masterpieces from italian collections

masterpieces from italian collections

Auction

FLORENCE
Palazzo Ramirez Montalvo
Borgo degli Albizi,26
9 NOVEMBER 2016
7.00pm

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FLORENCE
4-8 November 2016
10am – 7pm 
9 Novembre 2016
orario 10 - 13
Palazzo Ramirez-Montalvo
Borgo degli Albizi, 26

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1 - 27  of 27 LOTS
201611090100100.jpg

ALTAR
ROMAN, 2ND TO 3RD CENTURY AD

Fine grain white marble, sculpted, polished, and finished off with using a drill, 58x46x42 cm

Bibliografia

G. Wilmans, Exempla inscriptionum latinarum in usum praecipue academicum, Berlino 1870, p. 172 n. 2542;

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, vol. VI, Inscriptiones Urbis Romae Latinae, pars II, Berlino 1882, n. 9889;

H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae Berlino 1906, vol. III, n. 7590

 

This altar is today missing its upper section; at the front, we find an inscription over nine lines:

diis manibus

d·avonio

thalamo

segmentario

patrono·bene

merito

d·avonius

heuretus·l·

fecit

 

To the Manes (and) to Decimus Avonius Thalamus, tailor, worthy master,

did Decimus Avonius Heuretus, freedman, build (this)

 

In the upper part on the edges we find two heads of Ammon, in his ram hypostasis, with thick hair and a curly beard, strongly marked in the visage’s deep chiaroscuro, and with large curved ram horns from which hang long tainies. On the lower edges we instead find harpies with lions’ bodies and women’s heads, large folded wings, depicted perching on their back legs whilst their front legs are erect. Their tails coil over the sides of the small monument. An oenochoe and a patera are sculpted in high relief on each side respectively, referencing the funerary libation honouring the dead. On both the back edges there is pilaster topped by an ionic capital, its trunk decorated by a motif of small lanceolate leaves. The base is molded.

Condition: lacking the upper part of the altar, whilst there are lacunae in the protome of Ammon and in the right harpy. There is a small lacuna in the base of the left pillar.

 

The epigraph of this small altar has been published three times: by Wilmas in 1870 in his Exempla inscriptionum latinarum in usum praecipue academicum, which locates it in Rome and specifies that it was described by Giovan Battista de Rossi and by Lanciani; then in 1873 in Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, vol. VI n. 9889 by Johann Heinrich Henzen, director of the Germanic Institute for Archaeological Correspondence in Rome, locating its provenance from the Corsi del Pinto vineyard between the cemetery of Callistus and the Church of Saint Sebastian; and finally by Dessau in 1906 in Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae.

It can thus be safely assumed that the altar, after being unearthed, was placed on the antiquities market where it was probably acquired by Baron Blanc to be later used not as a self-standing monument but as the basis for the statue of Artemis presented in the lot prior to this one.

As there are no ancient images of the altar in our possession, it is not possible to know whether the smoothing out of the upper part of the altar owes to its condition or whether it was purposefully carried out so as to obtain a surface which would almost perfectly correspond with the lower base of the statue of Artemis.       

 

Estimate   € 20.000 / 30.000
Price realized:  Registration
201611090100200.jpg

STATUE OF ARTEMIS

NEO-ATTIC CRAFTSMANSHIP, END OF THE 1ST CENTURY B.C.

Medium grain white marble, sculpted and polished, height 130 cm

 

The goddess is depicted facing forward, her left foot slightly advanced, and the left one stepping back, and she stands on a quadrangular base. She is wearing a long chiton which reaches down to her feet with scalloped, almost metallic-looking folds, and clings to the body accentuating its curves. On top of the chiton we see the drapery of a mantle, which flows down partly covering the dress with rich zigzagging folds, and is held fast by small fibulae on the left shoulder. The hair flows down to the breast in long curly braids, but is gathered at the back of her head. Across her chest, the goddess is wearing the balteus which served to carry her quiver. The right arm featured a held out forearm, which is now lost, whilst the left arm ran down her side to hold up her dress. The goddess is wearing thin sandals on her accurately modelled feet, whilst the back of the statue was worked on rather summarily, as it was probably not visible in its original location, but the glutes are evidenced nonetheless.

The goddess is represented iconically and conceived to be seen mostly from the front, and the attention of the observer is immediately captured by the rich drapery of the mantle which takes on an importance nearly superior to that of the figure of the goddess.

Condition: the statue is missing the head, the right forearm, and left arm; there are traces of a bronze grip for the anchorage of the left arm.

This statue can be compared with two similar ones, also depicting the goddess Artemis, and held respectively at the National Archaeology Museum in Venice (inv. n. 59, fig. 1) which comes from a 1587 donation by the Grimani family, and at the National Museum in Naples (inv. n. 6008, fig. 2), which comes from the Domus Olconii in Pompeii, and was unearthed in 1760.

The venetian statue, which comes from the Collection of Giovanni Grimani, a venetian patrician and patriarch of Aquileia, was donated to Republic of Venice together with the rest of the collection, and was already known in antiquity. It is a smaller statue than the one we present in our catalogue, as it is 111 cm tall, whilst the Artemis from the Blanc Collection can be considered life-sized, as it reaches 130cm even without the head. The Pompeii sculpture is the same size as the Grimani one, and it still has its head, which was used to make the mould for that of the venetian one which was also missing its head. Both these sculptures represent the goddess in an inclined pose, unlike ours which is instead standing. However, the attire of the female figure is similar in all three statues; this fact, together with the rendering of the clothes through regular and schematic folds (which point to the artist’s interest for the detail, which thus takes on a decorative value in its own right) and the tendency to compress the volumes of the statue, all lead to the typical features of Neo-Attic sculptural workshops, in particular those of the artists closest to the circle headed by Pasiteles.

