TOMASSO BROTHERS FINE ART
THE SCULPTOR’S MENAGERIE
THE SCULPTOR’S MENAGERIE
THE SCULPTORâ€™S MENAGERIE
THE SCULPTOR’S MENAGERIE TOMASSO BROTHERS FINE ART
THE SCULPTOR’S MENAGERIE
, , – Head of a lion
-, , , – Aryballos in the shape of a hedgehog
, – Lion mask
-, Crouching sphinx
, (–), circle of An oil lamp depicting Silenus astride a donkey’s head
, c. A seated lion, probably after the ‘Marzocco’ of Florence
(active c. –) The Medici Lion
(–) Pacing bull, c.
(–c. ) Pacing horse
(–c. ) Pacing lion
(–), attributed to Two pacing horses
(–) (c. –) Panther
(–) Écorché horse, c.
, Hawk resting on a branch
(active nd half of th century), attributed to An owl and a kingfisher in a river landscape
-, Pair of rearing horses
, ⁄ Rhinoceros
(–) Vixen and her cubs
, c. ( ) Boar hunt
’ , est. Écorché horse
, est. Set of twelve ornithological plates from the Audubon series, designed by Sidney Waugh, c.
(b. ) Seated silverback,
(b. ) Tiger,
, , – Head of a lion Basalt cm ( ½ in.) high . cm ( ½ in.) wide Private collection, Paris, early th century Private collection, Morocco, s Private collection, USA, until
, in modern-day Turkey, the Hittite civilization flourished between and , rivalling the neighbouring Assyrian, Babylonian and Egyptian empires. The heart of their kingdom was the city of Hattusa, its first capital, renowned today for the remains of its imposing Lion Gate, which rises at what was once the south-western entrance to the city. As in many ancient civilizations, lions in Hittite art often stand as guardians of portals, but also feature as attributes to deities or as part of hunting scenes and statue bases. Their appearance, as in the present case, is characterized by deeply carved eyes, circular ears below which begins the fold of the neck, incised with lines that allude to the mane, high cheekbones and open jaws and the hint of wrinkles under a stubby nose. A most intriguing portrayal of lions can be found at Yazilikaya, in the so-called ‘Dagger-god’ relief, in which a gigantic blade plunged into the ground is topped by a hilt consisting of a deity whose shoulders and legs terminate in lion heads. E. Akurgal, The Art of the Hittites, London, , pp. –
-, , , – Aryballos in the shape of a hedgehog Faience cm ( in.) high cm ( ¾ in.) wide Acquired in Alexandria, Egypt, by Captain George Fenwick-Owen, c. , and by descent
, vessels characterized by a distinctive shape consisting of a small round flask surmounted by a narrow neck, were traditionally used in ancient Greece to contain cosmetics or athletes’ oils. The present work belongs to a very specific group of aryballoi in the form of hedgehogs, datable to the sixth century , which offer a fascinating testimony to the encounter between Greek and Egyptian culture. The hedgehog represented in all vessels of this type, recognizable by its large ears, corresponds to the Hemiechinus auritus, or longeared hedgehog, which is native to Egypt and other Middle Eastern regions, but not to Europe. This, together with the fact that hedgehogs have a range of meanings in ancient Egyptian culture, mainly centred on the notion of rebirth, further roots the production of such aryballoi in Egypt, even though examples have been excavated in Greek outposts throughout the Mediterranean. Indeed scholars have identified Naukratis, a Greek trading colony on the Nile delta, as the original centre of production of these vases. Thus these objects have considerable significance as tangible proof of the cultural exchange between two of the most extraordinary civilizations of antiquity. V. Webb, ‘Archaic Mixed Style Faience Vessels’, in A. Villing et al., Neukratis: Greeks in Egypt, British Museum Online research catalogue, https://www.britishmuseum. org/pdf/Webb_Faience_vessels_SF_AV.pdf
, – Lion mask Bronze . cm ( in.) high . cm ( ⁷⁄₈ in.) wide
that this beautiful Roman lion-mask once adorned a monumental public fountain or fountain house (nymphaeum) somewhere in ancient Rome. A waterspout may have originally been incorporated inside its mouth, as they were in other lion masks of this type, so as to allow water to pour out of the lion’s gaping jaws in dramatic fashion. The design of this lion-head waterspout appears to derive from those on the simae, or roof gutters, of the ancient Heraion located at the mouth of the river Sele in Capo di Fiume, Southern Italy. The facial physiognomy, style and form of these carved lions – which are now to be found in the collection of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Paestum, Salerno – are very similar to those exhibited by the lion of our bronze mask. In the area, then a Greek colony, was conquered by the Romans, who founded Paestum. It is likely that at this point the Romans appropriated the composition and translated it into bronze. The design of the Heraion’s lionhead waterspouts appears in turn to have been inspired by the iconic Assyrian stone and bronze heads of roaring lions from the th to the th century .
