, ed. A. Cavallaro and E. Parlato, exh. cat., Musei Capitolini, Rome, 1988, no. 36, pp. 124–25 P. Cannata, ‘Le placchette del Filarete’, in Italian Plaquettes, ed. Alison Luchs, Washington, D.C., 1989, pp. 35–53 M. Leino, Fashion, Devotion and Contemplation: The Status and Function of Italian Renaissance Plaquettes, Bern, 2013 D. Lewis, ‘Catalogue of the Renaissance Plaquettes (The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Washington) Systematic Catalogue’, unpublished


the master of the budapest abundance (active c. 1550)


Allegory of Abundance Olive-coloured bronze with rich brown patina 19¼ in. (48.7 cm) high

fig. 1 Page from Francesco Colonna, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, 1499, showing Ceres (flavae messis)


the present Abundance, identifiable thanks to the cornucopia she holds in her left hand, is a fascinating example of the encounter between the Northern Italian and German schools in the middle of the sixteenth century, a dialogue that had begun decades earlier with the dissemination of prints across both sides of the Alps. Specifically, our figure is at once indebted to allegories such as the Ceres in the enigmatic Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499; fig. 1) and Albrecht Dürer’s celebrated Great Fortune engraving of 1501–02 (fig. 2). A magnum opus of remarkable ambition, the Hypnerotomachia had been published in Venice at the turn of the century by the Aldine Press, the enterprise of the formidable Aldus Manutius (1449–1515). The story of ‘Poliphilo’s strife of love in a dream’, as the Greek etymology of its title indicates, the book centres on the young man’s search for his beloved Polia through enchanted forests and arcane landscapes, filled with ancient ruins and mythological deities and beasts. Whilst the text – written in a highly Latinate vulgata, with reference to ancient Greek, Hebrew and Arabic and to Egyptian hieroglyphs – proves to this day challenging to read, the woodcuts that illustrate it have since their appearance vividly captured the imagination of artists across generations, from Giorgione to Bernini and from Holbein the Younger to Rembrandt. The connection between our bronze and the Ceres is clear once we observe their mirroring poses, including the raised hand that holds sheaves of wheat in the Ceres (lost in the present work) and the elongated cornucopia visible in both. Yet whilst the Hypnerotomachia’s goddess is clothed in a finely pleated robe, our allegory is undressed, quite like a Venus emerging from the seas, but for a flowing shawl attached to her elaborate headdress. This, together with the diadem across her forehead, is reminiscent of Dürer’s Fortune, whose gesture is in turn inspired by models such as the Ceres. A further correlation between Abundance and the Fortune is evident in the treatment of the anatomies, with their muscular limbs and generous midriff, the expression of an artistic naturalism of distinctively German character. Originally our sculpture would have been part of the centrepiece for the dining table of a prosperous household. Functioning as a fountain, it would have delighted and entertained guests whilst pouring wine or other beverages into their cups. A beautiful example, still integral, of one such object is today in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection (inv. no. M.1–1955). Depicting the tragic encounter between Diana and Actaeon, it was produced around the same period and in the same centre, Nuremberg, as our bronze. This south German city was then at the heart of commercial and cultural exchanges between Italy and Northern Europe, as its rich cultural heritage testifies. Similarly to the Victoria and Albert’s composition, the choice of subject in our bronze indicates both knowledge of and a desire to appropriate the humanist rediscovery of classical antiquity. Yet in stylistic terms


fig. 2 Albrecht Dürer Nemesis (The Great Fortune) Copper engraving (B. 77)

Abundance, with its polished surface and vigorously outlined details, from the figure’s pupils to the curls in her braids, displays traits idiosyncratic of the Nuremberg school’s masters of bronze casting. One such figure was the elusive Master of the Budapest Abundance, whose name derives from a statuette known through versions in the Hungarian capital but also Vienna and Munich. Compositionally slightly different from our bronze, the Budapest Abundance strongly resembles our bronze in terms of anatomy and technique. In both figures the feet are modelled with regular, marked divisions between the short toes, and the generously plump legs terminate in an ample waist that encircles an almost geometrically circular navel. Her abdomen is strong and her breasts beautifully rounded. Her hair, arranged in an elegant headdress with braids cascading on her shoulders, is outlined in distinctive fashion. Both a synthesis of ideals of beauty from the Italian and German artistic traditions and an homage to antiquity, our Abundance heralds the culmination of the Nuremberg school of bronze casting represented by masters such as Peter Flötner (1486–1546) and Benedikt Wurzelbauer (1548–1620).

related literature H.R. Weihrauch, Die Bildwerke in Bronze und in anderen Metallen (Bayerisches Nationalmuseum. Kataloge. XIII, 5), Munich, 1956, no. 52, pp. 39–40 K. Pechstein, Nürnberger Brunnenfiguren der Renaissance, Hamburg and Berlin, 1969 F.M. Kammel, ‘Sprudelnde Bronzen der Renaissance: Brunnenfiguren der Paul Wolfgang Merkel’schen Familienstiftung’, KulturGut: aus der Forschung des Germanischen Nationalmuseums, no. 18, 2008



fran Ç ois girardon (1628–1715)


The Abduction of Proserpina Bronze, rich olive patina with extensive traces of original lacquer 41½ in. (105 cm) high provenance Possibly Vaudreuil collection sale, 26 November 1787, lot 184 Whence d’Espagnac-Tricot collection Their sale, 22 May 1793, lot 192 (sold 2,350 livres to Haudiq)

the greatest French sculptor of his day, François Girardon was crucial to the birth of the classical style of academic sculpture that took centre stage during the reign of the Sun King, Louis XIV, and would influence generations of artists to come in France and beyond. Having completed his training in both Paris and Rome, in 1657 Girardon was formally accepted into the Académie Royale, where his ‘morceau de réception’ was a marble oval medallion of The Virgin of Sorrows (now Musée du Louvre, Paris). His importance as France’s leading sculptor is evident in two highly prestigious commissions, one for the funerary monument to Cardinal de Richelieu in the Chapel of the Sorbonne, Paris, the other for the monumental bronze equestrian statue of the King in Roman armour, made for the Place Louis le Grand (now Place Vendôme), sadly destroyed during the French Revolution. Highly successful throughout his career, under royal patronage Girardon executed important sculptural groups for both the Louvre and the Versailles residences, and rapidly rose through the ranks of the Académie, where he was made Chancellor in 1695. The bronze presented here is an autograph cast of one of Girardon’s most spectacular and sophisticated compositions, famously also executed in marble for the planned yet never completed Parterre d’Eau in the gardens at Versailles. Both an homage to two of the most celebrated masterpieces of previous generations – Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Woman in the Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence (finished in 1583) and Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s own portrayal of the abduction of Proserpina, dating to 1622 (Galleria Borghese, Rome) – and a bold statement of intent, this tour de force by Girardon depicts the moment in ancient mythology when the god Pluto abducts Proserpina and carries her off to his reign – the underworld – to become his wife, as recounted in Book V of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The marble version, completed by Girardon in 1699, had been commissioned by King Louis XIV by 1677, as part of a series of four monumental abduction groups meant to symbolize the Four Elements, with the present composition representing fire through Pluto’s connection with Hades. The present bronze represents a major addition to Girardon’s oeuvre, and more specifically to the study of his Proserpina compositions, as it has been identified as his earliest bronze cast of this subject. Indeed our sculpture differs from the known versions in one significant detail: it is cast in one piece, whilst the others