Neoatticism is a sculptural current which arose towards the end of the Roman republic. It was Heinrich Brunn who coined the term in his 1853 Geschichte der griechischen Künstler, in which he contrasted the masters of classical Athens with those Attic artists whose names appeared mostly in Italy on inscriptions where they were followed by the apposition ᾿Αϑηναῖος, thus qualifying them as “Neo-Attic” sculptors. These artists’ production, dated mostly from the 1st century BC, varied from fully-fledged three-dimensional pieces to marble vases and even other objects with high-relief decoration.

Already in the mid-2nd century BC Hellenistic courts such as those of the Attalids in Pergamum and the Ptolemies in Alexandria were looking to classical sculpture from the 5th and 4th centuries as paradigmatic. Consequently, ancient pieces were copied and partly re-elaborated according to a late Hellenistic taste, thus creating a peculiar series of sculptures in which different styles are accosted and melded together into a new kind of unity. A characteristic production for Neo-Attic sculpture is constituted by portrait statues: these are pieces in which, starting from a well-known sculptural type, a portrait-head of the acquirer is added to the body. Among the most famous examples of this we may count the statue of Emperor Hadrian at the Museo Capitolino, whose body reproduces the type of Alkamenes’s Ares Borghese, and the statue of Empress Sabina in Ostia, which uses the type of Kallimachos’s Venus Genetrix.

Since our statue lacks its head, it is impossible to know for certain whether it used to depict the goddess Artemis with her attributes, or a roman citizen who wished to be depicted in the guise of a goddess.

 

Comparative literature

G. Traversari, Sculture greche e romane del Palazzo Reale di Venezia, Venezia 1970;

Pompeii A.D. 79, catalogo della mostra, Boston 1978, p. 147, n. 82;

L. Sperti, Rilievi greci e romani del Museo Archeologico di Venezia, Roma 1988;

Le Collezioni del Museo Nazionale Archeologico di Napoli, Roma 1989, I, 2, p. 146 n. 257;

I. Favaretto, M. De Paoli, M.C. Dossi (a cura di), Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Venezia, Milano 2004

Estimate   € 80.000 / 120.000
Price realized:  Registration
201611090100300.jpg

Amykos Painter

(active 430-410 BC)

LARGE RED-FIGURE PSEUDO-PANATHENAIC AMPHORA, LUCANIAN

Orange clay, black, white, and yellow paint, orange colouring, modelled on a fast lathe. Tall reverse tapered nozzle, tapered concave profile neck with moulded ring, oblique shoulder, ovoid body with elongated lower extremity, ribbon handles attached from the base of the neck to the shoulder, echinus-shaped foot. Height 68 cm, diameter at the hem 18.9 cm

 

This find has been declared of cultural interest in accordance with the D. LGS 42/2004.

 

Accompanied by a letter written and signed by A. D. Trendall attributing the piece to the Amykos Painter, dated March 2nd 1965, and by a thermoluminescence certificate from Arcadia – Milan dated February 2016

 

The vase’s the elongated lower section and the bottom of the foot are executed in relief; the neck features a chain of small seven-leaf fan palmettos framed by gyrals; on the shoulder and at the base of the handles we find a faux-fluted motif; beneath the handles there is a large fan-shaped eleven-leaf palmetto in between two pair of gyrals and flower motifs; beneath the first series of figures we find a ionic kyma, beneath the second a right-bearing meander, interrupted by a cross motif; on the foot conjunction we find a sunburst motif.

The decoration is divided into two superimposed bands, divided up between the two sides. Side A: on the shoulder we find the figure of a naked warrior, seen from the side and leaning to the right, wearing a long-crested Corinthian helm raised on the forehead, a draping himation on the shoulders which runs down to the forearms, together with a long spar and circular shield bearing the image of an octopus with moving tentacles. The young man is shown between two maidens, dressed analogously and wearing a tainia in their curly hair, a pleated peplum held in place on their shoulders by two fibulae and by a belt on their waist, a draped himation over the shoulders and the arms, which move one to the right and the other to the left. The scene is completed on the sides by two naked young man bearing a spear, and wearing a himation over their forearms; one of the two is also wearing a cone-shaped helm; both youths are looking towards the central figure.

Side B: scene from a gymnasium, with at its centre a naked youth, turned to the right, wearing draped himation on his forearms and bearing a long spear in his left hand, he is about to shake hands with the pedagogue, shown to be old and bald, and who in turn is turning to the left towards the youth, with part of his naked chest revealed by the chiton, and holding a long T-shaped stick in his left hand. Behind him we see another naked youth, turning by three quarters to the left, with a pair of spears in his left hand and the right foot boldly represented in perspective. On the opposite side of the scene we find a facing pair featuring a male athlete and a young woman wearing a pleated peplum and holding a small oinchoe in her right hand, which she using to pour wine into the patera which the young man is holding out to her. The athlete is, as is customary, depicted in the nude, with a tainia on his head, a himation over his forearms, a spear in his left hand and a large circular shield resting on the ground and on his groin.

In the lower band, starting from a Doric column situated below one of the handles, and which is meant to recall the trabeation of a building, we see a complex scene unfolding, in which male figures of naked athletes with draped cloaks over their arms or carrying spears and clubs in their hands are shown chasing a group of young women wearing pleated peplums and tainias, some of whom are also carrying plants in their right hand. At the centre we see a naked and winged cupid-like figure, who turning to the left is running after a young girl carrying a plant in her left hand; below one of the handles we see a naked young man sitting down on a rock on the right and looking behind him, with a stick in his right hand, he is looking at a woman who is moving towards him with a mirror in her right hand.

