Preludio

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prelud io


Published by CAVAGNIS LACERENZA FINE ART Pizzetta Pattari 1/3 20122 Milano +39 02 82398401 info@cavagnislacerenza.art www.cavagnislacerenza.art

Catalogue Entries: Giulia Cavagnis Giovanni Lacerenza Text Review: Polly Brock Giada Rizzi Photo credits: Deniz Guzel, GPS Photography (I, II, III, IV) Marco Furio Magliani (V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII) Milano, Jan 2021 © CAVAGNIS LACERENZA FINE ART All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, without prior autorisation by the publisher.


preludio

Milano, Jan 2021



preludio As we welcome the new year, what better time to present our first catalogue. Entitled ‘Preludio’, our first collection indeed offers a prelude to our approach and expertise: presenting artworks of an exceptional calibre, supported by extensive provenance research and a special attention to detail. For this collection we have drawn together a trove of exquisite smaller scale works, each unique in their quality and outstanding workmanship. The artworks, though small in stature, more than make up for it in their beauty. The selection includes rare treasures from antiquity, complimented by fine examples from the Renaissance. Sculpture is the most tactile of all the media, and these little works are delightfully tempting. They range in size, with some of the pieces in this selection small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. The intimate scale of the artworks rewards close examination – each displays beautiful, minutely crafted details.


index

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II

III

IV

V

VI


VIII

IX

X

XI

XII

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VII


I. FIGURE OF DYONISOS Roman Empire, 1st Century A.D. Leaded bronze 8.3 x 5.1 cm 3 1/4 x 2 1/4 in

PROVENANCE English Private Collection (Sotheby’s, London 17-18 July 1985, Lot 204) Royal Athena Gallery Acquired from above in 1986 by M.K., St. Clair Shores, Michigan, USA EXHIBITED Ohio State University Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University Fitchburg Art Museum from 1986 to 2016 salem, 1997, no. 98



This bronze sculpture is an exquisitely detailed representation of the god Dionysos, whose cult was one of the most popular in ancient times. Here, the god is nude, with a mantle that gently lies on his right leg. He is holding a bunch of grapes with his left hand, and a rhyton (drinking horn) with the right. The god is youthful and joyThis bronze sculpture is an exquisitely detailed fully gazes forwards, with a crown of ivy leaves representation of the god Dionysos, whose cult set upon his long flowing hair. was one of the most popular in ancient times. Here, the god is nude, with a mantle that genThese features clearly resemble those of the lifetly lies on his right leg. He is holding a bunch of size Roman marble sculpture of Dionysos exhibgrapes with his left hand, and a rhyton (drinking ited at the British Museum, acc. no. 1861,0725.2 horn) with the right. The god is youthful and joylink. fully gazes forwards, with a crown of ivy leaves set upon his long flowing hair. This statuette was probably part of a larger composition and used as a decorative element These features clearly resemble those of the lifeapplied to a piece of furniture. Its finely wrought size Roman marble sculpture of Dionysos exhibdetails, as well as the attractive olive-green paited at the British Museum, acc. no. 1861,0725.2 tina led to its inclusion in the collection of the link. Fitchburg Art Museum for thirty years. This statuette was probably part of a larger composition and used as a decorative element applied to a piece of furniture. Its finely wrought details, as well as the attractive olive-green patina led to its inclusion in the collection of the Fitchburg Art Museum for thirty years.




II. HEAD OF ELEPHANT Roman Empire, 2nd Century A.D. Bronze 2.3 x 5 cm 1 x 2 in

PROVENANCE Leo Mildenberg (1913-2001) collection, Zurich English Private Collection Private Collection, Florida, USA EXHIBITED Cleveland Museum, Animals in Ancient Art from Leo Mildenberg Collection, 21st October-29th November 1981 PUBLISHED A.S. Walker, “Animals in Ancient Art from the Leo Mildenberg Collection”, Part III, Mainz am Rhein, 1996, no. 173 P.E. Mottahedeh, “Out of Noah’s Ark, Animals in Ancient Art from the Leo Mildenberg Collection”, Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem, 1997, no. 98


This beautiful cast bronze elephant head is a protome, which in ancient art was a decorative element consisting of a head - sometimes with part of the bust - of a human, animal, or fantastical figure. The present artwork was in fact probably part of a furniture piece, such as a couch or chair. Its features are extremely realistic, and resemble the large elephant head couch attachment once in the James Loeb collection, donated to the Staatliche Antikensammlungen in Munich, acc. no. 50 link. In classical times, animals often carried supernatural powers, or conveyed certain characters in the collective imagination. Elephants were symbols of strength, power and ferocity. They were extensively depicted in Roman households, as a representation of the supremacy of the Roman Empire. Besides exhibiting the skillfulness of ancient craftsmen, this sculpture is a testament to one of the largest ancient animal sculpture collections in modern times, once owned by Leo Mildenberg. Leo Mildenberg was the Vice President of the oldest bank in Switzerland, the Bank Leu, in Zurich, founded in 1755. He was also responsible for the exhibition and cataloguing of ancient coins, owned by the Bank. Dr. Mildenberg developed an interest in ancient history, with a particular appreciation for small, precisely carved bronze artworks.