-, Crouching sphinx Diorite stone . cm ( ¾ in.) high . ( in.) long
the Roman general Mark Antony and Queen Cleopatra, in the young Octavian, future Emperor Augustus, conquered the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt. Politically vanquished, Egypt nonetheless preserved its strong cultural identity, which gradually came to penetrate the lives of Roman citizens across the Empire. The present sphinx, a representation of perhaps the most iconic figure of ancient Egypt, is a small but poignant testimony of this phenomenon. Produced in the Roman province of Egypt at the height of the Empire, it embodies the persistence of Egyptian culture well beyond the vicissitudes of politics. Its miniature scale suggests our sphinx was created for a domestic setting, possibly as a gift or keepsake. Divine guardians against evil, their bodies part human part lion, sphinxes traditionally stood at the gates of sacred places, for example the Great Pyramids of Giza.
, (–) Circle of
An oil lamp depicting Silenus astride a donkey’s head Bronze . cm ( in.) high cm ( in.) wide
, this fine bronze oil-lamp would have responded to the widespread taste in the Renaissance for everyday objects endowed with playful references to antiquity. Here the combination of a young man – his head crowned with vine leaves and grapes – and a donkey represents an allusion to Bacchanalia, festivals in honour of the ancient god of wine Bacchus, whose companion Silenus would often be portrayed, inebriated, astride an ass. Once lit, the lamp’s flame would have emerged theatrically from the animal’s mouth. Stylistically, the lamp is closely related to the work of the famous Paduan sculptor Andrea Briosco, known as Il Riccio. Like this work, Riccio’s small bronzes present a distinctively expressionist modelling combined with a passion for the erudite themes that would have appealed to his audience in this university city. D. Allen et al., Andrea Riccio: Renaissance Master of Bronze, exh. cat., The Frick Collection, New York,
, c. A seated lion, probably after the ‘Marzocco’ of Florence Bronze . cm ( ³⁄₈ in.) high
recalls in pose and demeanour the civic lion of Florence, known as the Marzocco. Like a symbolic sentry, the Marzocco stood defensively at the corner of the dais in front of the Palazzo della Signoria, the city’s fortified mediaeval town hall. Exposed to the elements, the statue was replaced several times throughout the centuries, most famously in the early nineteenth century with a sandstone version by Donatello, originally executed in – (now in the Bargello Museum for reasons of conservation). Lions were certainly known in Florence by the end of the thirteenth century, when live ones were kept in cages in various public places, eventually – in – ending up behind the Palazzo della Signoria itself, where a street name, via dei Leoni, records their presence. The present statuette, seated four-square slightly projecting over its plinth, undercut at the front, distinctly resembles stone lions from newel-posts attributed to the workshop of Michelozzo di Bartolomeo, Donatello’s associate, in the monasteries of Santissima Annunziata and Sant’Apollonia. The much more fluid hair of the mane, however, and the fuller modelling of the muzzle suggest a date towards the end of the fifteenth century, and the influence of Andrea del Verrocchio or Bertoldo di Giovanni. A. Del Meglio, M. Carchio and R. Manescalchi, Il Marzocco – The Lion of Florence, Florence,
, Eagle Pietraforte stone cm ( ¾ in.) high cm ( ¹⁄₈ in.) wide Palazzo della Gherardesca, Florence
in different cultures since time immemorial, in Renaissance Italy the eagle was traditionally a symbol of divine power, as rooted in the iconography of the ancient god Zeus/Jupiter, famously adopted by the triumphant Roman military and, subsequently, Christendom’s Holy Roman Empire. Interestingly, the present work bears strong compositional similarities with an ancient Roman marble eagle formerly owned by Horace Walpole at Strawberry Hill and now in the collection of the Earl of Wemyss and March at Gosford, unearthed in Rome in the mid eighteenth century and dated to the first century . Its sharp gaze pointed upwards and its fiery claws facing the viewer, our eagle appears to be about to spread its wings, the long feathers hinting at their full might. Modelled in the round and carved in the warm, sandy pietraforte stone that is characteristic of Florence, this eagle would have stood proudly as an emblem of its owner’s power. G. Jackson-Stops (ed.), The Treasure Houses of Britain: Five Hundred Years of Private Patronage and Art Collecting, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., , pp. –, no.