Fitting comparisons can be made in terms of shape and decoration with a panathenaic amphora held in Naples (inv. 2416 and 2418), and with another one held in Munich (inv. 3275).

Condition: whole, some incrustation, minor nicks.

 

The Amykos Painter, who operated during the final thirty-odd years of the 5th century BC, is the most important of the proto-Lucanian painters, as declared by A.D. Trendall, the most influential student of Magna Graecia ceramography. The vases produced by this painter known to us today are almost 250, and have been found all across Italy, from Syracuse to Marzabotto, but we know of some vases coming from as far as Albania.

It is thought that the painter was born in Athens, were he began his activity of ceramography, and that he later moved to Magna Graecia, probably to Metaponto, where he continued to work under the guidance of the Painter of Pisticci.

The first phase of the painter’s production, in terms of style and content, was very close to the work of the Painter of Pisticci, so much so that it is often difficult to tell the two apart. Later on, the work of the Painter of Amykos began to find a more marked individuality, developing his own mannerism and departing from original attic models. The frequent scenes depicting amorous chases and bearing a decidedly Dionysiac character feature female figures that are slender and stiff in their clothing, as is the case with the present amphora.

The later production of the Painter of Amykos shows how much he departed from the style of the Painter of Pisticci. However, between his last and first work we nonetheless find an uninterrupted continuity, so much so that Trendall argued that the Painter of Pisticci and that of Amykos were really two phases in the work of a single person; given the current state of research on the matter, however, we do not have the material elements necessary to assert with certainty that the vases of the Painter of Pisticci are the first works of the Painter of Amykos.

The eponymous vase of the Painter of Amykos is a wonderful hydria held in Paris in the Cabinet des Médailles (inv. n. 442) (figg. 1-2) which depicts the giant Amykos tied to a rock, surrounded by Medea and the Argonauts together with satyrs and maenads, the painter’s favourite figures.

According to the Greek legend, Amykos was the son of Apollo and of nymph of Bithynia, and was the king of the Bebryces. Amykos would not let any foreigners land on his domains or draw from the spring near the harbour, unless they first bested him at a boxing match. When the Argonauts landed, however, he was beaten by Pollux, and then tied up or, according to some versions of the myth, killed. The invention of the leather band boxing gloves used by the Greeks was traditionally attributed to the giant.   

 

 

Comparative literature

N. Moon, in Papers of the British School at Rome, XI, 1929, p. 37;

C. Watzinger, in Furtwängler-Reichhold, III, 1932, pp. 346 ss.;

F. Magi, in Rendiconti della Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia, XI, 1935, p. 119 ss.;

A. D. Trendall, Frühitaliotische Vasen, Lipsia 1938, pp. 12 ss.;

A. D.Trendall, Handbook to the Nicholson Museum, Sydney 1948, pp. 317 ss.;

A. D.Trendall, Vasi antichi dipinti dal Vaticano: Vasi italioti ed etruschi a figure rosse, Città del Vaticano 1953, pp. 2 ss;

A. D.Trendall, A. Cambitoglou, The Red-figured Vases of Lucania, Campania and Sicily II, Vol. I, Oxford 1967, p. 45 n. 218a;

A. D.Trendall, Red-figured Vases of South Italy and Sicily, London 1989, pp. 20-21 nn. 11-19

Estimate   € 30.000 / 50.000
Price realized:  Registration
201611090100400.jpg

David Willaume I
(Metz 1658-London 1744)

EWER, LONDON, 1700                                                         
silver gilt, 30 cm high, 2075 gr.   


The ewer stands on a circular foot with gadrooned rim. The ewer's base is decorated with leaves and the central part is enriched by an engraved coat of arms among foliage motifs. The top of the border is decorated with the face of a putto surrounded by a leaf. The handle, finally chased, has the form of a female figure.

 

Comparative literature

H. Honour, Orafi e argentieri, Milan, 1972, pp. 138-140.    

                                                  

 

David Willaume was born in 1658 and was the son of Adam Willaume, goldsmith of Metz in France. His family of protestant origin moved from England to France to flee the persecutions of the Huguenots under Louis XIV.

The earliest document about Willaume in London goes back to 1687 when he received the British naturalization certificate. In 1688 he registered his trade mark, the initial letters D W among fleur-de-lis, and in 1693 he was admitted to the goldsmith's guild. Unlike the other Huguenot goldsmiths, migrated to England, Willaume never took advantage for his activity from the funds made available by the royal generosity. In 1690 he married Marie Mettayer.

He was a refined silversmith who could benefit from the protection of the most important English families, creating for them works with impeccable craftsmanship. In his production this artist followed a "Huguenot style", rich in moulding and in fused elements chased with fantastic figures.

Among the most important works of this artist, still preserved today, there are an ice bucket to keep the wine cold and a wine fountain carried out for the fifth Early of Meath in 1708, later purchased by George II when he still was Prince of Wales. These two works belong today to the collection of the Duke of Brunwick.

Characteristic of Willaume's production is also the ewer, that we propose here (Fig. 1), which is similar to the one stored today in the Victoria and Albert Museum of London. 

 

Estimate   € 10.000 / 15.000
Price realized:  Registration
201611090100700.jpg

Gio Ponti

(Milan 1891-1972)

COFFEE TABLE, 1937

Chestnut briar root and crystal

Made by Giordano Chiesa

Height 40 cm diameter 108 cm

This piece is accompanied by an certificate of expertise issued by Gio Ponti Archives and dated September 7th 2016

 

Provenienza

Gio Ponti. Una Collezione, Sotheby’s, Milano 18 aprile 2005, lotto 48;

Milano, Collezione privata

 

A key figure in Italian design, Gio Ponti is the main author of the renewal of Italian decorative arts in the 1920 and ‘30s. During a time of great stylistic uncertainty, he took up the call for a return to classic design which was winding around Europe at the time, but coupled it with an openness towards experimenting with new materials. He dedicated his inexhaustible creativity both to architectural design and to the creation of objects and furnishings. He soon became a reference point and example for his contemporaries.