This small but powerful bronze sculpture, was displayed in a temporary exhibition at the Cleveland Museum in 1981, titled “Animals in Ancient Art from the Leo Mildenberg Collection”, and the press release stated: “Leo Mildenberg, a director of the Bank Leu in Zurich, Switzerland, and one of the world’s foremost authorities on ancient coins, has over the past thirty years assembled an extraordinary collection of animal figures from ancient Near Eastern, Egyptian and classical cultures.”


III. FIGURE OF A GODDESS Greece, 1st half of 4th Century B.C. Marble height 36 cm height 14 1/4 in

PROVENANCE Mr. Severro, Les Lilas, 4 rue Guynemer, Paris, acquired in the 1970s



This fragmentary figure, now simply a torso, depicts an evocative goddess, caught in the act of gently raising her right arm (now missing), while holding a piece of peplos in her other hand. She is wearing the quintessential dress of ancient Greece, the chiton. The chitón was worn very long and with extremely wide folds: its volutes were gathered just below the breast and held by a belt (the so-called kólpos). To cap off her outfit, over the chitón is the péplos : a cloak made from a large wool quadrangle folded in two around the person and fastened to the belt, and here held at the side. A similar figure, also dated 4th Century BC, can be found in the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Statuette of Persephone, inv. no. 61.34 link.




IV. SEATED ZEUS OR SERAPIS Roman Empire, circa 2nd century A.D. Marble height 28.6 cm height 11 1/4 in

PROVENANCE European Private Collection, 17th/18th Century, based on restoration techniques Private Collection, Paris French private collection, acquired from the above in 1977 (Sotheby’s, New York, June 7th , 2012, no. 71, illus.) Belgian Private Collection


This god would have once forcefully held a sceptre in his hand, hence his identification as Zeus or Sarapis. He is seated on a throne and draped theatrically in a chiton. His right foot, knee, forearm and shoulder, left arm, and head were formerly restored, as can be observed from the remaining pin holes, drilled especially to insert the marble restorations. In the history of classical art, one of the most prevalent representations of Zeus is in the seated position. The iconography of this particular pose in fact perfectly represents the majesty of Zeus, father and lord of all deities and of humanity. The Greek sculptor Phidias created the most renowned depiction of the god - the famous gold and ivory seated colossus, once located in the central nave of the Temple of Zeus in Olympia. No longer in existence, in antiquity it was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This statuette could also be identified as the god Serapis. His cult was introduced in Egypt in 300 BC, and the god carries characteristics remarkably similar to those of Hades and Zeus. Being seated on the throne with a scepter in one hand like Zeus brought him even closer to the most powerful deity. A notably similar sculpture is part of the permanent collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, identified as a Statuette of Sarapis, inv. no. I-832 link.




V. RELIEF OF MALE TORSO Roman Empire, 2nd /3rd Century A.D. Dolomitic marble 19 x 11.6 x 7.5 cm 7 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 3 in

PROVENANCE Charles Callahan Perkins (1823-1886) Collection, Boston Gifted to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, on 1st January 1876, inv. no. 76.749 Deaccessioned on 24th September 2015 PUBLISHED Mary B. Comstock, Cornelius Clarkson: Sculpture in Stone: The Greek, Roman and Etruscan Collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1976, item 257



This muscular male torso probably comes from a larger relief, which would have decorated the front part of a sarcophagus. It likely represents the figure of a satyr, standing, with the right arm resting on the raised leg. A staff crosses his body, and there are still some traces of the beard on the upper chest. This position resembles that of the colossal sculpture of Poseidon exhibited at the Lateran Museums in Rome, a marble Roman copy of a Greek original dating from the 4th Century BC. The original surface is very well preserved, and it carries all the qualities of a long provenance history. This powerful sculpture was is fact originally part of the collection of Charles Callahan Perkins (1823-1886), one of the first North American art critics. Mr. Perkins, after living across Europe, taught the history of Greek and Roman sculpture in Boston, and was one of the first donors to the Museum of Fine Arts - donating several artworks through the years. The present sculpture was in fact gifted to the MFA in 1876 and formed part of the permanent collection until 2015 link. According to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Scientific Analysis of the marble was conducted with X-Ray Diffraction and determined to be Dolomitic. Reference: Harvard Lab No. HI215: Isotope ratios - delta13C +3.35 / delta18O -3.23, Attribution - Thasos-Cape Vathy, Justification Dolomitic by XRD.