are all section-cast. This suggests that the master first attempted a single cast for the composition, as is generally accepted to be the customary practice for primary examples, opting in later versions for piece-mould casts due to the group’s elaborate structure. The vivacity of Proserpina’s outstretched arms and the overall meticulous detailing of the forms, from the muscular anatomies to the flowing robes, enable the viewer fully to understand the monumentality of Girardon’s endeavour. Primary sources record that, before finishing the marble statue, Girardon received payment for a bronze cast of the Abduction for the Sun King in 1693 (Comptes, III, 853–54), whilst two further casts of the same subject appear in the artist’s posthumous inventory of 1715 (nos. 214 and 230). Documentary evidence indicates that the example from the French royal collection is now held by the Versailles Museum (98 cm high), and it has been argued that the two formerly in Girardon’s own collection (see fig. 1) are those now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Strasbourg (107.5 cm high) and in Heckscher Museum in Huntington, California (108 cm high). Both are signed, as is a third version now in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (106.5 cm high). Our Abduction of Proserpina therefore constitutes not only a highly important, but also a unique cast in Girardon’s production, closely related to one of his principal royal commissions. In stylistic terms, our version is consistent with the master’s known working practice, as it is closely comparable to the version in Strasbourg, especially in the modelling of the rockwork base, and it is formed of an alloy and core very similar to those of the Getty sculpture. Most importantly, the composition epitomizes the expression of the artist’s already mature, confident and fully formed understanding of classical vocabulary through the lesson of the Italian Baroque, re-interpreted in his distinctively individual language. The main viewpoint focuses on the vigorous movement of Pluto, who seizes Proserpina while striding across her companion Cyane. The god’s countenance is resolute and unperturbed, his body steadfast and upright. By contrast, Proserpina’s figure forms a sinuous, agitated line that mirrors her internal turmoil. This movement, together with Proserpina’s turned head, also invites the viewer’s gaze to explore the bronze further, from new angles, both towards the sides and towards the crouching Cyane. In other words, Girardon’s sculpture is conceived to unfold gradually before the eyes of the beholder, a symphony of dynamism and balance, might and grace, embodied by Pluto and Proserpina.

related literature G. Bresc-Bautier and G. Scherf (eds.), Cast in Bronze: French Sculpture from Renaissance to Revolution, exh. cat., Musée du Louvre, Paris; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and The J.P. Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2009, no. 68 Europäische Barockplastik am Niederrhein: Grupello und seine Zeit, exh. cat., Kunstmuseum, Dusseldorf, 1971, no. 334, pp. 368–69, pl. 215 F. Souchal, ‘La Collection du Sculpteur Girardon d’après son Inventaire après décès’, Gazette des Beaux Arts, vol. LXXXII, 1973, pp. 1 –112 F. Souchal, French Sculptors of the 17th and 18th Centuries: The Reign of Louis XIV, Oxford, 1981–93, vol. II, no. 42, pp. 41–43, and supplementary vol., London, 1993, no. 42, pp. 102–04 A. Maral, Girardon, le sculpteur de Louis XIV, Paris, 2016, pp. 428, 450, 511, illus. p. 449

fig. 1 Nicolas Chevalier after René Charpentier La Galerie de Girardon, plate VI (detail), no. 2 Etching and engraving


massimiliano soldani-benzi (1656–1740)


Bacchus After Jacopo Sansovino (1486–1570)

Venus de’ Medici After the Antique Bronze Bacchus: 13 ¼ in. (34 cm) high Venus: 12 ¾ in. (32.2 cm) high

fig. 1 Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi after Jacopo Sansovino Bacchus Bronze Museo Nazionale del Bargello


this pair represents in reduced bronze version Sansovino’s Bacchus, one of the most celebrated works of the High Renaissance, and the Venus de’ Medici, one of the most revered statues surviving from the ancient world. These two figures work wonderfully as a pair, with Bacchus’s open stance and raised arm contrasting beautifully with Venus’s closed contrapposto with her arms drawn across her body. Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi is known to have made a series of bronze statuettes (around 30 cm high) that were small-scale versions of the most prized ancient and High Renaissance sculptural masterpieces. As reported by Lankheit in 1958, the Soldani inventory of 1730 lists a model of Sansovino’s Bacchus and indeed at the Museo Nazionale del Bargello (fig. 1) there is another version of the present bronze by Soldani. Also, at the Museo delle Porcellane di Doccia at Sesto Fiorentino there is on display a wax version of the model, apparently cast from the original moulds Soldani used. Jacopo Sansovino (1486–1570) carved the original marble version of this Bacchus in 1514 and, like Michelangelo’s work of the same subject, his appears at first glance to be a copy of an ancient work. However, although it bears some resemblance to a Hellenistic bronze in Tunis and a statue in Rome’s Della Valle collection, Sansovino’s marble is in fact an entirely original composition. The sinuous and expressive work misleads the eye in the extent to which it embodies the spirit of the antique prototypes and adheres so directly to the artistic principles of classical sculpture. The second bronze statuette is based on the famed Roman marble statue known as the Venus de’ Medici, which has been located in the Tribuna of the Florentine Uffizi since 1688. It was first definitively recorded in the Villa Medici, Rome, in 1638, although there is possibly an earlier mention of the statue in the Medici inventory of 1598. Its fame was secured by its inclusion in Perrier’s renowned anthology of the most beautiful statues from antiquity: henceforth it was studied and copied by artists in a variety of media, and its praises repeatedly sung in books, poems, letters and the travel diaries of the Grand Tourists. Small-scale bronze versions of the work were therefore highly sought-after. They were more often paired with other statues situated in the Florentine Tribuna, such as the Dancing Faun, and frequently appeared without the dolphin support featured in the antique model, as in the present version.


In 1695, Prince Johann Adam Andreas I von Liechtenstein had Soldani cast a bronze copy the size of the original for his new gallery in his city palace, which the artist worked on between 1699 and 1702. The young prince had inherited his father’s taste for antique statuary and sought bronze copies of the most revered examples of ancient sculpture. His almost exclusive supplier in this project was Soldani, whom he had met during his Grand Tour around 1680. Soldani’s full-size Venus de’ Medici is still in the Liechtenstein collection (inv. no. SK537), along with other works after the Antique and Old Masters such as a Bacchus after Michelangelo’s famed marble, dated 1699–1701 (inv. no. SK573), and a Dancing Faun, 1695–97 (inv. no. SK541). In contrast to the sometimes dry and lacklustre copies of ancient works by other artists, Soldani’s interpretations are renowned for their vigour, the freshness of their modelling and their meticulous coldwork. Soldani is considered to be the finest bronze caster in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Europe and, along with Giovanni Battista Foggini, was the most significant proponent of the Florentine Late Baroque style in sculpture. He studied at the Medici Academy in Rome for four years under Pietro Travani, Ciro Ferri and Ercole Ferrata. He excelled in the field of medal- and coin-making and soon received commissions from Pope Innocent XI, Queen Christina of Sweden and several prominent members of the papal court. After perfecting his art in Paris, Soldani returned to Florence in 1682, becoming director of the grand ducal mint. By the end of his career, his patrons had included the Medici grand dukes, Prince Johann Adam Andreas I of Liechtenstein, the Elector Palatine, the 1st Duke of Marlborough and many other prestigious foreign clients. related literature K. Lankheit, ‘Eine serie Barocker antiken-nachbildungen aus der werkstatt des Massimiliano Soldani’, Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts Römische Abteilung, vol. 65, 1958, pp. 186–98 C. Avery, ‘Soldani’s Small Bronze Statuettes after “Old Master” Sculptures in Florence’, in K. Lankheit, Kunst des Barock in der Toskana. Studien zur Kunst unter den letzten Medici, Munich, 1976, pp. 165–72 F. Haskell and N. Penny, Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1550–1900, New Haven and London, 1981, no. 88, pp. 325–28 B. Boucher, The Sculpture of Jacopo Sansovino, New Haven and London, 1991, vol. II, figs. 36–37



hans reichle (c. 1565–1642)