(active c. –) The Medici Lion Bronze, with all’antica verdigris patina . cm ( ¾ in.) high . cm ( ¼ in.) wide Possibly made for Cardinal Ferdinando de’ Medici (later Ferdinando I, Grand Duke of Tuscany) for the Villa Medici on the Pincio Hill, Rome, c.
is well known by connoisseurs of sixteenth-century sculpture for his fine, small-scale bronze versions of ancient statues. The present lion shares the distinctive green all’antica patina exhibited by some of his models – a hallmark which at this specific time should be considered exclusive to da Barga. Furthermore, the lion’s facture and handling are of identical quality to the fully documented da Barga bronzes which can be found in the Bargello Museum, Florence. The present work’s firm attribution to da Barga is supported by the fact that the model takes as its prototype the lion carved by da Barga’s fellow sculptor Flaminio Vacca for their joint patron Grand Duke Ferdinando I de’ Medici as a pair to the recently excavated ancient ‘Medici Lion’. M. Hochmann, Villa Medici, Il Sogno di un Cardinale – Collezioni e artisti di Ferdinando de’ Medici, Rome, , pp. –, nos. –, illustrated pp. –
(–) Pacing bull, c. Bronze . cm ( ½ in.) high cm ( ¼ in.) wide
with a prodigious talent, in the s Barthélemy Prieur travelled to Italy to complete his training, returning to his native France to settle in Paris in . There he soon started working for several illustrious patrons, a success that culminated in , when he was appointed sculptor to King Henri IV. The monarch is known to have praised Prieur’s small bronzes, and it is likely that the artist had access to the royal collection’s bronze models by Giambologna (–), whose Pacing bull may have provided the inspiration for the present work. The first great master of exquisite bronze statuettes to have worked in Giambologna’s tradition in France, Prieur has since been highly sought-after by collectors. The high finish of our bronze and the visible traces of a rich red lacquer patina allow us to place it securely amongst Prieur’s best small-scale models. G. Bresc-Bautier, G. Scherf and J.D. Draper (eds.), Cast in Bronze: French Sculpture from Renaissance to Revolution, exh. cat., Musée du Louvre, Paris, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles,
(–c. ) Pacing horse Bronze, with a rich brown patina . cm ( in.) high . cm ( ¾ in.) wide
worthy of a late-eighteenth-century Gothic novel, “Francisco the one eyed Italian” appears instead in the Van der Doort inventory of the British royal collection as the author of a series of small-scale bronze statues of secular subjects. A native of Florence, Francesco Fanelli had settled in England by , the year King Charles I first granted him a pension of £. Having reached considerable fame in his motherland – especially in Genoa, where he had worked for prominent families such as the Spinola and the Durazzo – Fanelli must have captured the attention of the Stuart court thanks to the very fine quality of his casting and to the similarity of his style with that of the great Florentine sculptor Giambologna. Both aspects are beautifully illustrated by the present horse, with its subtle, descriptive modelling and its direct compositional reference to Giambologna’s bronze equestrian portrait of Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici in Florence. Characteristic of Fanelli’s modelling in our horse are the head bowed theatrically to one side, the untrimmed mane crowning the elegant curve of the neck, the right front leg gently lifted from the ground and the muscular yet smooth treatment of the body. J. Pope-Hennessy, ‘Some Bronze Statuettes by Francesco Fanelli’, The Burlington Magazine, xcv, , pp. – (reprinted in J. Pope-Hennessy, Essays in Italian Sculpture, London, , pp. –) Eike D. Schmidt, ‘Francesco Fanelli’, in A. Boström (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Sculpture, New York and London, , pp. –