VI. RELIEF WITH PUTTI HOLDING GARLANDS Northern Italy, 16th Century Marble 59 x 50 cm 23 1/4 x 19 3/4 in




In this white marble relief, two young cherubs, one at each side of the sculpture, hold an abundant garland enriched with entwined acanthus leaves and pinecones resting over a series of curling festoons. The theme of Putti holding garlands was very popular in the Italian renaissance. Some of the most renowned artists from that pivotal period often in fact included the scene in their paintings and sculptures. In particular, the theme was used in important funerary monuments created in the 15th Century, such as the tomb created in 1454-56 by Luca della Robbia for Benozzo Federighi. A few decades previously, Donatello had sculpted the admirable funerary monument dedicated to Giovanni di Bicci and Piccarda Bueri, housed in the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence, which also shows putti holding garlands. The work that is most similar to our own example is, however, the funerary monument made in 1406-1408 by Jacopo della Quercia for Ilaria del Carretto, a noblewoman from Lucca, link. The tomb, much admired by John Ruskin, features a rectangular base adorned by putti holding festoons carved in the marble. The similarities between Lucca’s tomb and our relief can clearly be noted in the figures of the putti and their pose, as well as the composition of the garlands.


VII. DAMASCENED BRONZE HANDBELL Attributed to Alessandro Bonaventurini Verona, 1559 Inscribed in Latin ‘BONIS NOCET QUIS PEPERCERIT MALIS’ (‘He Hurts the Good Who Spares the Bad’) dated on the inner rim ‘1559’, with the coat of arms of the Ganbicurti family Damascened and engraved bronze with original bronze clapper 11.5 x 8 cm 4 1/2 x 3 1/4 in PROVENANCE With Daniel Katz Ltd., London, early 1980s Michael and Jane Dunn, New York Frank Cowan, New York, 1990s and sold by his widow to Ross Levett, Maine, USA Private collection, USA, 2008



Handed down through generations and previously part of important collections, this fine handbell is an admirable example of Northern Italian 16th Century metalwork. Foliate ornaments and arabesque patterns decorate the damascened surface, which features armorials of the Ganbicurti, a noble family from Verona, on either side of the bell. Dated 1559 on the inner rim, the bell is also inscribed in Latin ‘BONIS NOCET QUIS PEPERCERIT MALIS’. The quote, which can be translated to ‘He Hurts the Good Who Spares the Bad’, is from Publilius Syrus (85 - 43 BC) a Roman slave from Syria, who by his wit and talent won the favour of his master who educated him and granted him his freedom. The handbell shows a smooth aged greenish patina with extensive gold and silver inlay remaining, and retaining the original bronze clapper. Handbells played an important role in the 16th Century and were also used as commemorative gifts for important occasions. Great Venetian and northern Italian handbells similar to this one are today part of significant museum collections -link- and an almost identical example is depicted on the desk of St Augustine in the celebrated painting by Vittore Carracio housed in the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni in Venice - link.



VIII. THE ANNUNCIATION TO THE SHEPERDS Italy,17th Century Painting on agate in an ebonised wood, gilt bronze and semi-precious stone frame 38 x 31 cm - 15 x 12 1/4 in with frame 14 x 8.5 cm - 5 1/2 x 3 1/4 in without frame




Although quite rare, across the centuries the art of painting on stone has generated many precious and exquisite artworks. This particular technique was employed by eminent Italian artists such as Sebastiano del Piombo, Titian and Leandro da Bassano, who challenged themselves to create wonderful pictorial compositions on timeless surfaces like lapis lazuli, agate, pietra paesina and others. The oval painting on agate presented here reveals the biblical episode of the announcement of Christ’s birth to the shepherds, depicted on the lower right of the composition, by angels floating and appearing perched among voluminous clouds. Perhaps by the hand of a Roman 17th Century artist, it has been suggested that the painting could also originate from Prague, where the technique of painting on stone was often employed in the creation of rich works of art. The picture is encircled by a sumptuous octagonal frame made at a later date and enriched with gilt bronze decorations with putto masks, and encrusted with semi-precious stones.