Christ at the Column Bronze 12 in. (30.5 cm) high

one of Giambologna’s most talented pupils from Northern Europe, Hans Reichle entered the master’s workshop in 1588, following the recommendation of Archduke Ferdinand, Count of Tyrol. In Florence, the young Reichle soon displayed his remarkable technical ability working on the equestrian monument of Cosimo I de’ Medici for the Piazza della Signoria. He remained in Italy until around 1594–95, when he moved back to Munich, the city where he had begun his career under Hubert Gerhard (c. 1540–1620). There, he collaborated with Gerhard on the funerary monument of Duke William V in the Michaelskirche, for which Giambologna was commissioned to execute the central crucifix. Reichle’s Mary Magdalene for the tomb was cast in 1595. The following year the artist moved to Brixen, where he had been summoned by Cardinal Bishop Andreas von Habsburg to execute a series of 44 terracottas of his ancestors. By then a successfully established sculptor, in the following decade Reichle returned once again to Florence, where he designed a Nativity scene for the doors of Pisa Cathedral. He also worked in Augsburg, as testified by his monumental bronze Saint Michael Defeating Lucifer for the façade of the city’s Zeughaus. He ultimately settled back in Brixen in 1607, where he remained until his death, working in the capacity of architect, engineer and overseer of building works for the bishop’s court. Throughout his career, Reichle predominantly worked on large-scale commissions, as attested by the rarity of his small-scale bronzes. The present example is a cast of his most renowned such work, a portrayal of Christ during the Flagellation. The attribution of this composition to Reichle was first proposed by Manfred Leithe Jasper (1990), in relation to a statuette formerly in the Barbara Piasecka Johnson collection (30.2 cm high) that he compared to an Allegory of Spring (Grünes Gewölbe, Dresden; 33.8 cm high) first ascribed to our artist by Friedrich Kriegbaum in 1931. As Leithe Jasper rightly points out, under Giambologna the young German apprentice would certainly have perfected the method for casting bronzes in reduced scale, and his technique appears to have “remained consistent across media and scale” (see Wengraf 2014, p. 270). A tangible proof of Reichle’s familiarity with the master’s small bronzes is the present Christ’s downturned hand, which, partially closed and with its index finger outstretched, directly quotes the left hand of Giambologna’s Mars (see above, cat. no. 5). Far from being a simple citation, however, Reichle’s appropriation cleverly transforms the god of war’s poignant gesture, its assertive tension, into an expression of Christ’s anguish and physical suffering. This focus on the Saviour’s agony is indicative of Reichle’s Northern European heritage, where the iconography of the Man of Sorrows – the closest counterpart to the Christ at the Column of the Italian tradition – is centred on realistic, often exaggerated, depictions of Christ’s agony.




fig. 1 Hans Reichle Christ on the Cross (detail) Bronze Ulrichsbasilika, Augsburg

These subtleties make Reichle’s bronze stand out compared to Giambologna and his school’s portrayals of the same subject, where Christ appears more composed, seemingly already victorious over his mortal tormentors (see, for example, Giambologna, Museo del Bargello, Florence; Antonio Susini, Staatliche Museen, Berlin). Distinctive of Reichle’s vocabulary are also Christ’s facial type and the handling of the hair, comparable to those of his Christ on the Cross for the Altar of the Holy Cross in Augsburg’s Ulrichsbasilika (c. 1605; fig. 1), the compact folds of the perizonium – which appear to betray Antonio Susini’s influence – and the gently sinewy anatomy, evocative of Giambologna, yet less prominently muscular. As observed by Dorothea Diemer, in relation to the Johnson Christ at the Column, this model’s “creative character” and its “stylistic affinity” to the small-scale bronze Saint Agnes in Hamburg (Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe) point towards an execution when Reichle was “at the height of his sculptural powers, shortly after he had returned to the Bishop’s court at Brixen in late 1607” (Diemer 2006, pp. 43, 45, referred to in Wengraf 2014, p. 270). It is interesting to note that the Christ at the Column is Reichle’s sole known composition for private devotion. related literature F. Kriegbaum, ‘Hans Reichle’, Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien, Neue Folge, vol. 5, 1931, pp. 189–266 M. Leithe-Jasper, entry, in J. Grabski (ed.), Opus Sacrum. From the collection of Barbara Piasecka Johnson, exh. cat., The Royal Castle, Warsaw, 1990, no. 59, pp. 314–17 J. Warren, Beauty & Power: Renaissance and Baroque Bronzes from the Marino collection, exh. cat., Wallace Collection, London, 2010, no. 4, pp. 64–69 P. Wengraf (ed.), Renaissance & Baroque bronzes from the Hill Collection, London, 2014, no. 25, pp. 270–75, 341


massimiliano soldani-benzi (1656–1740)


Charity, c. 1695 After a model by Alessandro Algardi (1598–1654) Bronze, with a gold and red patina 18 ½ in. (47 cm) high provenance Possibly commissioned by the Prince of Liechtenstein from Soldani-Benzi on 30 July 1695 Professor Michael Jaffe CBE (1923–1997) On loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom (1976–2014)

the creation of this masterful bronze involves two of the most important sculptors working in the Italian Baroque style, Alessandro Algardi (1598–1654) and Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi (1656–1740). It was the Roman sculptor Algardi who first conceived this model of Charity and the Florentine Soldani who later cast it in bronze. This is confirmed in correspondence between Soldani and Johann Adam Andreas, Prince of Liechtenstein (1657–1712). The extensive and fascinating exchanges between this artist and patron are held in the princely archive and were published by Klaus Lankheit in 1962. Although it is clear from these letters that the Prince greatly desired copies after antique sculptures for his new palaces, what concerns us here is Soldani’s offer to supply him with bronze versions of famous masterworks of the seventeenth century, which had already achieved the status of classics. For example, in a letter dated 23 March 1694/95, Soldani proposes to cast a version of Algardi’s Charity for the Prince: si trova qui una figura dell’Algardi che rappresenta una Carita, con i tre Putti, che uno e al Petto, e gl’altri due a i piedi, adattati con bella maniera, e questa figura è tutto rilievo e alta due palmi e mezzo Here is a figure by Algardi representing Charity, with three putti, one at her chest, the other two at her feet, adapted in a beautiful manner, and this figure is all relief and is two and a half palmi high (Lankheit 1962, doc. 637). Soldani later corrects his statement of the work’s height to “Cinque sesti del nostro braccio” (five sixths of our braccio; Lankheit 1962, doc. 640) and offers the Prince a bronze cast for the sum of 80 Florentine piaster (Lankheit 1962, doc. 640). In Florence, a braccio would have measured 58 cm, five sixths of which would be around 48 cm, the approximate height of the present bronze – which raises the possibility that this work could be the untraced bronze cast of Charity after Algardi which was ordered by the Prince of Liechtenstein from Soldani on 30 July 1695 (Lankheit 1962, doc. 646). Soldani accepted the commission a month later, stating: “Non manchero ancora di servire V.A. nel fare la carità dell’Algardi” (I will not fail to serve Your Highness in making the charity of Algardi; Lankheit 1962, doc. 647)