(–c. ) Pacing lion After a model by Giambologna (–) Bronze cm ( ½ in.) high cm ( in.) wide
was Antonio Susini’s nephew and, after Antonio’s death in , took over his workshop in the via dei Pilastri in Florence, where he continued producing casts of Giambologna’s models. The Pacing lion is included in Filippo Baldinucci’s list of models after Giambologna that were cast by Gianfrancesco Susini. Rare versions of Gianfrancesco’s Pacing lion feature in some of the world’s most prestigious collections, including those of Robert H. Smith and the Prince of Liechtenstein, the Schloss Pommersfelden and the Castello Sforzesco in Milan. Susini’s fine stylistic signature appears in abundance throughout the present work. The delicate and refined chasing of the hair about the lion’s mane, for instance, is highly typical of Gianfrancesco’s technique and contrasts with Giambologna’s characteristically looser handling and Antonio’s somewhat more severe and highly finished surface. C. Avery and A. Radcliffe (eds.), Giambologna – : Sculptor to the Medici, exh. cat., Victoria and Albert Museum, London, , p. C. Avery, Giambologna – The Complete Sculpture, Oxford, , p. , no. , fig.
(–) Attributed to
Two pacing horses Bronze . cm ( ¾ in.) high . cm ( in.) wide
(–), Florence’s Grand-Ducal sculptor who had succeeded Giambologna on the latter’s death in , Ferdinando began his career working for the Spanish monarchy in Madrid. In he returned to Florence and, having inherited his father’s role at the Medici court, he also went on to become First Architect and First Engineer. Like Pietro, Ferdinando mainly worked in bronze, from his workshop and in the foundry at Borgo Pinti, producing large equestrian compositions but also smaller works such as the present pair. These finely modelled horses would have thus responded to seventeenth-century collectors’ fascination with small-scale renditions of monumental equestrian bronzes, most famously Giambologna’s Cosimo I in Florence and Philip IV in Madrid. Remarkably, however, our pair appears to be a unique composition, highly distinctive in its treatment of the horses’ anatomy and ornaments. It is also interesting to note that our horses – with their strong bodies, agile legs, and long manes elegantly arranged over their foreheads and necks – are reminiscent of the Andalusian breed, Spain’s most prized, and may therefore be an invenzione from Ferdinando’s years in Madrid. C. Avery and A. Radcliffe (eds.), Giambologna – : Sculptor to the Medici, exh. cat., Victoria and Albert Museum, London, , p. , no. A. Brook, ‘Sculptors in Florence During the Reign of Grand Duke Ferdinando II of Tuscany (–): Ferdinando Tacca and his Circle’, PhD thesis, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London,
(–) (c. –) Panther After a model attributed to Willem van Tetrode (c. –) Bronze, with a dark green patina . cm ( in.) high . cm ( in.) wide
and prancing with its left leg forward, yet maintaining perfect balance, the panther advances, silent and proud, its every muscle beautifully rendered by the artist’s soft modelling of the bronze. Throughout the eighteenth century Giacomo Zoffoli led one of the most prominent bronze foundries in Rome, specializing in models after the antique and Old Masters for the Grand Tour audience. The present work – listed in Zoffoli’s workshop catalogue as “Notomia di tigre” – was inspired by a famous composition ascribed to Willem van Tetrode, the artist credited with introducing the tradition of Italian Renaissance bronzes to the Netherlands. Indeed, over the course of almost twenty years in Italy, Tetrode worked with the most prominent sculptors of his age, including Benvenuto Cellini in Florence and Guglielmo della Porta in Rome. By he had returned to his native Netherlands, to Delft, but soon left again for Cologne, where his work is recorded by . He died in Germany in . By the eighteenth century, the Panther was a well-known and admired model, as its appearance in Zoffoli’s catalogue of works offered to Grand Tour visitors to Rome testifies. F. Haskell and N. Penny, Taste and the Antique, New Haven and London, , appendix F. Scholten et al., Willem van Tetrode: Sculptor (c. –), exh. cat., Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, and The Frick Collection, New York, , nos. –