His designs remained for the most part faithful to the principles of comfort and elegance, but constantly proposed new shapes – reticulates, grids, scalloping – which now mark out his era and are thoroughly imitated by today’s production.

In the mid-1930s, Ponti projected a small table characterized by an intricate grid, for the furnishing of only a select few residential commissions. The shape of the table, elegant and complex, gives an idea of solidity, but at the same time the combination of empty and solid spaces gives the table a relative lightness, an impression underlined and in some way strengthened by the crystal surface. While the grid motif, which often recurred in various forms throughout his work from the thirties to the fifties, represents an invention by Ponti, the detail of the tapered leg clearly echoes the neoclassical inspiration that dominated his designs between the end on the 1920s and the beginning of the ‘30s.

But proof of his artistry lies also in how he managed to elegantly intertwine traditional materials, such as the beautiful chestnut briar roots, with modern and refined resources such as crystal.

We know that in those years Ponti placed variants of this table in a number of different commissions, including the residence of the Cantoni family in Mantua (1935), Casa La Porte (1935) and Casa Borletti (1936) in Milan. Each time, however, he added small variations in scale and materials, thus always obtaining elegant new developments though remaining within the same style and classical inspiration.

 

LA CASA DI MODA

Tanti ci chiedono: dunque non si usa più l’arredamento “in antico”? Si usa l’arredamento moderno?

Se fossi un sarto per appartamenti io direi: Sì, a Parigi tutti fanno arredamenti moderni: i raffinati fanno degli interni meccanico-razionali arredati anche con mobili 1830, i raffinatissimi fanno camere tappezzate in pergamena, in “glauchat”, in paglia… Questo, Signore e Signori, è l’arredamento di moda per il 1928.

Ma io non sono un sarto, io sono un Architetto. Non è il moderno di moda che mi interessa, è stato di moda che mi interessa; è stato di moda anche il “liberty”, tutto è stato di moda e quelle che ci paion oggi le più brutte cose sono anch’esse state di moda: l’accedere ad una cosa attraverso la moda è la via più superficiale, irresponsabile, vile, indegna di noi.

 

Un’altra cosa vi chiedo o vi dico come Architetto: non fatevi la Casa secondo la moda ma secondo l’intelligenza e con un’amorosa cultura ed un nostrano buon senso.

La casa serve per la nostra vita materiale, deve avere tutti gli accorgimenti di costituzione e di funzionamento per essere utile, pratica, comoda, igienica, semplice a governarsi.

La casa accompagna la nostra vita, è il “vaso” delle nostre ore belle e brutte, è il tempo per i nostri pensieri più nobili, essa non deve essere di moda, perché non deve passare di moda.

 

Voluta, costituita, arredata con amorosa comprensione di queste sue funzioni materiali ed etiche, la nostra abitazione sarà la vera nostra casa, sarà la dignitosa dimora dell’Uomo e rappresenterà non le tracce di mode caduche e successive ma la testimonianza della nostra intelligenza, della nostra vita, della nostra cultura e della nobiltà delle cose che amiamo.

 

GIO PONTI, in “Domus”, Agosto 1928

 

 

 

Comparative literature

“In visita alle case”, Domus, maggio 1937 n. 113, p. 41 fig. 5;

U. La Pietra (a cura di), Gio Ponti, Milano 1995, p. 58 fig. 133; p. 61 fig. 139 (per esemplari simili);

F. Irace (a cura di), Gio Ponti, Milano 1997, p. 33 (esemplare analogo, citato come “tavolo per l’appartamento del signor B.”);

I. de Guttry, M.P. Maino, Il mobile déco italiano, Milano 2006, p. 221 fig. 37 (esemplare simile, fotografato nella casa di Ponti a Milano);

U. La Pietra, Gio Ponti. L'arte si innamora dell'industria, New York 2009, p. 61 fig. 139

 

 

 

 

 

Estimate   € 30.000 / 45.000
Price realized:  Registration
201611090100800.jpg

GIOVANNI BATTISTA PIAZZETTA

(Venezia 1683 – 1753)

Coppia di musicanti

Gessetto nero e rialzi a gessetto bianco su carta vergellata. mm 397x310

 

Provenienza

Collezione privata, Roma

 

Bibliografia di rferimento

A. Mariuz, Opera completa del Piazzetta, Milano 1982.

G. Knox, Piazzetta, Washington, 1983.

AA.VV., G. B. Piazzetta. Disegni, Incisioni, Libri, Manoscritti, Vicenza 1983.

 

 

Il primo ventennio del XVIII secolo fu testimone di un cambiamento di gusto della grande committenza privata veneziana. Le grandi composizioni di genere storico o religioso, fino ad allora testimonianza di fedeltà ai canoni etici stilistici degli illustri antenati, iniziarono a decadere in favore di un gusto più estetico e decorativo, funzionale ad un ruolo dell’arte più orientata all’intimità e all’eleganza dei ricchi ambienti domestici dell’aristocrazia e dell’alta società mercantile della Repubblica Veneta.

Questa sorta di riconversione al nuovo gusto, non fu indolore per molti grandi artisti dell’epoca. Giambattista Tiepolo, dopo aver ultimato le decorazioni per il grande salone Dolfin, si trovò per quasi dodici anni privo di committenze significative, impreparato all’evolversi del gusto delle classi emergenti.