However, we read no more of the commission, until mysteriously, a year later, Soldani writes to the Prince, alerting him to a delay to the project: “In ordine alla figura della carita non si può concludere” (With regards to the charity figure it cannot be finished; Lankheit 1962, doc. 652). Since there is no further reference to the Charity in the published correspondence between the two parties, one is unsure whether the work was ever finished, or delivered, by Soldani. However, the present bronze clearly displays visual evidence of Soldani’s hand in its style, facture and method of production. The bronze is beautifully cast and has a finely worked surface, with an extremely high quality of finish, with evidence of punching around the hair and the garments of the central figure. The complex, translucent, golden patina reveals warm, red undertones, which is highly characteristic of Soldani’s bronzes. The present work is the same size as the version apparently ordered by the Prince, which encourages us to believe that this is the bronze that Soldani undertook to make for him on 30 August. Other versions of Algardi’s Charity are included in a handful of museum collections around the world, including the Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh (inv. no. 1867.44.1); Museo Schifanoia, Ferrara (inv. no. C.G.F.8512); formerly the Franzone collection, Genoa; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (inv. no. A4.1961); and the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight (inv. no. LL122.HH147). The present bronze has a distinguished provenance, having been on loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, between 1976 and 2014 from the private collection of the esteemed art historian Professor Michael Jaffe CBE (1923–1997). Although devised by Alessandro Algardi (1598–1654), this allegorical group portraying Charity accompanied by three clambering putti, one held in the crook of her arm and the other two at her feet, half enveloped in tumultuous swathes of flowing drapery, seems directly inspired by Renaissance representations of the Virgin and Child such as those by Jacopo Sansovino (1486–1570) and Girolamo Campagna (c. 1549–1625). In terms of the composition’s pyramidal structure and form, clear comparisons can be drawn with Sansovino’s Virgin and Child in the Chiesetta of the Ducal Palace, Venice; Campagna’s Virgin and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist and Two Cherubin in the Getty and the Alexis Gregory collections and also Campagna’s Madonna Dolfin in San Salvador, Venice. Interestingly, one could also relate the iconographic and compositional origins of this work to certain medieval representations of the Virgo Lactans (Fogelman 2002, p. 121). One could perhaps even make the case that the model for Charity had deeper roots in such draped ancient figures as the Cesi Juno in Rome’s Museo Capitolino, or the Venus of Capua in the Vatican’s Museo Chiaramonti, or the Flora Farnese, now in Naples. For an outline of Soldani’s distinguished career, see here cat. no. 12.




related literature K. Lankheit, Florentinische Barockplastik: die Kunst am Hofe der letzten Medici, 1670–1743, Munich, 1962 H.R. Weihrauch, Europäische Bronzestatuetten 15–18 Jahrhundert, Brunswick, 1967, pp. 245–46, fig. 298 C. Avery, ‘Soldani’s Small Bronze Statuettes after ‘Old Master’ Sculptures in Florence, in K. Lankheit, Kunst des Barock in der Toskana. Studien zur Kunst unter den letzten Medici, Munich, 1976, pp. 165–72 P. Fogelman, ‘Madonna and Child with Angels and the Infant Saint John the Baptist by Girolamo Campagna’, in Italian and Spanish Sculpture: Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum, ed. P. Fogelman, P. Fusco and M. Cambareri, Los Angeles, 2002, pp. 116–21 N. Penny and E. Schmidt (eds.), Collecting Sculpture in Early Modern Europe, Washington, D.C., 2008


francesco da sangallo (1494–1576)


A pair of allegorical figures, possibly Oratoria and Grammatica Bronze, with a rich brown patina The left figure: 8¼ in. (21 cm) high The right figure: 7¼ in. (18.4 cm) high

born in florence in 1494 to the well-established architect and sculptor Giuliano da Sangallo (1443–1516), Francesco was introduced from a very young age to his father’s profession, and followed him to Rome in 1504, where Giuliano had been summoned by Pope Julius II della Rovere to work on the greatest project of the age, the new basilica of St Peter. Two years later, aged twelve, Francesco had the opportunity to witness first-hand another formidable event, which would mark the course of artistic practice for generations to come – the excavation of the monumental Laocoön marble group, which has stood since the time of its discovery in the famous Belvedere courtyard in the Vatican. It was in the atmosphere of this extraordinary cultural development, enriched by the rediscovery of classical antiquity and ambitious new commissions, that Francesco formed his artistic vocabulary, a visual expression of the apex of Italian humanism. An additional key influence on Francesco’s work was his encounter with Michelangelo (1475–1564), who employed him as his assistant in San Lorenzo’s Sagrestia Nuova in Florence in 1524. Michelangelo embodied the early Cinquecento’s assertion of a monumental sculptural language inspired by antiquity and bold idealization. Sangallo absorbed the master’s lesson but soon displayed a highly individual style, characterized by a meticulously detailed, crisp modelling of the forms – from facial features to drapery folds – muscular yet elongated anatomies and a heightened sense of realism. These qualities are already visible in Francesco’s early works, such as the Mary Magdalene in Prayer now in the Florentine church of Santo Stefano a Ponte – dated 1519, three years after the artist had returned to Florence following his father’s death – which also reveals close observation of Donatello’s Penitent Magdalene (1453–55), and The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne for Orsanmichele (c. 1522–26), where the representation of the figures is caught between the experience of ancient classical sculpture and a passionate realism, visible in the contrast between the Virgin’s smooth, regular traits and the elderly Anne’s sunken cheeks and wiry hands. Similarly, the present pair of small allegorical bronzes is an intriguing example of this tension between antiquity and close observation of human idiosyncrasies that lies at the heart of Francesco’s work, and arguably found its counterpart in painting in the production of the contemporary master Rosso Fiorentino (1495–1540). Like Rosso’s, Sangallo’s characters capture the viewer with their marked individuality, their quirks, their intense humanity. The present pair, modelled with exceptional refinement, perfectly embody Francesco’s skill in casting highly detailed small-scale bronzes and the graphic quality of his modelling. Each standing in elaborate contrapposto, these male figures display the muscular tension and sharp representation of facial features typical of Francesco. Their eyes,








almost betraying a sense of agitation, are framed by heavy eyelids and strongly arched, protruding brows, whilst their slightly open mouths endow them with a feeling of immediacy, reinforced in both by the uplifted back foot, which suggests impending movement. The sinewy treatment of their muscles around the sternum is closely comparable to that visible in Francesco’s bronze Saint John the Baptist in the Frick Collection, New York (inv. no. 1916.2.41), as are the deep, sculptural folds in their drapery and the downturned hand of the figure on the left. Remarkably, this last also appears in the artist’s signed Saint Paul statue for the funerary monument of Pietro di Lorenzo de’ Medici in the Abbey of Montecassino (1532–39), a further confirmation of Francesco’s authorship of the present pair (see figs. 1, 2 and 3). Other aspects indicative of Sangallo are the marked definition of the hair in curls and the deeply hollowed pupils, both also present in the Frick Saint John and in a small bronze Flora datable, like the present pair, to the artist’s early production (see Ortenzi 2006, p. 76, figs. 96–97). Intriguingly, the subject of our figures remains enigmatic. Their all’antica dress and laurel wreaths point in the direction of a secular theme. Their gestures, the lifted arm for one and the hands holding a book for the other, suggest they may be related to the concepts of Oratoria and Grammatica respectively. In the Roman tradition, these were considered essential to the education of ancient Rome’s citizens, and as such would have been a well-known subject in the humanist circles of Francesco’s patrons.

