Important European Sculpture TOMASSO BROTHERS FINE ART
Important European Sculpture
Important European Sculpture TOMASSO BROTHERS FINE ART
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Texts by Emanuela Tarizzo and Elliot Davies unless otherwise signed Our thanks for their contributions to Dr Charles Avery, Professor Giancarlo Gentilini, Stefano Grandesso and Lorenzo Principi Photography by Doug Currie Design by Laura Parker Produced by Paul Holberton publishing 89 Borough High Street London se1 1nl isbn 978 1 911300 15 1
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john bacon the elder (1740–1799) A Female Centaur with a Bacchante & A Male Centaur with a Bacchante, c.1770
benedetto buglioni (1459–1521) Saint Jerome in the Wilderness, c.1510–15
gianfrancesco susini (1585–1653) The Borghese Satyr
gilles-lambert godecharle (1750–1835) Bust of Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592), 1816–17
francesco di virgilio fanelli (1577–c.1661) Daniel in the Lions’ Den
italian, 2nd half of the 18th century Head of Hercules
lorenzo ghiberti (c.1378–1455), workshop of The Madonna and Child, c.1423–40
wilhelm hopfgarten (1779–1860) Equestrian Monument of Emperor Marcus Aurelius
domenico cardelli (1767–1797) Bust of Prince Francis Xavier of Saxony (1730–1806)
willem danielsz. van tetrode (c.1525–1580) Neoptolemus and Astyanax, 1559–62
joseph nollekens (1732–1823) A ‘Pensiero’ of Lot and his Daughters, 1803
barthlemy prieur (c.1536–1611) A Pair of Pacing and Leaping Bulls, c.1600
cav. cincinnato baruzzi (1796–1878) Bust of a Muse, c.1820
pietro tacca (1577–1645), attributed to The Castiglioni Hercules and Antaeus, c.1620–37
italian, 18th century A Monumental Bust of a Warrior
massimiliano soldani-benzi (1656–1740) Ganymede and the Eagle, c.1714
christian daniel rauch (1777–1857), workshop of Bust of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia (1796–1855), c.1835
francesco righetti (1749–1819) A Pair of Busts of the Dioscuri, c.1794
joseph nollekens (1737–1823) A ‘Pensiero’ of Eve bewailing the Death of Abel
florentine, 17th century The Antinous Belvedere
rinaldo rinaldi (1793–1873) Ulysses recognized by Argos
severo calzetta da ravenna (active by 1496, died by 1543), circle of Pacing Horse
master of the unruly children (active 1st half 16th century), probably sandro di lorenzo di smeraldo (1483–c.1554) A Pair of Angels as Candle-Bearers
luigi valadier (1726–1785) The Albani Faun, c.1775–80
santi buglioni (1494–1576) Christ the Redeemer, c.1530–60
john bacon the elder (1740–1799)
A Female Centaur with a Bacchante & A Male Centaur with a Bacchante, c.1770 After Roman frescos discovered in the Villa of Cicero at Pompeii (Naples), 1st century b.c.–1st century a.d. Terracotta 13⅜ in. (34 cm) diameter provenance Dr Terence Friedman (1940–2013), Leeds, United Kingdom, until 2011
figs. 1 & 2 Engraved reproductions of the Centaur frescos from the Villa of Cicero, Pompeii, in Le Antichità di Ercolano, 1757, vol. I, pls. XXV & XXVI
In the sixth edition of his famous Catalogue of Cameos, Intaglios, Medals, Bas-reliefs, Busts and Small Statues (Etruria, 1787), Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795), the founder of the celebrated porcelain manufactory that takes his name, thanked the Marquess of Lansdowne (1737–1805) for allowing him “the liberty of taking moulds from a suite of dancing nymphs, and other beautiful figures, modelled in Italy from the paintings found in Herculaneum” (p. 30). The paintings in question are a series of frescos, uncovered at the so-called Villa of Cicero in Pompeii in January 1749, illustrating, amongst other subjects, the revelries of Centaurs and Bacchantes (figs. 1 & 2). Faithfully reproduced in the present reliefs, they show a female Centaur carrying on her back a Bacchante holding a thyrsus (the staff topped with a pinecone, which identifies her as a follower of Bacchus) and a male Centaur, his hands tied behind his back, being led by a rather energetic-looking Bacchante. Highly finished, the present terracottas represent the models that the Wedgwood white stoneware and black basalt versions of the Centaur reliefs were derived from. As observed by Wedgwood scholars, in this early phase the manufactory employed different modellers, but the superior quality of the present pair point in the direction
fig. 3 Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, A Female Centaur with a Bacchante, c.1772, white ‘terracotta’ stoneware, 16 in. (40.7 cm) diameter, excluding frame, © Victoria & Albert Museum, London fig. 4 Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, A Female Centaur with a Bacchante, 18th century, Wedgwood black basalt, 15 in. (38.1 cm) diameter © The Huntington, California
of John Bacon, one of the most prominent English sculptors of the period, who collaborated on a number of occasions with Wedgwood. Born in London, Bacon was apprenticed to Nicholas Crisp of Bow churchyard, a jeweller and watchmaker, on 7 June 1755. Crisp owned a porcelain factory in Vauxhall, where Bacon apparently first saw the models that inspired him to become a sculptor (The European Magazine, London, August 1790, p. 83). Gradually rising to considerable fame amongst his contemporaries, he became an Associate Member of the Royal Academy in 1770 and received throughout his career a steady flow of commissions for private and public monuments, visible to this day at Westminster Abbey in London, at Salisbury and Bristol Cathedrals, at Eton College, Windsor, and at St James in Montego Bay, Jamaica, to name a few. The mythical character of the subject and the vitality that animate our reliefs find close parallels within Bacon’s production, as exemplified by the 1769 Aeneas and his Family escaping from Troy roundel relief (Foundling Hospital, London), which won the first gold medal given by the Royal Academy of Arts for sculpture, and the Apollo and Daphne from the same year, executed for Wedgwood. Also in 1769, Bacon exhibited now untraced models for “Bacchanalians” at the Royal Academy, which testify to his familiarity with this type of subject. Modelled with meticulous attention to detail, our reliefs display a confident handling of the anatomies and a sense of movement that fully does justice to the lithe dynamism of the original Pompeian frescos. Extremely rare today, the Wedgwood Centaur compositions are documented in two examples, each featuring the Female Centaur with a Bacchante, preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (fig. 3) and in the Huntington Library in California (fig. 4). Comparison between these and the present relief of the same subject reveals that the figures closely correspond down to the slightest detail. The seated Bacchante displays the same folds in her robe, and the thyrsus she holds is identical in terms of the pinecone and of the outline of the ribbon tied to its top. Equally, the female Centaur is drawn with the same musculature, curls in her hair and tail. These parallels confirm that our terracottas represent the preparatory studies for the creation of the Wedgwood reliefs, and must therefore have been executed around 1770, given that Wedgwood referred to the Lansdowne plasters in 1771 and the V&A
roundel is dated to c.1772. Notably, “two pairs of cameo medallions in terra cotta, for pictures” including the Female Centaur composition, appear in the 1781 Wedgwood sale at Christie’s (lot 877; see Meteyard, p. 164). This entry suggests such terracotta items were indeed used as models, and the items described may well have been the present reliefs. Centaurs and Bacchantes had entered the cultural landscape of Pompeii’s Roman citizens through Greek mythology, where they were associated with the cult of the god of wine and festivity Dionysus, known as Bacchus to the Romans. Centaurs and Bacchantes were part of the god’s throng of merry followers, who accompanied him through his travels and heralded his passage with songs and dances. Unique in composition, the Centaur frescos from the Villa of Cicero were illustrated in the first volume of the incredibly successful and influential Le Antichità di Ercolano, the earliest most complete scholarly compendium describing the finds from the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum, begun in 1738 and 1748 respectively (Naples, 1757, pls. XXV & XXVI). In 1770, the Wedgwood factory owned six volumes from this series, which was translated into English and published as one volume, The Antiquities of Herculaneum, in 1773. Josiah Wedgwood’s name appears in the list of subscribers to this first English edition, and so does that of the Marquess of Lansdowne, then styled as ‘The Right Honourable the Earl of Shelburne’. German and French editions soon followed. These lavishly illustrated tomes functioned as the primary means for the dissemination of this new ‘Vesuvian’ imagery, alongside models after the antique originals taken mainly in plaster and bronze. Le Antichità di Ercolano and its subsequent translations responded to the virtually unprecedented excitement that the rediscovery of the ancient cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii had rapidly generated well beyond the confines of the Bourbon Kingdom of Naples and the Two Sicilies. North and south of the Alps, scholars and collectors alike followed in awe the progress of the excavations and the extraordinary richness of their finds, which soon came to shape the artistic taste and production of generations to come. In this light, the present pair of terracotta roundels constitute a rare and beautiful example of the early resonance of Pompeian models in England, and illustrate a key chapter in the development of the country’s artistic vocabulary and tradition. Their format indicates they were intended as wall decorations in relief, of the kind highly sought-after in eighteenth-century England. In 1771 Wedgwood himself had suggested sending his medallions after the Lansdowne casts to the celebrated architect Robert Adam (1728–1792), hoping he might have “some new idea of disposing of them”. Adam had already employed Pompeian imagery in his designs for Lansdowne House, where the now lost drawing-room presented bas-reliefs of dancing figures after prototypes in the Villa of Cicero. Comparable contemporary examples include the
entrance hall at Harewood House, the dining room at Kedleston Hall and the former library at Saltram House, where all’antica themes prominently feature in the relief decorations. This appropriation of antique compositions within newly designed stately interiors functioned both on an aesthetic and on a social level, simultaneously pleasing the eye of the beholder and signalling the cultured, well-travelled and fashionable character of the host. As Nancy H. Ramage puts it in her essay on Pompeii, Herculaneum and eighteenth-century decorative arts, “the context of the new work created a contemporary and fashionable message, yet carried with it the gravitas or the charm of the original” (p. 167). Josiah Wedgwood, who was at once a careful observer and a key influencer of his contemporaries’ taste, skilfully inscribed his production within this canon precisely through objects such as the Centaur reliefs. To conclude, it should be noted that the appeal of these particular compositions to the circles of Wedgwood’s major patrons rested not merely on a general association with the antique, but on specific references to classical mythology that cultivated audiences would have delighted in. As readers would have learnt upon perusing the carefully annotated Antiquities of Herculaneum, the Female Centaur composition, an invenzione of the Pompeian painter, inscribed itself within the tradition established by ancient Greece’s most famed master, Zeuxis, “the first who represented female centaurs”, and its iconography derived from an expert summary of literary references. Equally drawing upon an established tradition, the male Centaur, overpowered by the Bacchante and with his hands tied, signified either the triumph of Bacchus, symbolized by the thyrsus, or the triumph of love over even the wildest and roughest of creatures, with the Bacchante representing the object of the Centaur’s yearning. Dr Terry Friedman, born Terence Frederic Friedman in Detroit, Michigan, was one of the finest art historians of his generation and a leading authority on eighteenthcentury architecture. Between 1969 and 1993 he was Keeper of Decorative Arts at the renowned historic house Temple Newsam, Leeds, and, later, as Principal Kwweeper at Leeds City Art Gallery (where he was largely responsible for setting up the Henry Moore Centre for the Study of Sculpture), he made a major contribution to the cultural life of the city, which he called home from 1969 until his death in 2013.
related literature Le Antichità di Ercolano, Le pitture antiche di Ercolano e contorni incise con qualche spiegazione, vol. I, Naples, 1757, pp. 131–42, pls. XXV & XXVI The Antiquities of Herculaneum, translated from the Italian by Thomas Martyn and John Lettice, London, 1773, pp. 105–12, pls. XXV & XXVI J. Wedgwood, Catalogue of Cameos, Intaglios, Medals, Bas-reliefs, Busts and Small Statues, Etruria, 1787, pp. 29–33 E. Meteyard, The Wedgwood Handbook, A Manual for Collectors, London, 1875 A. Kelly, Decorative Wedgwood in architecture and furniture, London, 1965 H. Young, ed., The Genius of Wedgwood, exh. cat., Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1995, no. C18 V.C. Gardner Coates and J.L. Seydl, eds., Antiquity Recovered: The Legacy of Pompeii and Herculaneum, Los Angeles, 2007 N.H. Ramage, ‘Flying maenads and cupids: Pompeii, Herculaneum, and eighteenth-century decorative arts’, Studies in the History of Art, vol. 79, Washington, D.C., 2013, pp. 161–76
benedetto buglioni (1459–1521)
Saint Jerome in the Wilderness, c.1510–15 Polychrome glazed terracotta 22¼ in. (56.5 cm) high 16¾ in. (42.5 cm) wide provenance Private collection, France Bruschi collection, Florence literature G. Gentilini, I Della Robbia. La scultura invetriata nel Rinascimento, Florence, 1992, p. 371, note 24
This rare and refined glazed terracotta panel – most likely originally intended for the purposes of private devotion and characterized by a vivacious narrative and picturesque landscape setting – depicts the illustrious Dalmatian theologian and Father of the Church Saint Jerome (Sofronius Eusebius Hieronymus, Stridon c.347– Bethlehem c.420). Specifically, the saint is here portrayed during his period of penance as a hermit in the Syrian desert, as described in his Letters (XXII), later recounted in the Legenda Aurea, Jacopo da Varazze’s famous hagiographic account, and consistently evoked in the established iconographic tradition relating to Saint Jerome (see Russo 1987). The eremite, a commanding example of moral rigour, has relinquished his cardinal’s hat, which lies on the ground by his side, next to a skull outlined with particular realism. The latter represents an allusion to the vanity of secular power, scorned by the uncompromising Jerome, who, emaciated by his fast and accompanied by the faithful lion he famously tamed, appears in the act of beating his chest with a stone while directing his gaze passionately to the Crucifix standing in front of him. The narrative is set at the foot of a rocky ravine, cut through by a small stream that wells up from under the Cross, a probable reference to the cathartic and regenerating function of Christ’s sacrifice for humanity. Distinctively outlined trees frame the scene to the sides, whilst a fortified citadel (possibly Bethlehem, where the saint had founded a monastery) extends the picture plane in the background, topped by the mossy edges of the ravine, which partly cover the relief ’s moulded border. The relief, as already noted when it was first recorded in the Bruschi collection in Florence (Gentilini 1992, p. 371, note 24), is related to an interesting group of works constituted by three comparable glazed terracotta panels (Florence, Casa Buonarroti [fig. 1]; London, Victoria and Albert Museum; formerly New York, Stefano Bardini sale, 1918), which were inspired by a composition formulated in a fine marble relief, purchased in 2001 by the Metropolitan Museum in New York (Wardropper 2011, pp. 23–25, no. 5), which was the starting point for the present work as well. The marble panel (42.6 × 38 cm) differs from the present relief especially in terms of the landscape populated by various animals (a dragon, a stag, a squirrel and a lioness), the upright pose of the tamed lion (recumbent in our case), and in the background, which features a merchant leading a dromedary (a reference to the
legend of the lion) instead of the present citadel. It has a considerable provenance, having passed through the collections of the most prominent Florentine antiquaries (Stefano Bardini, Luigi Bellini, Carlo de Carlo) and, more recently, of SalanderO’Reilly in New York, who proposed identifying it with a work recorded in the 1553 inventory of Cosimo I de’ Medici’s possessions at Palazzo della Signoria in Florence (Butterfield, in Masterpieces 2001, pp. 20–31). This marble relief has been repeatedly, and with good reason, attributed to Antonio Rossellino (Settignano/Florence 1427/28– Florence 1479) since its appearance in the New York Bardini sale of 1918 (American Art Galleries, 23–27 April 1918, lot 420), with reference to its affinities with the disputed reliefs in Faenza Cathedral ascribed by Vasari to Benedetto da Maiano (Maiano 1442– Florence 1497), a sculptor who had trained alongside Rossellino. The delicate version in polychrome glazed terracotta in the Museo di Casa Buonarroti (43 × 38 cm), faithful to the marble relief in the setting too (yet without the dragon and with the lion roaring, a deer instead of the stag and a stag daringly foreshortened in place of the lioness), is generally dated c.1510/15 and attributed to Luca della Robbia the Younger (Florence 1475– Paris 1548), the most refined and capable amongst Andrea della Robbia’s sons and aides (Gentilini 1992, p. 361; Bellandi, in I Della Robbia 1998, pp. 291–92, no. IV.1). The version in the Victoria and Albert Museum (41.3 × 34.3 cm), polychrome but with partial glazing, has also been attributed, yet with some uncertainty, to Luca the Younger (R. Caterina Proto Pisani, in I Della Robbia 1998, p. 292). This relief appears to be even more closely related to the marble one in some aspects, for example in the tame lion sitting upright and in the stag on the right-hand side, but rather removed in others, such as the absence of the squirrel and the fact that the stag on the left is represented scratching its muzzle. Above all, the saint’s pose, with his open arms, beard and corpulent appearance, is not related to the marble model and may indicate a slightly earlier execution date, or the hand of Luca’s brother Girolamo (Florence 1488– Paris 1566; see Gentilini 1992, p. 361). The panel offered in the 1918 Bardini sale (45.7 × 31.8 cm, American Art Galleries, 23–27 April 1918, lot 370), with an attribution to Giovanni della Robbia, also polychrome and partially glazed, is almost identical to the London one, with the exception of the saint, represented beating his chest. Its whereabouts is currently unknown and its attribution problematic, though it definitely originated in the Della Robbia workshop c.1510, where a cast of the marble was presumably kept. As discussed above, the present terracotta reinterprets the marble with greater autonomy, especially in the landscape – devoid of animals but featuring the fascinating addition of a turreted citadel – in the lion’s recumbent pose and in other details, such as the thick tufts of grass at the top of the two rocky peaks, which distance it from the three published versions from the Della Robbia workshop. On the other hand, the emaciated figure of the hermit adheres to the marble model even more closely
fig. 1 Luca della Robbia the Younger, Saint Jerome in the Wilderness, polychrome glazed terracotta, Museo di Casa Buonarroti, Florence
than the terracotta in Casa Buonarroti, reprising verbatim the outstretched left hand, which seems to invoke the comfort of Christ, used in the Della Robbia version to indicate the Crucifix, and this suggests that in our case the artist possessed a cast after the marble of his own and would have ignored the iconographical variations adopted in the Della Robbia workshop. As already proposed (Gentilini 1992, p. 371, note 24), the panel presented here is without doubt the work of Benedetto Buglioni, an enterprising sculptor who had trained under Verrocchio and established himself in Florence and throughout Central Italy thanks to a prolific production of glazed terracotta works (later continued by his nephew Santi). Akin, in technical and typological aspects, to that of Andrea della Robbia and his workshop, Buglioni’s oeuvre shows an inclination to greater clarity and formal simplicity. It was appreciated by very sophisticated buyers, such as Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici, son of Lorenzo the Magnificent and the future Pope Leo X, who around 1495 commissioned from the artist numerous decorations for the sanctuary of Santa Cristina in Bolsena (Marquand 1921; Gentilini 1992, pp. 390–449). The affable simplicity and clarity of expression of the works of Benedetto responded well to the demands of popular devotion promoted at the time by the preaching of Girolamo Savonarola, which had become deep-rooted in Florence’s most learned circles – a sterner religious belief, geared towards meditation on the sacrifice of Christ, which could find a perfect parallel in this ascetic image of Saint Jerome immersed in dialogue with the Crucifix. Benedetto Buglioni’s authorship, c.1510/15, is evidenced by the vibrant modelling of Jerome’s figure and the incisive handling of the landscape, defined with quick strokes of the spatula, by the tender and sharp quality of the physiognomies, and especially by the type of glazing, liquid and speckled (recurrent in the glazes of this workshop), enlivened by rapid graphic touches of manganese, which renders to great effect the brown and green hues of the damp mossy rock. The parallels between the present work and Benedetto’s output are infinite, from his early lunettes featuring ascetic subjects such as those in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (The Penitent Magdalene), in the Museo Bandini in Fiesole (The Meeting of Christ and John the Baptist as Children in the Desert) or in the Pieve at Cavriglia (Saint John the Baptist in the Desert), to the one depicting Christ and the Samaritan at the Well today in the Museo del Palazzo Taglieschi in Anghiari (formerly Florence, Sant’Onofrio di Fuligno), dating to the second decade of the sixteenth century, where the background features a fortified city, with high towers and campanili with pointed spires. The figure of the penitent Saint Jerome, identical to the present one even in the gestures, can be found in various predellas by the master, often set within a rocky background characterized by the same mottled hues – for example in The Madonna with Saints Sebastian and Anthony Abbot in the Pieve at Montemignaio, datable towards the end of the fifteenth century,
in the two altarpieces in the Museo della Collegiata at Empoli (from Santa Maria in Ripa), from the first years of the sixteenth century, or in The Nativity of Santa Maria in Camporena in San Vivaldo, datable to around 1510 or shortly thereafter. In addition to this, the fact that the present relief closely derives from a composition by Antonio Rossellino confirms its attribution to Benedetto Buglioni, as it was his established practice to translate and reinterpret in glazed terracotta the marble works of the most renowned Florentine sculptors of the second half of the fifteenth century, including Desiderio da Settignano, Andrea del Verrocchio, Benedetto da Maiano and specifically Antonio Rossellino, so much so that some have considered Buglioni to have been his pupil (Marquand 1921, p. XIII). Buglioni often revisited Rossellino’s Marian images, such as the Madonna Nori in Santa Croce or The Adoration of the Christ Child in the Museo del Bargello, and even the monumental Nativity with the Adoration of the Shepherds carved by the master in 1470–75 for the Piccolomini chapel in Sant’Anna dei Lombardi in Naples, quoted in very timely manner by our artist in his glazed panel dated to 1490 today in the Hermitage in St Petersburg. In his terracotta compositions Buglioni often used casts taken from the original marbles, or replicas in terracotta and stucco, but perhaps he sometimes also used models or other materials originating from the masters’ workshops, as suggested by his 1497 purchase of an “almost finished predella” from the studio of Benedetto da Maiano (Gentilini 1992, pp. 390–91). It is therefore possible that the present relief derives directly from a sketch or clay model of the penitent Saint Jerome sold after the death of Rossellino in 1479. professor giancarlo gentilini
related literature American Art Galleries, The Stefano Bardini Collection. Beautiful Treasures and Antiquities illustrating the Golden Age of Italian Art, sale catalogue, New York, 23–25 April 1918 A. Marquand, Benedetto and Santi Buglioni, Princeton, 1921 D. Russo, Saint Jérôme en Italie. Etude d’iconographie et de spiritualité (XIIIe–XVe siècle), Paris and Rome, 1987 G. Gentilini, I Della Robbia. La scultura invetriata nel Rinascimento, 2 vols., Florence, 1992 I Della Robbia e l’“arte nuova” della scultura invetriata, exh. cat., Fiesole, Basilica di Sant’Alessandro, 29 May –1 November 1998, ed. G. Gentilini, Florence, 1998 Masterpieces of Renaissance Art. Eight Rediscoveries, exh. cat., New York, Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, 29 November 2001 –2 February 2002, ed. A. Butterfield and A. Radcliffe, New York, 2001 I. Wardropper, European Sculpture, 1400–1900, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2011
gianfrancesco susini (1585–1653)
The Borghese Satyr After the Antique Bronze, with remains of dark cherry-red varnish 13 in. (33 cm) high provenance The late Professor Michael Jaffé, CBE (1923–1997), on loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1976–2016
fig. 1 The Colossal Fighting Satyr (with restored head), Roman, c.120–40 a.d., 2.38 cm high, Villa Borghese, Rome, inv. 1531
This statuette is a beautifully worked reduction of one of the most impressive and admired ancient marble statues in the Borghese Collection, Rome – currently displayed in the Salone d’Entrata of the Casino Borghese (fig. 1). The over life-sized original (2.38 m high) is deemed to be an ancient Roman copy dating from c.120–40 a.d. It came to light in the collection of Tiberio Ceoli, at his villa on the Strada Giulia in central Rome, where it was recorded in a striking pen-and-wash drawing by Andrea Boscoli (1550–1606). Boscoli depicted it beside an even taller statue of Dionysus/Bacchus, which was also acquired by the Borghese and still stands near it in the Salone (fig. 2): the inscription reads: Nel giardino del S[ignor] Tiberio Ce[uli], [in Strada Giulia]. An engraving (in reverse) that was made after its acquisition in 1607 (fig. 3) suggests that the statue was located in the collection of the famous and voracious connoisseur Cardinal Scipione Borghese, since it has the legend Faunus apud Card. Burghesium. The convincingly antique-looking head is in fact a restoration, made (seemingly) for Signor Ceoli, as it seems to feature in Boscoli’s watercolour. However, it is possible that Ceoli’s new head was replaced by Cardinal Borghese’s restorers, who were perhaps from the circle of Pietro Bernini and his son (the young Gian Lorenzo). The statue originally stood out of doors on the façade of the Prospettiva, behind the Palazzina, in the gardens surrounding the Casino (today universally known as the ‘Villa’ Borghese). At the end of the eighteenth century it was moved further away, to the Recinto del Lago, where it stood until 1826, when it was finally moved into the ‘Villa’. Today, the statue is thought to be a copy of a Hellenistic-period bronze from the School of Lysippus that possibly stood in Taranto in southern Italy, a city for which Lysippus, at the end of the fourth century b.c., had made some colossal statues of Jupiter and of Hercules Meditating. According to Livy, in his day there still stood in the great square of Taranto “divinities of enormous size, each depicted in its appropriate costume and fighting”. Cicero recorded a Satyr in the Temple of Hestia/ Vesta, which was lovingly preserved as a souvenir by the surviving Greek community after they had lost their independence to the Romans. The present splendid statuette, modelled on a major antiquity in the greatest collection in Rome, is very rare: only one other cast is known, and – from the photograph in the catalogue of the sale of Rita Lydig, held in New York in 1913, lot 60 – that looks to be far inferior to, and possibly even an after-cast taken from, the present figure.