Più pronto a cogliere il cambiamento fu invece Piazzetta che, sull’onda già percorsa dalla ritrattistica di Rosalba Carriera, si cimentò, già intorno alla seconda metà degli anni Venti, nella produzioni di ritratti e soggetti di genere, oltre ad assumere un ruolo, prontamente recepito e consacrato, di illustratore di libri nel gusto rococò.

L’adeguamento al nuovo genere fu profondamente influente in una nuova concezione del disegno e delle motivazioni del suo collezionismo. Le opere su carta assunsero inatti il connotato di opere autonome;

svincolate dalla funzione propedeutica alla pittura e, affrancate dal collezionismo “di gabinetto”, risolsero la funzione di oggetti da esporre dietro i “cristalli”, i costosi vetri vanto delle “fornase da speci” delle manifatture veneziane. A chi non poteva permettersi i preziosi pastelli della Carriera o i piccoli olii di Pietro Longhi, venne in soccorso la prolifica produzione di incisioni di Marco Ricci, Canaletto e Marieschi o i d’après Pitteri, numerosi nelle ricche dimore veneziane.

Proprio la traduzione dei disegni di Piazzetta in incisione fu uno dei segnali più evidenti del nuovo corso. Nel 1739 Pietro Monaco nel primo volume della “Raccolta” inserì 4 tavole da Piazzetta. Nel 1742 Marco Alvise Pitteri ottenne il privilegio privativo per la riproduzione delle celebri 15 teste (fra le quali quelle degli apostoli), mentre l’anno seguente Giovanni Cattini eseguì 14 tavole nel suo Icones ad vivium expressae con il ritratto di Piazzetta derivato dal disegno acquistato dal console John Smith, oggi a Windsor (Inv. 0754). Infine, Johann Lorenz Haid, e Johann Gottfried Haid, ispirati alle traduzioni di Cattini e a nuovi fogli del maestro. Il grande successo editoriale delle incisioni dalle teste di carattere, durò ben oltre la morte di Piazzetta; Teodoro Viero infatti intorno al 1760 ottenne ancora il privilegio per la pubblicazione di 12 “teste capricciose”, durata fino al 1780.

La Coppia di musicanti, fino ad oggi mai pubblicata, si colloca esttamente in questo contesto storico ed estetico. Il registro compositivo della coppia di figure, giustapposte in ravvicinata prospettiva fino al riempimento del foglio, è comune ad un corpus nutrito di altri disegni del maestro veneziano e della sua bottega.

La struttura tonale, resa con sapiente e modulata pressione del gessetto nero e netta lumeggiatura bianca, risponde coerentemente allo scopo di creare un’opera dotata di propria autonomia compositiva.

La figura del giovane flautista in primo piano, ritrae Giacomo Piazzetta, il figlio dell’artista intorno ai 17 anni; circostanza che consente una datazione dell’opera intorno al 1742. Lo stesso impianto con la figura del giovane figlio ricorre nel Il suonatore di violino e in Giovanetta e ragazzo con trappola, entrambi presso la Galleria dell’Accademia a Venezia (Inv. 323 e 321), mentre in figura singola offre il profilo nel Ragazzo con il flauto (Knox, 33A) della collezione Mongan datato da Knox fra il 1743 ed 1745 e ritenuto vicino al dipinto di Dresda Giacomo recante uno stendardo (Mariuz, 87).

Estimate   € 25.000 / 35.000
Price realized:  Registration
201611090100900.jpg

Limoges, mid-16th century

JUNO REJECTING PSYCHE

Copper plate with enamel and gold, 21 cm diameter

On the back, gold-painted monogram placed between leafed branches, surmounted by a crown

 

 

Footless, this plate presents a wide flat cavetto and an ample horizontal brim, entirely painted in polychrome with cold gilding. The centre of the scene is occupied by two goddesses, placed in front of a palace with leafed trees and a starry sky in the background: Juno receives Psyche, who is kneeling down before her and imploring her, but Juno must reject her so as not to wrong Venus. The scene is framed by a gold-painted band arranged into a twisted ribbon motif, surrounded by the grotesques decorating the brim, which features four couples of salamanders with satyr-like visages, each couple alternating with a total of four female faces, and surrounded by gilded branches.

 

The scene is a faithful reproduction of an engraving by Maestro del Dado (fig. 1), drawn from the cycle of “The Story of Psyche” (n.20), which includes works deriving from drawings inspired by Raffaello and attributed by Vasari to Michel Coxie, whom Maestro del Dado met in Rome in 1523, which is when the cycle is dated from. These drawings echo similar frescoes found in the Loggia of the Farnesina, which were destroyed during the 1527 Sack of Rome. The myth, recounted by Apuleius in his Metamorphoses (books IV-VI) and included by Boccaccio in the Genealogia Deorum, tells the story of Psyche and Cupid. Venus, jealous of Pysche’s great beauty, charges her son Cupid with making her fall in love with the ugliest man on earth. The mission however fails, and Cupid himself ends up falling for Psyche. Through the intercession of an oracle, he manages to keep her shut away in a castle where he visits her only under cover of darkness. However, Psyche, instigated by her sisters, breaks the rule against looking at her lover’s face. Cupid feels betrayed and abandons her. Torn apart by pain, Psyche attempts suicide many times, but is always saved by the gods, until she decides to go to the temple of Venus to ask for her help. The goddess, Cupid’s mother, subjects Psyche to a number of trials through which she will regain the love of her son. Only at the end of the story, exhausted both physically and mentally, does Psyche receive the assistance of Jove, who, moved to compassion, makes it so that the two lovers are reunited. Psyche becomes a goddess and marries Cupid at a feast on Mount Olympus.