fig. 1 Francesco da Sangallo St John the Baptist (detail) Bronze Frick Collection fig. 2 Francesco da Sangallo St Paul (detail) Marble Abbey of Montecassino fig. 3 Detail of the present bronze

related literature Sculpture in The Frick Collection: Italian, vol. III, New York, 1970, pp. 60–66 A.P. Darr and R. Roisman, ‘Francesco da Sangallo: a rediscovered early Donatellesque ‘Magdalen’ and two wills from 1574 and 1576’, The Burlington Magazine, vol. CXXIX, no. 1017, 1987, pp. 784–93 B. Moreschini, ‘Un monumento sfortunato: nascita e sviluppo della sepoltura di Piero di Lorenzo de’ Medici nell’Abbazia di Montecassino, 1532–1559’, Commentari d’Arte, vol. 20, 2001, pp. 60–77 F. Ortenzi, ‘Per il giovane Francesco da Sangallo’, Nuovi Studi, vol. XI, no. 12, 2006, pp. 71–84


fran Ç ois girardon (1628–1715)


Bust of Modios Asiatikos Bronze 17 ¼ in. (43.8 cm) high 13 ½ in. (34.4 cm) wide markings TH; TH 1251 provenance François Girardon’s collection, Paris, by 1709 Palais de Tuileries, Paris, 18th century literature F. de La Moureyre in A. Maral, Girardon, le sculpteur de Louis XIV, Paris, 2016, p. 440, illustrated p. 441

Detail of the Palais de Tuileries mark on the present work


around 1708, at the height of his fame and well established as France’s most prominent bronze sculptor, François Girardon (see also cat. no. 11), commissioned from the young draughtsman René Charpentier (1680–1723) drawings of a number of statues in his collection, which were shortly afterwards engraved and published by Nicolas Chevalier. Known as the Galerie de Girardon, this series of plates constitutes a precious testimony of the master’s endeavours as a collector and includes, interestingly, several casts of works by his own hand. One such piece is the elegant, stern-looking head of a man in his prime (illustrated plate IV, no. 11), described as “Asiaticus head in Bronze cast after the Antique placed on a socle”. The “Antique” which the caption refers to is an ancient Greek marble bust, dating to the late first century bc or early first century ad, now in the Cabinet des Médailles at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris. Its fascinating history is recounted by the comte de Caylus in his renowned Recueil d’antiquités (1752–67, VI, p. 142). Discovered in mysterious circumstances, it was shipped to France around 1685 from Smyrna, present-day Izmir in Turkey, to be offered to King Louis XIV. By 1714 it was recorded in the collection of the influential Chancellor Louis Phélypeaux (1643–1727), comte de Pontchartrain. It is around this date that Girardon, as principal bronze caster to the King, would have gained access to it in order to make a model. A bronze cast of the Asiatikos appears in the 1714 inventory of the Chancellerie. This may well be the same bronze immortalized by Charpentier a few years before, which would explain why a Modios appears in the Galerie, but not in Girardon’s posthumous inventory of 1715. In her recent study on the master’s collection Françoise de La Moureyre (2016) has affirmed that the present work is likely to be precisely the version illustrated in Girardon’s Galerie, given its superior quality and highly finished surface. It is also interesting to note that the characters TH and TH 1251 engraved in the lower section of our bronze indicate that it was in the collection of the Tuileries Palace, Paris, as early as the eighteenth century. As mentioned by de La Moureyre, subsequent bronze casts were executed from Girardon’s model, although the subject remains a rare one. Modios Asiatikos was a



fig. 1 Nicolas Chevalier, after René Charpentier La Galerie de Girardon, plate IV (detail), nos. 10–12 Etching and engraving

physician, probably active around the same time the original marble was carved. His identification as the sitter was made possible by the inscription in Greek characters present on the marble’s lower section, ‘M[arcos] Modios Asiatikos, Methodic physician’. Having developed in unknown circumstances, by the first century ad the Methodic school of medicine was well established across the Roman world, as later recorded by both Pliny the Elder and Galen. Its doctrine was centred on the observation and treatment of symptoms, which were interpreted as manifestations of diseases, separate from the history of the patient. In other words, according to the Methodic school any illness was indicative of its own treatment to the trained eye of the physician.

related literature A. Michaelis, Ancient Marbles in Great Britain, 1882, no. 3, p. 485 Comte de Caylus, Recueil d’Antiquités égyptiennes, étrusques, grecques, romaines et gauloises, 1764, vol. VI, p. 142 G.F. Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, 1854, vol. II, p. 73 G.M. Richter, Portraits of the Greeks, 1965, vol. III, p. 283 F. Souchal, ‘La Collection du sculpteur Girardon d’après son inventaire après décès’, Gazette des Beaux Arts, vol. LXXXII, 1973, pp. 1–112 F. Souchal, French Sculptors of the 17th and 18th Centuries: The Reign of Louis XIV, Oxford, 1981–93, vol. II, no. 42, pp. 41–43, and supplementary vol., London, 1993, no. 42, pp. 102–04 G. Bresc-Bautier and G. Scherf (eds.), Cast in Bronze: French Sculpture from Renaissance to Revolution, exh. cat., Musée du Louvre, Paris; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and The J.P. Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2009, no. 68


giovanni battista foggini (1652–1725)


Bacchus and a Young Satyr After Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564) Bronze, with a warm brown patina and traces of red lacquer 18 in. (46 cm) high provenance Victor Hahn (1869–1932), Berlin His estate sale; Hermann Ball & Paul Graupe, Berlin, 27 June 1932, lot 156, pl. 41

described by his contemporary, the biographer Francesco Saverio Baldinucci, as a precocious talent, Giovanni Battista Foggini began his apprenticeship at the age of ten, in his native Florence, in the workshop of the painter Jacopo Giorgi. By the age of fifteen, thanks to the introduction of mathematician Vincenzo Viviani, Giovanni Battista was employed by Grand Duke Ferdinando II de’ Medici, for whom he executed “heads and bas-reliefs in marble”, with a salary of four scudi a month (Baldinucci [c. 1725–30] 1975, p. 373). In 1673 Cosimo III de’ Medici, who had succeeded his father Ferdinando as Grand Duke three years earlier, sent Foggini to study in Rome, at the Academy for Florentine artists instituted that same year under his auspices. There, Foggini trained under Ciro Ferri and Ercole Ferrata, former pupils of the celebrated Baroque masters Pietro da Cortona and Alessandro Algardi respectively, and established artists in their own right. The lesson of these formative years – the fluid, painterly quality and elegant, elaborate compositions of the late Roman Baroque – was to inform Foggini’s production all through his long and successful career. In the fourth year of his Roman sojourn Giovanni Battista was summoned back to Florence and, in 1677, established his own workshop in the Loggia Rucellai. Commissions varied from portrait busts to more complex projects, such as the new Corsini Chapel in Santa Maria del Carmine, begun in 1677 and completed in 1701. Remarkably prolific, Foggini rapidly established himself as the most prominent Florentine artist of his generation, working across a wide range of media and executing designs for projects as diverse as palatial architecture and silver church furnishings. In 1687 he was granted the workshop at Borgo Pinti that had housed grand ducal sculptors since the days of the great Giambologna, from which he would produce marble and bronze groups of exquisite refinement. One such creation is the present statuette, directly inspired by Michelangelo’s masterpiece known as Bacco Ebbro, or Drunken Bacchus, now in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence. Famously executed by Michelangelo when only twentyone, it had been acquired by Grand Duke Francesco I de’ Medici around 1571 and resided during Foggini’s time in the Uffizi, where our artist would have had plentiful opportunities to admire it. It is particularly interesting to note that the Bacco Ebbro was listed by both Baldinucci and Pellegrino Antonio Orlandi as one of the sculptures after Uffizi models that Cosimo III commissioned Foggini to execute for King Louis XIV