fig. 2 Andrea Boscoli (1550–1606), Bacchus with the Fighting Satyr from the Borghese Collection, Rome, 2nd half 16th century, pen and wash, Oscar Savio, Rome fig. 3 Orazio de Sancis (active 1568–84) or Cherubino Alberti (1553–1615) The Fighting Satyr in the Borghese Collection, Rome, engraving, late 16th century, University of Chicago
A similar model that is presumably cast in bronze features (in reverse) in the Galerie de Girardon. It differs from the present model in that the Satyr holds a long staff and stands on a more ornate base. The reversal of the image (as in fig. 3) is due to its translation through the process of engraving and printing. François Girardon (1628–1715) was the greatest court sculptor to the ‘Sun King’, Louis XIV, and his famed gallery was drawn by René Charpentier (1680–1723) around 1708 and 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. The present statuette seems not to have been published and we do not know where Professor Jaffé – the renowned expert on Rubens – acquired it, though probably from the art market in London. Thus there is only the evidence provided by the statuette itself to go on. The figure is immaculately modelled after its ancient prototype, replicating the action pose, but deleting the pulsating veins running down the legs of the marble satyr, in line with a change of intended iconography towards a calmer, sweeter subject and effect: now the faun is meant to be in middance, brandishing in the air not a club but a recorder with an accurately chamfered mouthpiece – a variant from the usual attribute of such a woodland figures, the syrinx or Pan-pipes. Intimately allied to the modelled bronze with its silky-smooth, polished surface is the colour of the remaining varnish, visible in the interstices, which is a glistening deep Morello-cherry red, typical of the great bronziers the Susini, Antonio the uncle and – later – his nephew Gian Francesco. It is with Gianfrancesco Susini (1616–53/54) that the statuette seems to be most closely associated, for the classical prototypes of Soldani’s similar, but later, celebrated and widely diffused series of bronze statuettes after the Antique are all to be found in Florence, not Rome. Born in Florence towards the end of the sixteenth century, Gianfrancesco (or Giovanni Francesco or Gian Francesco) learned the art of bronze casting from his uncle Antonio Susini, himself one of the most talented disciples of Giambologna (1529–1608). Gianfrancesco made several figures and groups after the
famous antiquities of Rome, and they were often ‘one-off ’, as this piece seems to be. Here may be mentioned an Arria and Paetus, based on a group discovered in the excavations made at the Villa Ludovisi in 1621–23 and restored in 1624 by Ippolito Buzio (1562–1634): Gianfrancesco’s Susini’s bronze reduction is in the Galleria Colonna, Rome, having been inherited by the family from the collection of Jacopo Salviati, where it is documented on 13 September 1632; another cast, now in the Louvre, was in the post-mortem inventory of Don Lorenzo de’ Medici (1599–1648). Also attributable to Gianfrancesco is a reduction of the Borghese Hermaphrodite on a fanciful gadrooned ‘day-bed’ signed and dated 1639 and now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (inv. no. 1977. 339; it was exhibited in the 1978 Giambologna exhibition in Edinburgh, London and Vienna as no. 189). The similarity in appearance and feeling of the newly discovered Satyr to these masterpieces provides good grounds for its attribution to this Florentine master in creating bronzes de luxe. dr charles avery
related literature Wolfgang Helbig, Führer durch die öffentlichen Sammlungen klassischer Altertümer in Rom, 4th edition, vol. 2, Tübingen 1966, p. 1944 F. Souchal, ‘La collection du sculpteur Girardon d’après son inventaire après décès’, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, LXXXII, 1973, pp. 1–112, esp. pp. 73–74, no. 8, pl. II, fig. 158 I marmi antichi della Galleria Borghese: La collezione archeologica di Camillo e Francesco Borghese, Rome, 2003, pp. 111–13, no. 74, and colour plate 8 on p. 32 (compare plate 9 for the statue of Bacchus, also from the Ceoli collection)
gilles-lambert godecharle (1750–1835)
Bust of Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592), 1816–17 French Renaissance philosopher and essayist Terracotta 24 in. (61 cm) high provenance Commissioned by Jean-Baptiste Plasschaert, 1816–17, as a model for the stone bust in the park of Kasteel van den Heer Buggraaf de Spoelbergh (Château de Wespelaer), Belgium Private collection, Belgium
Gilles-Lambert Godecharle (1750–1835) was one of the most renowned Flemish sculptors of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Until 1770 or 1771 he was apprenticed to Laurent Delvaux. His master’s influence with Charles of Lorraine, the Austrian Governor of the Netherlands, in 1769 secured for him an allowance to cover the whole period of his training. In 1772 he left his native country for Paris and was soon afterwards accepted (agréé) by the prestigious Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. In Paris, Godecharle met the best French sculptors of the time, such as Jean-Antoine Houdon, and he enjoyed the protection of Jean-Baptiste Pigalle and of Jean-Pierre-Antoine Tassaert, who took him on as an apprentice. In 1775, when Tassaert was appointed court sculptor to Frederick the Great of Prussia, Godecharle accompanied his master to Berlin, where until 1777 he worked with him on official commissions, mainly portraits of Prussian generals. In 1778 Godecharle travelled to Rome, where he was awarded first prize for sculpture by the Accademia di San Luca in the very same year. In 1779 he completed a project for a grandiose monument dedicated to the Empress Maria Theresa by her son, the future Emperor Joseph II, and by her brother-in-law, Charles of Lorraine. This was to be an obelisk placed in an octagonal basin, to be erected in the Parc Royal at Brussels; Houdon was to collaborate on the project. It was not executed, however, because in 1780 both the Empress and Charles of Lorraine died. Although this first commission did not come to fruition it showed how highly Godecharle was regarded in official circles in his native land, where he returned before the end of 1779. As further proof of this esteem, he was commissioned in 1781 to sculpt the pediment of the façade of the palace of the Sovereign Council of Brabant at Brussels (now the Palais de la Nation). The two remarkable terracotta models for this (Brussels, Musée d’Art Ancien) display Godecharle’s talent and virtuosity better than the pediment itself, which has suffered from erosion and the effects of a fire. For the summer residence of the Austrian governors at Laeken near Brussels (now the Royal Palace), Godecharle designed sculptures to adorn the pediment and the portico. He also received commissions from Church authorities. He produced two monumental allegorical statues in stone for the church of Saint Jacques-sur-Coudenberg, Brussels – The Old Testament and The New Testament (both 1787; in situ) – as well as three bas-reliefs, The Nativity, The Last Supper and The Entombment. With time his style grew slightly more severe, leaning towards a stricter Neoclassicism.
fig. 1 Period photograph of the Kasteel van den Heer Buggraaf de Spoelbergh (Château de Wespelaer), Belgium
Godecharle enjoyed extraordinary renown during his lifetime. In 1814 he was appointed Professor at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. He received numerous distinctions and was official sculptor for several successive governments. Godecharle was influenced by the French tradition of the eighteenth century, but his style remained allied to Flemish art. His terracotta models and his portraits demonstrate that he was one of the best of his country’s sculptors in his time. Our bust depicts the French Renaissance philosopher and essayist Michel de Montaigne, at a mature age, with a studious gaze and a characteristically long beard. This well-preserved terracotta was made by Godecharle as a model for his bust of Michel de Montaigne for the garden of the Château de Wespelaer (fig. 1), near Leuven/Louvain, Belgium, now housed at the Musée d’Art Ancien, Brussels (fig. 2). In the last decade of the eighteenth century, the estate of Wespelaer was acquired by the famous brewer Léonard Artois, from nearby the city of Leuven. One of his daughters, Jeanne-Marie Artois, married Jean-Baptiste Plasschaert, who subsequently became Châtelain de Wespelaer. Plasschaert wanted to transform the rather modest château into a more luxurious one. He therefore hired Ghislain-Joseph Henry, the leading architect of his time, who would later be commissioned by Napoleon to restore the Castle of Laeken. For the sculpture in the park, Plasschaert commissioned the celebrated sculptor Godecharle. Plasschaert would not live to see the end of the Wespelaer project, but before his death the garden had been redesigned by Henry and fully decorated by Godecharle. It was meant to be a park à l’anglaise, complete with a pond, a river and a waterfall. It comprised a number of statues, sculptural groups, marble vases and busts, and some constructions such as a Roman temple, a pyramid and a Chinese pavilion. At the beginning of the nineteenth century it was generally recognized as one of the most beautiful estates in the country.
fig. 2 Bust of Michel de Montaigne, by Gilles-Lambert Godecharle, 1817, pierre de France, Musée d'Art Ancien (Musées Royales des Beaux-Arts), Brussels, inv. 3496
Godecharle created most of the sculptures that were to embellish the garden. He worked on the commission between 1791 and 1822. There were nine statues and seven groups, of which twelve depicted figures and subjects from classical mythology. Some of these were copies, like that of the Flora Farnese, the Apollo Belvedere and the Borghese Hermaphrodite. In addition to the aforementioned sculptures, Godecharle also worked on the busts that were to be located on an artificial island in the castle lake, known as the Champs-Elysées. Inspired by Masonic symbolism, the small island was circular in form, with a diameter of around 150 m, lined with trees and centred around an obelisk. In total Godecharle created 37 busts of famous men from history, with a predilection for writers, thinkers and emancipators. Amongst those represented were Voltaire, Frederick of Prussia, Socrates, Henri IV, Pythagoras, Rousseau, Plato, George Washington, the Count of Egmont and also Michel de Montaigne. The busts were sculpted in 1816 and 1817, out of a white stone from Avesne known as pierre de France. When they were finished, the busts were painted white to make them look more like marble and placed on bases of blue stone (pierre de Hainaut), which were also painted white. Most of the statues carried an inscription, usually a well-known citation from the works of, or a quotation associated with, the person depicted. Amongst these stood the stone bust of Montaigne, with the inscription below, quoting his famous sceptical remark: “Que sais-je?” (What do I know?). Godecharle finished that bust in 1817. The statues from the Wespelaer garden are often considered to reflect the talent of Godecharle to perfection. By the time Godecharle obtained the commission from Plasschaert, he was already a renowned sculptor and he had already created the works for which he is best remembered today, namely the pediments of the Palais de la Nation or Belgian Parliament (1781) and of the Royal Palace at Laeken (1783), as well as the other decorative sculptures of the palace. Following his rise to fame and the increasing number of commissions that came with it, Godecharle increasingly relied on a number of assistants for the final execution of his work. This was particularly the case for most of the works that were displayed in the garden at Wespelaer, given the great number of statues that had to be completed in a short period of time. Godecharle probably mainly made the terracotta models for these sculptures, leaving the final execution of most of these statues to a large extent to his assistants.
After Plasschaert’s death, the estate was inherited by his widow. She carefully saw to it that her late husband’s project reached its completion. After her death in 1840, the estate was first inherited by the Mamef family and not long afterwards came into the possession of the Willems family, also through inheritance. In 1898, the widow of Edmond Willems sold the majority of the sculptures from the garden. The lion’s share of the sculptures (including the bust of Montaigne) were acquired by the Belgian State and entered the collection of the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts as possibly the most important suite of Belgian sculptures ever made.
related literature M. Devigne, Musée Royal des Beaux-Arts de Belgique: Catalogue de la sculpture, Brussels, 1923, p. 60 M. Devigne, ‘Le souvenir de Godecharle. Wespelaer’, La Revue de l’art, xxvi, nos. 7–8, July– August 1925, pp. 1–12 M. Devigne, ‘De la parenté d’inspiration des artistes flamands du XVIIe et du XVIIIe siècle: Laurent Delvaux et ses élèves’, Mémoires de l’Académie Royale de Belgique: Classe des beauxarts, n.s. 1, ii/1, 1928, pp. 34–122 A. Jacobs et al., 1770–1830: Autour du néoclassicisme en Belgique, exh. cat., Musée d’Ixelles, Brussels, 1985, pp. 105–14 J. van Lennep (ed.), Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, exh. cat., Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, 1987, pp. 269–70, 335–41 R. Kerremans, ‘Godecharle, Gilles-Lambert’, in J. van Lennep, ed., La Sculpture belge au 19ème siècle, exh. cat., Génerale Banque, Brussels, 1990, pp. 426–28 J. van Lennep, Catalogue de la sculpture: Artistes nés entre 1750 et 1882, exh. cat., Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, 1992, pp. 207–36 A. Jacobs, Laurent Delvaux 1696–1778, Paris, 1999
francesco di virgilio fanelli (1577–c.1661)
Daniel in the Lions’ Den Gilt bronze 7¼ in. (18.5 cm) high 10 in. (25.5 cm) wide
Fanelli the florentine Sculptor who livd and dyd in England. made many smal. statues. models & cast them in brass. which he sold to persons that were Curious to sett on Tables cupboards shelves by way of Ornament …. This Fanelli had a particular genius for these works and was much esteemd in K. Charles I time – and afterwards – so many of his little Statues (G. Vertue, ‘Vertue Notebooks IV’, The Walpole Society, XXIV, 1936, p. 110). Francesco Fanelli, who sometimes signed with his initials F.F.F. (the last ‘F’ being for ‘Florentinus’) was baptized in 1577 in Florence and may have been apprenticed to Giovanni Bandini, after 1591, for he is mentioned as a former helper in Bandini’s will (d. 1599) and was left the use of Bandini’s models. Fanelli’s facility in casting bronze thinly (remarked on later in the century by Joachim Sandrart as “no thicker than a thaler” or ‘dollar’ coin) and his early Baroque style may have been imparted by Bandini, at the time the only serious rival to Giambologna in Florence. He was probably also influenced by Giambologna’s successor as court sculptor to the Medici, Pietro Tacca, and followed him in widening the range of poses in which to depict horses in action. Between 1605 and 1630 he worked for major patrons in Genoa, mostly on Christian themes, but by 1634 he was being paid £60 per annum by King Charles I in London, where he was far and away the greatest sculptor in bronze. In London, a Protestant capital, Fanelli’s capability in religious work was not called upon, and instead he created a fascinating series of statuettes and groups involving horses, particularly images of Saint George and the Dragon, patron saint of England, with whom King Charles I identified himself, and a unique portrait statuette of the monarch (Avery 2011). Others depicted Nessus abducting Deianira, a Turkish Lion-hunt and Cupid on Horseback; he also made studies of the horse on its own, in a variety of different poses, and plaques and plaquettes of the horse and other animals. For the plaques an ebonized wood cabinet now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, created for the famous diarist John Evelyn (1620–1706) on his return from a Grand Tour of Europe in 1644, is the principal document. Its decorations were purchased in Florence by Vertue – panels in semi-precious stones depicting birds and flowers and a variety of statuettes, architectural elements, and plaques depicting domestic animals, all cast in bronze (Radcliffe and Thornton 1978). Its central cupboard-door shows a Renaissance loggia around a fountain, while the inside is mounted with a large plaque of Orpheus standing with his lyre and enchanting the animals. These include an owl and various birds, a bear with a ram and a sheep on one side and a hunting-dog, goat and snake on the other (recalling the biblical passage, “the lion shall lie down with the lamb”). The focal figure of Orpheus, a suave, not
especially muscular, male nude, with his head canted sideways and his eyes turned upward as he appreciates his own music, and the tree in which the birds perch, with its abundant foliage, are depicted just like the present triumphant biblical figure and the tree to the right of the den. Lions – of which no fewer than six have been pacified by Daniel in the present plaque – are not among Orpheus’s immediate audience, but we know how Fanelli depicted them from other instances, including two on the eight plaquettes on the drawer-fronts of the cabinet below, where, among otherwise mostly domestic beasts, are a lion recumbent, looking up from devouring a sheep, and a lioness prancing elegantly along, with lashing tail. The same plaquettes of lion and lioness appear among twelve reliefs set in a wooden frame round another, oblong panel of Orpheus, once owned by Dr Richard Mead in London and now also in the V&A, where his audience has been ‘beefed-up’ by the inclusion not only of a passive lion but also of a giraffe and an elephant. Furthermore there is a responding pair of plaquettes with a pouncing lion and a leaping lioness. The lion is also a major player in one of Fanelli’s most popular equestrian groups, often paired with Saint George and the Dragon: this shows a turbanned Turk smiting with his sabre a lion that has reared up on one leg to savage his leaping horse, while his wild hunting-dog snaps at its heel. The present, unpublished and unique plaque of Daniel in the Lions’ Den is – on account of its idiosyncratic style and special technique (employing a multitude of sprues, which can be seen roughly cut off on the reverse, in order to ensure the even flow of metal) – a signal addition to Fanelli’s oeuvre: he creates an atmosphere of emotional tension by contrasting the exhausted kneeling prophet, so recently rescued from a horrible martyrdom, with the slightly humorous depiction of the now passive – and even somnolent – lions. Their puzzled expressions are almost anthropomorphic and the framing of their faces by tousled, loose locks of hair might be meant to poke fun at contemporary male hairstyles in the notoriously foppish Caroline court. dr charles avery
related literature G. Vertue, ‘Vertue Notebooks IV’, The Walpole Society, XXIV, 1936, p. 110 J. Pope-Hennessy, ‘Some bronze statuettes by Francesco Fanelli’, The Burlington Magazine, XCV, 1953, pp. 157–62 (reprinted in his Essays in Italian Sculpture, London, 1968, pp. 166–67) A. Radcliffe and P. Thornton, ‘John Evelyn’s Cabinet’, The Connoisseur, CXCVII, 1978, p. 254–62 A. White, ‘Fanelli’, in The Dictionary of Art, London, 1996, vol. 10, pp. 786–87 E.D. Schmidt, ‘Giovanni Bandini tra Marche e Toscana’, Nuovi Studi: Rivista di Arte Antica e Moderna, III, no. 6, 1998, pp. 73–75 (‘Il testamento del Bandini e gli escordi di Francesco Fanelli’) E.D. Schmidt, ‘Francesco Fanelli’, in A. Boström, ed., The Encyclopedia of Sculpture, New York/London, 2004, pp. 542–44 P. Wengraf, ‘Francesco Fanelli & Sons in Italy and London, on a Grander Scale’, in M. Leithe-Jasper and P. Wengraf, European Bronzes from the Quentin Collection, exh. cat., Frick Collection, New York, 2004, pp. 30–53, 194–213, nos. 18–20, 325–29 C. Avery, Francesco Fanelli, King Charles I, a unique bronze statuette, Altomani & Sons, Milan, 2011
italian, 2nd half of the 18th century
Head of Hercules After the Antique Bronze 16¼ in. (41.5 cm) high 22¾ in. (58 cm) high, including the socle provenance Private collection, United Kingdom
fig. 1 Roman, 1st century b.c., Head of Hercules, bronze, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples, inv. 5610
An image of arresting beauty, this impressively refined head was cast in the late eighteenth century in Italy. As prescribed by Grand Tour taste, its likeness is drawn from an ancient prototype, a Roman bronze bust of a male youth preserved today in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples (fig. 1; see Moesch 2009, p. 62, no. 25). This in turn derives from a late fifth-century b.c. Greek type, attributed to the famed sculptor Polycleitus, representing the hero Hercules, son of the god Zeus/Jupiter and the mortal Alcmene, which is known today through Roman marble copies (for example Musei Capitolini, Rome, inv. no. MC1877). The Roman bronze Hercules was unearthed in 1759 at the site of the monumental Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum. A unique find in the history of western archaeology, this patrician residence revealed almost a hundred exquisitely fine sculptures and more than a thousand papyrus scrolls, the vestiges of an incredibly rich library. Its discovery was fundamental to the study of classical antiquity and to the development of eighteenth-century aesthetic theory. Famously, it more recently constituted the foundation for the design of the great collector J. Paul Getty’s Villa at Pacific Palisades, California, begun in the mid 1950s. Elegantly poised, this youthful Hercules turns his head slightly to one side, his countenance seemingly pensive. The eyebrows are finely outlined, the nose straight and the mouth small and half-open. The hair is quite short at the back, but curlier and denser on the forehead. The bust is cut just below the neck. Curiously, upon its discovery at Herculaneum the Roman bronze was believed to be a portrait of Lucius Caesar (17 b.c.–2 a.d.), son of the influential Roman statesman and general Agrippa (64/62–12 b.c.) and maternal grandson of Octavian Augustus (63 b.c.–19 a.d.), the first Roman Emperor (see Le Antichità di Ercolano, vol. V, p. 183). Polycleitus’s primary composition portrays the legendary Hercules, traditionally a paragon of valour and ingenuity, in the prime of his youth, his exquisite beauty functioning as a mirror of his intellectual and moral virtue. This notion – encapsulated in the Greek expression καλός κἀγαθός, a combination of the adjectives ‘beautiful’ and ‘virtuous’ – was central to classical aesthetic theory, and underpins the process of idealization of the human form closely associated with Polycleitus’s work. Indeed the artist is famed for having created a method, called ‘the canon’, relating each part of the body to the whole through mathematically calculated proportions. This endeavour is typified by Polycleitus’s most renowned statue, the Doryphoros, or
spear-bearer, also known to us solely through Roman versions (Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples, inv. no. 6011), which bears a close resemblance to the Hercules composition. This search for a perfect harmony within the human figure, evident in the present head’s features, would certainly have resonated with the aesthetic principles of the Neoclassical period, and would as such have formed part of this bronze’s appeal to a learned eighteenth-century audience. The high level of finish of its surface and the beautiful uniformity of its patina indicate that our Herakles must have originated in an important commission, presumably for one of the wealthy ‘milordi’ who would have visited the historic sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum as part of their Grand Tour. Remarkably, this composition is rare and to scale with the Roman original, which, together with its outstanding quality, suggest it was cast shortly after the discovery of the Villa dei Papiri, when bronzes after the Antique were the prerogative of a restricted number of patrons and the serialization of models had not yet taken hold in the foundries of the peninsula. Like its ancestor centuries earlier at the Villa dei Papiri, in the eighteenth century the present bronze would have adorned the stately home of a cultured, well-travelled member of the aristocracy, acting as a signifier of his prestige. In addition, a model after the Antique such as our Hercules would have established a direct correlation between its owner and the Roman patriciate. As Ruth Guilding writes, through the assembly of formidable collections of antiquities, the British effectively presented themselves as ‘new Romans’, as the heirs of those great statesmen and military men who had been the glory of the Roman Empire (Guilding 2014, p. 6). The parallel was certainly not an accidental one, given that the British were at the time in process of building the most formidable empire of the early modern age.
fig. 2 Engraved reproduction of the bronze bust from the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, from Le Antichità di Ercolano, 1767, V, pl. LIV
related literature Le Antichità di Ercolano. I Busti, Naples, 1767, V V. Moesch, ed., La Villa dei Papiri, Milan, 2009 R. Guilding, Owning the Past, New Haven and London, 2014
lorenzo ghiberti (c.1378–1455), workshop
The Madonna and Child, c.1423–40 Polychromed stucco (retaining most of its original polychromy) 35 in. (89 cm) high 24 in. (61 cm) wide
The present sculpture is one of the finest known examples of a greatly revered Madonna and Child composition from the first half of the fifteenth century and represents a remarkable survival from the moment when the ‘springtime’ of the Renaissance was coming into full bloom. Ghiberti grew up in Florence, in the goldsmith’s shop ran by Bartolo di Michele, called Bartoluccio, the husband of his mother. He was thus trained as a goldsmith and, apparently, a painter. He remained in Florence all his life and was considered something of a prodigy when, in 1400, at around twenty years old, he was awarded the commission to make the bronze doors of the Florentine Baptistery, after winning a famed competition to design them in which the losers included Filippo Brunelleschi (1377–1446). This award, by the leading guild in Florence, made his foundry the most important in the city and further commissions followed from other guilds, such as large bronze statues of Saint Matthew and Saint Stephen for Or San Michele. It was during his work on the Saint Matthew bronze that Ghiberti came to know Cosimo de’ Medici, who recommended Ghiberti to his brother Lorenzo, to design and execute a shrine for the convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli. Commissions by the great guilds of Florence were to continue all his life and provided a significant amount of work and income. Indeed, the only large work that Ghiberti undertook outside Florence were his reliefs for the font of the Siena Baptistery. He was to train most of the leading Florentine sculptors of the first half of the fifteenth century, not least the great Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, known as Donatello (c.1386–1466) (Krautheimer 1970, pp. 3–5). This type of Madonna and Child relief would have been presented in a colmo da camera, a type of architectural frame frequently used for images that were intended for private, domestic devotion, often placed within a wooden tabernacle or shielded in a painted niche. By the fifteenth century, the Madonna and Child were fully established as a primary subject for relief sculpture and such artefacts were in high demand in Florence and the surrounding region. In the cataloguing information of another example of this model in the Victoria and Albert Museum, it is noted that the fifteenth-century theologian Fra Giovanni Dominici recommended that parents should keep images “in which your child might delight. The Virgin Mary is good to have with the child on her arm”. Indeed, this image represents the beautiful and caring Virgin as the ideal mother. The realistic, polychrome rendering, combined with their close, physical proximity, emphasizes their humanity, vulnerability and the deep nature of their love. Seeming to reflect this, such images, as Renaissance inventories show, were often kept in the most private and intimate of the spaces of the house, such as the camera, or bedchamber. It was perhaps no surprise that Ghiberti was the first Florentine artist to perfect the use of clay to create this type of devotional image,
fig. 1 Filippo Brunelleschi or Nanni di Banco, The Madonna and Child (The Fiesole Madonna), c.1405–10, painted and gilded terracotta, 88.5 × 60 × 17 cm, Diocesi di Fiesole, on loan to the Museo Bandini Inscription: O MATER DEI MEMENTO MEI
because it was so central to the production of bronzes, of which he was the leading master. Wilhelm Bode was the first to link the origin of this particular Madonna and Child composition with Lorenzo Ghiberti, challenging the hitherto accepted attribution to Jacopo della Quercia (Bode 1914, pp. 71–89; 1921, pp. 51–54). Other scholars who have shared this view are Pope-Hennessey (1980, p. 60), Oskar Wulff (1922, pp. 91–103), Giancarlo Gentilini (1989, pp. 37–47) and Richard Krautheimer (1936, pp. 4–8) – the author of the standard monograph on the artist. Gentilini has also suggested Michelozzo as the author and dated the composition to around the time he was working on the doors of the Baptistery (Gentilini 2009, pp. 49–55). Luciano Bellosi identified the composition as a work by Filippo Brunelleschi (Bellosi 1998, pp. 48–69; 2002, pp. 25–30; 2012, pp. 197–212). Aldo Galli quotes Bellosi’s conclusion that a recently discovered polychromed terracotta version in Fiesole (fig. 1) “would thus have been modelled by Brunelleschi in the first years of the 15th century” (Bellosi 2009, p. 62; Galli 2013). This proposition is shared by L. Speranza (2008, pp. 12–14; 2009, pp. 58–61). However, what is certain is that the present work is one of the most vibrantly modelled and beautifully polychromed examples of the composition and is indeed one of the finest known. This encourages the conclusion that it would have been one of the very first versions made, after perhaps the terracotta that was recently discovered in Fiesole.