 

The back of the plate, decorated in the centre with a monogram placed between laurel branches and surmounted by a lilied crown, immediately appears to be a reference to the French king Henry II (fig. 2) and his lover Diana of Poitiers, as well as to the castle of Anet. Diana, first born of John of Poitiers, married Louis of Brézé, Count Maulevrier, in 1515, and bore him two sons. Widowed in 1531, she became a few years later the favourite of the Duke of Orleans, who would later become king under the name Henry II. Diana was able to draw full advantage from her position as the king’s favourite, so much so that even Catherine de’ Medici had to yield to her influence. Not only did she receive the Duchy of Valentinois and the castle of Chenonceau as gifts from the king, but she even had him finance the construction of the new castle of Anet, designed by Philibert Delorme, France’s most famous architect of the time, in 1547 (fig. 3). A replica of a bronze alto-relievo by Benvenuto Cellini (the original is found today in the Louvre) was placed at the gate of the suburban palace, depicting a nymph or perhaps the goddess Diana, naked and beautiful, exhausted by the hunt, as a clear reference to the handsome lady of the castle.

 

The precious character of this artefact is further confirmed by the technique of its execution: enamel, coupling vitreous pastes and metallic surfaces, used as support, through a process of oven melting. This technique lies in between those of the glassmaker and goldsmith, and is used whenever it is necessary to add colour to precious metals. The plaque is covered in melt on both sides and is heated a first time; the downside is thus protected while the upside may be decorated through the superimposition of different layers of coloured enamel, laid over with a spatula, with successive further heating which melds together the enamel. Applying colour with a brush allows to highlight certain details, whilst thin sheets of silver- or gold-leaf, called “paillons”, give the piece a notable brightness. Known since antiquity, the enamel technique evolved over the centuries until, over the course of the 12th century, the “champlevé” procedure was introduced, in which the use of enamel prevails over that of metal until the latter virtually disappears from the picture. The first half of the 14th century saw the progressive affirmation of painted enamel, which given its pictorial character could draw on the models already used by painting and iconography, including prints and drawings. Usually, the drawing was executed in bistre black with a paintbrush on the “fondant” white enamel base. Later, following the lines thus traced, the coloured enamel would be applied with the spatula, so that after heating the effect would be similar to that of a pen-drawing. Precisely Limoges, in central France, was – from the middle ages to the 17th century – one of the main European centres of enamel production. Particularly interesting are Renaissance enamels, produced principally during the 16th century, when the art of using enamel was renovated according to contemporary taste by master artists, such as Léonard Limosin, who invented a technique for painting with enamel on copper tablets.

 

 

 

Estimate   € 12.000 / 18.000
201611090101000.jpg

Ginori Manufactory, Doccia

SNUFFBOX KNOWN AS “OF THE HERESIARCHS”, CA. 1760-1765

Polychrome painted porcelain with gilded copper fittings, 4.2x9.4x7.3 cm

Writ inscribed on the main body (translated): Erasmus is by the side of Duke of Nassau / and on the right, and on the left / of Renata. Calvin talks to one side / and Luther seems to leading the Saxon (front); … Here you see the Heresiarchs / With their followers of each Sect, and with many / more than you think Are the tombs filled / (Dante, Inferno IX, 127) (right side); Gaetano, and Sadoleto, Cardinals / Echio, Billick, Eichstat, Panigarola / May they hold up God’s great Word (back); Within there be the loving priests / of the Christian Faith / Benevolent with their own, ruthless with their enemies / (adapted from Paradise XII, 55) (left side)

 

The snuffbox, actually called “a veritable box” by Leonardo Gironi Lisci because of its large size (L. Ginori Lisci, La porcellana di Doccia, Milan 1963, p. 53, with reference to a similar piece held today at the Museo Duca di Martina in Naples), presents an elliptic shape entirely painted over in polychrome. The main body of the box is decorated with the above mentioned verses, enshrined and interspersed by thin cartouches traced with a violet monochrome, which refer to the miniatures painted on the lid, identified at the time as follows: on the outside we find the “Princes” of the protestant Reform Erasmus of Rotterdam, John Calvin and Martin Luther together with Jean VI of Nassau [1], John Frederick I of Saxony, and Renata, duchess of Ferrara [2]; on the inside we find the six defenders of the Catholic faith, cardinals Jacopo Sadoleto and Tommaso de Vio, Johannes Mayer, Eberhard Billick, Leonhard Halle [3], and Francesco Panigarola (for the traditional identification of these characters see B. Beaucamp Markowsky, Boites en porcelaine des manufactures europeennes au 18° siècle, Freiburg 1985, pp. 521-522). On the bottom on the snuffbox we find a painting of an enclosed bible, bearing the inscription Bibbia Sacra, radiating rays of light and enshrined within elegant rocaille cartouches.

We have no certain information regarding the identity of who painted this beautiful snuffbox. While in 1963 Leonardo Lisci Ginori suggested Giovacchino Rigacci, leader of the Doccia painters between 1575 and 1771, basing this attribution on an excerpt from a relation by the economist Joannon de St. Laurent (L. Ginori Lisci, op. cit. 1963, p. 142), in 2009 Alessandro Biancalana argued that this attribution might have be erroneous (A. Biancalana, op. cit. 2009, p. 173).          

The learned theme of this snuffbox [4], certainly unusual for the luxuries produced by the Doccia manufacture, proved popular nonetheless, so much so in fact that it was repeated in at least two more pieces, one of which is found today at the Museo Duca di Martina in Naples (inv. n. 2836) whilst the other is remembered by Ginori as being held in the collection of Countess Ancillotto in Rome (L. Ginori Lisci, op. cit. 1963, p. 142).  