of France in 1685 (see Fogelman et al. 2002, p. 256, note 13). Carved in marble, these were to be placed in the gardens at Versailles and Marly. One relevant example from this group is the Dancing Faun, after the famed ancient statue in the Uffizi’s Tribuna. Foggini’s marble version (143 cm high) is to this day in Versailles, and in 2000 a previously unrecorded bronze reduction of it was acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum (52.3 cm high). Firmly attributed to Foggini on the basis of its quality and direct relationship with the Versailles marble, the Getty bronze bears close resemblances to the present work. These include the highly finished, carefully chased and painterly quality of the surface, the soft yet muscular treatment of the anatomy, and the accurate punching of details such as the hair, foliage, tree-trunk and ground the figures stand on. In addition to this, both the Bacchus presented here and the Getty Faun feature a branch of vine leaves covering their genitalia, a detail absent in the original models and in virtually all the known versions after them. This peculiarity was likely dictated in each case by the terms of the commission, though unfortunately no such record survives in either case. Comparison between our bronze and the Getty Faun therefore shows Foggini was not new to opting for departures from his models, a sign of his confidence as an artist and adherence to his own distinctive artistic vocabulary. In the present work, variations from Michelangelo’s composition are also visible in the modelling of the cup Bacchus holds and the expression on the young god’s face, subtly more composed than in the original. Characteristic of Giovanni Battista, Bacchus’s countenance displays the slightly rounded eyes encircled by deeply contoured lids and the delicately open mouth, with a more pronouncedly curled upper lip, also featured in other bronzes by the master of similar scale, such as the Bacchus and Ariadne in the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Apollo Flaying Marsyas in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Further parallels between our Bacchus and Foggini’s oeuvre in bronze can be found in the brilliantly polished yet distinctly textured quality of the surfaces, the outline of elements such as hands and feet, typically elongated and with neatly delineated nails, and the rich, sculptural quality of the drapery folds. Details of particular beauty in the present work are the distinction between the figures’ softly curled hair and the more woolly legs of the young satyr, the delicate punching of the leaves’ inner veins and the exquisitely tactile rendering of Bacchus’s and the faun’s hands, holding on to the drapery and a bunch of grapes respectively.




Whilst the specific circumstances of this bronze’s commission remain elusive, the demand for precisely such works by Foggini from both the Medicean court and prominent foreign travellers on their Grand Tour is well documented. For example, in 1716 Cosimo III gave the painter Hyacinthe Rigaud two small bronzes by the master (the aforementioned Apollo Flaying Marsyas and a Mercury Binding Prometheus) in exchange for his self-portrait, and Lord Stafford of Wentworth House commissioned from Foggini four bronzes after the Antique representing Antinoüs, Apollo, Ceres and a Priestess. First recorded in the early twentieth century, the present statuette then belonged to the famed collector Victor Hahn, whose grand residence on the fashionable Kurfürsterdamm in Berlin housed an extraordinary collection of artworks from the Italian Renaissance to the Dutch Golden Age.

related literature F.S. Baldinucci, Vite di artisti dei secc. XVII-XVIII [c. 1725–30], ed. A. Matteoli, Rome, 1975, pp. 373–90 K. Lankheit, Florentinische Barockplastik. Die Kunst am Hof der letzen Medici. 1670–1743, Munich, 1962 J. Pope-Hennessy, ‘Foggini and Soldani: some recent acquisitions’, Victoria and Albert Museum Bulletin, vol. III, no. 4, 1967, pp. 135–38 U. Baldini, L’opera completa di Michelangelo scultore, Milan, 1981, no. 13 G. Pratesi, Repertorio della Scultura Fiorentina del Seicento e Settecento, Turin, 1993, vol. I, pp. 45ff., 78–81; vol. III, pls. 579–80 P. Fogelman, P. Fusco and M. Cambareri, Italian and Spanish Sculpture: Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum Collection, Los Angeles, 2002, nos. 30–32, pp. 238–56


giovanni francesco susini (1585–c. 1653)


The Wild Boar (Il Porcellino) Bronze, dark olive patina 7 in. (17.8 cm) high 8 in. (20.3 cm) wide

affectionately known as Il Porcellino, the present composition owes its fame to the life-size bronze cast of the original ancient sculpture by Pietro Tacca (1577–1640) that sits proudly to this day in the Mercato Nuovo in the centre of Florence. Excavated in the courtyard of a private residence in Rome in the mid sixteenth century, the antique prototype, carved in white marble, is first recorded in Florence in 1568, when it entered the Pitti Palace. By 1591 it was in the Uffizi, where it resides to the present day. Since its discovery the Wild Boar has been admired for its naturalism and artistic quality, and was historically associated with the legend of the Calydonian Boar killed by the young hero Meleager, a figure with which it has sometimes been paired in later versions, such as Nicolas Coustou’s for Marly. Our bronze, an exquisitely cast small-scale model of the celebrated antiquity, bears the hallmarks of Giovanni Francesco, or Gianfrancesco, Susini’s production, from the precise yet vibrant treatment of the animal’s fur to the neat contouring of its anatomy. Interestingly, Filippo Baldinucci (ed. Ranalli, 1846, IV, p. 118) notes that Gianfrancesco made a model of the Wild Boar upon returning from a visit to Rome. However, a version of the Boar signed by our artist’s uncle, Antonio Susini, exists (now Staatliche Museen, Berlin) and we must not forget that the marble would already have been in Florence during Gianfrancesco’s time. This suggests that he worked from a mould present in his uncle’s workshop – which he had inherited in 1624 – and first-hand observation of the ancient original. Conceived as to be held in the hands of a passionate collector, this bronze belongs to the tradition of models after renowned antiquities that represented both homages to the masterpieces of the past and statements of their owners’ refined taste and cultural aspirations. An important version of the Porcellino, fully attributed to Gianfrancesco, is today in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello. Sitting on an elaborate ebonized and pietra dura base – probably supplied by the Ducal Opificio delle Pietre Dure – it is surrounded by four gilt-bronze figures, an arrangement that points towards the high esteem in which this bronze was held. related literature C. Avery and A. Radcliffe, Giambologna, Sculptor to the Medici, exh. cat., Arts Council of Great Britain, London, 1978, no. 187, p. 196, ill. p. 197 F. Haskell and N. Penny, Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1550–1900, New Haven and London, 1981, no. 13, p. 161, ill. p. 162



french, early 18th century


Marsyas After a model by François Girardon (1628–1715) Bronze 22 ¾ in. (57.8 cm) high

The Satyr Marsyas, when he played the flute in rivalry against Apollo’s lyre, lost that audacious contest and, alas! his life was forfeit; for they had agreed the one who lost should be the victor’s prey. And, as Apollo punished him, he cried, “Ah! Why are you now tearing me apart? A flute has not the value of my life!” Even as he shrieked out in his agony, his living skin was ripped off from his limbs, till his whole body was a flaming wound, with nerves and veins and viscera exposed.