The curious way the infant Christ presents the sole of his foot to the worshipper seemingly derives from the popular byzantine iconography of the Madonna Glikophilousa, alluding to part of this object’s function as a tactile, three-dimensional ‘icon’ – because the worshipper would touch the foot of the Christ child in veneration of his sacred infancy. Therefore, the tactile element of the sculpted object and the audience’s physical interaction with it were an important part of the aesthetic appreciation and religious experience of relief sculpture in the first half of the fifteenth century. Ghiberti himself declared, upon the discovery of a Hermaphrodite, that “In this statue was the greatest refinement, which the eye would not have discovered, had not the hand sought it out” ( Johnson 2002, pp. 64–66). This statement goes some way to demonstrate that, during the Renaissance, there was an awareness of sculpture’s innate tactility and of the importance of touch in the discovery, appreciation and experience of it. Former director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Sir John Pope-Hennessy, described the design of this most renowned Madonna and Child composition as “of great distinction” (Pope-Hennessy 1964, pp. 60–61). Indeed, our example and another in the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Busseco, Parma, has a similar base to a version at the V&A, both featuring a pair of winged putti who hold a garlanded wreath. Pope-Hennessey states that the motif originates from Donatello’s design for the Parte Guelfa niche at the church of Or San Michele, Florence, which dates from 1423, and therefore concludes that the Madonna and Child composition could date from between 1423 and 1427. Although the present work is difficult to date precisely, one is perhaps assisted in this endeavour by comparing the composition and handling with a mother and child figure on the Moses panel of the Doors of Paradise, conceived by Lorenzo Ghiberti between 1436 and 1439. Both the pose of the child and the folds in his drapery are strikingly similar. It is possible that Brunelleschi could have been inspired by this arrangement and produced the original model for this work in the 1430s.
related literature W. Bode, ‘Lorenzo Ghiberti als fuhrender Meister unter den Florentiner Tonbildnern der ersten Hälfte des Quattrocento’, Jahrbuch der Preußischen Kunstsammlungen, xxxv, 1914, pp. 71–89 W. Bode, ‘Ghibertis Versuche, seine Tonbildwerke zu glasieren’, Jahrbuch der Preußischen Kunstsammlungen, xlii, 1921, pp. 51–54 O. Wulff, ‘Ghibertis Entwicklung im Madonnenrelief ’, Berliner Museen, XLIII, 1922, pp. 91–103 R. Krautheimer, ‘Terracotta Madonnas’, Parnassus, VIII, 1936, pp. 4–8 J. Pope-Hennessey, Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, London, 1964, pp. 59–61, n. 52 R. Krautheimer, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Princeton, 1970 L. Bellosi, ‘Ipotesi sull’origine delle terracotta quattrocentesche’, in Jacopo della Quercia, ed. G. Chelazzi Dini, Florence, 1977, pp. 163–79 J. Pope-Hennessey, ‘The Sixth Centenary of Ghiberti’, in The Study and Criticism of Italian Sculpture, New York, 1980, pp. 64–65 L. Bellosi, ‘I problem dell’attività giovanile’, in Donatello e i suoi, 1986, pp. 47–54 G. Gentilini, ‘Collezione Chigi-Saracini. La scultura: bozzetti’, in G. Gentilini and C. Sisi, eds., Terracotta, piccoli marmi e altre sculture dal XIV al XX secolo, Siena, 1989, pp. 37–47 G.A. Johnson, ‘Art or artefact? Madonna and Child Reliefs in the early Renaissance’, in S. Currie and P. Motture, eds., The Sculpted Object 1400–1700, Aldershot, 1997, pp. 1–24 L. Bellosi, ‘Filippo Brunelleschi e la scultura’, Prospettiva, 91–92, 1998, pp. 48–69 G.A. Johnson, ‘Touch and Tactility and the Reception of Sculpture’, in P. Smith et al. (eds.), A Companion to Art Theory, London, 2002, pp. 61–74 L. Bellosi, ‘Da Brunelleschi a Masaccio: le origini del Rinascimento’, in Masaccio, 2002, pp. 15–51 L. Speranza, La Madonna di Fiesole, 2008, pp. 12–14 G. Gentilini, ‘La “rinascita della terracotta”, trent’anni dopo’, in Il cotto dell’Impruneta, 2009, pp. 49–55, no. 23 L. Speranza, ‘Il restauro della terracotta: problematiche e prospettive’, in La Cappella Ovetari: artisti, teniche, materiali, ed. A. Spiazzi, V. Fassina and F. Magani, Milan, 2009, pp. 85–99 L. Speranza, Il cotto dell’Impruneta, 2009, pp. 58–61, no. II.i L. Bellosi, ‘Ancora su Filippo Brunelleschi e la scultura in terracotta’, Kronos, 13/1, 2009, pp. 59–62 L. Bellosi, ‘Introduzione’, in Madonne, 2011, pp. 19–39 L. Bellosi, ‘“Saint Peter” of Orsanmichele’, in Orsanmichele, 2012, pp. 197–212 A. Galli, ‘Filippo Brunelleschi or Nanni di Banco, Madonna and Child, VIII.1.’, in The Springtime of the Renaissance: Sculpture and the Arts in Florence 1400 – 1460, ed. B. Paolozzi Strozzi and M. Bormand, Florence, 2013
wilhelm hopfgarten (1779–1860)
Equestrian Monument of Emperor Marcus Aurelius After the Antique Bronze 23¼ in. (59 cm) high 12¼ in. (31 cm) wide signed W. HOPFGARTEN ROMA provenance Private collection, France
Wilhelm Hopfgarten was born in Berlin in March 1779 and received his training at the Berlin Academy of Design and in his uncle’s workshop, where he worked alongside his brother Heinrich (Teolato 2016, p. 6). The latter would go on to become the German master Christian Daniel Rauch’s preferred bronze founder. When Hopfgarten arrived in Rome, following a period in France, he soon joined forces with his fellow Prussian artist Benjamin Ludwig Jollage, who was born in Berlin in 1781. Their workshop, including a foundry, was situated at via dei Due Macelli, and the two soon established “a reputation in the city for their technical skill in fusing valuable pieces in bronze” (Teolato 2016, p. 6). Their ties with the thriving community of Northern European artists in Rome, including the renowned Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770–1844), gradually helped them forge connections with several influential foreign patrons, such as the Crown Prince of Denmark, Prince von Blücher, Count Schönborn, the British General Sir Thomas Maitland, the Austrian General Baron Franz von Koller, and the pair’s own sovereign, Frederick William IV of Prussia. Hopfgarten and Jollage’s skill also impressed their Italian hosts – we know Antonio Canova considered them for the fusion of his colossal Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker, and no less than three popes (Pious VII, Leo XII and Gregory XVI) commissioned them on a number of occasions – and the Napoleonic regime, which employed them in the grand decorative project for Rome’s Quirinal Palace, including the Imperial apartments. This highly finished bronze model of the ancient Roman equestrian monument of Emperor Marcus Aurelius known as the Capitoline Marcus Aurelius is a remarkably accomplished work by Hopfgarten, who signed his name on the base of the cast, and a beautiful example of sculpture from the Grand Tour period. The life-size portrait of Marcus Aurelius (121–180 a.d.) on horseback that our bronze draws upon is thought to have been cast between c.161 and 180 a.d., during the emperor’s reign or immediately after his death (now Musei Capitolini, Rome, inv. MC3247). It is one of the most extraordinary and treasured sculptures to have survived from antiquity and has for centuries been considered as the highpoint of equestrian portraiture. A potent visual embodiment of power, it soon came to represent the model for rulers who wished to present themselves as heirs to Imperial Rome. Already in the eight century, the great Charlemagne (742–814) had an equestrian statue from Ravenna transferred to the heart of his empire in Aachen, where he sought
to emulate the layout of Rome’s Campus Lateranensis, the square outside today’s Lateran basilica in which the Marcus Aurelius then stood. In 1538, the monument was moved to the Capitoline Hill – the seat of Rome’s civic government – and the celebrated Michelangelo was commissioned to design its base, which supports the statue to this day. Interestingly, the bronze model of the Capitoline Marcus Aurelius made in 1465 by the illustrious Florentine master Filarete (dedicated to Piero de’ Medici) is considered to be the first Renaissance bronze after the Antique (now Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden). With its renewed interest in Greek and Roman antiquity, the age of the Grand Tour saw a rebirth in the collecting of models after ancient statuary, as had once been the case at the courts of Renaissance Italy, with the Capitoline’s Marcus Aurelius becoming one of the finest and most sought-after subjects. Grand Tourists from the highest echelons of society would seek models after the greatest antiquities from the most renowned artists of the day, and treasure them as mementos of their travels and symbols of their learning and social standing. The activity of Prussian master bronziers Hopfgarten and Jollage represents a prime example of this tradition. The commissions Hopfgarten and Jollage received ranged from models after the Antique to casts of contemporary masterpieces, from diplomatic gifts to decorative furnishings. Incredibly successful and prolific, their workshop steadily continued its activity after the death of Jollage, which took place in September 1837. On this occasion, an inventory was drawn up at via dei Due Macelli, from which we learn of an unfinished model of the Marcus Aurelius, consisting of the horse alone and measuring 33 cm high, and of finished casts of the monument 62 cm high (Teolato 2016, p. 22, notes 48, 51), dimensions that correspond closely with the present bronze’s. Notably, the inventory compiled upon Hopfgarten’s death in October 1860 reveals the studio’s production had shifted in the space of twenty years towards a certain number of new models after the Antique and more decorative compositions, many in the Pompeian style, yet the Marcus Aurelius remained (Teolato 2016, p. 14) – a sign of its everlasting fascination and appeal. Characteristic of Hopfgarten in this beautifully preserved bronze are the smooth texture of the surface, the carefully picked-out anatomical details and the crisp quality of the drapery. A closely comparable example is the bronze Modesty, also after an antique model, now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
related literature C. Teolato, Hopfgarten and Jollage Rediscovered: Two Berlin Bronzists in Napoleonic and Restoration Rome, Rome, 2016
domenico cardelli (1767–1797)
Bust of Prince Francis Xavier of Saxony (1730–1806) White marble 29½ in. (75 cm) high provenance Probably Prince Francis Xavier of Saxony, Dresden; by descent to his daughter, Elisabeth Ursula Anna Cordula Xaveria, Duchess d’Esclignac (1768–1844); by descent to her daughter, Marie Charlotte Xaverine, Baroness von Weissenbach (1788–1858); by descent to her daughter, Johanna, Countess von Korff-Schmising Kerssenbrock (1829–1906); by descent to her daughter, Maria Xaverina Louisa, Baroness de Weichs de Wenne, Castle Geijsteren, Limburg (1854–1927); certainly thence by family descent until 2014 exhibited On loan to Museum het Cuypershuis, Roermond, 1963–2014
Domenico Cardelli was born on 1 March 1767 in the parish of San Lorenzo in Lucina in Rome to Lorenzo Cardelli, “intagliatore di marmi”, and Annunziata Borghese. As a youth, he soon displayed a remarkable talent in drawing and became a pupil of the painter, sculptor and engraver Giuseppe Cades (1750–1799). During his apprenticeship he also studied archaeology under the guidance of the Papal Prefect of Antiquities Ennio Quirino Visconti (1751–1818), the Danish diplomat, antiquarian and scholar Jörgen Zoëga (1755–1809), and Cardinal Stefano Borgia (1731–1804), the admired collector of ancient coins and manuscripts, whose museum Domenico assiduously visited. In 1783 Cardelli won the Academy of Saint Luke’s first prize for a painted copy of the Capitoline Antinous statue. His first prominent documented commission appears to be a marble portrait bust of Baroness Maria de Cumano Schütter, lover of King Stanislaw Augustus II Poniatowski of Poland (1732–1798), signed and dated 1785 (Rome, Galleria Nazionale di Arte Antica, and a replica in Warsaw, Lazienki Palace). The following year the Baroness entrusted Cardelli with a portrait of the sovereign, based on a painting of him by Giovanni Battista Lampi. Shortly afterwards the bust reached Poland (now Warsaw, Lazienki Palace), much to the delight of the King, who named Cardelli court sculptor and ordered from him a portrait of his nephew. Commissions from other Polish patrons soon followed, including a funerary moment for Countess Elz.bieta Grabowska, recorded by Zoëga (1799), a bust of the King’s sister, Countess Konstancja Tyszkiewicz, initialled D.C. and dated 1792, now in the Trinity Chapel of Cracow Cathedral, and a bust of Countess Marceliny Worcellowej, now in the National Scientific Library of Ukraine, Lviv. Equally successful in his native Rome, in 1789 Cardelli won the first prize for sculpture at the Academy of Saint Luke with The Feast of Belshazzar, King of Babylon (terracotta, to this day in the Academy’s collection, Rome). Cardelli was therefore established as one of the most sought-after young sculptors in Rome, receiving commissions from, amongst others, members of the city’s
flourishing community of foreign residents and visiting Grand Tourists. On 5 October 1793 Zoëga describes him thus in the news-sheet Minerva: “Canova currently has no rival in Rome. Apart from him I do not know anyone who can seriously create something good in sculpture, other than the English Flaxman and the young Roman Cardelli.” In 1793 Cardelli executed the tomb of Chiara Maria Spinucci, Countess of Lusatia (1741–1792), wife of Prince Francis Xavier of Saxony – the present sitter – for the Cathedral of her native Fermo, Italy (see Römisches Jahrbuch, XII, 1969, p. 30, fig. 31). The work was engraved a year later by the Venetian Giovanni Folo. A bust of Countess Sophie Magdalene Knuth, born Moltke, as Diana soon followed, as did a bust of Danish author and literary salon doyenne Friederike Brun and, commissioned by the latter, a bust of Cardinal Borgia. Also of note is a marble portrait of Duke Raffaele Riario-Sforza now in the Museo Filangeri in Naples, a commission that most likely resulted from Cardelli’s connection with Prince Francis Xavier, whose daughter Beatrice the Duke married in 1794. In 1797 Cardelli was summoned to Naples to execute a monument for the RiarioSforza family, but, having fallen gravely ill during the journey, died aged 30. This untimely death certainly cut short a career that would have been most brilliant, and slowly distracted scholarly attention from this most talented artist. In his account in the May 1799 Minerva, Zoëga – the earliest source on Cardelli’s activity and his de facto biographer – lists a series of works by the artist, not limited to portraiture, still untraced. These include a Medea and Jason, a life-size Mercury, an Amor and Psyche in gesso, a Venus and Cupid and a bas-relief depicting Castor and Pollux executed for Lord Bristol. A relief of the same subject by Cardelli is recorded by Oreste Raggi in the Casino Nobile of the Torlonia family’s Villa Carolina at Castel Gandolfo, where the celebrated Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770–1844) worked some years later (see P. Kragelund and M. Nykjær, eds., Thorvaldsen: l’ambiente, l’influsso, il mito, Rome, 1991, pp. 70–72). This is particularly relevant to the topic of Cardelli’s influence on the young Thorvaldsen (the two had been introduced by Zoëga in the year of Domenico’s death). Cardelli’s impact on the young Danish sculptor has long been recognized by scholars, and is documented by Thorvaldsen’s acquisition of two plaster busts by our artist (now Thorvaldsen Museum, inv. nos. G248 and G250) and the fact that the model for Thorvaldsen’s 1800 bust of Danish diplomat Edmund Bourke has been firmly attributed to Cardelli. Cardelli thus emerges as a highly successful sculptor, especially in demand for his portrait busts, such as the present work. The sitter, Prince Francis Xavier of Saxony, was the second surviving son of Augustus III of Poland (1696–1763). From 1765 until 1768 he acted as Regent to his nephew, the infant Elector Frederick Augustus III of Saxony, performing in his name a formal renunciation of the Polish Crown in favour of Stanislaw Poniatowski (Cardelli’s patron), as was required by the treaty signed
between Prussia and Russia on 11 April 1764. In the same period Francis Xavier secretly married Countess Maria Chiara Spinucci, former lady-in-waiting to his sister, the Dowager Electress Maria Antonia. The union was considered below his rank and only officialized some years later. After relinquishing his duties as Regent in 1768, the Prince moved his family to France – where in 1774 his younger sister’s son became king as Louis XVI (1754–1793) – and lived there for twenty years under the assumed title of Count of Lusatia. The family fled the country at the beginning of the French Revolution and moved to Rome. The Countess died there in 1792 and some years later Francis Xavier left the Eternal City to return to his native Saxony, where he died in 1806. Given the connection between the houses of the Prince of Saxony and the King of Poland, it is entirely possible that Cardelli’s fame first reached Francis Xavier through members of the Polish court. The Prince must have certainly been aware of the sculptor’s work by 1792/93, when he commissioned from him his wife’s funerary monument for Fermo Cathedral, which was completed towards the end of 1793. In November of that year, Francis Xavier journeyed to Fermo for the Countess’s solemn burial. Interestingly, this occasion prompted another artistic commission, this time by the town’s authorities – the Priori – who wished to honour the princely couple (see D. Silvagni, La Corte e Società Romana nei secoli XVIII e XIX, Rome, 1883, II, p. 228). Already in January 1793 they had asked their patron Cardinal Borgia, who had also been Cardelli’s mentor, to commission two portrait busts of Maria Chiara and Francis Xavier, to be exhibited in the Palazzo Priorale’s main hall. A nineteenthcentury document states that the Cardinal entrusted the work to “Monti e Albicini”, who are presumably to be identified with the Roman sculptors Giovanni Monti and Carlo Albacini. Unfortunately, the bust of the Prince did not please the Priori, who decided to hide it in a cupboard throughout Francis Xavier’s stay in Fermo. They duly expressed their dissatisfaction to Borgia in a letter, noting the effigy looked nothing like the Prince and was also remarkably disproportionate in comparison with his wife’s much better executed counterpart (for a full account of the Priori’s commission, see Catani 2002). The unfortunate pair of busts are to this day in Fermo, in the town’s Biblioteca, yet following the Priori’s complaints Cardinal Borgia may have decided to have another bust of the Prince carved, this time by an artist of unquestionable talent such as Cardelli, which the Priori must have refused to acquire, both because Francis Xavier would by then have left the town and because of financial concerns (it appears the first pair of busts had cost them a considerable sum of money). In other words, there is a possibility that the present bust was originally executed by Cardelli for the Priori of Fermo, but ultimately given to the Prince and his family instead, whose descendants treasured it for generations.