 

Esposizioni

Lucca e le porcellane della Manifattura Ginori. Commissioni patrizie e ordinativi di corte, Lucca, 28 luglio – 21 ottobre 2001 (n. 193)

 

Bibliografia

A. Mottola Molfino, L'arte della porcellana in Italia, Milano 1976, tav. LXIII/LXIV;

A. d’Agliano, A. Biancalana, L. Melegati, G. Turchi (a cura di), Lucca e le porcellane della Manifattura Ginori. Commissioni patrizie e ordinativi di corte, cat. della mostra, Lucca 2001, p. 255 n. 193;

A. Biancalana, Porcellane e maioliche a Doccia. La fabbrica dei Marchesi Ginori. I primi cento anni, Firenze 2009, pp. 173-174

 

 

Crediamo che nessun gruppo di oggetti della manifattura di Doccia sia stato tanto ignorato quanto le tabacchiere.

Infatti, se scorriamo le numerose pubblicazioni sulla porcellana europea e quelle poche apparse sulla porcellana italiana, noi troviamo illustrate ed attribuite a Doccia soltanto due tabacchiere... mentre la produzione di tabacchiere fu in realtà abbondantissima, e gli esemplari rintracciati presentano una grande varietà di forme e di tipi, ed hanno un notevole pregio.

Possiamo dire che le tabacchiere nacquero con la stessa fabbrica di Doccia. Infatti, già ai primi del 1739, cioè pochi mesi dopo la prima "cotta", con le tazzine, i piattini e i vassoietti, furono prodotte alcune scatole per il tabacco, perché fra le spese figurano quelle relative a "una cerniera d'argento dorato per una tabacchiera di porcellana".

Col tempo, la lavorazione di questi oggetti prese un tale sviluppo, che nel 1741 ne furono prodotte ogni mese a centinaia: il modellatore Pietro Orlandini, nel solo mese di agosto, modellò ben 485 tabacchiere, e nel settembre altre 488. Tali cifre illustrano chiaramente l'importanza di questo settore nella produzione.

 

Leonardo Ginori Lisci, in La porcellana di Doccia, Milano 1963, p. 51

 



[1] Given the importance of this piece, we suggest the following observation with regard to the “Nassavio duca”, the “Duke of Nassau”: seeing as Nassau became a Duchy in 1806, after having always been a county, we may understand the word “Duke” in the sense of military leader. In this case, the identity of the figure, looking at the portrait, might correspond to that of William I of Orange (1533-1584), who took part in the Netherlands’ war of independence against the Spanish. We do not think that this figure ought to be identified as being William’s younger brother, John VI of Nassau Dillenburg (1536-1606), who did not hold any relevant military roles.  

[2] Renata of Valois-Orleans (1510-1575), princess of France, married to Ercole II of Este and thus duchess of Ferrara, was a strenuous defender of the protestant faith and is rightly inserted amongst the so-called Heresiarcs as she held a very important historical role. Among the many events regarding her life, in 1536 she received an incognito visit by John Calvin, who had already published his Christianae religionis institution in Basel, and with whom Renata would maintain a regular correspondence up until the death of the Genevan reformer. She paid a personal price for her religious choice when her husband had her imprisoned, and she continued to protect the protestant reformers until her death. 

[3] In the verses he is named “Eichstat”, probably in reference to the prestigious catholic university of Eichstatt-Ingolstadt, whose most famous rector of the time was Peter Canisius (1524-1597), first German founder of the order of the Jesuits. He was among the staunchest defenders of the Counterreformation and wrote a catechism clearly opposing Luther’s theses. He was proclaimed Doctor of the Church in 1925 and is today celebrated as a saint on the 21st of December. We do not think it plausible to identify “Eichstat” as Leonhard Haller (1500-1570) who lived mainly in Eichstatt but was a character of secondary importance compared to the others, as he was a suffragan bishop of that city and was later sent to the dioceses of the ancient Philadelphia of Araby (today’s Amman). The image of Canisius seems furthermore to fit the portrait on the snuffbox.

[4] It has been noted in the analysis of this piece how even the use of text is the result of thorough research and adaptation. The text incorporates a quote from Dante translated above, and which in the original reads: Erasmo è allato del Nassavio Duca / e dalla destra, e da sinistra parte / a Renata. Calvin parla in disparte / E Luter par che il Sassone conduca (fronte); ... qui son gli Eresiarche / Color seguaci d'ogni Setta, e molto / Più che non credi Son le tombe carche / Inf. IX,127. Dante’s reference is to the heretics of his time, the Epicureans: in this case, the reference is adapted to a contingent situation, and the heretics are the protestant fathers, following the dictates of the Council of Trent. The other verses refer to the defenders of the Faith, in Italian: Gaetano, e Sadoleto Cardinali / Echio, Bilichio, Eichstat, Panigarola / Sostengano di Dio l'alta parola (retro); Dentro vi Sono gli amorosi drudi / Della Fede Cristiana i Santi Atleti / Benigni a suoi, ed a'nemici crudi / adapted from Par. XII, 55. These verses originally referred to the birth of St. Dominic, thought of as a promoter of the Christian faith (“drudo”). All the verses here have been put into the plural so as to match them with the six cited defenders. 

 

Estimate   € 20.000 / 30.000
Price realized:  Registration
201611090101100.jpg

Imperial Lapidary Works

PAIR OF ORNAMENTAL VASES, RUSSIA, FIRST QUARTER OF THE 19TH CENTURY

Malachite and gilded bronze; the rounded and contoured cup is melded to a turned foot which rests on a plinth-shaped base; the various parts are connected and embellished with a finely chiselled and gilded bronze framing; height 53.3 cm, diameter 41 cm, base 25x25cm

 

Provenienza

Collezione Bittheuser, Germania

Collezione privata

 

Malachite artefacts are characteristic of the rich and refined taste of early 19th century Russia. Master craftsmen worked on this material using the “Russian mosaic” technique: they cut it up into small plaques which they then melded together and polished, creating the illusion that the object was made out of a single block of material, thanks also to the subtle interplay of lines produced by the veins of the stone. These artefacts were often embellished using rich gilded bronze framings, which created wonderful effects of light and contrast.