fig. 1 Nicolas Chevalier after René Charpentier La Galerie de Girardon, plate III (detail), no. 31 Etching and engraving


thus ovid, in Book VI of his celebrated Metamorphoses, narrates the tale of the unfortunate satyr Marsyas, flayed alive because he dared challenge the powerful Apollo. The story, however gruesome, has exercised a tremendous appeal on artists throughout the centuries, its focus on human anatomy and its limits posing a fantastic challenge and opportunity for invenzione. The present composition derives from an ancient Roman model, probably after a prototype by the Pergamene School, depicting Marsyas about to be flayed. This antique marble is first attested in the Palazzo Della Valle-Capranica in Rome in 1553. It was acquired by Cardinal Ferdinando de’ Medici in 1584 and located in the family’s Roman villa on the Pincian Hill until it was moved to the Uffizi in 1780, where it still stands to this day (243 cm high). The French painter and engraver François Perrier (1590–1650) saw the antique marble in the Villa Medici, and reproduced it in his Segmenta Nobilium Signorum et Statuarum (1638), a widely circulated and influential collection of engravings illustrating the most important statues in the principal Roman collections of the period. In 1684 the Académie de France acquired a cast of the Medici Marsyas, which explains its familiarity to the French artistic milieu of Girardon (see Haskell and Penny 1981, pp. 262–63), in whose Galerie the model appears in plate III, as no. 31 (fig. 1). It is described as: “Marcias Modèle de terre cuite copié d’après l’Antique par F. Girardon”. The master’s interest in this composition may have first been sparked by an encounter with the original antiquity, which he may have seen at the Villa Medici during his Roman sojourn between 1647 and 1650. His terracotta model of it, as recorded in the Galerie, is lost. Whilst this subject remains rarely depicted, both its inclusion in the Galerie and the present bronze testify to the importance Girardon and his followers bestowed upon the Marsyas, and their fascination with this theme. A cast of the master’s model was formerly in the Abbott Guggenheim collection, whilst another was sold by Tomasso Brothers in 2013. The present version is characterized by a richly dark patina and a highly naturalistic treatment of the tree-stump and ground, achieved thanks to


finely punched surfaces that contrast with the highly polished anatomy of the satyr. In the Musée du Louvre is a contemporary drawing of the Marsyas by the French painter Etienne Parrocel (1696–1776), who long resided in Italy, in which the satyr is represented with feet raised from the ground more pronouncedly than in the Medici original, but as in the bronze cast. Interestingly, in 1807 the Louvre acquired a Roman first- to second-century ad marble Marsyas (256 cm high) of the same type as the Medici statue, which came from another remarkable Roman collection, the Borghese family’s. For a period of time immediately after it had entered the Medici collection (c. 1594–1677), the Marsyas stood alongside another antique Roman marble, the socalled Arrotino. This represents a man crouching over a whetstone whilst sharpening a knife, a composition that puzzled and intrigued many. Various interpretations were proposed, the one widely accepted today being that it is a portrayal of the Scythian slave charged by Apollo with flaying the satyr. This connection between the Arrotino and the Marsyas was first proposed by Leonardo Agostini in his Le Gemme antiche figurate (1657–69), on the basis of an antique gem that illustrated the scene. related literature J.J. Pollitt, Art in the Hellenistic Age, Cambridge, 1986, pp. 118–19 F. Haskell and N. Penny, Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1550–1900, New Haven and London, 1981, no. 11, pp. 154–57, fig. 80 (Arrotino); no. 59, pp. 262–63, fig. 136 (Marsyas) A. Weis, The Hanging Marsyas and its Copies, Rome, 1992, no. 32, pp. 185–87, figs. 17, 19, 32



north italian, c. 1500–20


Head of Cupid Weeping Bronze 6 ¾ in. (17.2 cm) high

his features drawn with soft yet vibrant modelling, this expressive and characterful child is heir to an established tradition that has its roots in the myth of the young Cupid, god of love, and his punishment at the hands of his mother Venus. The iconography of this subject, defined in the Renaissance through antique models and their reinterpretations, consistently features Cupid as a crying child, quite like the present example. This narrative enjoyed particular popularity thanks to both its moral significance and the fame of its protagonist. The style, facture and method of casting of the present bronze all point in the direction of a North Italian workshop. Specifically, strong physiognomic similarities exist between our Cupid and the round-faced, expressive infants that appear in the paintings and prints of Andrea Mantegna (c. 1431–1506), mostly notably embodied by the variety of putti that crown his stunning frescoes in the Camera degli Sposi in Mantua’s Ducal Palace, commissioned by Ludovico III Gonzaga. Mantegna’s work was central to the visual lexicon of the early sixteenth-century North Italian tradition the present head belongs to, which itself was highly influential on later generations of artists, as exemplified in famous paintings such as Parmigianino’s (1503–1540) Cupid Carving his Bow (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), where a young putto in the background cries at the sight of Amor’s perilous bow, and Agostino Carracci’s (1557–1602) print featuring a putto weeping before Venus’ punishment of profane love, embodied by Cupid, of which an example is in the British Museum (inv. no. U,2.155). Fascinatingly, this bronze is also testimony of the dialogue between artists from both sides of the Alps, which flourished at beginning of the Cinquecento primarily thanks to the circulation of prints. Indeed the theme of the weeping Cupid appears in the works of two of the most prominent German masters of the period, Albrecht

figs. 1 & 2 Albrecht Dürer Two drawings of crying putti, 1521, one signed and dated, private collection; the other Musée du Louvre, Paris, inv. no. 18587 recto



Dürer (1471–1528) and Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553), clearly rooted in the same humanist tradition as our bronze. Famous amongst Dürer’s interpretations of this subject is his 1514 pen-and-ink drawing known as The Honey Thief, now in Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum. It features a rotund and distraught Cupid crying and running towards his mother after having been stung by bees in an attempt to steal their honey. The origin of this composition is to be found in the ancient poem titled ‘The Honeycomb Stealer’, attributed in Dürer’s time to the Greek third-century bc poet Theocritus. Also centred on the punishment of young Cupid, albeit in this case at the hands of the bees and not his mother, the poem functions as a warning against the pains that love can inflict, summarized in Venus’s words to her son: “Are you not just like the bee – so little yet able to inflict such painful wounds?” Cranach the Elder drew inspiration from the same verses for his celebrated composition known today in paintings in the National Gallery, London, the Galleria Borghese, Rome, and elsewhere. In contrast with these works, the present bronze does not inscribe the figure of the weeping infant into a specific narrative, preferring instead to concentrate on the emotional aspect of the subject. Indeed, this Cupid is at once a learned reference to antiquity and an affectionate, portrait-like depiction of a child expressing pain. This element is also the focus of two head studies of crying cherubs by Dürer dated 1521 (figs. 1 & 2) and possibly intended for large Lamentation or Crucifixion scenes, which share our bronze’s emphasis on the human nature of the subject.



massimiliano soldani-benzi (1656–1740)