The rear of the present bust
Indeed the present bust perfectly represents the type of portrait that an aristocrat and statesman such as Francis Xavier would have appreciated, in the guise of a victorious Roman general yet with clearly recognizable facial features. There is no certainly mistaking the sitter’s identity, given the aquiline nose, strong brow and pursed lips, which appear prominently in the painted portrait of the Prince by Maurice Quentin de La Tour now in the Musée Antoine Lecuyer, St-Quentin. In addition to this, attribution of the present bust to Cardelli is confirmed by its parallels with the sculptor’s oeuvre, as comparison with the portrait of Stanislaw Poniatowski now in Warsaw shows, from the soft but crisp treatment of the marble to the all’antica armour, the dramatic swags of drapery over the left shoulder and the rigorous gaze. A fascinating rediscovery, the present bust is therefore a major addition to the oeuvre of one of the foremost interpreters of Roman Neoclassicism.
related literature G. Zoëga, ‘Lettera da Roma datata 8 sett. 1797’, Minerva, May 1799, pp. 145–50 P. Zani, Enciclopedia metodica delle Belle Arti, I, 5, Parma, 1820, p. 304 J.B. Hartmann, Canova e Thorvaldsen, Rome, 1956, pp. 74–76 E. Catani, ‘Note storico-artistiche sopra una coppia di busti marmorei raffiguranti il principe Francesco Saverio Augusto di Sassonia e la sua consorte la contessa Chiara Maria Rosa Spinucci di Fermo’, in Atti della 35. Tornata dello Studio Firmano per la storia dell’arte medica e della scienza: Fermo, 4–5–6 maggio 2001, Fermo, 2002, pp. 45–60
willem danielsz. van tetrode (c.1525–1580)
Neoptolemus and Astyanax, 1559–62 After the Antique Bronze 17½ in. (44.5 cm) high provenance Alfred Spero, London, 1950s Sotheby’s, London, 12 July 1963, lot 25 Cyril Humphris collection, London Private collection, United Kingdom literature H.R. Weihrauch, Europäische Bronzestatuetten, 15.–18. Jahrhundert, Braunschweig, 1967, p. 344 E.J.B.D. Van Binnebeke, Bronssculptur/Bronze Sculpture, beeldhouwkunst 1500–1800 in de collectie van het Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1994, under no. 32 E.J.B.D. Van Binnebeke, Willem Danielsz. van Tetrode: de Delftse Praxiteles, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Utrecht, 2003 F. Scholten et al., Willem van Tetrode, Sculptor (c. 1525–1580), Guglielmo Fiammingo Scultore, 2003, Zwolle, pp. 25–26, fig. 23; pp. 116–17, no. 7 exhibited Willem van Tetrode, Sculptor (c. 1525–1580), Guglielmo Fiammingo Scultore, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, and Frick Collection, New York, 2003, no. 7
fig. 1 Roman, 3rd century a.d., Neoptolemus and Astyanax, marble, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples, inv. 5999
Defined by the Italian art theorist Gian Paolo Lomazzo (1538–1592) as a “truly divine spirit” and extensively praised by the Renaissance painter and biographer Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574), Willem Danielsz. van Tetrode was one of the most renowned and celebrated artists of the sixteenth century. He is first documented assisting the Grand Ducal sculptor Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571) at the Medici court in Florence in 1548, when the Italian master was working on his famous bronze Perseus now in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence. In 1551 Tetrode received a payment for work on the base of that statue. At around the same time he travelled to Rome, where he entered the workshop of Guglielmo della Porta (c.1500–1577) and worked on the restoration of recently excavated ancient statuary. Tetrode’s first surviving commission of note was a series of bronze statuettes, representing models after renowned antiques and busts of the Twelve Caesars after Tommaso della Porta, for a studiolo cabinet ordered by Niccolò IV Orsini at Pitigliano (1559), which was soon acquired by Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici (now Uffizi, Florence). In 1562 the artist was again in Rome, where he remained until 1565/66, when he set off to return to Northern Europe. He is recorded in Delft, the city believed to be his birthplace, in 1568, and soon afterwards in Cologne. In the German city he enjoyed the patronage of prominent members of the laity, who sought his models after Roman antiquities, and of the Elector-Archbishop, Salentin von Isenburg (see Wengraf 2014, p. 346). Tetrode died in Germany in 1580.
fig. 2 Detail of the present bronze’s integrally cast base fig. 3 Detail of the Rijksmuseum Striding Warrior’s integrally cast base
The present work dates to Tetrode’s early years in Italy, as both its iconography and stylistic parallels with the Pitigliano bronzes reveal. The composition derives from an ancient Roman marble group dated to the third century a.d. which Tetrode would have admired in the famous collection of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1520–1589), excavated in the frigidarium of the Baths of Caracalla before 1556 (fig. 1; now Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples). This has been variously understood to represent Neoptolemus and Astyanax, Atreus with the son of Thyestes, Hector rescuing the body of Troilus, Athamas with Learchus and Commodus as a Gladiator. The last identification derives from the fact that, upon the statue’s discovery, the main figure’s missing head was replaced with one of Emperor Commodus, whilst the other four titles refer to different subjects from ancient Greek and Roman literary sources, as will be further discussed. The young Tetrode must have been enthralled by the challenge that this ancient marble’s elaborate composition posed, and skilfully translated it into bronze, changing the model slightly to achieve a lighter, more dynamic group. He cleverly improved the standing figure’s forceful stride by enhancing the bend of his knees and the overall definition of his tense muscles, adding anatomical details such as the veins visible across the lower torso. A further departure from the Roman original are the fine punch-marks that appear across the surface of the main figure’s cape and sheath, which lend texture and vibrancy to the bronze. Also contributing to the work’s vibrant sense of movement and animation is Tetrode’s choice of a warm, golden-brown lacquer, which also appears in his statues for the Pitigliano cabinet (now partly covered by a layer of later, thick dark patina). Close parallels between the latter and the present bronze also exist in the treatment of anatomical details, such as the deeply incised eyes and the sculpturally defined curls of hair, and in the overall crisp quality of the modelling. Considering these elements, Frits Scholten has proposed that our bronze may also have been executed in Pitigliano, where Tetrode is recorded as having worked on commissions other than the cabinet (see Scholten 2003, p. 117). The same scholar has observed that attribution of the present group to Tetrode is further confirmed by its integrally cast base (fig. 2), a distinctive element also featured in two autograph casts of the artist’s Striding Warrior (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, and Hearn Family Trust, New York; see Scholten 2003, nos. 34, 35). A later version of the Neoptolemus and Astyanax exists in the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, whilst a
figs. 4 & 5 Hendrik Goltzius, Neoptolemus and Astyanax, two views, both black chalk on paper, Teylers Stichting, Haarlem, Portfolio N, 25r and 26r
smaller, coarser yet contemporary one is in Ferrara, Museo del Palazzo Schifanoia (Scholten 2003, p. 117, and Placchette e Bronzi nelle Civili Collezioni di Ferrara 1975, p. 142). The unique composition of the Baths of Caracalla marble group, with its powerful image of a man holding a wounded youth across his back, must have particularly intrigued Renaissance artists, ever eager to measure their ability against the masters of the past and to push the boundaries of their craft. This spirit certainly animated Tetrode, whose production betrays from the start a desire to appropriate and reinvent ancient models through a distinctively personal sculptural language. A draftsman that displayed a similar approach to antiquity, and has often been associated with Tetrode, is the German-born Hendrik Goltzius (1558–1617), who is known to have engraved a series of the Dutch bronzier’s works. Interestingly, the Farnese Neoptolemus and Astyanax appears in two drawings by Goltzius now in the Teylers Stichting, Haarlem (figs. 4 and 5). These convey a sense of movement, of physical strength and of psychological determination that – like our bronze – surpass the ancient marble’s more stately grandeur. The Roman statue was first recorded in the Farnese Palace at Campo de’ Fiori in Rome by Ulisse Aldrovandi in his 1556 Delle Statue Antiche, a publication emblematic of the Renaissance rediscovery of antiquity, where it is described as a gladiator (“Viene poi un gladiatore ignudo, posto sopra una basi moderna: ha la sua spada al fianco a l’antica: e tiene per li piedi un putto morto, che s’ha gittato su le spalle”; pp. 153–54). Aldrovandi also tells us that the sculpture’s head, arms and legs were added following its rediscovery (“ha la testa, le braccia e le gambe moderne”; p. 154). These words offer an excellent insight into the period’s approach to ancient art, which saw the reintegration of statuary as a means of reinstating the splendour of the past, rather than a potential departure from it. In this light, it is important to bear in mind that Tetrode carried out precisely this type of work during his Roman years, and it is therefore possible that the Neoptolemus and Astyanax might have been one of the antiques he helped restore. In 1568 the marble is listed in a Farnese inventory as “Commodus in the guise of a gladiator”, the first known mention of its identification with the second century a.d. Emperor (“Una statua di Commodo in fogia di Gladiatore col piè di stallo”; 1568, p. 74), and we learn that it was located at the entrance of the palace, in the courtyard’s loggia (“Allo entrar del palazzo sotto il portico et nella corte sotto la loggia”). The sculpture next appears in Antonio Lafreri’s Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae, a highly successful series of nearly one thousand prints of Roman monuments published from 1540 onwards, this time under the title of Atreus (Girolamo Porro, 1576, fol. 08r). In 1585 Giovanni Battista de’ Cavalieri reprises the Farnese inventory’s definition in his Antiquarum statuarum urbis Romae, an influential compendium of ancient statuary in Rome, and so does the publisher Girolamo Franzini in his 1596 Icones Statuarum antiquarum Urbis Romae (fol. B6). Given the prevalence of the statue’s documentation as Commodus
in sixteenth-century sources, it is reasonable to surmise that Tetrode knew it under this identification. The fame of the subject, combined with the distinctiveness of the composition, would have certainly appeared to our artist – a young sculptor wishing to establish himself within the highly competitive landscape of papal Rome – as an excellent opportunity to prove his skill. In the seventeenth century, the emphasis shifted and the ‘Commodus as Gladiator’ came to be predominantly understood to represent Atreus killing one of the children of his brother Thyestes, a subject from Greek mythology dramatized by the Roman writer Seneca around 62 a.d. A story of treachery and revenge, it centres on the rivalry between the two siblings for the throne of Mycenae and on its escalation, which culminated in Atreus’s decision to kill Thyestes’s children and trick him into eating them at a lavish banquet. This interpretation was mainly disseminated by the prominent classicist Jacobus Gronovius (1645–1716), whose account was repeatedly followed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, most importantly by the noted German archaeologist Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1768; see Storia delle Arti del Disegno presso gli Antichi, trans. C. Fea, 1783, vol. II, book XII, p. 400, note B), by the French artist and scholar Charles Othon Frédéric Jean-Baptiste de Clarac (1777–1847; see Musée de sculpture antique et moderne, 1839–41, vol. V, pl. 812C), and in the first comprehensive catalogue of the collection of the Museo Borbonico in Naples, to which the Farnese antiquities had migrated since they had been inherited by the Bourbon King Charles III (1716–1788) through his mother, Elisabetta Farnese (see Real Museo Borbonico, 1839, vol. XII, pl. 39). A further reading of the composition proposed in the nineteenth century referred to the legend of King Athamas, who was driven insane by Juno for having raised her husband Jupiter’s illegitimate child Bacchus and led to kill his own son Learchus, believing him to be a feral beast. Today, the statue is generally accepted as portraying Achilles’s son Neoptolemus caught in the act of throwing down Troy’s battlements the body of Astyanax, heir of the Trojan prince Hector. This theory has gradually gathered consensus since the early twentieth century (see Rüsch 1911, pp. 72–73, no. 243). The episode is first recorded in a collection of post-Homeric Greek poetry nand was reprised by Euripides in his 415 b.c. tragedy The Trojan Women. Intriguingly, according to medieval legend Astyanax actually survived the Trojan war, established the kingdom of Messina in Sicily and founded the lineage from which the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne descended. Another interpretation, currently proposed by some scholars, also rooted in the Homeric tradition, is that the marble represents Hector retrieving the lifeless body of his brother Troilus, who had died at the hands of the mighty Achilles (see Cantilena et al. 1989, p. 154, no. 8).
related literature A. Rüsch, Guida Illustrata del Museo Nazionale di Napoli, Naples, 1911 G. Medri, I bronzi artistici del civico museo di Schifanoia, Ferrara, 1933, p. 13, no. 16 Placchette e bronzi nelle civili collezioni di Ferrara, exh. cat., Florence, 1975, p. 142 A. Farinelli-Tosselli, ‘Primi appunti per la riscostruzione di una museografia Ferrarese: l’allestimento di Antonio Foschini nella seconda metà del ’700’, Musei Ferraresi 1979/80, no. 9/10, 1982, p. 254 R. Cantilena et al., Le Collezioni del Museo Nazionale di Napoli, Rome and Milan, 1989 P. Wengraf et al., Renaissance Bronzes from the Hill Collection, London, 2014
joseph nollekens (1732–1823)
A ‘Pensiero’ of Lot and his Daughters, 1803 Terracotta 9½ in. (24 cm) high 9¼ in. (23.5 cm) wide markings Label to underside: 1617 provenance Nollekens sale, Christie’s, London, 4 July 1823, lot 61, bought by ‘Turner’; Professor Michael Jaffé CBE (1923–1997), Cambridge, United Kingdom; and thence by family descent; on loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom (1976–2016) exhibited London, Royal Academy of Arts, 1803, no. 930, ‘Lot and his two daughters; a sketch’ published J. Kenworthy-Browne, ‘Terracotta models by Joseph Nollekens R.A.’, The Sculpture Journal, 2, 1998, pp. 72–84
Born in Soho to the painter Joseph Francis Nollekens (1702–1748), Joseph Nollekens began his career in 1750 as an apprentice to Peter Scheemakers (1691–1781) and then attended William Shipley’s drawing school on the Strand. In 1759, at the age of eighteen, the young and prodigiously talented Nollekens received a premium from the newly formed Society of Arts, to the sum of 15 guineas, “for a model in clay of figures”. In 1760 he was awarded 30 guineas for another, and a further ten guineas for “a model in clay of a dancing faun” (Esdaile 1944, p. 220). By May 1762 he had acquired enough money through grants and prizes to travel to the Eternal City in search of the great examples of ancient sculpture. He achieved much success, fame and fortune in his Roman years, working in the studio of Bartolomeo Cavaceppi, before opening his own workshop on the via Babuino, which mostly catered for the booming Grand Tour market. Nollekens returned to England on 24 December 1770, taking a significant town-house property at the fashionable address of 9 Mortimer Street, Marylebone, and on 9 February 1772 was elected a full member of the Royal Academy. His work attracted a prestigious list of clients and he soon became the most celebrated sculptor in the land. The great collector Charles Townley regarded Nollekens as “the first sculptor of his day” (Smith 1828, vol. 1, p. 263) and he attracted the patronage of Lord Rockingham, who ordered modern statues that were to be juxtaposed with a restored antique figure forming a Judgement of Paris group, which was doubtless one of the most ambitious compositional groups ever created by a British sculptor. In 1791, Nollekens carved the primary version of his famous bust of Charles James Fox, the leader of the Whig party. He followed this noted image in 1806 with a posthumous portrait of Fox’s political nemesis, the Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, again to much societal and critical acclaim.
fig. 1 Thomas Rowlandson, Nollekens modelling a Venus, pen and ink wash, Widener Memorial Collection, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
This wonderful group of Lot and his Daughters is first recorded in the 1803 Royal Academy of Arts exhibition as “Lot and his two daughters; a sketch”. The next appearance is in Christie’s auction catalogue of 1823, which was drawn up and printed for the posthumous sale of Joseph Nollekens’ personal art collection. On Monday, 7 July 1823, London’s Morning Chronicle announced the recent sale of works made, and collected, by “Nollekins the Sculptor” (sic): Mr. Christie has been occupied during the last three days in selling the antique and modern Sculpture, the Models by the great Cinquecento of Italian Artists, together with a few Pictures and Prints, all the property of this extraordinary person, whose recent testamentary disposition of his immense wealth, amassed by unwearied labour and severe parsimony, during a long life, has excited so much of the public attention. Most of the Noble Persons in the kingdom, who are collectors and patrons of the Arts, were present each day, and manifested unusual ardour in their competition for the rare and valuable articles. Nollekens’s sale included several busts and statues, including a number of small terracotta statuettes by himself and by other illustrious sculptors such as Giambologna, ‘Fiammingo’ and Michelangelo. There were also a number of sketches by Louis François Roubiliac, Michael Rysbrack and Agostino Carlini. The buyers included the Earl of Egremont, the Duke of Northumberland and young British sculptors, whose own practice would later evidence the influence of Nollekens’ work, such as E.H. Baily, William Behnes, Sir Richard Westmacott and Francis Chantrey. In the sale, the present work appears under the category of “Pensieri in Terra Cotta” and is listed as lot 61, together with a group of “Daedalus and Icarus”. The groups were purchased by ‘Turner’ at Mr Christie’s sale (Kenworthy-Browne 1998,
p. 75), along with another work in this exhibition, Eve bewailing the Death of Abel. It is unclear exactly whether the successful bidder was indeed Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), but one can only assume it was the great, British, romantic painter, who would have been aged 48 at the time. It certainly seems to be a possibility, given Turner’s own fame and financial means, together with Nollekens’s artistic renown and the fact that the sculptor had conferred generous patronage upon the young Turner, as recounted by Nollekens’s former assistant J.T. Smith (Smith 1828, p. 364): fig. 2 Frontispiece of the Nollekens sale, Christie’s, London, 4 July 1823
I have been assured by Mr. Turner, the Royal Academician, that when he solicited Mr. Nollekens for his subscription to ‘The Artist’s Fund’, he inquired how much he wanted from him; ‘Only a guinea,’ was the answer; upon which the Sculptor immediately opened a table-drawer, and gave Mr. Turner thirty guineas, saying, ‘There take that’. The next record of the group is in the collection of Professor Michael Jaffé (1923–1997), the late Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Indeed, the exceptional quality of the work is reflected in its loan to Fitzwilliam Museum from 1976 to 2016, along with the figure of Eve (which also appears in Tomasso Brothers Fine Art’s exhibition of ‘Important European Sculpture’, 2017; see below, no. 19). The subject of the present work is found in the Old Testament. In the Book of Genesis, Lot kindly offered hospitality to two travelling angels and protected them against the lusty advances of two local men in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, God had decided that the immoral and licentious city in which Lot and his family lived – Sodom – together with the equally disreputable neighbouring city of Gomorrah, should be destroyed to cleanse them of sin. However, God decided to save Lot and his family because of Lot’s prior protection of the angels and so they were warned in advance to flee Sodom, but warned not to look back at the city. Whilst in flight, Lot’s wife disobeyed God’s instructions and was instantly turned to salt. When Lot and his daughters reached safety and the cities had been destroyed, they became convinced that they were the last surviving humans on earth. As a result, Lot’s two daughters contrived to intoxicate their father with wine and lay with him in order to secure the future of the human race. The result was the birth of two boys, Ammon and Moab (Genesis 19: 30–36). Interestingly, perhaps Nolleken’s first recorded attempt at depicting Lot and his Daughters was in April 1759, during an examination by The Society of Arts, in which he was asked to sketch a composition and head detail from the subject (RSA Minutes, 1758–60).
An assessment of Nollekens’s oeuvre makes it clear that he was greatly influenced by the old master sculptors, as well as ‘the ancients’. One example of this is shown in the clear similarities between his model of a Nymph combing her hair and a late sixteenth-/early seventeenth-century French bronze attributed to Barthélemy Prieur (Kenworthy-Browne 1998, p. 75). Certainly, the composition of this Lot and his Daughters group has a markedly ‘academic’ character, particularly with regard to its pyramidal composition and organization from one principal viewpoint. In 1813, Nollekens is definitively recorded as turning his artistic focus towards “smaller matters” (Farington’s Diary, vol. 14, p. 5022), i.e. small terracotta ‘bozetti’ or ‘pensieri’ in clay, which he had been occasionally producing and exhibiting as finished, independent works since about 1800. G.G. Cunningham (Eminent Englishmen, 1837) considered these little works to be superior to his marbles, an observation which was echoed by Thomas Medwin in 1839, who argued that Nollekens’s terracotta sketch of The Graces was superior to Canova’s interpretation of the subject (KenworthyBrowne 1998, p. 75). Nollekens also exhibited ten or so terracottas at the Royal Academy between 1802 and 1805, so it is clear that he considered them to be finished, independent works. In fact, all the models submitted by the young Nollekens and his contemporaries to the Society of Arts were made from fired clay (KenworthyBrowne 1998, p. 72), so this view of the genre was perhaps widely held. In conjunction with this, there had been a clear market in Britain for terracottas since the 1750s, as is illustrated by Sir Edward Littleton’s commission of a series of terracotta busts from John Michael Rysbrack (1694–1770) and by the existence of other collectors who keenly sought to buy terracotta models by renowned artists coming up at the London auction sales. However, the status of these terracottas as ‘Pensieri’ or as ‘final’ works is not mutually exclusive, and it is likely that some were intended as preliminary studies for his 140 or so monumental works and tomb sculptures. These might include the work identified by Katharine Esdaile as A Young Man Sinking in Death, which perhaps represented the first sketch for the monument to Lord Robert Manners that was intended for the chapel at Belvoir Castle, but which was not ultimately carried out (Bilbey and Trusted 2002, p. 102). Certain works, like Nollekens’s Venus and Cupid, were made into larger marbles, but this was not the case with many of his surviving terracottas.
related literature Sketchbook of Joseph Nollekens (1737–1823), Douce Bequest, 1834, David Blayney Brown (1982) 1463, WA1863.1094, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Sketchbook of Joseph Nollekens (1737–1823), Douce Bequest, 1834, David Blayney Brown (1982) 1462, WA1863.1093, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Sketchbook of Joseph Nollekens (1737–1823), Douce Bequest, 1834, David Blayney Brown (1982) 1464, WA1863.1095–1159, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Royal Society of Arts, Minutes of Various Premium Committees, 1758–60, seq. 1, fols. 82, 95 European Magazine and London Review, 1788, p. 387 The Diary of Joseph Farington, ed. K. Garlick, A. Mackintyre and K. Cave, 1978–84, vol. 14, 5022 ‘A Catalogue of the whole of the highly valuable collection of Antique and Modern Sculpture of the late Joseph Nollekens, Esq, R.A, Dec.... which will be sold by auction by Mr Christie, on Friday, July the 4th, 1823’ The Morning Chronicle, Monday 7 July 1823, issue 16915 J.T. Smith, Nollekens and his Times, 1828, I A. Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts: A Complete Dictionary of Contributors and their work from its foundation in 1769 to 1904, London, 1906, p. 382 K.A. Esdaile, The Art of Rysbrack in Terracotta, exh. cat., Spink & Son, London, 1932 K.A. Esdaile, ‘A Group of Terracotta Models by Joseph Nollekens R.A.’, The Burlington Magazine, LXXXV, September 1944 M. Whinney, English Sculpture 1720–1830, London, 1971, p. 124 D. Bilbey and M. Trusted, British Sculpture 1470 to 2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A Publications, 2002, pp. 102–06 L’esprit créateur de Pigalle à Canova. Terres cuites Européennes 1740–1840, exh. cat., Musée du Louvre, Paris; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, 2003–04 I. Roscoe, E. Hardy and M.G. Sullivan, eds., A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009, p. 905
barthlemy prieur (c.1536–1611)
A Pair of Pacing and Leaping Bulls, c.1600 Bronze 5¼ in. (13.4 cm) high – Pacing Bull 6¾ in. (17 cm) high – Leaping Bull
As a promising young sculptor with a prodigious talent, Barthélemy Prieur was drawn to the Italian peninsula to further his studies. It is known that he was in Rome as early as the 1550s, presumably after having finished his initial training in France (SeeligTeuwen 2008, pp. 102–03). Prieur has been identified as the sculptor ‘Bartolomeo’ working with Ponce Jacquio (active 1553–70) in Rome on the decorations of the RicciSacchetti palace (Radcliffe 1993, pp. 275–76). From 1563 to 1567 he was employed as court sculptor to Duke Emanuel Philibert of Savoy (Seelig-Teuwen 1993, pp. 282–83). Drawing on his time spent in Rome with Jacquio, Prieur initiated and influenced the development of the small bronze statuette genre in France during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Warren 2010, p. 22). Prieur had returned to Paris by the time of his marriage to Marguerite Dalencourt on 27 September 1571 and was recorded as having made some small-scale bronzes by 1583 (Grodecki 1986, pp. 129–33). When King Henri IV of France came to the throne in 1589, he clearly took a liking to Prieur’s small bronze statuettes, appointing him Sculpteur du Roi five years later. In this capacity he is known to have made reliefs for the Petite Galerie of the Louvre around 1594, alongside restoring certain antique statues for the King. He is also thought to have been responsible for many of the bronze statuettes formerly attributed to ‘The Master of the Genre Figures’. French bronze collectors were particularly fond of works both after famed antique statues and after models by Giambologna (Wenley 2002, p. 12). According to the great Giambologna scholar, Charles Avery, at this time there were probably several Florentine grandees at the French court who possessed statuettes by Giambologna. These included the Gondi family, one of whom owned a wax model by Giambologna for his Bull. Such a taste for Florentine art at the French court in the late sixteenth century was perhaps stimulated by the marriages of Catherine and Marie de’ Medici to Henri II and Henri IV of France, respectively, and Christine de Lorraine to Grand Duke Ferdinando I in 1589, which clearly laid the foundations for close cultural and dynastic links between Florence and Paris in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries (Warren 2010, p. 25). This burgeoning taste for Florentine, ‘Giambolognesque’ bronzes is important with regards to the genesis of the present pair of Bulls, because not only are they executed in something akin to Giambologna’s sinuous, elegant, Mannerist style, but the great Florentine sculptor’s model of a Pacing Bull appears to have provided the model for Prieur’s version. However, the Leaping Bull is believed to be a work of Prieur’s own invention. This is unsurprising, considering that Giambologna’s models inspired a wide range of derivations by his followers. However, Prieur’s adoption of Giambologna’s style, in Paris, at this time, was completely pioneering, and he was perhaps the first specialist French manufacturer
of exquisite bronze statuettes in the ‘Giambolognesque’ style. The cast-quality of the present works and the substantial amount of their original rich, red-lacquered patina that survives allows us to place these bronzes in the milieu of Prieur’s best small-scale works. Giambologna’s statuette of a pacing bull was popular among European collectors and cognoscenti possibly because it recalled antique examples from Rome and Egypt and symbolized strength, virility and fertility. They also had a myriad of associations and latent symbolism, whether this was to the Egyptian cult of the bull-god of Apis, to the Cretan bull captured by Hercules, to Achelous, whom he wrestled, to the form that Zeus took in the abduction of Europa, to the two fire-breathing bulls who guarded the Golden Fleece, or perhaps to Taurus, the second sign of the Zodiac; in the Christian tradition, the bull could have symbolized the Golden bull Calf that was worshipped by both the Israelites and King Solomon.