IX. YOUNG SATYR CARRYING A GOAT Veneto, 18th Century Bronze, marble base height 30 cm - 11 3/4 in (with base) height 18 cm - 7 1/4 in (without base)




Perhaps cast in an Italian workshop in the Veneto region, this fine bronze sculpture mounted on a circular giallo antico base represents a young figure carrying a goat on his shoulders. The figure can easily be identified as a satyr thanks to the pointed ears and goat-like legs and feet. Bronze depictions of satyrs and putti were quite popular in northern Italy and important examples of these representations are today housed in international museum collections. However, other examples of this specific subject have yet to be found. The scene here might depict the young Greek divinity Pan carrying a goat on his shoulder, as represented in a 2nd Century BC terracotta sculpture in the British Museum, accession number 1926,0939.44 link. Alternatively, the subject of this sculpture is perhaps linked to the ritual of the Dithyramb, the ancient Greek hymn sung and danced in honour of Dionysus by a chorus of singers disguised as goats and called Satyrs. According to Plutarch (Moralia, 257), the ritual featured a parade, in which a satyr holding an urn full of wine and some branches of vine was leading, followed by a satyr carrying a goat, then by a satyr carrying figs and at last by a satyr holding a phallus – all symbols of the worshipped God.



X. FAUSTINA THE YOUNGER Italy, 18th Century Marble 60 x 38 x 26 cm 23 1/2 x 15 x 10 1/4 in



Portraying the young daughter of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius and wife of Marcus Aurelius, this marble bust of Faustina the Younger is a fine Neoclassical version of the famed sculpture carved in Roman times, link. The Roman bust of Faustina Minor, donated in 1748 by Pope Benedict XV to the Capitoline Museums, rapidly became the most popular artwork in the museums’ collection, admired for its excellent condition and unusual hairstyle. The bust was so notorious that George Legge, Viscount Lewisham, asked Pompeo Batoni to portray him next to a plaster version of it – a symbol of his knowledge of Rome and the Capitoline Museums, link. In the neoclassical era, the bust of Faustina the Younger was reproduced, with slight alternations, and few versions of it are known of today. Among them, an extremely fine work has recently appeared on the London art market by the workshop of Bartolomeo Cavaceppi. Other versions of the bust, extremely similar to the one presented here, are those carved by the British artist Francis Harwood (1726 – 1783). After establishing himself in Florence, Harwood became one of the major providers of sculptures for English aristocrats on the Grand Tour, most of which were unsigned copies after the antique original. This bust, perhaps by the hand of the British sculptor, is set on a later pedestal and shows a charming patina consistent with its age.




XI. VIEW OF ST PETER’S SQUARE Workshop of Louis Barberi Rome, 19th Century Micromosaic in a gilt wood frame 20 x 17 cm (7 3/4 x 6 3/4 in) 31 x 35 cm (12 1/4 x 13 3/4 in) with frame Bearing label of the workshop of Louis Barberi, Rome.


The art of micromosaic was extremely popular in Rome, where, under the patronage of the Pope, skilled artists produced extremely detailed artworks often used as gifts to noblemen and diplomats who had the honour of meeting the pontiff. One of the most prolific workshops, located in Piazza di Spagna, was led by Gioacchino Barberi (1783-1857) who is acknowledged as one of the greatest mosaic masters since the discovery of his 1833 tabletop made for the Imperial Court of Nicholas I, link. In Gioacchino’s workshop, his son Luigi (also referred to as Louis), gained the experience necessary to create intricate and detailed fine compositions like the one presented here. Featuring a countless number of small blocks of stones, called tesserae, the mosaic represents a view of St Peter’s Square, depicted from a distance to fully incorporate Bernini’s colonnade embracing the visitors. The view, certainly one of the most sought after by 19th Century Grand Tourists, is set in a slab of black Belgian paragone marble and is enriched by a carved gilt wood frame.


XII. HERM OF DIONYSOS Italy, late 18th/early 19th Century Rosso antico marble 17 x 13 x 9.5 cm 6 3/4 x 5 1/4 x 3 3/4 in



Depicting the young god Dionysos, this herm sculpture shows him with an ecstatic expression, with his lips slightly parted and round cheeks. His long curled hair, falls over his shoulders, and is parted at the centre, covering part of his forehead. The head is surmounted by a deeply carved wreath, comprising ivy leaves and berries. A charming beaded necklace with additional ivy leaves decorates his chest. In Roman times, herms were quadrangular section pillars, surmounted by a sculpted head. Herms were originally quite tall, placed along the side of roads, at crossroads, at the borders of properties, and in front of doors to invoke the protection of the gods. With time, smaller versions were sculpted, and used as votive offerings in temples or inside homes. The present type is inspired by a Roman marble herm of the young Dionysos, of which several examples are displayed in museums worldwide. A very similar one can be found in the Staatliche Museen in Berlin, acc. no. Sk 127 link. In the 19th Century, Italian sculptors reproduced these types of artworks, often using coloured marbles such as rosso antico and giallo antico. They were then carefully waxed and given a polished appearance, as was fashionable in the era of the Grand Tour.