The Cesarini Venus After a model by Giambologna (1529–1608) Bronze 9 ¾ in. (24.5 cm) high provenance Private collection, France

fig. 1 Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi after Giambologna The Cesarini Venus Bronze, 24 cm high Formerly Rousham, Oxfordshire courtesy Alex Wengraf Ltd

this bronze statuette by the great Florentine Baroque sculptor Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi (see also cat. nos. 12 and 14) exists as an individual interpretation of Giambologna’s so-called Cesarini Venus of c. 1583 and continues the tradition of making reduced bronze versions of the work established by Antonio Susini (d. 1624), Giambologna’s principal assistant. Antonio Susini’s casts were larger than the present bronze, at around 33.8 cm high, and followed Giambologna’s prototype more closely. One of the subtle ways in which Soldani’s version departs from these is the addition of an extra swathe of drapery that falls from Venus’s left hand to her left thigh. Anthony Radcliffe in his Washington catalogue (1993) confirms that Soldani’s casts are around 24 cm high, the same size as the present model. Reduced bronze versions of Giambologna’s Cesarini Venus began to be made by Susini around 1600 and found their way into a number of prestigious collections. Cardinal de Richelieu is recorded as owning one upon his death in 1642 and, similarly, François Girardon owned one by 1710. Another statuette was in King Charles I of England’s collection, which he had inherited upon the death of his elder brother Henry, Prince of Wales, which had originally been part of a gift sent to him by Grand Duke Cosimo II de’ Medici in 1612. There is also a variation in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence (inv. no. 66). However, according to Radcliffe (1993, p. 16), The most interesting of the replicas are those that appear to have been produced in the workshop of the Florentine bronze sculptor and medallist Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi (1656–1740) in the first half of the eighteenth century. He also mentions that a Cesarini Venus by Soldani was purchased in Florence between 1737 and 1738 by the English architect William Kent for a patron, the collector General James Dormer of Rousham, Oxfordshire (figs. 1 and 2). Both the present work and the Rousham Soldani relate to a series of bronze statuettes that were small-scale casts of the most prized sculptures from both antiquity and modern Old Masters such as Jacopo Sansovino, Benvenuto Cellini and Giambologna. It is known from a letter written by Simone Fortuna to Francesco Mario II della Rovere, Duke of Urbino, that the Cesarini Venus was in Giambologna’s workshop on 9 April 1583 and had been commissioned by the Florentine Grand Duke, Francesco



fig. 2 Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi after Giambologna The Cesarini Venus Bronze, 24 cm high Formerly Rousham, Oxfordshire courtesy of Alex Wengraf Ltd


de’ Medici, reputedly as a gift for another nobleman, Giangiorgio I Cesarini, Marquis of Civitanova. The Venus was installed amongst Cesarini’s significant collection of classical sculpture in the garden of the Old Cesarini Palace in Rome, on the Esquiline Hill, until 1622, when it was transferred to the Villa Ludovisi. Giambologna’s Cesarini Venus holds a special importance in the sculptor’s oeuvre because it was his final work on the theme of the single nude female figure (Radcliffe 1993, p. 3). More specifically, the composition can be regarded as the culmination of Giambologna’s intense reflections on the theme of Venus emerging from the waters. The development of the subject can be traced through a series of works – in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, the Kneeling Woman Drying Herself (inv. no. 62), the Kneeling Nymph Surprised at Her Bath (inv. no. 69) and the Standing Venus Drying Herself (inv. no. 71); the Venus Drying Herself after the Bath, Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna (inv. no. 5874); and possibly ‘La Fiorenza’ at the Villa Petraia, Florence. There are also other works by Giambologna that represent single nude female figures which clearly informed the creation of the Cesarini Venus, such as the Venus Kallipygos at the Victoria and Albert Museum (inv. no. A.141–1910) and the Venus Urania, or Astronomy, in the Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna (inv. no. 5893). related literature C. Avery, ‘Soldani’s Small Bronze Statuettes after “Old Master” Sculptures in Florence’, in K. Lankheit, Kunst des Barock in der Toskana. Studien zur Kunst unter den letzten Medici, Munich, 1976, pp. 165–72 C. Avery, Giambologna, Oxford, 1987 A. Radcliffe, Giambologna’s Cesarini Venus, Washington, D.C., 1993


french, early 18th century


Aeneas carrying Anchises from Troy, accompanied by Ascanius After a model by Pierre Lepautre (c. 1659–1744) and François Girardon (1628–1715) Bronze, with a dark brown patina 21 ½ in. (54.6 cm) high provenance Private collection, France

in 1683 Pierre Lepautre won the prestigious Prix de Rome, thanks to which he resided until 1701 in Rome, working prolifically as a pensionnaire at the Académie de France. A portrait of him by Nicolas de Largillière, dated 1689, now in the Norton Simon Museum in California, shows our artist standing under what appears to be a classical colonnade, clad in a flowing crimson cloak and dressed in a fine black coat with golden embroidery. Confident, almost exuberant, Lepautre turns proudly towards the viewer whilst pointing at the monumental all’antica vase behind him. This carefully observed likeness perfectly captures the young sculptor at the beginning of his highly successful career. Little known today, throughout the years Lepautre was involved in some of the most prominent artistic commissions of his age, including sculptures for the gardens at Marly (King Louis XIV’s private residence), Meudon and La Muette, the royal chapel at Versailles and the monumental gateway in the church of Saint-Eustache, Paris. It is for the Château de Marly that, in 1697, Lepautre began what would become two of his most renowned compositions, the over life-size marble groups of Paetus and Arria and Aeneas and Anchises with Ascanius (both now in the Louvre, Paris). The latter was inspired by a design by the King’s sculptor François Girardon, who had personally entrusted a wax model of it to Lepautre in April 1696. Now lost, this bozzetto is recorded in the Galerie de Girardon, plate VI, under no. 14 (fig. 1). The subject is a very well known one, most famously recounted in Virgil’s Latin epic poem Aeneid (c. 29–19 bc). Aeneas – son of the goddess Venus, hero of the Trojan War and forefather to the founders of Rome – escapes from the flames engulfing his besieged native Troy carrying his ageing father Anchises to safety. His young son Ascanius trails behind, searching in vain for his mother Creusa, daughter of King Priam, lost in the fire. Anchises holds with one hand a small statue of Minerva, representing the family’s household gods, known as the Lares. Making full use of Girardon’s invenzione, Lepautre conveys the dramatic nature of this episode through the elaborate arrangement of the figures on three levels and facing in three different directions. Aeneas strides forward with determined might, holding in his arms his father, whose uplifted body tilts slightly backwards, as his eyes look to the heavens and his right hand holds on to his grandson Ascanius. The young boy, entirely shielded by his father from a frontal viewpoint, but for the tiny hand that








clutches Anchises’s, hesitates, his right arm stretched out as if still holding on to his mother’s grasp. A terracotta of the group, signed and dated 1715 by Lepautre, is today in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (inv. no. A.37–1939), whilst one of the artist’s sketches for it, formerly in the possession of the artist David d’Angers (1788–1856), was donated by his widow to the Angers Museum (see Notice des peintures et sculptures du Museée d’Angers, 1870, p. 238, no. 759). Bronze versions of note include the one in the National Gallery of Ontario (formerly Seligmann collection, Paris; 54 cm high) and the one in Harvard’s Art Museums (55 cm high). Our bronze is rendered all the more vibrant by its luminous, rich dark colour and carefully textured surface. Details such as the chiselling of the ground the figures stand on, or the decorations on Aeneas’s helmet and cuirass, are deftly executed by Lepautre and testify to the remarkable quality of this cast. An enduring testimony of the success enjoyed by Lepautre’s Aeneas composition is its presence in the portrait of the sculptor by Jean Le Gros (1671–1745), now in the Musée Carnavalet, Paris. Painted in 1729, it shows a more mature, composed character compared to the dashing young man immortalized by Largillière, with his hands resting on a collection of sketches, wearing a refined yet more sombre dress and cloak. His gaze, however, retains the same clarity and determination, as it turns away from the viewer, seemingly looking at his career’s achievements, the major one standing close by.

related literature The French Bronze: 1500 to 1800, M. Knoedler & Co., New York, 1968, no. 57 F. Souchal, French Sculptors of the 17th and 18th Centuries. The Reign of Louis XIV, vol. II, Oxford, 1981–93, no. 9, pp. 375–78

fig. 1 Nicolas Chevalier after René Charpentier La Galerie de Girardon, plate VI (detail), no. 14 Etching and engraving


Catalogue © 2016 Tomasso Brothers Fine Art Photographs by Doug Currie Printed by Pureprint Group Ltd

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