related literature G. Briere and M. Lamy, ‘L’inventaire de B. Prieur, sculpteur du Roi’, Bulletin de la Société de l’Histoire du Protestantisme Français, XCVI, Paris, 1949, pp. 41–68 E. Dhanens, Jean Boulogne, Giovanni Bologna Fiammingo, Brussels, 1956, p. 215 R. Seelig-Teuwen, Barthélemy Prieur (1536 – 1561), PhD thesis, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, 1973 C. Grodecki, ‘Inventaire après decès de Marguerite Dalencourt, femme de Barthélemy Prieur’, 8 November 1583, in Documents du Minutier Central des Notaires de Paris : histoire de l’art aux XVIe siècle (1540–1600), vol. II, Paris, 1986, pp. 129–33 R. Seelig-Teuwen, ‘Barthélemy Prieur, contemporain de Germain Pilon’, in Germain Pilon et les sculpteurs français de la Renaissance. Actes de la colloque ... 1990, ed. Geneviève BrescBautier, Paris, 1993, pp. 282–83, 365–85 A. Radcliffe, ‘Ponce et Pilon’, ibid., p. 275–76 A. Lefebure, ‘L’atelier de Barthélemy Prieur et l’imagerie royale sous le regne d’Henri IV’, in Les Arts au temps d’Henri IV. Actes du Colloque de Fontainebleau … 1990, Biarritz 1992 D. Pincus, ed., Small Bronzes in the Renaissance. Studies in the History of Art, vol. 62, Washington, D.C., 2001 R. Wenley, ‘The French Bronze Statuette to c.1815’, in Wenley, French Bronzes in the Wallace Collection, London, 2002 R. Seelig-Teuwen, Barthélemy Prieur, in Paris 2008/New York, 2008–09, pp. 102–03 J. Warren, ‘Florence, Paris, Rome: Cultural crossing points’, in Beauty & Power: Renaissance and Baroque Bronzes from the Peter Marino Collection, exh. cat., Wallace Collection, London, 2010
cav. cincinnato baruzzi (1796–1878)
Bust of a Muse, c.1820 White marble 22¾ in. (58 cm) high signed Cav. Baruzzi (front lower centre) inscribed Musa (front socle) provenance Private collection, Belgium literature A. Mampieri, Cincinnato Baruzzi, Bologna, 2014, p. 234, no. 136
Cincinnato Baruzzi was born in 1796 in the Italian town of Imola, which lies 40 kilometres east of Bologna. Having initially trained at the Bolognese Accademia Clementina under the sculptor Giacomo de Maria (1787–1838), in 1817 Baruzzi moved to Rome, where he entered the studio of the great Antonio Canova (1757–1822), famously hailed by his contemporaries as the first modern master to rival those of antiquity. In 1819 Baruzzi received from his alma mater a grant to remain in the Eternal City and, upon Canova’s death three years later, he was named director of the workshop by Canova’s step-brother and heir Giambattista Sartori Canova. In this capacity Baruzzi completed the works Canova had left unfinished and carved in marble a number of his models, such as the famous Hebe. Therefore, beside successful sculptures of his own invenzione, such as Psyche contemplating a Butterfly (Palazzo Milzetti, Faenza; Peterhof Castle, St Petersburg) and Sleeping Venus (Museo del Risorgimento, Bologna; Peterhof Castle, St Petersburg), Baruzzi also fulfilled Canovian commissions including the Dirce in Buckingham Palace, London, and executed in marble the Pietà for the church of San Salvatore in Terracina. This exquisite bust of a youthful female figure is inspired by a sculpture by Canova known as Ideal Head, carved in marble around 1817 and now preserved in the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. Baruzzi gave his version of this composition the title of Musa, meaning Muse, a clear reference to the classical world so central to both his own and Canova’s aesthetic. It was characteristic of the desire of nineteenth-century Neoclassical sculptors working in the tradition of Canova to choose mythological deities as their subjects, as these ‘supernatural’ beings offered an opportunity to explore the idealization of the human form, reached through formal purity and perfection. This preoccupation is already evident in Canova’s ‘Teste ideali’, the series of ideal heads that the Kimbell Art Museum model belongs to. The connection our Musa establishes with antique models is not solely a stylistic one. Its carefully chosen title represents a reflection on the process of artistic creation, steeped in the classical tradition according to which the Muses functioned as beacons of inspiration. In other words, through this reference Baruzzi subtly likened himself to his ancient Greek and Roman predecessors, paying homage to the Muses as the
divine patrons of his art. An image of striking beauty and serenity, the Musa thus embodies both the cultural and the technical principles at the heart of Baruzzi’s production. Characteristic traits include the recherché virtuosity of the headdress, the distilled naturalism of the facial features, the wonderfully smooth texture of the marble’s surface and the particular format of bust and socle. The same qualities appear most visibly in two other works by our artist, the veiled Bust of a Muse now in the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Milan (1837) and the Bust of Flora formerly in the Massari collection (see Mampieri 2014, nos. 100 and 130 respectively). In 1831 Baruzzi was called back to Bologna to teach at the Accademia Clementina. During this period he focused on participating in the annual exhibitions at the Accademia di Brera in Milan in order to promote his reputation, especially in relation to his graceful representations of female figures. The circles of Lombard patrons that gravitated around the Brera – such as the noblemen Antonio Busca Serbelloni, Giorgio Raimondi and Filippo Ala Ponzone – were to play a key role in our artist’s career, introducing him to a large number of prominent figures and greatly increasing the demand for his works. For example, Baruzzi’s Eve Tempted was acquired by Marquis Bolognini Attendolo and the banker Enrico Mylius, whilst his Salmacis encountered particular favour with foreign patrons in Rome, as indicated by the versions acquired by Lord Kinnaird, Lord Cavendish and the Austrian Count Heberstein. As Baruzzi’s first scholar Mazzini observed, in 1837 “Baruzzi was defined by Temistocle Solera as the Simonides and the Anacreon of sculpture, so full of grace and subtlety were his works”. Carlo Tenca, the most distinguished critic of the period, called him “the sculptor of grace” (see Scritti d’Arte, 1838–59, ed. A. Cottignoli, 1998, p. 5). Such testimonies highlight how Baruzzi was capable – even in the wake of Romanticism – of superbly interpreting classical subjects in sculpture, a field dear to Canova, to whom he aspired to be the heir.
related literature G. Mazzini, Cincinnato Baruzzi: la vita, i tempi, le opere, Imola, 1949
pietro tacca (1577–1645), attributed to
The Castiglioni Hercules and Antaeus, c.1620–37 After a model by Giambologna Bronze 16¼ in. (41.3 cm) high provenance Collection of Camillo Castiglioni, Vienna, sold by Frederik Müller & Co., Amsterdam, 17–19 November 1925, lot LXXX, sold for 9,100 Florins P.B. Sammlung C. Castiglioni, sold by Huldschinsky, Berlin, 29 November 1930, lot 298, plate 76 (introduction and descriptions by Otto von Falke) Elizabeth and Théodore Jensen Collection, Denmark (see Olsen 1961, pp. 103–04), sale A.B. R[asmussen], Copenhagen, 1963, lot 48 literature L. Planiscig, Sammlung Camillo Castiglioni, Wien: Bronzestatuetten und Geräte, Vienna, 1923, pl. 80 E. Zahle, ‘Italienske Statuetter i danske Samlinger’, Kunstmuseets Arskrift, 1929–31, p. 96
fig. 1 The present bronze reproduced in H. Olsen, Italian Paintings and Sculpture in Denmark, Copenhagen 1961, pp. 103–04, pl. CXXVII
Description Bronze, hollow-cast, with Hercules’s legs cast separately and affixed with ‘Roman joints’, and a fugitive dark olive-green-brown varnish, worn off on the high spots and retouched in places with black varnish: Hercules, crowned with a wreath of oak-leaves and acorns, is crushing Antaeus to death in mid-air. Subject In the course of performing his Twelve Labours, Hercules travelled south from the Hesperides and made his way to Libya, where he encountered the giant Antaeus, the son of Poseidon, god of the sea, and Gaia, goddess of the earth. He had acquired a fearsome reputation for killing strangers by forcing them to wrestle with him and was undefeated, until he challenged Hercules. Since Antaeus was the son of the earth goddess, contact with the ground made him stronger, but, when Hercules realised this, he held Antaeus aloft and was then able to crush him. Sources and precedents The antique sculpture from which this work ultimately derives is thought to have been sent to Florence from Rome in 1560 and – after its extremities were restored – was erected in the courtyard of the Pitti Palace (fig. 2). This marble primarily differs from many of the subsequent versions in the way Hercules holds Antaeus aloft from behind, rather than chest to chest. In the mid-fifteenth century, Antonio del Pollaiuolo (1431/32–1498) painted a small version of the subject in this chest-to-chest arrangement (Galleria degli Uffizi, inv. no. 1478), as well as producing a bronze statuette that repeatedly appears in the Grand Ducal inventories – 1587, 1618–21 and 1666–88 (Museo Nazionale del Bargello, inv. no. 1879; Avery and Ciaroni 2007, pp. 178–85).
fig. 2 Hercules and Antaeus, white marble, 1st–3rd century a.d. (restored 1560s by Valerio Cioli), Palazzo Pitti, Florence fig. 3 Attributed to Pietro Tacca (1577–1640), Hercules and Antaeus, early 17th century, 15¾ in. (40 cm) high, formerly Wentworth Woodhouse, England
Giambologna’s original silver casts Between 1576 and 1586, Giambologna is known to have created for the Medici a series of six silver statuettes representing The Labours of Hercules, including the tale of Hercules and Antaeus. These were intended to be placed in the Tribuna of the Uffizi, but none is thought to have survived. Bronze casts seem to have been made from the original models perhaps not long afterwards; in the case of Hercules and Antaeus, the earliest documented cast was listed in the collection of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (d. 1612) and is now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (Avery and Radcliffe 1978, pp. 132–33). Next in date is another cast (40 cm high), formerly belonging to the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham (fig. 3), which was described in his post mortem inventory of 1782 as “2 small figures in one piece representing Sampson squeezing a Man to Death upon a wooden pedestal, in Bronze”. It is probably identical with an item that Charles Watson-Wentworth bought in Florence in 1749, while still Earl of Malton, on his Grand Tour. Sold in the Wentworth sale at Christie’s, London, 8 July 1988, lot 40, it was adjudged by Nicholas Penny to be “of superlative quality, apparently cast in one piece and retaining much of its original ruddy varnish” (Penny 1991, pp. 14–15, fig. 9). Pietro Tacca’s Labours of Hercules The attribution of this “variation on a theme of Giambologna” to Pietro Tacca is based on the fact that he was making, in 1612, a series of Labours of Hercules (number unspecified – but presumably the round dozen) and that in 1633 he was requesting payment for a set of five such Labours that were to be cast in bronze and sent to the King of England (Charles I). In subsequent documents, of 1633–34, Pietro Tacca requested payments for the set of five and additionally for another series depicting the full Twelve Labours. No trace of any of these has been found in England and one has no idea of their size or of their relationship with Giambologna’s original designs for silver desk-ornaments from 1576.
The wreath of oak leaves Only the luxuriant wreath of oak on Hercules’s head, as well as Antaeus’s curly moustache, differentiate the present Castiglioni group from Giambologna’s original: the oak has always been symbolic of strength or the virtue of Fortitude, and is thus not inappropriate as a wreath for the heroic demi-god Hercules. However, such is the attention paid to literal accuracy in depicting its leaves and acorns in their full glory – in tune with the nascent interest in scientific botany at the Medici court – that one wonders if its inclusion means anything more. Anyone familiar with the heraldic symbols and devices of the great families of Italy will be aware that the oak was associated with the ruling noble (and papal) family of Urbino, the Della Rovere. Indeed, it is derived from a pun on their surname. A connection with that family would therefore have been a sufficient reason for the court sculptor (successor in that role to Giambologna) to introduce oak symbolism into one of his own typical products. This was easy enough to do from a technological point of view, for, in the middle stage of producing bronze statuettes by the lost-wax process, a wax model for casting is necessary and so a pre-existing composition can be altered or improved on by modelling the desired additions in wax on the surface of the model, before it is encased in the plaster investment and the wax is melted out in a kiln, to be replaced by molten bronze. Trionfi in sugar Earlier in Tacca’s career, literally at the turn of the century, he had been involved with a major wedding that took place by proxy in Florence. This was an international and royal union between Henri IV, King of France and Navarre, and Maria de’ Medici, who was thus the second Medici girl – after Caterina – to become Queen of France (and subsequently mother–in-law to King Charles I of England, through his marriage to her charming and vivacious daughter Henrietta Maria). Tacca was commissioned to produce edible statuettes out of sugar to decorate the table at the sumptuous wedding feast. For the sake of speed, convenience and economy these were presumably made from more or less the same plaster moulds as were used for making the statuettes of Giambologna in silver or bronze. The Labours of Hercules – at this stage still during Giambologna’s lifetime – were included alongside the display of his own, earlier silver versions. Tacca remained under pressure to produce sugar sculpture, which was now considered de rigueur for any really smart and diplomatically significant occasion in the trajectory of aggrandisement of the House of Medici. The royal wedding of 1600 was soon followed by a scarcely less important one between Maria’s cousin Cosimo (son of Grand Duke Ferdinando I) and a lady of the Imperial Hapsburg dynasty, Maria Maddalena of Austria, which took place on 19
October 1608 (the very year of the old Giambologna’s death in August and of Tacca’s succession to the office of court sculptor). Indeed, Tacca had been approached in good time, on 28 July 1608, by the Grand Duchess Cristina da Lorena to execute some more sculptures in sugar for the wedding banquet: he declined, on the grounds that they were very time-consuming and would interrupt his work on several major projects (including no fewer than three equestrian monuments, those to King Henri IV, the Grand Duke himself and King Philip III of Spain). In any case the wedding table was weighed down by “sugar fantasies – of more than forty statuettes of twenty models, which represented the most beautiful sculptures that exist in this state”, according to a celebratory book about the wedding, written in the same year by Camillo Rinuccini. The only Labour of Hercules listed was that in which he slays the Centaur (of which the colossal marble is still to be seen in the Loggia dei Lanzi). Four of the subjects are not among Giambologna’s established oeuvre and so – despite his protestations – may have been run up by Tacca for the occasion. Last of the weddings for which Pietro Tacca is recorded as having made sugar ornaments took place in 1620, between Claudia de’ Medici (1604–1648) and Ubaldo della Rovere (1605–23). Alas, unlike the wedding of Maria de’ Medici (which was even the subject of an exhibition in the Pitti Palace of Florence in 2015), almost nothing is known about the one that may well concern us here, on account of the Della Rovere iconography which might have been ordained by Tacca’s employers in order to make a standard set of Labours of Hercules, after Giambologna, more flatteringly relevant to the Della Rovere bride. The careful and enthusiastic naturalism for which Tacca is famed found its outlet in the representation – on the scale of a miniature – of the leaves and fruit of the symbolic oak tree: every leaf is crinkled and varied, with characteristic indentations round its edge, while the shiny, plump acorns seen ready to burst from their tiny cups. Even at the back of Hercules’s head the binding together of the two stems forming the wreath with a strong ribbon is minutely and convincingly depicted – this is no merely symbolic wreath, but a living emblem promising fruitfulness for the union of the Medici with the Della Rovere. Alas, this was not to be. Within two years of the marriage and after the birth in 1622 of only one daughter, Vittoria, Ubaldo died, leaving his distinguished family without a male heir. Desperate times demand desperate measures and, by the time that the baby girl was twenty months old, she was engaged to the Medici heir – Ferdinando, named after his grandfather – who was twelve years her senior. So, in the very year when Pietro Tacca was claiming payment for his series of Labours of Hercules, 1633–34, a far more important event is documented, the longawaited official marriage on 2 August 1634 between Vittoria della Rovere (1622–1694) and Ferdinando II de’ Medici (1610–1670), which was consummated in 1637. Apart from these dynastic, political and prestigious aspects of the union, which changed the balance of power in the peninsula of Italy, young Vittoria brought with her a huge dowry by way of the art collections of her family, for, through her parents, she had ended up as the universal heir of Francesco Maria della Rovere (1548–1631). This happy occasion, cementing once and for all the union of the two families and furnishing the Pitti Palace with many of its major pictures from the non-Florentine schools, such as Urbino and Venice, would have provided a second opportunity for the now ageing court sculptor, Pietro Tacca, perhaps aided by his son Ferdinando, to reuse the moulds for the oak-leaf crowned statue of Hercules of 1620 for a nuptial sugar
sculpture and to cast a couple of more permanent commemorative statuettes in bronze. Comparable example There is one other cast of this particular variant of Giambologna’s composition, in which Hercules is wreathed with a leafy sprig of oak bearing acorns and Antaeus has a “curly moustache of the type fashionable in the first half of the 17th century”, in the Boymans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam (inv. no. L26, 41 cm high). This was attributed first to Adriaen de Vries and later to Giovan Francesco Susini (c.1575–1653), but without convincing arguments. dr charles avery
related literature H. Olsen, Italian Paintings and Sculpture in Denmark, Copenhagen, 1961, pp. 103–04, pl. CXXVII, fig. 1 A. Radcliffe, ‘Giambologna’s twelve Labours of Hercules’, The Connoisseur, CIC, September 1978, p. 12 A. Radcliffe, ‘The Labours of Hercules’, in C. Avery and A. Radcliffe, Giambologna, Sculptor to the Medici, exh. cat., Edinburgh, London and Vienna, 1978, pp. 122–35 K. Watson, ‘Sugar Sculpture for Grand Ducal Weddings from the Giambologna Workshop’, The Connoisseur, September 1978, pp. 20–26 C.W. Fock, ‘The original silver casts of Giambologna’s Labours of Hercules’, in Studien zum Europäischen Kunsthandwerk: Festschrift Yvonne Hackenbroch, Munich, 1983, pp. 141–45 K. Watson, Pietro Tacca – Successor to Giovanni Bologna, New York and London, 1983 P.R. Bober and R. Rubinstein, Renaissance Artists & Antique Sculpture: A Handbook of Sources, London, 1986, pp. 172–73, citing Liaci 197o, p. 107 N. Penny, ‘Lord Rockingham’s Sculpture Collection and The Judgment of Paris by Nollekens’, The J. Paul Getty Museum Bulletin, 19, 1991, pp. 5–34, esp. pp. 14–15, fig. 9 E. van Binnebeke, Bronze Sculpture: Sculpture from 1500 – 1800 in the collection of the Boymans van Beuningen Museum, exh. cat., Rotterdam, 1994, pp. 30, 70, 94–97, no. 23 Wentworth sale catalogue, Christie’s, London, 8 July 1998, lot 40, pp. 130–31 C. Avery and A. Ciaroni, ‘Dai Medici al Bargello’, in I bronzi del Rinascimento: Il Quattrocento, vol. II, Maastricht, 2007, pp. 178–85 G. Giusti and R. Spinelli, Dolci trionfi e finissime piegature, sculture in zucchero e tovaglioli per le nozze fiorentine di Maria de’ Medici, exh. cat., Palazzo Pitti, Florence, 2015
italian, 18th century
A Monumental Bust of a Warrior White marble on giallo marble socle 40 in. (102 cm) high 17¼ in. (44 cm) wide
fig. 1 Portrait herm of Pyrrhus of Epirus, after an original c.290 b.c., Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples (inv. 6150)
This monumental bust of a warrior possesses a strong, masculine facial physiognomy of classical proportions. His fixed, arresting gaze, subtly furrowed brow and slightly parted lips clearly belong to a man of a quick, calculating intellect and a commander of considerable martial power. His full, thick beard and luxuriant, wavy locks of hair billow out from under a magnificent classical-style helmet that is pushed back on top of his head and is adorned with a pair of winged dragons and an oak wreath. The oak was the tree sacred of Jupiter, the chief Roman deity, and has always been associated with strength, or the virtue of Fortitude. An example of an oak wreath encircling a military helmet appears on a well-known ancient bust, thought to represent Pyrrhus of Epirus, now at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples (fig. 1) and a bust of Mars in the Wallace Collection, London, which hails from the same period as the present work. Our warrior wears a Roman-style cuirass about his torso that is centred with a delicately carved gorgoneion – symbolizing the head of Medusa that was given to Minerva by Perseus after she had helped him defeat the Gorgon. A major archetype for such a design may have been the Medusa Rondanini, now in Munich, or perhaps those found on examples of other Roman cuirasses, for example of a Commodus from 180–92 a.d. in the Capitoline Museums, Rome. From his true left shoulder hangs a paludamentum, or mantle, that is affixed by a brooch known as a fibula. On his opposing right shoulder is visible one of a pair of pteryges, the leather straps which, in the sculptural examples surviving from ancient times, are often found hanging from the shoulders of a Roman soldier’s cuirass. This fascinating bust could represent a number of mythological figures, from the Greek god of war, Ares, or its Roman incarnation, Mars, to renowned Greek warriors such as Menelaus or Ajax. Other famed antique works from which this highly skilled Neoclassical sculptor appears to have drawn inspiration include the bearded soldier from the famous antique Pasquino Group in the Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence, which perhaps depicts Menelaus carrying the dead body of Patroclus, as proposed by Ennio Quirino Visconti in 1788. Details of this group which appear to be cited in the present bust include the intriguing pair of winged dragons, which similarly adorn both helmets. They perhaps represent the vanquishing of evil, or make a visual quotation of the story of Perseus saving Andromeda by slaying the dragon. The modelling of the physiognomy, beard and wavy locks of hair clearly derive from the same warrior-type as the helmeted figure in the Pasquino Group in Florence. The same source may also be linked with the particular orientation of the helmet that is pushed back atop the figure’s head, which is also found in the bust of Menelaus (fig. 2) in the Vatican. This bust was found by Gavin Hamilton in the
Pantanello at Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli, in 1771 and then taken to Paris under the Treaty of Tolentino between 1797 and 1815. The present bust represents a union of various specific and generalized details found in works belonging to the Greek and Roman sculptural traditions, rather than being a direct copy of a particular antique example. For this reason, it should be considered a consummate manifestation of one of the fundamental tenets of Neoclassicism, as set out by J.J. Winckelmann, whose influential work formed the intellectual basis for the appreciation of antiquity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He professed that, while the art of antiquity was to be emulated and aspired to, it was not to be slavishly copied (see Honour 1972, p. xxiv), an approach which is clearly in evidence in present work.