(–) Écorché horse, c. Bronze, with a rich brown patina . cm ( ¹⁄₈ in.) high . cm ( ¹⁄₈ in.) wide F. Righetti, Aux Amateurs de l’Antiquité et des Beaux Arts, Rome, , p. , as “Chéval ecorchè de Mattei”
for his fine bronze statuettes after the antique, Francesco Righetti was highly sought after in late eighteenth-century Rome amongst Grand Tourists, who would have encountered in his workshop the models of the most illustrious sculptures of the age. Amongst these was the equine écorché – an anatomical representation of a horse with its skin removed so as to display the superficial muscles – that was once believed to be a study by Giambologna for the equestrian statue of Cosimo I de’ Medici. Though evidence to support such a theory has not to this day come to light, the pose of the Écorché horse certainly recalls the Flemish master’s famed Pacing horse, and an engraving in Carlo Ruini’s treatise Anatomia del Cavallo features an écorché closely comparable to the present model. These considerations strongly point towards a sixteenthcentury prime composition, possibly to be identified with the so-called ‘Mattei Horse’ (. cm high) now in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, documented in the Mattei collection in Rome from and subsequently in the possession of Cardinal Fesch (–), until sold in his estate’s sale. A fascinating visual testimony to the close connections between art and science throughout the ages, this écorché is at once a detailed anatomical study and a painstaking artistic tour-de-force, in which the animal’s every muscle is finely outlined to reveal both the beauty of nature and the sculptor’s bravura.
, Hawk resting on a branch Carved mahogany . cm ( ½ in.) high . cm ( ½ in.) wide
, the wood of choice in Georgian England, the present hawk is modelled with particular attention to detail and displays careful observation of nature, as its sharply defined feathers and penetrating, alert eyes testify. A commanding presence, with its wings elegantly arched and about to spread, this hawk may once have crowned a prominent family’s armorial. Objects of such quality would have been executed by the workshops of some of the best cabinetmakers, including Thomas Chippendale (–), William Vile (–) and William Hallett (c. –), and by expert wood carvers such as Sefferin Alken (–), who often collaborated with Robert Adam (–). It is interesting to note that masterfully executed animalia, especially birds, appear conspicuously in Chippendale’s famous chinoiserie furniture designs.
(active nd half of th century) Attributed to
An owl and a kingfisher in a river landscape Straw-work diorama . cm ( in.) high cm ( ½ in.) wide
, this fine diorama displays at once a careful observation of nature and a painterly feel for composition and landscape. Inspired by the still lives with birds that were so popular in England already by the end of the seventeenth century, the present work is also a testimony to a more delicate and less known type of composition, the diorama, which would have delighted viewers with its juxtaposition of two- and three-dimensional elements and various materials. A closely comparable portrayal of a kingfisher in straw, formerly in the collection of the renowned botanist Anna Blackburne (–), bears on its reverse the inscription Miss Greggs work – an elusive yet fascinating clue to the identity of the capable hands that fashioned these charming objects.