related literature F. Haskell and N. Penny, Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500–1900, New Haven and Yale, 1981, no. 72., pp. 291–96 H. Honour, ‘Neo-Classicism’, in The Fourteenth Exhibition of the Council of Europe: The Age of Neoclassicism, exh. cat., The Arts Council of Great Britain, 1972 G. Lippold, Die Skulpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, 1908, vol. II, no. 311, pls. 68 and 73 I. Bignamini and C. Hornsby, Digging and Dealing in Eighteenth-Century Rome, London, 2010, vol. 1, p. 165
fig. 2 Menelaus, Sala dei Busti, Musei Vaticani, Rome, inv. 694
massimiliano soldani-benzi (1656–1740)
Ganymede and the Eagle, c.1714 Bronze 12½ in. (31.5 cm) high 15¼ in. (38.5 cm) wide provenance The Collection of the late Countess of Lanesborough, previously at Swithland Hall, Leicestershire, probably by descent from 1st Earl of Lanesborough; probably acquired by Theophilus Butler, Baron Newtown-Butler, of the County of Fermanagh
Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi (1656–1740) was Master of the Mint in Florence, but extended his range beyond the coinage of Tuscany to making portrait medallions that were cast, rather than struck, so that they could be of a good size to hold in the palm of one’s hand.1 Between 1694 and 1706, Soldani also encroached as a foundry-man on the role more proper to his court sculptor by producing three casts in bronze of fullsize ancient and Renaissance statues for the Prince of Liechtenstein. They are expertly finished with great precision.2 By November 1702, he had also modelled two elaborate mythological subjects of his own, The Judgement of Paris and Diana and Callisto, which have only recently turned up as casts in bronze.3 They give a premonition of the sculptor’s ‘pictorial’ style of composition and suave modelling, with strong diagonals animating the groups of figures, which are laden with exquisitely rendered details. This Soldani had learned at the short-lived Medicean Academy in Rome, where one of his instructors had been Ercole Ferrata, a follower of Algardi.4 Soldani was thus a leading member of the third generation of sculptors in the tradition of the Roman Baroque, of which the present group is typical. However, it was probably statuary after the Antique and his splendid portrait medallions that initially attracted the British ‘milordi’ to Soldani’s studio at the Mint, which was conveniently situated opposite the entrance to the Uffizi Gallery. A letter of 22 November 1707 from the Grand Ducal chamberlain, Lorenzo Magnolfi, who also acted as a high-level art agent for grandees, furnishes the names of three pioneer patrons among the British for Soldani in the role of sculptor. It was addressed to one of these, Sir John Perceval of Burton, County Cork (1683–1748), later Earl of Egmont and a founder of the colony of Georgia. Perceval spent six months in Italy while on his Grand Tour. Magnolfi wrote as follows: “... you may order Mr Arundel and Mr Bates [shipping agents in Livorno] to reimburse me for the said heads, and for the busts and statues you did order to Signor Massimilano Soldani which are already done and packed up; and there are twenty-four heads and three statues, and I hope you will be pleased with them since they are very well done”.5 Judging from this bald description, as well as from Perceval’s intention expressed elsewhere that his works of art be for “the use of an accademy [sic] of painters which he purposed to forward the erecting in Ireland”, one might infer that they were after ancient prototypes. The large, even, number of twenty-four indicates probably that a set of the normal Twelve Caesars and their wives were being supplied. However,
though Soldani did indeed produce a few busts after the Antique, so high a number suggests that they could not have been life-size, and no such busts on a reduced scale – suitable for the tops of desks, cabinets or bookshelves in libraries – are at present known to be by his hand, and so they may have been in the form of medallions.6 Alas, disaster befell both of Perceval’s shipments, for they were captured by French privateers in 1707 and 1709: the spoils presumably would have been fed into the art market in France (unless they were melted down to make cannon!). Soldani’s intimate relationship with several other British ‘milordi’ has been confirmed by the discovery of 400 folios of correspondence between Soldani and a certain Signore Zamboni in London.7 Unfortunately, Zamboni’s replies have been lost at the Florentine end, though a few of his draft letters from the 1720s do survive in the Bodleian Library. The correspondence begins on 15 October 1716, just after the visit to Florence of the twenty-year-old Earl of Burlington (1694–1753) and covers the latter half of Soldani’s career, until his death in 1740. The sculptor’s correspondent, Giovanni Giacomo Zamboni, began his business career with various merchant bankers in Livorno, becoming a clerk and agent in London between 1711 and c.1719, when his employers went bankrupt. Even so, by 1720 Zamboni had personally amassed enough money to purchase £5,000 worth of illfated South Sea stock, which – like Sir Isaac Newton – he shortly afterwards lost when the ‘Bubble’ burst. Thanks to his business acumen, which comes across forcibly by inference in Soldani’s letters, in 1723, when Zamboni was forty, he obtained the post of agent for the Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt. This was to prove very advantageous and he promptly proceeded to make full use of – if not to abuse – the diplomatic bag between London, Livorno and Florence. Service as a go-between, middleman or commission agent was the essence of the unscrupulous Zamboni’s career. Background Soldani’s first letter, of 15 October 1716, to Zamboni described Lord Burlington’s purchase of two bronze reliefs of The Seasons and his order for the other two (all now in the Royal Collection).8 It also related how Burlington had commissioned some other groups in bronze, from models that he had seen in Soldani’s studio. These had since been cast, but not paid for, and so had not been forwarded to His Lordship. Soldani enclosed for Zamboni’s benefit a list of the four compositions in question, with his own loving description, as well as their measurements and prices. It begins with a Venus and Adonis, described as about 18 in. high, of which there is an example in the J. Paul Getty Museum, California;9 and ends with a splendid, Bernini-esque, group of Apollo and Daphne, which – at 250 louis d’or – was the most expensive. In between them, the sculptor listed casts from terracotta models that the flighty young Lord Burlington had also had seen and commissioned – a matching pair of
rather smaller and simpler groups, Leda and the Swan and Ganymede and the Eagle, which – at 35 gold louis each – were valued at only around one third of the price of Venus and Adonis. To Soldani’s chagrin Burlington did not honour his obligation, but such a pair was later sent to England (see below) and the present statuette – with its interesting Anglo-Irish provenance that might take it as far back as 1716 – may well be one of them. The only other pair, evenly more finely chased, in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, is from an Italian source.10 Ganymede and the Eagle The history of the present composition and its pair of Venus thus goes further back, to before the time of Lord Burlington’s five-day visit to Florence during his Grand Tour of late 1714.11 He took home with him two of the reliefs of The Four Seasons that he had been able to see in the studio, but failed to pay for the bronze casts, which Soldani claimed that His Lordship had ordered, of the four other models that he also admired. In the list enclosed with the letter, the sculptor describes the pair to his correspondent in London as “A bronze group of almost the same size, which shows Leda and the Swan, and a Cupid who is unveiling her, and the said group is enriched with drapery etc. and is worth 35 Louis d’or” and as “A companion group representing Ganymede grouped with the Eagle and Cupid who is helping him get on to the back of the Eagle, and the group is enriched with the bow and the torch, and is worth 35 Louis d’or”. As one knows from the pair in Cambridge, the groups form a good match, for each is composed as a right-angled triangle, with the protagonist’s head at its apex, and with the ‘feathered friend’ – Jupiter in two of his guises for seduction – filling the vertical side. In each, the attendant Cupid with his spread wings serves to enliven the silhouette and to disguise the fundamental geometry. The rocky bases are characterized by a series of more or less parallel grooves, like stratification, running at slightly divergent angles: their suggestion of diagonal movement complemented by the sinuous folds of the swirling drapery is typical of Soldani’s compositions. All these accompaniments serve as a foil against which is set the voluptuously smooth bare flesh of Leda and of Ganymede. Like most of Soldani’s groups they are designed to be seen from in front and from the diagonal viewpoints, for their backs are dull, though finely finished, consisting mostly of large stretches of grooved rockery and swathes of drapery. They are therefore almost as ‘pictorial’ as reliefs. Soldani’s main thrust in the first letter was to get Zamboni to try to influence his recalcitrant client via suitable intermediaries, such as Sir Andrew Fountaine of Narford Hall, Norfolk, who was about to leave Florence for London, and whom he asked to plead his case with the arrogant and distracted Lord Burlington. Alas, by 4 January 1717, the sculptor was to become disenchanted with Fountaine, though only
briefly, as it turned out: “A few days ago I met Lorenzo Magnolfi in the square [Piazza della Signoria] and he told me that Sir Andrew had claimed to have raised a goodly quantity of guineas for the two groups, though I do not recall how many, and that he hoped to get still more. He wanted to know if I was prepared to do the deal through him, but I replied that I did not have any works available, and that I could not get involved because of the delay. You should not believe that I would entertain any sort of bargaining, and I now realise that Fountaine works and schemes – and god knows what he has in mind – all on his own account.” An intervening letter from Zamboni sent on 27 November had meanwhile arrived and on 7 January Soldani replied “… I am more than persuaded to have nothing further to do with My Lord Burlington, in order not to find myself under any embarrassing obligations and unable to get hold of the money when he has decided to take something. When the knowledgeable Fountaine makes his arrival there [in London], maybe he will explain to Milord as clearly as he has promised me that when one orders a work of art, it is customary to pay the money before taking delivery and that this is a universal custom applying to everyone and that I have never experienced any difficulty with anyone and indeed that he himself satisfied me, before taking away the four bas-reliefs that he now has in his hands.” Soldani, however, continued to have an eye to the main chance, adding, “… if the said Milord has begun to build there in London, he will need many more things to enrich and furnish the rooms, and I would like to hope that with a little management, I might be able to lay hands on even a tiny little part of his huge income. However, seeing that this gentleman has many wishes, it could be that some will be abandoned: perhaps he has fallen out of love with my pieces, which do not merit any attention.” The last paragraph was, of course, merely courtly self-abasement. The sculptor went on, now turning directly to Zamboni as a possible buyer: “As to the description that I had given you of the works in my other letter, which I have rediscovered, I see that you might be interested in the two Groups, which are fully in the round and of a good size, just right to set on tables, once they have had a base to go under them, for at the moment they just rest on rocky masses and terrain. Leda is sitting and embracing Cupid, who is stretching his neck over her bosom, while she is smiling and uncovering herself and Love is helping her to undress. The said group is well set out. The other, matching, group shows Ganymede embracing the Eagle, which is looking at him, while Love is shown pressing him to mount the Eagle. Furthermore, there is Ganymede’s dog, and the rest is as well composed as my feeble powers permit. “I think that my price of seventy Louis d’or was rather high, on account of the amount of work involved in them, so I would accept anything over fifty Louis that you cared to let me have, for I want to continue a good relationship with you. I assure you that here in Florence they are worth one hundred piastres each, but over there
they ought to be worth a lot more. So I shall go on preparing them and it will take about another month, or a little more, to finish them. Once I have sent them to Mr Fredoli in Livorno, I shall write to you. Meanwhile, you might deign to reply to the same gentleman whatever you like about this matter, and then write to me again. “In the meantime, see what reaction you get to these two groups in order to see what can be hoped for the other one that I have of The Death of Adonis and of yet another very rich one with an ornate pedestal that depicts Apollo and Daphne with putti and other things – this is a work that is quite extraordinary. “At present I have nothing else more suitable for you than the above-mentioned ones: these will be crated by me with every care, covered with waxed paper and with struts between one and the other group, in such a way that I hope that they will arrive safely, as has happened when I have sent things to Germany, Spain and elsewhere, as well as to England. I am really trying to do everything possible over the prices, but as they are works that have been studied and polished to the highest degree that art demands, it takes a long time and great expense to bring them to completion. I wish to God that it was easier, for then I would have hoped to get some profit out of them, which I will not at this price, believe me, upon my word of honour.” Three weeks later, on 31 January 1717, Soldani continued the narrative:12 “I have written to Gian Giacomo Fredoli at Livorno to tell him that I have received your order to have me paid 50 Louis d’or for the aforesaid two groups of Leda and of Ganymede in accordance with the note and description that I sent you. He replied that he had the assignment in hand but that he wanted to draw up a proper account before disbursing the above-mentioned money.” Fredoli seems then – in the way of shrewd bankers – to have dragged his feet over the payment, and so Soldani continued, “… meanwhile the final touches will be given to the said groups, which in 15 or 20 days will be ready to be packed. You will have read my wish to receive something over and above the offer of 50 Louis d’or that you made me for the two groups, because they are actually worth a lot more. But to satisfy the great wish that I have to be of service to you, I am throwing myself entirely on your mercy, in order to give you the incentive to procure me some opportunity to make a profit – both for you and for me – so please let Mr Fredoli and me know your final decision on this matter.” A letter of 15 February (fol. 607) indicates further delays, and the sculptor writes that once he has received the 50 Louis, he is ready to crate and ship the pair of bronzes. A month later, on 18 March, he reverts to the matter: “As far as concerns the two aforesaid groups of Leda and Ganymede, I intend to give you priority over anyone else and will now accept your offer of 50 Louis and will not ask for anything more from Fredoli”. Even so, Soldani, ever hopeful, reverted once again to the delicate matter of the ‘tip’: “… after you have seen them, you will wonder if you think that I deserve something extra, but I am relying entirely on your courtesy and kindness”.
Then the long-suffering sculptor returned to safer ground, describing how, once Fredoli had made the payment, he would forward the said groups well crated and packed, but – in order not to prejudice the delivery of further works that might be sent over – he was still hoping for a bonus from Zamboni! Alas, the matter dragged on with mutual distrust building up between sculptor and banker until, in a letter of 12 April, Soldani in desperation decided to send the groups to Livorno into the care of a personal friend, who would hand them over only when the money was forthcoming. This finally took place a few days before 25 May (fol. 617). On 8 July Soldani wrote hoping that the groups had arrived in the port of London and had met with Zamboni’s satisfaction: he suggested that they would look better once they were mounted on pedestals. In fact they had still not arrived by 15 July, nor by 10 August, but they had by 15 October, when Soldani wrote (fol. 27v): “It is with feelings of great consolation that I hear that finally you have received the two groups and that you have found them to your taste, but what upsets me is that you will have to have bases made there, when I could have had them made here to my own satisfaction and more cheaply; or I could at least have sent you designs for them.” Nothing further of any significance is heard of them and one is left to suppose that Zamboni managed to sell them on from his fashionable address in Golden Square, Soho, possibly – directly or indirectly – to Theophilus Butler or another, intermediate, owner. In a Christmas letter, dated 23 December 1717, the sculptor mentions in passing that “… it only remains for me to finish another Leda and another Ganymede, matching those that you have received, for I cast them all together, in order to melt a lot of metal in the furnace at once. I have it in mind for those two to make them bases out of some stone and keep them by me until an occasion offers itself.” This may be the pair that has finally come to rest in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and the extra degree of chasing and stippling on the surface may be due to the fact that they were made to satisfy the hyper-critical eyes of native purchasers in their city of origin, where Soldani had to withstand direct comparison of his bronzes with those by his great rival, the court sculptor Giambattista Foggini. Provenance The work was previously at Swithland Hall, Leicestershire. The present Swithland Hall was built for George John Danvers-Butler, later Earl of Lanesborough. Designed by the architect James Pennethorne, it was complete enough to be occupied by 1834, and was finished by 1852. The Earl of Lanesborough was a title in the Peerage of Ireland. It was created in 1756 for Humphrey Butler, 2nd Viscount Lanesborough. The Butler family descended from Theophilus Butler, who represented County Cavan and Belturbet in the Irish House of Commons. In 1715 he was raised to the Peerage of Ireland as Baron Newtown-Butler, of
the County of Fermanagh, with remainder to the heirs male of his father. It may have been he who acquired the present bronze, probably with its pair of Leda and the Swan (now missing), from Soldani’s representative G.G. Zamboni in London. Theophilus was succeeded according to the special remainder by his brother, Brinsley, the 2nd Baron. He had previously represented Kells and Belturbet in the Irish Parliament. In 1728 he was created Viscount Lanesborough in the Peerage of Ireland. He was succeeded by his son, Humphrey, the aforementioned 2nd Viscount, who was elevated to an earldom in 1728. The first Earl was succeeded by his son, Brinsley (1728–1779), the 2nd Earl, who went on the Grand Tour to Florence, Rome and Naples in 1752–54.13 He represented County Cavan in the Irish House of Commons. His grandson, the 5th Earl, sat in the British House of Lords as an Irish Representative Peer from 1849 to 1866. It was he who acquired in Rome c.1850 Bernini’s marble bust of Pope Gregory XV (1554-1623) that was offered for sale at Christie’s, New York, in 1990,14 and is now in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada. Thus, the 2nd or 5th Earls may also have acquired the present bronze in Italy, or in London. The titles became extinct on the death of the 9th Earl in 1998. dr charles avery
related literature Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, Bodl. MS Rawl., letters 132, fol. 4r The Twilight of the Medici: Late Baroque Art in Florence, 1670–1743, exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, 1974 M. Davis, ed., Kunst des Barock in der Toskana, Italienische Forschungen, herausgegeben vom Kunsthistorischen Institut in Florenz, Dritte Folge, ix, Munich, 1976 Liechtenstein: the Princely Collections, exh. cat., Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1985, pp. 94–96, no. 63 Die Bronzen der Fürstlichen Sammlung Liechtenstein, exh. cat., Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt-amMain, 1986, pp. 226–31, nos. 46–48 F. Vannel and G. Toderi, La medaglia barocca in Toscana, Florence, 1987 C. Avery, ‘Soldani’s Models for Medals and His Training’, in Italian Medals. Studies in the History of Art, vol. 21, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1987, pp. 11–24 C. Avery, ‘Medals and Bronzes for Milordi: Soldani, Selvi and the English’, The Medal, XXIV, 1994, pp. 10–20 C. Avery, ‘Who was Antonio Selvi? – New documentary data on the production of medals in Soldani’s workshop’, The Medal, XXVI, 1995, pp. 27–41 V. Krahn ed., Von Allen Seiten Schön: Bronzen der Renaissance und des Barock, exh. cat., Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 1995, pp. 590–91, no. 230 J. Clark, “‘Lord Burlington is here’”, in T. Barnard and J. Clark, eds., Lord Burlington: Architecture, Art and Life, London and Rio Grande, 1995, pp. 256–57 J. Ingamells, A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701–1800, New Haven and London, 1997 D. Johnston, ‘Mythological: two recently discovered bronze groups illuminate Soldani’s creative processes’, Christie’s International Magazine, 2002, pp. 48–49 V. Avery, Renaissance and Baroque Bronzes from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, exh. cat., Daniel Katz Ltd., London, 2002 P. Fogelman and P. Fusco, with M. Cambareri, Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Italian and Spanish Sculpture, Los Angeles, 2002 C. Avery, ‘Soldani’s mythological bronzes and his British clientèle’, Sculpture Journal, XIV, 2005, pp. 8–29
notes 1 The Twilight of the Medici 1974; Davis 1976; Vannel and Toderi 1987; Avery 1994; Avery 1995. 2 Exhibited: The Metropolitan Museum of Art/The Collections of the Prince of Liechtenstein, New York, 1985, no. 63 (Bacchus, after Michelangelo); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt-am-Main, 1986, nos. 46–48; Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 1995, no. 230. 3 Johnston 2002. 4 Avery 1987. 5 Ingamells 1997, pp. 757–58. 6 Possible candidates might be a partial series of nine smallish busts of about 8 in. or 20 cm high, ‘The Property of a Nobleman’, that were sold at Christie’s, London, 12 June 2003, lot 1090. They were catalogued as “Italian, 18th century”, and did not prima facie look especially like products of Soldani’s very refined foundry technique, nor of the expertise that he and his assistants normally evinced in chasing and polishing, but, when making reproductions after the Antique, Soldani may have adapted his products so as to resemble actual antiquities in appearance and ‘feel’. 7 Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, Bodl. MS Rawl., letters 132, fol. 4r. (Since some of my earlier publications, it has been decided to adopt the alternative system of page numbering given on the manuscript and so there will be discrepancies). 8 See Avery 2005, esp. pp. 16–19. 9 It was recognized by the present writer, abandoned and used as a hat-stand in a dusty billiard room, at Wrotham Park, Hertfordshire, and later sold at Christie’s, London, 8 December 1993, for $250,000. See Fogelman and Fusco 2002, pp. 268–76, no. 34. 10 See V. Avery 2002, nos. 8–9. 11 See Clark 1995. 12 Fol. 604. 13 Ingamells 1997, pp. 165–66. 14 10 January 1990, lot 201 (catalogue by the present writer).
christian daniel rauch (1777–1857), workshop of
Bust of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia (1796–1855), c.1835 White marble 32½ in. (82.5 cm) high 23½ in. (60 cm) wide
fig. 1 Christian Daniel Rauch, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, marble, 1832, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden
In May 1821 the celebrated German sculptor Christian Daniel Rauch, a prominent member of the Berlin Academy, modelled a bust of the young Grand Duke Nicholas Pavlovich Romanov, brother to the Russian Emperor, Tsar Alexander I, then on a state visit to Berlin. When Nicholas next returned to the Prussian capital, a decade later, this time as Tsar of the Russian Empire, Rauch was again summoned to capture his likeness in marble, creating a portrait that has since become amongst the most iconic of the ruler. His austere gaze directed away from the viewer, his lips gently pursed and his hair arranged in short curls crowning his broad forehead, the Emperor represents the perfect embodiment of his status and power. This composition survives in more than one model, the most famous arguably being the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen’s in Dresden (fig. 1). The format chosen here is the herm portrait, a reference to official portraiture dating back to Roman antiquity, filtered through the lesson of Italian Neoclassicism as exemplified by Antonio Canova’s works. In the present bust, the connection with ancient portraiture is evidenced by the choice of drapery, which recalls the paludamentum of Roman military commanders and emperors, the cloak elegantly fastened on one shoulder with a fibula. The same type of cape appears on the shoulders of a bronze bust of Nicholas as Grand Duke attributed to Rauch, whilst closely comparable examples can be seen in two marble busts of the Tsar deriving from the Rauch prototype (Leipzig, Antikenmuseum der Universität, inv. no. 99.114, and Grisebach GmbH, 25 November 1995, lot 104). In terms of dating, the long sideburns and the moustache in the present likeness, when compared with other portraits of the ruler (sculptural and otherwise), suggest this bust was carved in or immediately after the mid 1830s, when Nicholas began to sport a moustache, absent in his portraits as Grand Duke and in the portraits from his early days as Emperor, such as the 1832 Dresden marble by Rauch. As mentioned above, Rauch’s representation of Nicholas I was arguably the emperor’s most iconic sculptural likeness and, as customary with official portraiture, became the model for busts of the ruler commissioned as tokens of allegiance or presented as diplomatic gifts. The excellent quality of the present marble, its skilled carving and the high finish of its surface suggest it was carved by an artist well acquainted with Rauch’s model, active in the master’s workshop. Remarkably talented since his youth, Rauch had been able to complete his education at the Academy in Berlin and then in Rome thanks to the patronage of Queen Louisa of Prussia, who had surprised him one day modelling her likeness in wax and was highly impressed with the result. Key inspirations for the young Rauch were his fellow German sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow, the Danish master Bertel Thorvaldsen and the great Antonio Canova, all of whom he had the opportunity to
meet and closely observe during his formative years. In 1810, Rauch received royal patronage for the funerary monument of his first benefactor, Queen Louisa, his design having been chosen against proposals submitted by both Thorvaldsen and Canova. This commission brought him great acclaim, and he soon became one of the leading sculptors of his age. Prominent figures immortalized by his chisel include King Maximilian of Bavaria, the writer Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, King Frederick the Great of Prussia, the philosopher Immanuel Kant, the German hero of Waterloo General Blücher and Nicholas’s brother and predecessor Tsar Alexander I. Nicholas Pavlovich Romanov (1796–1855) was born near St Petersburg, the seat of the imperial summer palaces, to Grand Duke Paul Romanov and Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna. Shortly after Nicholas’s birth Empress Catherine II the Great died and his father inherited the title, becoming Tsar Paul I. He was assassinated in 1801 as a result of a palace conspiracy and his eldest son, Alexander, succeeded him to the throne. Grand Duke Nicholas was at this point barely five years old. Educated in the liberal arts and sciences, he also displayed from a very early stage a keen interest in military strategy. Napoleon’s disastrous campaign in Russia (1812) took place during the future Tsar’s formative years, and this certainly had a strong influence on his development and later policy choices. In 1817 the young Nicholas married Princess Charlotte of Prussia, a match resulting from political alliances in the wake of the Congress of Vienna, though strong affection soon grew between the two. The same year Nicholas travelled throughout Russia and to the United Kingdom, and was appointed Inspector General of the Russian army corps of engineers. His military careered appeared seamlessly laid out before him when, suddenly, his brother Tsar Alexander I died without an heir in 1825. Second in line to the throne, Nicholas nonetheless became Emperor because his older brother Constatine had married a lady not of royal blood. Powerful, determinate, precise and ruthless, Tsar Nicholas I was a strenuously autocratic ruler who surrounded himself with men from military ranks. He died following a short illness in 1855, and was succeeded by his son, Alexander II. Nicholas was described thus by Constantin de Grunwald, one of his biographers: “With his height of more than six feet, his head always held high, a slightly aquiline nose, a firm and well-formed mouth under a light moustache, a square chin, an imposing, domineering, set face, noble rather than tender, monumental rather than human, he had something of Apollo and of Jupiter …. Nicholas was unquestionably the most handsome man in Europe.”
francesco righetti (1749–1819)
A Pair of Busts of the Dioscuri, c.1794 After the Antique Bronze, dark brown patina on white marble, ormolu and Siena marble bases 19 in. (48.2 cm) high
Renowned for his fine bronze statuettes after the Antique, Francesco Righetti was highly sought after amongst Grand Tourists in late eighteenth-century Rome. He had studied under the celebrated papal goldsmith and master bronzier Luigi Valadier (1726–1785), and had taken over from him as the leading maker of all’antica bronzes in the Eternal City. Righetti’s patrons included the English banker Henry Hope (1753– 1811), who commissioned him a set of twelve lead replicas of statues after antique and Renaissance masters, and Frederick Hervey (1730–1803), 4th Earl of Bristol, who had two elaborate candlesticks cast by the artist. Significantly, too, Catherine the Great of Russia (1729–1796) commissioned from Righetti a marble and bronze model of Mount Parnassus, and in 1805 Pope Pius VII (1742–1823) appointed him director of the Vatican foundry, succeeding Giuseppe Valadier (1762–1839). In 1794 Righetti published a list of the models offered by his studio. Written in French, it was addressed to the “amateurs de l’antiquité et des beaux-arts”, the cultured, moneyed, international elites who flocked every year to Italy to admire the ageless grandeur of its monuments and imbue themselves in their spirit. The present pair of busts, amongst the highest quality bronzes produced by Righetti, is described in this list as “Les deux têtes de Castor & Pollux colossales du Quirinal” under the header “Bustes Avec Leur Base Dorée”, and offered at the cost of “36 sequins Romains”. As referred to, the subjects are Castor and Pollux, also known as the Dioscuri. Twins, they were sons of Leda and, respectively, Tyndareus, King of the Spartans, and Jupiter, King of the Olympian gods. Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra, heroines of Homer’s Iliad, were the Dioscuri’s sisters. Their parents’ amorous encounter is described Ovid’s Metamorphoses, where Jupiter seduces Leda in the form of a swan. Pollux became a formidable boxer, while Castor went on to be a great horseman. The twins also accompanied Jason and the Argonauts in their search for the Golden Fleece, and during their adventures Pollux distinguished himself by defeating King Amycus of Bithynia after Amycus had challenged him to a boxing match. Pollux was granted immortality by Jupiter, but persuaded him to allow the gift to be shared with his brother. As a result, the two spend alternate days on Olympus as gods and in Hades as deceased mortals. Their immortality is also evidenced in their title of ‘Heavenly Twins’, which also echoes their association with the Gemini constellation.
related literature A. Gonzáles-Palacios, Il gusto dei principi, Milan, 1993, II, p. 252, no. 507
joseph nollekens (1737–1823)
A ‘Pensiero’ of Eve bewailing the Death of Abel Terracotta 10 in. (25.4 cm) signed Label to underside: 1614 provenance Nollekens sale, Christie’s, London, 4 July 1823, lot 39, bought by ‘Turner’ Professor Michael Jaffé CBE (1923–1997), Cambridge, United Kingdom; and thence by family descent; on loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom (1976–2016) literature J. Kenworthy-Browne, ‘Terracotta models by Joseph Nollekens R.A.’, The Sculpture Journal, 2, 1998, pp. 72–84
Joseph Nollekens is regarded as Britain’s foremost sculptor working between the years of 1770 and 1815. He was an artist whose achievements in sculpture are often viewed as comparable to those of the great painter Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792). By the time of his death, in 1823, Nollekens had developed remarkable levels of mastery in a range of sculptural media, but his reputation perhaps survives most keenly in the popular imagination as the author of the iconic and archetypal images of the rival politicians and statesmen, Charles James Fox (1749–1806) and William Pitt the Younger (1759–1806). However, not only was Nollekens a prolific modeller in terracotta, but, according to his former assistant and biographer J.T. Smith, the process of making them was “the greatest pleasure our Sculptor ever received” and his various models were “considerable entertainment to his friends” (Smith 1828, p. 347). Only a very small number of these works survive, but those that have are held by major museums and institutions such as London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art. The subject of this particular terracotta ‘pensiero’ is of course to be found in the Old Testament. Abel, the son of Adam and Eve, is considered by Christians to have been the first man to die. He was killed at the hands of his enraged and jealous elder brother, Cain, who was himself believed to have been the first-born man. The reason for Cain’s enraged killing of Abel was that God apparently favoured Abel’s sacrificial offering over his brother’s. Cain initially denied knowledge of Abel’s death and was cursed by God with an indelible mark that identified him as a murderer. Cain fled and became a fugitive and a nomad. In the Christie’s catalogue of Nollekens’s posthumous collection sale in 1823, the present figure of Eve appears under the category of ‘Pensieri in Terra Cotta’, lot 39, along with a group of “Cain and Abel”. The work was apparently purchased by ‘Turner’ at Mr Christie’s sale (Kenworthy-Browne 1998, p. 75), although it is unclear whether the successful bidder was the painter Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851). The figure then appeared in the collection of the former Director of the
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, the late Professor Michael Jaffé (1923–1997) and was on loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum from 1976 to 2016. The most obvious antique source for this depiction of Eve are the figures which comprise the Niobe Group in Florence’s Uffizi (fig. 1). The figures of the group stride and crouch forwards with their clothing fabric billowing and arms outstretched, while exhibiting expressions of anguish similar to those of Nollekens’s grief stricken Eve. The group represents the story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses in which Apollo and Diana slaughter the fourteen children of Niobe, Queen of Thebes, when she refuses to sacrifice to the goddess Latona (the mother of Apollo and Diana) and boasts about her own wealth, power and fertility. The famed Uffizi group was universally admired and drawn upon by the European artistic community of the period when developing their own works, so Nollekens would no doubt have been familiar with it. Since their discovery in 1583 the expressions and bodily contortions of the group’s constituent figures became the archetypal models for the depiction of grief, despair, panic and foreboding in human form, alongside the group of Laocoön and his Sons. Nollekens’s oeuvre also takes clear inspiration from the canon of the finest and most revered ancient marbles that he would have encountered in Rome. For example, his terracotta model of Paetus and Arria in the Arthur M. Sackler collection (fig. 2) closely follows the Ludovisi marble group. Nollekens’s Roman sketchbooks, surviving in the Ashmolean Museum, Yale Art Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum, show that he was an eager student, frequently visiting the great collections and becoming familiar with the finest examples of antique, old master and contemporary sculpture. Soon after his arrival in Rome, he entered the studio of the sculptor Bartolomeo Cavaceppi (c.1716–1799), helping him to restore, and copy, the city’s ancient treasures. He then established his own workshop off the via del Babuino, remaining in Italy for eight years, making his reputation – and also a small fortune – by carving works for the travelling British Grand Tourists and selling antiques with the dealer Thomas Jenkins. Nollekens’s life-long fascination with small-scale terracottas may have originated from his time in Rome and particularly the years spent in Cavaceppi’s studio. Kenworthy-Browne comments that his figure of Juno Pronuba, with its notably rough surface treatment, surely originates from Nollekens’s Roman period, not least because Cavaceppi had a similar statue of the ancient goddess Ceres, which appears in his Raccolta of 1769 (Kenworthy-Browne 1998, p. 73). This observation is supported by the description of these works in the catalogue of Nollekens’s estate sale as “Pensieri”, suggesting that at least either Nollekens or Christie’s cataloguer considered such works innately Italian, and perhaps even more specifically Roman (L’Esprit créateur 2003, p. 9). ‘Pensieri’ loosely translates to ‘initial, but lofty, thoughts’ (ibid.). Yet the view that these works represented the very first ideas for a composition might be thrown into doubt by the discovery of a pencil-drawn sketch of the present
fig. 1 Son of Niobe, Roman, 2nd century a.d. (after a Hellenistic model), Sala della Niobe, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, inv. 294
fig. 2 Paetus and Arria, terracotta, 18 cm high, formerly Arthur M. Sackler collection
work in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Kenworthy-Browne 1998, p. 75). For Kenworthy-Browne, “the drawings indicate that Nollekens’s ‘pensieri’ were the result of much reflection, and should not be thought of as ‘primi pensieri’ at least” (Kenworthy-Browne 1998, p. 75). Nollekens’s terracotta sketches may represent a later stage in the formation of an artistic idea than his pencil drawings. With this in mind, these terracotta statuettes should be considered independent, final works in their own right, not simply working models later to be ‘finished up’ in marble. On the whole, Nollekens’s style of modelling is loose and expressive. Yet a survey of his oeuvre evidences the versatility of his style. For example, when comparing the two examples of his terracotta work in this exhibition, the group of Lot and his Daughters (no. 11) has a more refined finish, while this figure of Eve appears more characteristically expressive. Interestingly, the technique he employed is explained in Nollekens’s reported advice to Gainsborough, which was apparently to “model more with your thumbs, thumb it about till you get it into shape” (Esdaile 1944, p. 220). This seems to support the conclusion deduced from a visual analysis that Nollekens’s overarching priority with his creation of terracotta ‘pensieri’ was to explore the artistic impact of overall forms and compositions, while not obsessing over details and surface finish.
related literature Sketchbook of Joseph Nollekens (1737–1823), Douce Bequest, 1834 WA1863.1094, David Blayney Brown (1982) 1463, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Sketchbook of Joseph Nollekens (1737–1823), Douce Bequest, 1834, David Blayney Brown (1982) 1462 WA1863.1093, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Sketchbook of Joseph Nollekens (1737–1823), Douce Bequest, 1834, David Blayney Brown (1982) 1464 WA1863.1095–1159, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford ‘A Catalogue of the whole of the highly valuable collection of Antique and Modern Sculpture of the late Joseph Nollekens, Esq, R.A, Dec.... which will be sold by auction by Mr Christie, on Friday, July the 4th, 1823’ The Morning Chronicle, Monday 7 July 1823, issue 16915 J.T. Smith, Nollekens and his Times, 1828, I A. Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts: A Complete Dictionary of Contributors and their work from its foundation in 1769 to 1904, London, 1906, p. 382 K.A. Esdaile, The Art of Rysbrack in Terracotta, exh. cat., Spink & Son, London, 1932 K.A. Esdaile, ‘A Group of Terracotta Models by Joseph Nollekens R.A.’, The Burlington Magazine, LXXXV, September 1944 M. Whinney, English Sculpture 1720–1830, London, 1971, p. 124 D. Bilbey and M. Trusted, British Sculpture 1470 to 2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A Publications, 2002, pp. 102–06 L’esprit créateur de Pigalle à Canova. Terres cuites Européennes 1740–1840, exh. cat., Musée du Louvre, Paris; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, 2003–04 I. Roscoe, E. Hardy and M.G. Sullivan, eds., A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009, p. 905
florentine, 17th century
The Antinous Belvedere After the Antique Bronze 13¼ in. (34 cm) high 4¾ in. (12 cm) wide
fig. 1 The Antinous Belvedere, 2nd century a.d., marble, 195 cm high, Belvedere, Vatican Museums, Rome
This bronze depicts a physically idealized youth with a short crop of curly hair standing in a position of relaxed, but pronounced, contrapposto. The figure leans slightly forward with his head bowed, conferring upon the figure a thoughtful, pensive countenance. The youth’s right arm rests on his hip, while his left arm supports a cloak, or mantle, that falls from his shoulder and is wrapped around his forearm. This fine seventeenth-century bronze cast of the Vatican’s famed Antinous Belvedere exhibits the highest levels of achievement in sculptural modelling after the Antique and represents a masterful execution of the expensive, and difficult, lost-wax casting method. The statuette is also evidence of the exquisite finishes and patinas possessed by the best Florentine bronzes of the period. The ancient statue that inspired this bronze is now almost universally known as the Antinous Belvedere (fig. 1); however, like a number of the most famous antiquities, it has been linked with a myriad of other names, including Milo, L’Admirable, Admirandus, L’Antin, Hercules, Meleager, Mercury and Theseus (Haskell and Penny 1981, p. 141). Antinous was a young man born in 110 a.d. in Bithynia, who soon became the favourite of the Emperor Hadrian, after entering his retinue. It is thought that while he was accompanying Hadrian on a tour of Egypt, Antinous valiantly saved the Emperor’s life after he fell into the Nile, but tragically drowned in the process. At the location in which he died, Hadrian founded the city of Antinopolis and ordered Antinous to be revered as a deity. Historically, Antinous has been celebrated as much for his act of selfless courage as his beauteous physique, although artistic representations of him have been considered to embody the classical ideal of youthful male beauty. The first mention of the famed antique Antinous Belvedere is thought to have been on 27 February 1543, when a thousand ducats were recorded as being paid to a “Nicolaus de Palis”, “for a very beautiful marble statue ... which His Holiness has sent to be placed in the Belvedere garden” (Brummer 1970, p. 12). In any case, the Antinous must have been in the Cortile Belvedere by April 1545, because at that month and year Primaticcio made a mould from it for the burgeoning collection of the King of France, François I (1494–1547) (Pressouyre 1969, p. 225). There are generally two different theories regarding the precise location of its initial discovery. Aldrovandi thought that it had been found on the Esquiline Hill near San Martino ai Monti, while Mercati disagreed, insisting that it had come from a garden near the Castel Sant’Angelo (Haskell and Penny 1981, p. 141). Upon its discovery, it was immediately acquired by Pope Paul III, along with another statue of Antinous (Lanciani 1902–12, p. 155), and stood resplendent in the great Belvedere courtyard of the Vatican until
1797, when it was handed over to the French under the terms of the Treaty of Tolentino. However, the removal of the Antinous Belvedere to the Louvre was to be but a brief sojourn, for, not long after the statue had been triumphantly processed through the streets of Paris in July 1797, it was returned to Rome, following the defeat of Napoleon, in January 1816 (Haskell and Penny 1981, p. 142). Both the Farnese Hermes/Mercury that was acquired by the British Museum in 1864 and the Hermes of Andros that was discovered in a tomb on the eponymous island in the south Aegean in 1832 belong to the same Praxitelean ‘type’ as the Antinous Belvedere and their names have been used somewhat interchangeably. Indeed, the works are formally very similar and a fleeting comparison between the Belvedere Antinous and the Hermes Farnese illustrates the reason why the Belvedere Antinous has, in the past, been mistakenly associated with the messenger god, not least by Ennio Quirino Visconti (Haskell and Penny 1981, p. 142). However, the Farnese Hermes exhibits important iconographic attributes such as the talaria (winged sandals) and caduceus (a staff entwined with snakes), which have always been traditionally associated with Hermes/Mercury. The elegantly swaggering Antinous Belvedere ‘type’ has been regarded with the utmost reverence ever since it was discovered in the mid sixteenth century. This is demonstrated by the trend for artists and connoisseurs to have themselves depicted in the vicinity of the model. For example, Nicolas de Largillière’s portraits of both Charles Lebrun and Nicolas Coustou feature a version of the model. Similarly, in Jacques Blanchard’s portrait of 1625 (fig. 2) a young man is presented with a plaster cast of it. The reasons for this appear to have been as much pedagogic as they were aesthetic and socio-cultural, for Bernini had made the remarkable statement to the Paris Academy in 1666 that “when I was in difficulties with my first statue, I turned to the Antinous as to the Oracle” (Wittkower  1999, p. 21). Models of the Antinous Belvedere have frequently been cast in bronze throughout its history. Notable examples include a characteristically expressive late sixteenth-century model by Pietro da Barga (active 1574–88) that is now in Florence’s Museo Nazionale del Bargello. A cast was also made by Hubert Le Sueur (c.1580–1658) in the first half of the seventeenth century for Charles I of England, which is now at Windsor Castle, and a copy was cast in bronze for the Palace of Versailles, apparently by the Kellers, in 1685 (Haskell and Penny 1981, p. 142). A very close comparison to the present bronze in modelling style, cast quality and patina is found in François Duquesnoy’s Antinous Belvedere statuette, originating from the first half of the seventeenth century (fig. 3). The ancient archetype also heavily influenced sculptures which did not set out to be ‘direct copies’ after the Antique. In particular an Apollo statuette that is attributed to Pietro Francavilla (1548–1615) adopts the Antinous’s exaggerated contrapposto, hand on hip and downcast eyes, but models the figure in reverse. Furthermore,
fig. 2 Jacques Blanchard (1600–1638), Young Man with a Plaster Cast after a Bronze (detail), 1625, 87 × 69 cm, Residenzgalerie, Salzburg
this bronze appears on the desk in Frans van Mieris the Elder’s Portrait of a Scholar (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). This neatly unites two main artistic trends of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries – the manufacture of exquisite reduced-scale statuettes inspired by the Antique and the inclusion of such models in fashionable portraits of artists, scholars, collectors and cognoscenti. By the eighteenth century, the voracious desire for reduced bronze versions of the most important antique statues reached its peak, and they were enthusiastically commissioned and purchased by wealthy visitors to Rome and Florence whilst undertaking their Grand Tour. These bronzes were then usually displayed on their writing desks, atop fine marble chimneypieces or integrated into the decorative schemes of their prestigious country houses or metropolitan addresses.
fig. 3 François Duquesnoy (1597–1643), The Antinous Belvedere, 1st half 17th century, 31.5 cm high, Staatliche Museen, Berlin
A. de Montaiglon and J. Guiffrey, eds., Correspondance des directeurs de l’Académie de France à Rome avec le Surintendants des Bâtiments, 18 vols., Paris, 1887–1912, XVI, pp. 462, 498 R. Lanciani, Storia degli scavi di Rome e notizie intorno le collezioni romane di antichità, 4 vols., Rome, 1902–12, I R. Wittkower, ‘Gianlorenzo Bernini 1598–1680’, in Art and Architecture in Italy 1600–1750, II, ‘The High Baroque 1625–1675’ , New Haven, 1999, p. 21 S. Pressouyre, ‘Les Fontes de Primatice à Fontainebleau’, Bulletin Monumental, 1969, pp. 223–39 H.H. Brummer, The Statue Court in the Vatican Belvedere, Stockholm, 1970, p. 12 F. Haskell and N. Penny, Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500–1900, New Haven and London, 1981, pp. 141–42
rinaldo rinaldi (1793–1873)
Ulysses recognized by Argos Marble 41 in. (104 cm) high 20 in. (51 cm) long – base dimensions 13¾ in. (35 cm) wide – base dimensions signed R. Rinaldi f. (on the base) provenance Charles Hitchcock Tyler (1862–1931) estate, Beverly (MA), USA
A protégé of Leopoldo Cicognara during his studies at the Accademia in Venice, Rinaldo Rinaldi arrived in Rome in 1815 thanks to a bursary from the Napoleonic Italian Kingdom. There he was welcomed by Canova, who guided him in the execution of his first works submitted for a grant from Venice, of the Boxer that won the Canova Prize in 1816 and of The Education of Achilles created as part of the ‘Tribute of the Venetian Provinces to the Emperor of Austria’, organized by Cicognara in the form of works by young artists presented alongside the Polyhymnia by Canova. Canova also designated Rinaldi, together with Adamo Tadolini, to head his studio after his death, a role that was ultimately entrusted to Cincinnato Baruzzi by the master’s heir, Abbot Giovanni Battista Sartori Canova. After an initial period of collaboration, which saw him engage in marble replicas of the Lions from the monument to Clement XIII for the Duke of Devonshire, Rinaldi eventually set up independently as a sculptor of historical and mythological subjects of international renown. Amongst these were his Three Dancing Figures and Cephalus and Procris, at present untraced, and, according to his biographer Pietrucci, he invented as many as three hundred compositions (see Pietrucci 1858, p. 230). The masterpieces created in the early nineteenth century by Antonio Canova and by his rival Bertel Thorvaldsen in the heroic genre – at the time considered to be the highest form of statuary, given the difficulty involved in representing the ideal male nude, at rest or in dramatic tension – immediately became established models, on a par with the classical ones. Canova’s Hercules and Lichas, with the sublime terror of its suspended movement, and his Perseus triumphant, an expression of the Apollinian ideal of male beauty, measure themselves against the celebrated ancient prototypes of the Hercules Farnese and the Apollo Belvedere. Thorvaldsen’s Jason and the Golden Fleece represents instead the Dane’s severe response to antiquity, inspired by the calm grandeur of Polycleitus’s Doryphoros. These works soon became the touchstone for a series of heroic statues and compositions by the sculptors working in cosmopolitan Rome during post-Napoleonic Restoration, who were often the driving forces behind the artistic development in their European and American homelands, exploring all possible thematic and compositional opportunities, yet pursuing their own originality within the tradition of classical inspiration. Exemplary of this context – where each artist was compelled to prove his ability to match the ancient or the great modern masters in the colossal or semi-colossal
Rinaldi's signature on base of the present sculpture
format – are Milo of Croton by Giuseppe De Fabris, Mars by Mathieu Kessels, Achilles and Penthesilea by Rudolf Schadow, Mars and Cupid by John Gibson, Nestor and Antilochus by Antonio Solá, Bellerophon killing the Chimera by Johann Nepomuk Schaller, and the renditions of Achilles Wounded by Achille Albacini, Innocenzo Fraccaroli and Bengt Erland Fogelberg (on these see Grandesso 2006, p. 177). Amongst these Rinaldi’s Ulysses recognized by Argos stands out, and, from 1833 onwards, received considerable critical acclaim, as testified by the numerous descriptions of it published in the periodical press. The key to the critical success of the Ulysses and Argos group, published in the Tiberino in 1833 (when still only a plaster) and in the Progresso delle scienze the following year, engraved in 1835 in the Ape Italiana delle Belle Arti, and again in the Museo di Pittura e Scultura in 1841, rests with Rinaldi’s ability to express a literary subject through the formal exemplarity of the male nude, paired with the compositional tension suggested by the contrasting emotions portrayed. This sentimental and dramatic quality must have been central to a number of his works with literary roots, praised for this aspect by Pietrucci but currently untraced – Sappho singing Odes to Phaon, Cassandra embracing the Altar, Androcles removing a Thorn from the Lion’s Paw, Metabus hurling his Daughter Camilla to Safety. The present group’s poignant subject is drawn from Book XVII of Homer’s Odyssey, in which Ulysses, having returned to Ithaca disguised as a beggar, is about to cross the threshold of his palace when he is recognized by the ageing dog Argos. The tension that animates the male figure, evidenced by his changing posture, derives from the psychological contrast between Ulysses’s surprise and the hound’s display of affection. As noted by the scholar Carlo Emanuele Muzzarelli, through the unstable support of Argos’s left paw the sculptor is able to hint at the mastiff ’s old age and strong emotion, which ultimately lead to his passing, as described by Homer. Muzzarelli was able to grasp both the sculpture’s adherence to its literary source and its formal qualities: “The protagonist is represented ... at the moment when, walking towards the seat of his ancestors, he is recognized by his faithful old dog Argos. The dog, throwing himself at the feet of its master, somewhat prevents him from progressing further; this, accompanied by the extraordinary signs of joy, causes the hero to halt and bring his right hand to his chest in a gesture of marvel. The figure [of Ulysses] displays the traits of virile strength and the features of his face are noble.” Muzzarelli goes on to praise the aggrieved figure, noble and grand, tracing the source of its iconography to the portrait of Ulysses in the Real Museo Borbonico in Naples, with “all its expression of surprise, the half-open mouth, the meaningful eyes, the arched brows, the great mass of hair, the curly beard, and the Ithacan pileus covering his head”. The tunic that encircles Ulysses’s waist is knotted with a doeskin and betrays his disguise as a beggar. The gnarled staff, which carries the bag containing the bread given to him by Eumaeus, functions both as a structural support and as the
focal axis around which the contrast in composition and texture between the hero and the furry hound develops. The semi-colossal version of this composition, reaching almost two metres in height, was executed, according to documentary sources, for Lord Grosvenor. Robert Grosvenor, 1st Marquis of Westminster (1767–1845) was a prominent political figure and collector, and also acquired Rinaldi’s Cephalus and Procris, as recorded by Count Hawks Le Grice (1841, I, p. 97). In 1843, the Diario di Roma wrote that Rinaldi was working on a pendant for the Ulysses entitled Penelope carrying Ulysses’s Bow and Arrows to her Suitors (Gerardi 1843). These works are unknown to modern scholarship, which is why the rediscovery of the present, smaller-scale, Ulysses recognized by Argos is of particular significance, being the only known example of this model. In the early twentieth century our marble was in the collection of the noted Bostonian attorney Charles Hitchcock Tyler (1862–1931), a testimony of the appeal of Neoclassical sculpture to the flourishing American culture of collecting. The scholar Giuseppe Antonio Guattani (1838, p. 295) identified iconographical precedents for the subject here chosen by Rinaldi in ancient cameos and coins, but the marble itself became in turn a model for later treatments of the theme, such as Ulysses recognized by Eurycleia by the Spanish artist Ponciano Ponzano, published in Ape Italiana in 1838, and Ulysses recognized by his Dog by Joseph Gott (Joseph Gott 1972, p. 40). stefano grandesso
related literature ‘Scultura Ulisse e il Cane. Gruppo di Rinaldo Rinaldi’, Il Tiberino, I, Rome, 1833, p. 43 C.E. Muzzarelli, ‘Ulisse riconosciuto dal cane, statua di Rinaldo Rinaldi’, Il Progresso delle scienze, lettere ed arti: opera periodica, III, vii, Naples, 1834, pp. 320–21 C.E. Muzzarelli, ‘Ulisse riconosciuto dal cane – di Rinaldo Rinaldi’, L’Ape Italiana delle Belle Arti, I, i, Rome, 1835, p. 25, pl. XVI G.A. Guattani, Lezioni di storia, mitologia e costumi ad uso di coloro che si dedicano alle arti del disegno, Rome, 1838, II H. Le Grice, Walks Through the Studii of the Sculptors at Rome, 2 vols., Rome, 1841 Museo di pittura e scultura, ossia raccolta dei principali quadri, statue e bassirilievi delle gallerie pubbliche e private d’Europa, disegnati ed incisi sull’acciaio da Reveil, con le notizie descrittive, critiche e storiche di Duchesne primogenito, IX, Florence, 1841, pp. 107–08, pl. 1091 F. Gerardi, ‘Belle Arti, Penelope: statua modellata da Rinaldo Rinaldi Accademico di S. Luca’, Diario di Roma, 18 April 1843, p. 4 N. Pietrucci, Biografia degli artisti padovani, Padova 1858, pp. 228–32 Joseph Gott 1786–1860 Sculptor, exh. cat., Stable Court Exhibition Galleries, Leeds, and Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 1972 S. Grandesso, ‘Dal classicismo more romano alla scultura romantica come natura, sentimento religioso e impegno civile’, in L’Ottocento in Italia. Le arti sorelle – Il Romanticismo 1815–1848, ed. C. Sisi, Milan, 2006, pp. 165–95
severo calzetta da ravenna (active by 1496, died by 1543), circle of
Pacing Horse Bronze 8¾ in. (22 cm) high 13¼ in. (33.7 cm) high, including base provenance Private collection, France
This beautifully patinated and spiritedly modelled sixteenth-century North Italian bronze horse draws its inspiration from the most renowned equestrian monuments of antiquity – the Marcus Aurelius on horseback from the Capitoline Hill in Rome (see no. 8 in this volume) and the Quadriga group formerly displayed above the main portal of the Basilica of Saint Mark in Venice (fig. 1), now housed inside the church’s museum for the purposes of conservation. Our model was cast by a master well acquainted with the work of Severo Calzetta da Ravenna, whose activity in Padua and in his native Ravenna focused on beautifully finished small-scale bronzes distinguished by a search for naturalism paired with a feel for the fantastical. His works display a heightened sense for movement and an idiosyncratic feel for texture, particularly visible in the outline of surfaces such as hair and animal skin, alongside a copper-like, reddish-brown patina similar to the present one. Prominent examples include the Neptune on a Sea Monster and the Kneeling Satyr supporting the Figure of an Emperor in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and the Saint John the Baptist in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. The Capitoline Marcus Aurelius, further discussed in no. 8, represented one of the very few surviving equestrian statues of a Roman ruler known in the sixteenth century and, as such, held incredible symbolic significance throughout the
fig. 1 Quadriga Horses, bronze, Museo di San Marco, Venice
Renaissance. The appearance of our horse certainly betrays an awareness of this model, yet the Venetian Quadriga Horses, where no rider is featured, represents a more powerful precedent for our sculpture, one entirely focused on the animal and its intrinsic potency. Comprising four bronze horses, which would originally have been attached to a chariot called a quadriga, this extraordinary sculptural group was taken to Venice from Constantinople in 1204, following the Fourth Crusade. Towards the end of the thirteenth century, the four horses were placed on top of the Basilica’s main loggia, where generations of Venetians and foreigners alike marvelled at their splendour. As the celebrated fourteenth-century Italian poet Petrarch wrote, the horses of Saint Mark were “the work of some ancient and famous artist unknown to us” which “stand as if alive, seeming to neigh from on high and to paw with their feet” (Petrarch, Seniles, IV, 3, quoted in Warren 2016, p. 306). The Marcus Aurelius and the Quadriga group doubtlessly shaped the development of Renaissance art, inspiring formative masterpieces such as the pacing horses in the 1436 fresco of Sir John Hawkwood’s funerary monument by Paolo Uccello and in Andrea del Castagno’s Niccolò da Tolentino fresco of 1456, and the two foremost equestrian monuments of the Quattrocento, Donatello’s Gattamelata in Padua (1443–53) and Verrocchio’s Bartolomeo Colleoni in Venice (1479–83). The pose of the present bronze references directly the Marcus Aurelius and two of the Quadriga horses, with the right foreleg elegantly raised and the left hindleg swiftly advancing, the neck theatrically arched and the head gently turning to the right. Yet our artist also moved away from these antique precedents, seeking to endow his model with greater naturalism and emotion. The mane is modelled in a looser, more expressive fashion compared to the tightly hogged variety of those appearing on the Saint Mark examples, and the tail similarly curls and falls with greater realism. The eyes and muzzle, outlined through sharp anatomical observation in the antique prototypes, are here articulated with a softer handling of the surface yet with enhanced vivacity and spirit. These characteristics strongly indicate that our horse was cast by a master in Severo da Ravenna’s circle. It is interesting to note that one of the earliest testimonies of statuettes of a riderless, pacing horse is that depicted on the shelf of the studiolo described by Carpaccio in his painting of Saint Jerome seeing a Vision of Saint Augustine for the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni in Venice (1502–08), and therefore originates from the same Northern Italian milieu as the present cast. By the early sixteenth century, the bronze statuette genre had become fully established as one of the most intimate and cherished art forms inherited from antiquity. Sabba da Castiglione (1440–1554) elucidates the fashion for small bronzes during this period thus: “What should we say concerning the vanity of that other person, who will spend 500 or a thousand ducats
on a statue made of metal or of stone, which is of no practical use, nor can it serve in any way; and yet this same person cannot bring himself to acquire for a mere 25 ducats a real, living servant, by whom he could be served and assisted in so many ways? And about that other one who goes on foot so as not to have to spend ten ducats on a horse and then goes and pays out 500 ducats for a little antique horse of bronze, the height of a palm, which not only will not carry you but needs itself to be carried round” (Sabba da Castiglione 1559, p. 159; quoted Warren 2016, p. 306). A chief attraction of these bronzetti for the collectors of the period probably rested in their often secular, pagan or mythological themes, along with the high regard in which they were held by the much revered ancients. An important example of the ancient Roman appreciation of small-scale bronze statuary, known in the Renaissance, was the passage eulogizing a model of Hercules in the house of Novius Vindex penned by the first-century a.d. 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, Sylvae, IV, vi, 32–38; trans. Lewis 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 original monumentality despite its size – is manifest in the present work and central to understanding the essential beauty and technical achievements intrinsic to the creation of reduced bronzes inspired by the most revered ancient statues.