-, Pair of rearing horses Cast from models after Francesco Fanelli (–c. ) Bronze, mounted on Siena and Porto marble rectangular plinths . cm ( ½ in.) high . cm ( ½ in.) high, including base
has long been a favourite subject in the European art tradition. Important rearing and riderless examples in sculpture include the purportedly ancient Greek marble horses on the Quirinal in Rome. The Italian Renaissance saw a resurgence in the use of this dynamic equestrian composition, as famously exemplified by the designs respectively of Antonio del Pollaiuolo (c. –) and Leonardo da Vinci (–) for the monument to Francesco Sforza, commissioned in the early s by his son, the future Duke Ludovico. Leonardo again explored the arrangement with his studies for the fresco representing the Battle of Anghiari for the Salone del Cinquecento in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. The immediate models for the present pair appear to be Francesco Fanelli’s Leaping horses now in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello and in the Quentin Collection. The compositional arrangement and handling of our bronzes, very closely related to those of Fanelli’s pair, suggest they are likely to be period casts after the master’s models. H.R. Weihrauch, Europäische Bronzestatuetten: .-. Jahrhundert, Brunswick, , p. , pl. M. Leithe-Jasper and P. Wengraf, European Bronzes from the Quentin Collection, exh. cat., The Frick Collection, New York, , no. , pp. –
, ⁄ Rhinoceros Alabaster cm ( ½ in.) high cm ( ¾ in.) long
, Albrecht Dürer’s woodcut of a rhinoceros, the present sculpture similarly offers the viewer a carefully crafted portrayal of this fascinating beast – the rugged, crinkled, exceptional surface of its body here brought to life by the delicately speckled alabaster. Dürer had founded his representation on an anonymous description of an Indian specimen that had been taken to Lisbon from the Far East, an extraordinary occurrence in . By the mid eighteenth century, thanks to the development of private menageries and animal displays open to the public, the rhinoceros had become a more familiar, albeit still very rare, sight to European eyes. In this light, it is fascinating to note that our rhinoceros is nonetheless covered in the scales and plates prominent in Dürer’s woodcut, a testament to the master’s lasting influence.
(–) Vixen and her cubs Terracotta . cm ( ¾ in.) high, including base cm ( ½ in.) wide, including base Signed J. GOTT. Ft Sotheby’s London, June , lot (bought Poynter) T. Friedman and T. Stevens (eds.), Joseph Gott, –, Sculptor, exh. cat., Temple Newsam House, Leeds, , p. , no. G, as untraced
, this delightful terracotta group of a vixen with her cubs bears the signature of Joseph Gott, one of Britain’s foremost sculptors of the nineteenth century. Unique in the master’s surviving oeuvre, the present subject beautifully illustrates the type of animal sculpture that, alongside portraiture, is so indissolubly associated with Gott’s name. Freshly modelled in terracotta, the vixen looks up with vivacious eyes, whilst her cubs gather around her, in a simple yet carefully observed composition that skilfully captures the bond between the fox and her younglings. Comparable terracotta and marble groups by Gott feature greyhounds – one such work was famously acquired by the th Duke of Devonshire directly from the artist – or other animals, often playing with children.
, c. () Boar hunt Ivory cm ( ¼ in.) high . cm ( ⅛ in.) wide
, thanks to the evergrowing trade links between Asia and Europe, all manners of artefacts from the Far East became increasingly sought after by discerning Western audiences. Particularly prized were Chinese ivory carvings, which had first appeared in Europe as early as around . Over time, this interest led to the creation of exquisite pieces fashioned exclusively for the Western market, known today as ‘Chinese export ivories’. One such object is the present relief, modelled with extraordinary attention to surface detail and composition, as is characteristic of Chinese craftsmanship, yet representing a theme derived from and addressed to the Western tradition. Indeed the boar hunt, though also popular in Eastern cultures, was a subject especially dear to European art, immortalized by masters such as Peter Paul Rubens, Frans Snyders and Diego Velázquez, whose works may have reached Eastern ivory carvers through prints. The principal centre for the creation of export ivories was Canton, today’s Guangzhou, on the delta of the Pearl River by the South China Sea.