related literature 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 J. and V. Wilton-Ely, The Horses of San Marco, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1979 J. Warren, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Italian Sculpture, London, 2016, I
master of the unruly children (active 1st half 16th century), probably sandro di lorenzo di smeraldo (1483–c.1554)
A Pair of Angels as Candle-Bearers Terracotta Left: 20½ in. (52 cm) high Left base: 7 in. (18 cm) × 15 in. (38 cm) – base dimensions Right: 20½ in. (52 cm) high Right base: 6¾ in. (17 cm) × 14 in. (36 cm) – base dimensions provenance William Gwinn Mather (1857–1951), Cleveland, Ohio, by 1922; by descent to his wife, Elizabeth Ring Ireland Mather (1891–1957); by descent to her son, James Duane Ireland II (1913–1991); by descent into the Ireland family, Shaker Heights, Ohio, until 2016 exhibited Cleveland Museum of Art, Special Exhibition of Renaissance Art, 1922, on loan from William Gwinn Mather literature W.M. Milliken, ‘Special Exhibition of Renaissance Art in Gallery II’, The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, IX/4, April 1922, pp. 55–58, esp. p. 55
The present pair of terracotta angels as candle-bearers represent a beautifully preserved and important addition to the oeuvre of the exquisitely accomplished Master of the Unruly Children, a distinctive voice within Florentine Cinquecento Renaissance sculpture. In 1890, thanks to the initiative of Wilhelm Bode, a selected number of highly refined terracottas were grouped under the Notname of Meister der derben (or unartigen) Kinder. These included the Puttos Fighting in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin and in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and a Madonna and Child from the same German collection. The Master of the Unruly Children’s oeuvre is constituted predominantly by works intended for private settings, characterized by a heightened attention towards emotions and their intense expression. Distinguished by a rapid and vibrant sculptural technique, the Master is skilful in giving voice to a diverse range of human states of mind, from rage to desperation, from sorrow to meditation and to laughter. Formed in the tradition of Leonardo da Vinci and Giovanfrancesco Rustici, yet also receptive to the invenzioni of Michelangelo, the Master of the Unruly Children created both religious and profane compositions, with subjects ranging from the Madonna and Child, Saint John the Baptist and Christian Charity to battles between knights and soldiers on foot inspired by Leonardo and Rustici, puttos fighting, and reclining figures of Bacchus and river gods. Besides these, a number of subjects in his production are unique, including the present Angels, Fortitude, Tobias and the Angel, The Madonna and Child Standing, The Madonna and Child with Saint Anne, The Madonna Praying and a Shepherd (these two probably intended for a Nativity group).
Following on from accurate cataloguing by Philippe Sénéchal (2007, pp. 230, 233–45) the corpus of the Master has been published in a recent monograph by the present writer (Principi 2016). Notably, careful analysis of the documentary sources has strengthened our sculptor’s identification with Sandro di Lorenzo di Smeraldo, who is recorded in Anton Francesco Doni’s I Marmi (1552–53) as an artist specializing in the wax technique and in the realisation of funerary masks. In addition to this, a document from 1523, taking note of an estimate by Antonio Solosmeo and Niccolò Tribolo (both prominent sculptors), states that Sandro di Lorenzo was the author of a clay statuette of Bacchus, whose description closely matches the four terracotta versions of the subject attributed to the Master of the Unruly Children (Butterfield and Franklin 1998, pp. 819–20; Waldmann 2005; Principi 2016, pp. 12–20). Divinely youthful in appearance, the present angels kneel and gently turn their heads, crowned by short and boisterous curls, towards the beholder. They are both represented wearing billowing robes fastened around their necks with clasped collars and around their waists with girdles that create swirling folds. Each figure holds a squared candlestick support, which would have borne a wax candle directly or an iron shaft to contain it. In both sculptures the heads were fired separately from the bodies. Restorations are minimal and visible in the lower parts of the wings. Halos would originally have been attached to the nape of each angel’s neck. Underneath the right hand-side figure appears a label inscribed C.M.A. TR 1864/4. The first three initials stand for ‘Cleveland Museum of Art’, where the angels were displayed as part of an exhibition of Renaissance art, on loan from the collection of the prominent industrialist and philanthropist William Gwinn Mather (1857–1951), who served as the Museum’s president between 1933 and 1949. The exhibition’s display is described in an article that appeared in April 1922 in The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, published to celebrate the newly opened Renaissance gallery. The angels flanked a glazed terracotta altarpiece di Benedetto Buglioni depicting The Madonna and Child with Saints Francis and Giovanni Gualberto, donated to the Museum the previous year by J.H. Wade, originally located in a chapel at Ponte agli Stolli, near Figline Valdarno, in the artist’s native Tuscany (Gentilini 2012, pp. 20, 24). Our angels’ originally intended function was probably as sides to an altarpiece or Eucharist tabernacle. As the freer handling of the surface on their backs suggests, they may have been intended to stand against a wall. Their ceremonial, contemplative pose directs their gaze towards the viewers, as if inviting them to participate in their liturgical adoration. This composition pays homage to Luca della Robbia’s classicizing candle-bearing angels executed between 1448 and 1451 for the tabernacle of the Holy Sacrament in the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, thus inscribing itself within a sculptural typology well established in Tuscany. In the terracotta tradition, and especially within the circle of Giovanni della Robbia, two main types of candle-
figs. 1 & 2 Master of the David and Saint John Statuettes, Angels as candlebearers, terracotta, Oratorio dei Buonomini, Florence
bearing angels are known, with some variants, dating to the early decades of the sixteenth century. Very representative examples include the ones in the Florentine church of Sant’Ambrogio (1513) and in the Confraternity of the Misericordia (c.1520; see Marquand 1920, pp. 54–62, 116, 124–26, 152–55; Gentilini in Gentilini and Bietti 1981, pp. 232–33, no. 40). With specific focus on composition, an interesting counterpart to the present figures is offered by a partly glazed pair of angels, held in a private collection, described as a collaboration between Benedetto Buglioni and the Master of the David and St John Statuettes (Gentilini in London 2014, pp. 6–13, nos. 1–2). It is indeed in the circle of this anonymous master – identified variously with Baccio da Montelupo, Jacopo Sansovino and, more recently, Benedetto da Rovezzano – that elements key to the stylistic contextualization of the present pair of terracottas can be found (see Principi 2016, p. 30 and note 63, with previous bibliography). Hitherto little known, two terracotta candle-bearing angels preserved in the private rooms of the Oratory of the Buonomini di San Martino order in Florence offer the closest case in point, their dimensions analogous and their poses and robes bearing strong resemblances to the present figures (left: 59 × 33 × 14 cm; right: 62 × 35 × 17 cm; figs. 1–2). A pair identical to these has been recently offered in a sale, with an attribution to Benedetto Buglioni (Sotheby’s, London, 10 December 2015, lot 364). Formerly ascribed to Verrocchio or his studio (Bargellini 1972, pl. 6), the Buonomini di San Martino angels can be attributed with certainty to the workshop of the Master of the David and Saint John Statuettes, and are crucial to understanding the cultural roots of the present terracottas. This becomes evident upon observation of the stylistic characteristics of these, which, however, by virtue of their greater dynamism in the outline of the robes and hair, point in the direction of the Master of the Unruly Children. Like the Master of the David and Saint John Statuettes, this gifted sculptor and his workshop specialized in small-scale terracotta figures and originated in the artistic milieu of Verrocchio.
fig. 3 Master of the Unruly Children, Charity, terracotta, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The importance of the discovery of the present Angels rests first and foremost in their uniqueness within the Master’s oeuvre. Additionally, our pair provides significant new confirmation of the artist’s involvement with religious patrons. Excluding the Madonna and Child and Charity groups destined for private devotion and collections, the sole evidence of commissions carried out by the Master of the Unruly Children for the purposes of public worship was, until now, represented by three Marian groups preserved in the region around Pistoia. Comparison with the Charity in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (fig. 3), one of the most representative works by the Master of the Unruly Chidren (Principi 2016, p. 78), is essential to the attribution of the present Angels. In each figure, the drapery is modelled with the same rapid and impressionistic treatment. The angular rhythm of the folds around the waists and the planar method of defining the pleats in sleeves are also analogous, as is the sinuous way in which the robes fall to the ground. The vibrant and multifaceted handling of our Angels’ spiralling curls is reflected by the swirling locks of the unruly child sitting on Charity’s lap, modelled with comparably incisive vigour. A similar headdress appears in the Battle between Knights and Soldiers from the Rucellai collection, today in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, where the figure that serves as the composition’s apex displays a vivacious and tangled mane (fig. 4). Further confirmation of the Master’s authorship of the present Angels can be found in comparing the feet of our figures, elegantly clad in all’antica sandals, and those in the Charity group, all modelled in a pointed way, with distinctive phalanges. Similarly, the grounds that our candle-bearers, the Charity and the Rucellai Battle stand on all display the same type of jagged terrain and rocky formations. I would like to thank Professor Giancarlo Gentilini for his suggestions and for agreeing with the attribution to the Master of the Unruly Children. lorenzo principi
fig. 4 Master of the Unruly Children, Battle Scene, terracotta, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Loeser collection (formerly Casa Rucellai)
related literature W. Bode, ‘Versuche der Ausbildung des Genre in der Florentiner Plastik des Quattrocento’, Jahrbuch der Preußischen Kunstsammlungen Preußische Kunstsammlungen, XI, 1890, pp. 95–107 (republished in Bode, Florentiner Bildhauer der Renaissance, Berlin, 1902, pp. 253–79) A. Marquand, Giovanni della Robbia, Princeton, 1920 E. Panofsky, Studies in Iconology: Humanistic themes in the art of the Renaissance, New York, 1939 P. Bargellini, I Buonomini di San Martino, Florence, 1972 G. Gentilini and M. Bietti, eds., La Misericordia di Firenze: Archivio e raccolta d’arte, Florence, 1981 A. Butterfield and D. Franklin, ‘A documented episode in the history of renaissance ‘terracruda’ sculpture’, The Burlington Magazine, CXL/1149, 1998, pp. 819–24 L.A. Waldman, ‘Sculptor and perfumer in Early Cinquecento Florence: the career of Sandro di Lorenzo’, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, XLIX/1–2, 2005, pp. 119–32 P. Sénéchal, Giovan Francesco Rustici, 1474–1554. Un sculpteur de la Renaissance entre Florence et Paris, Paris, 2007 G. Gentilini, A Parigi “in un carico di vino”: furti di robbiane nel Valdarno, Figline Valdarno, 2012 A Taste for Sculpture. Marble, terracotta and ivory (16th to 20th centuries), exh. cat., ed. A. Bacchi, Brun Fine Art, London, 2014 L. Principi, The Master of the Unruly Children: River God and Bacchus, Trinity Fine Art, London, 2016
luigi valadier (1726–1785)
The Albani Faun, c.1775–80 After the Antique Bronze, on a turned Breccia Africana socle 21¾ in. (55.5 cm) high
fig. 1 Luigi Valadier, The Albani Faun, c.1775–80, 58 cm high (overall), Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, inv. BK–16945
This exquisitely cast bronze by the great Italian goldsmith and bronzier Luigi Valadier is a version of the famed Albani Faun, formerly in Rome’s Villa Albani, now in the Munich Glyptothek (fig. 2). Models of this “Busto del Fauno di Villa Albani” appear in the posthumous Valadier inventory published in 1810 and the elegant back supports on the reverse are typical of Valadier. The supports are identical to those on another version of this bust by Valadier in the Rijksmuseum (fig. 1), together with his bust of Sir Thomas Gascoigne in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, which is signed and dated 1778, and a portrait bust of J.J. Winckelmann from the same year. After training as a goldsmith, Luigi Valadier established a foundry in Rome in 1760 and initially made works inspired by the most revered ancient statues in the great Roman collections, like the present work, a number of which can be seen at Syon House, Middlesex, and in the Louvre. The Albani Faun, also known as The Laughing Faun, in the Munich Glyptothek (fig. 2) was formerly in the collection of the powerful Italian Albani family and was thought to have been kept in the bedroom of Cardinal Albani himself. The work originates from the Roman period, around 100 b.c., and is perhaps after a Greek bronze statue. The Faun left Rome for Paris as a result of the Treaty of Tolentino, signed in 1797, and was included as one of the hundred works of art claimed by Napoleon’s armies after their invasion of the Papal States earlier that year. Twenty years later, after the defeat of Napoleon, the allies instructed the great Neoclassical sculptor Canova to oversee the restitution of these objects. However, the Albani family were perhaps unwilling, or unable, to pay the transportation costs of returning their goods, so the Faun was sold in Paris to Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and then ultimately made its way to Munich.
related literature W. Halsema-Kubes, J. Leeuwenberg, A.F.E. van Schendel, Beeldhouwkunst in het Rijksmuseum, 1973, no. 700 F. Haskell and N. Penny, Taste and the Antique, New Haven and London, 1981, pp. 93–94 R. van Langh, F. Scholten, M. Verber and D. Visser, From Vulcan’s Forge: Bronzes from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1450–1800, London, 2005, p. 94, no. 27
fig. 2 The Albani Faun, c.100 b.c., 24 cm high, Glyptothek, Munich, inv. 222
santi buglioni (1494–1576)
Christ the Redeemer, c.1530–60 Terracotta with partial glazed polychromy 22¾ in. (58 cm) high 22¾ in. (58 cm) wide 8¼ in. (21 cm) deep
This solemn effigy of Christ the Redeemer – presented bust-length, wearing a simple tunic and a mantle fastened over his left shoulder – derives from a type established between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in Rome. This is attested by a miniature of 1435, depicting the brothers of the Confraternity of the Holy Saviour (Santissimo Salvatore ad Sancta Sanctorum), adoring a sculpted effigy of Christ, an Imago Christi, located atop an altar. The image of Christ is inspired by the iconography of the Saviour in the mosaics in the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, attributed to Jacopo Torriti. Jesus is portrayed here with “venerable” features, a “simple yet mature” aspect and an “amiable” expression, prone, however, to a certain “gravitas” and emotion. These qualities are those identified in the detailed description of Christ contained in a famous apocryphal letter ascribed to Lentulus, Governor of Judea – “the face without wrinkle or spot”, “the hair straight almost down to the ears, but below them wavy and curled, flowing over his shoulders”, “parted in two on the top of the head”; “the beard is abundant, of the colour of his hair, not long, but divided at the chin”. This type of representation of Christ enjoyed exceptional success in Florentine sculpture between the end of the fifteenth century and the early decades of the sixteenth century, in part due to the demands of private devotion and secular patronage, which were promoted by the spiritual, cultural and political reformation championed by Savonarola during the city’s Republican period (1494–1512) and were favoured by the proclamation in 1494 of “Christ King of Florence”. Variedly interpreted by the sculptors of the era, it was translated into a series of models repeated in terracotta and painted stucco, often through casts, mainly by artists in the circle of Verrocchio, such as Lorenzo di Credi, Andrea Ferrucci, Pietro Torrigiano and Agnolo di Polo, or in the workshop of Andrea and Giovanni della Robbia (Helas 2007). Yet our noble bust, modelled with vigorous, essential traits, carefully observant of the finest canons of proportion (indeed its height and width are equal to a Florentine braccio, or cubit, the unit of measure of the period, which corresponds to 58.36 cm), is unique in its iconography. Its appearance transcends that of the widespread models related to Verrocchio and Della Robbia, which share a pyramidal arrangement, curly hair and delicate, poignant features, moving instead towards a more majestic and austere feel, characterized by the hair’s more composed flow, a full-bodied physiognomy, thick beard and a calm and pensive expression, similar to that of an ancient philosopher, which all denote a carefully weighted adhesion to sixteenthcentury classicism. These formal qualities associate the present Redeemer with later and rarer terracotta examples by the circle of Sansovino (such as the ones in the Convitto della Calza in Florence or in the convent of the Santissima Annunziata, formerly attributed to Montorsoli, c.1530–40; see Ciardi Duprè Dal Poggetto 1987), and
fig. 1 Santi Buglioni, Frieze of the Ospedale del Ceppo (detail), partially glazed polychrome terracotta, Pistoia fig. 2 Santi Buglioni, Saint Paul (detail), partially glazed polychrome terracotta, Santa Maria a La Panca, Greve
suggest an attribution to Santi Buglioni, the protagonist of the last glorious season of the Della Robbia tradition. This is confirmed by several aspects discernible in our bust’s execution, such as the vibrant and essential modelling, the glazing limited to the robes in order to obtain greater naturalism for the figure of Christ, notably through the pink-ochre tone of the clay, the traces of cold painting, the intense palette of the enamels, and the presence of marks peculiar to the master’s oeuvre. Santi di Michele Viviani, known as Santi Buglioni, had inherited the prolific workshop founded in Florence in 1485 by his distant relative Benedetto Buglioni (Florence 1459/60–1521), which specialized in glazed terracotta sculpture of the kind established by the Della Robbia family (see Marquand 1921; Gentilini 1992, pp. 436–45). Benedetto Buglioni, remembered by Vasari in the second edition of his Lives (1568) as the artist “who retained the secret of glazed earthenware”, moved this tradition towards the taste of the ‘Maniera’, which he absorbed through collaboration with Niccolò Tribolo and therefore through contact with the circle of Michelangelo, whose effigy he had the privilege to model for the sumptuous funerary procession that took place in 1564 in San Lorenzo in Florence. Exemplary of the Buglioni workshop’s inclination towards the ‘Maniera’ is the vast glazed terracotta frieze for the Ospedale del Ceppo in Pistoia (1526–28), depicting the Seven Acts of Mercy – the true “monument of the della Robbia tradition” (Gurrieri 1982). Commissioned by one of the most refined patrons of the era, Bishop Leonardo Buonafede, it was conceived as a vivacious sequence of large, crowded scenes, featuring carefully studied twisting figures, their facial features vividly outlined, and bizarre and fantastical ornamental elements, which all denote a subtle move towards Mannerism. Santi Buglioni executed several of the figures for the Ospedale del Ceppo frieze, distinguished, as in the present case, by partial yet vivid polychromy and glazing, by prominent features such as the nose and eye-sockets, by the sculptural depth of both lips and forehead, and by the exuberant flow of beard and hair, outlined with deep and quick strokes of the stick or spatula (fig. 1). These parallels confirm the present bust’s attribution to Santi, and can also be detected in other works by the master from the third and fourth decades of the sixteenth century, such as the Saint Paul for the ciborium of Cintoia Alta, today in Santa Maria a La Panca, Greve (fig. 2), or
the lunette at San Pietro a Ponti, Campi Bisenzio, or, to an even greater extent, the masterpieces of his late glazed-terracotta production – the great altar representing The Pietà with Saints in the church of San Francesco at Villafranca Lunigiana or The Agony in the Garden at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, where, in the curly heads of the sleeping Apostles and of the suffering Christ, we can detect the same, intense gravitas as that of the present Redeemer. professor giancarlo gentilini
related literature A. Marquand, Benedetto and Santi Buglioni, Princeton, 1921 F. Guerrieri and A. Amendola, Il Fregio robbiano dell’ospedale del Ceppo a Pistoia, Pontedera, 1982 M. Ciardi Duprè dal Poggetto, in Tesori d’arte dell’Annunziata di Firenze, exh. cat., Florence, 1987, pp. 107–08 G. Gentilini, I Della Robbia. La scultura invetriata nel Rinascimento, Florence, 1992, II, pp. 436–45 I Della Robbia e l’“arte nuova” della scultura invetriata, exh. cat., ed. G. Gentilini, Basilica di Sant’Alessandro, Fiesole, 29 May –1 November 1998, Florence, 1998 P. Helas, ‘Ondulationen zur Christusbüste in Italien (ca. 1460–1525)’, in Kopf/Bild. Die Büste in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit, ed. J. Kohl and R. Müller, Munich and Berlin, 2007, pp. 153–209 I Della Robbia. Il dialogo tra le arti nel Rinascimento, exh. cat., ed. G. Gentilini, Arezzo, 2009