’ , est. Écorché horse Bronze cm ( ½ in.) high cm ( ½ in.) long Private collection, USA
represents a finely executed testimony to the lasting legacy and fame of the so-called ‘Mattei Horse’, the model which also inspired number in this catalogue. A model of comparable scale is recorded in the inventory of the contents of Giuseppe Valadier’s workshop as “Un basamento di marmo quadrilungo intagliato con sopra la Anatomia del Cavallo di metallo patinato” (a rectangular marble carved base with, above, the Anatomy of the Horse in patinated bronze). Versions of similar format to the Mattei Horse’s prime composition, believed to be the one now in the Bargello, Florence, are very rare. One is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Massachusetts ( cm high), another in the Torrie Collection, University of Edinburgh (. cm high), and a third is in private hands.
, est. Set of twelve ornithological plates from the Audubon series, designed by Sidney Waugh (–), c. Copper wheel engraved glass . cm ( in.) diameter Signed Steuben on plates, S on the Canada goose Estate of Consuelo Vanderbilt Earl (–), USA
, John James Audubon’s Birds of America series encompasses more than four hundred species, an extraordinary ode to the magnificence and variety of nature and the first such endeavour of its time. Praised for their intrinsic beauty and quality of craftsmanship, The Birds of America soon became a key element of the nation’s cultural heritage. Their choice as subjects for Steuben’s glass plates should therefore come as no surprise. Founded in the summer of by Frederick Carder and Thomas G. Hawkes in the New York State county of the same name, Steuben Glass Works was, up until its closure in , one of America’s most prestigious glass manufacturers. In the company came under the aegis of Arthur Houghton Jr. (–), a young, charismatic Harvard graduate, who would go on to become, amongst other things, chairman of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Philharmonic. With Houghton Jr. as president, Steuben attracted some of the most talented artists of the day, including the sculptor Sidney Waugh. His first commission arrived in , but his most famous work for Steuben certainly remains the Audubon plates, produced in the s. In , one set was part of the United States’ gift to HRH Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth, upon her marriage to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. The present set was in the collection of Consuelo Vanderbilt Earl, the formidable daughter of William K. Vanderbilt Jr. and Virginia Graham Fair, and niece of Consuelo Vanderbilt, Duchess of Marlborough. The birds represented, clockwise from top left, are: the ruffed grouse, barred owl, osprey, snowy owl, swallow-tailed kite, mountain quail, horned grebe, snowy egret, Canada goose, wild turkey, bald eagle and Arctic tern.
(b. ) Seated silverback, Bronze, of . cm ( ½ in.) high, including base . cm ( ¼ in.) wide, including base
, this silverback has just found a place to rest under a shady tree. Seemingly impenetrable, perched like a hermit on a pedestal of earth and reeds, he gently stretches one arm out, as if to acknowledge the viewer. With his masterful, vibrant modelling, Jonathan Kenworthy has beautifully captured this moment of encounter and contemplation, inviting the spectator to participate in the experience of his many travels to Africa, where the silverback resides. First introduced to the London art scene in , the year of the artist’s first journey to Africa, Kenworthy’s sculptures have since been exhibited widely both in the UK and internationally, prized for their bold, abstract marks punctuated with fine detail and for their extraordinary ability to convey movement and emotion.
(b. ) Tiger, Porcelain on a steel and concrete base, of cm ( ¾ in.) high cm ( ½ in.) wide cm ( in.) long
as an apprentice in Florence and teaching in London, James Webster returned to his native Suffolk to spend a year in isolation handcrafting a series of seven porcelain animal skulls – including the present Tiger – entitled ‘Trophies’. The series derives from Webster’s pursuit of the elusive anatomically perfect form, which has led him throughout the years to collect a plethora of diverse naturalia. The discovery of objects of beauty in nature engenders in the artist the desire not only to protect them, but to present them, to manifest his sense of achievement in physical form – to create a trophy. This tiger skull is hand-sculpted from life, in the finest porcelain from Limoges. Its surface is rendered in a bisque style to contrast with the glaze applied to the teeth. Fine details are sharpened through a process of ionization using LED (light-emitting diodes).
Catalogue by Emanuela Tarizzo and Elliot Davies, with thanks to Ian Thompson, Jonathan Kugel and Jeff Purtell Photographs by Doug Currie and Steve Russell Studios Produced by Paul Holberton publishing www.paul-holberton.net © Tomasso Brothers Fine Art
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