Founded in 1725 near the summer residence of Peterhof, and thanks to the expanding quarries extracting stones needed to build both churches and magnificent palaces, the Imperial Manufacture of semi-precious stones reached its moment of highest splendour in the 19th century, to the point that its work was also displayed at both Russian and international Expositions, proving a great success.

Alongside its new workshops in Ekaterinburg and Kolivan, founded respectively near the Urals and Altai mountains so as to treat the stones closer to their locus of extraction, the Peterhof Manufacture produced many pieces throughout the 19th century, destined mostly to the Imperial court, and more rarely to private clients.

In this prestigious production, malachite became one of the Tsar’s favourite materials, and thus famous internationally, as he often brought it as a wedding or diplomatic gift to many of Europe’s rulers (fig. 1), particularly in Germany. And it is precisely from Germany that these two cups come from, having belonged to Matteo Bittheuser, who was an intimate advisor to Archduke Leopold II in Florence.

Another example of a precious gift given by the Russian rulers is constituted by the cup given by the Russian Tsar to Vittorio Emanuele II, and which is today held in the Royal Palace in Turin, as well as other objects we can admire in the Malachite Salon in the Grand Trianon in Versailles (fig. 2) or throughout other important museums worldwide.  

 

 

Comparative literature

D. Ledoux-Lebard, Le Grand Trianon, Meubles et objets d’art, Paris 1975, pp. 107 e 112;

V.B. Semyonov, Malachite, Sverdlovsk 1987;

A. Gaydamark, Empire Russe, Moscou-Paris 2000, p. 85;

N. Mavrodina, The Art of Russian Stone Carvers 18th-19th Centuries, St. Petersburg 2007;

E. Kalnitskaya (a cura di), Meraviglie degli Zar. I Romanov e il Palazzo Imperiale di Peterhof, catalogo della mostra Reggia di Venaria Reale, Sale delle Arti 16 Luglio 2016 - 29 Gennaio 2017, Torino 2016, pp. 75-77 e fig. 4.

Estimate   € 20.000 / 30.000
Price realized:  Registration
201611090101200.jpg

CABINET, NAPLES, SECOND HALF OF THE 17TH CENTURY

Carved wood, veneered ebony and tortoiseshell with additions of gilded bronze; large, square shape, on a moulded base, centre jutting in front with eight drawers framing an aedicule held up by twisted columns embellished at the base by a traforato motif with gilded bronze racemes. The columns enshrine a portal surmounted by a split gable bearing two winged putti in gilded bronze. The front is adorned with oil-painted glass panes depicting mythological and classical scenes. The piece rests on a sculpted and ebonized wood base, made in a later time. 111.5x178x47.5 cm; base 92x191.5x55 cm

Known since the time of Tutankhamon, in whose tomb numerous examples of cabinets were unearthed in 1922, and having passed through the classical, the cabinet reached western culture after many changes in usage and shape. Its use became widespread in Italy beginning from the 16th century. This piece of furnishing was connected to the birth of the studiolo, or study, a strictly private era of the typical humanist’s residence, where he could retire to dedicate himself to his studies and cultural interests. The study room was soon populated by wondrous collections of art and rare objects, becoming over time a more and more complex space, a small microcosm which could reflect the complexity of the surrounding world. It is in this context, a forerunner to the later Wunderkammer, that the cabinet found its popularity, as a place to store the most precious objects, and thus becoming the par excellence piece of furnishing of any study, refined in its make as much as in its contents.

Over the course of the centuries, in Italy as in the rest of Europe, the cabinet left the enclosed context of the study to become more and more something to be shown off, meuble de parade et d’apparad which ought to express the political and dynastic interests of the rulers of Europe, and often given as a precious gift among them. The most prestigious artists of the time were called upon to create them. These artists could be, depending on which techniques they used, gold- and silversmiths, as well as carvers of precious stones, coral, and ivory, sculptors, painters, bronze-workers. A rich and varied list of materials were used in creating cabinets, always with the intention of making something excellent and truly impressive. At the same time, under the influence of baroque grandeur, the proportions of these furnishings became more and more monumental and imposing, evolving into more and more complex designs – a complexity reflected also in the interiors of the furnishing, where drawers and pockets create miniature palaces alongside a whole series of secret compartments and pulleys.

In the context of this search for the most precious and rare materials, beginning from the 1640s the use of tortoiseshell became more and more frequent. This is a very prized material, capable of creating an effect of great preciousness by shining bright against the black of the ebonized wood, and it used to be easily available in the Spanish colonies. Due to Spanish rule, tortoiseshell veneer spread across Italy, especially in Naples, where it became the distinctive trait of mid-16th century Neapolitan cabinets.

Together with the use of tortoiseshell, through a constant search for refinement and elegance Naples saw the spread of the custom of decorating cabinets with oil-painted glass panes depicting scenes from classic mythology, allegories, and less frequently biblical episodes. The technique of painting on class was especially appreciated by the nobles and rulers of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. An example of this is the decision by Ferdinando de’ Medici to include in his collection of paintings some small glass-pane pictures made by Luca Giordano. Numerous documents from the time testify precisely to the way in which the students and followers of the Neapolitan painter Luca Giordano specialized at the time in the decoration of grandiose pieces of furnishing. In 1679, for example, Giovan battista Tara was paid for the realization of “a pair of ebony desks inlaid with a number of paintings on crystal”, whilst Carlo Garofalo, student of Luca Giordano and considered to have been the best painter on glass active in Naples in the second half of the 17th century, was “sent by his master to King Charles II of Spain, where he was summoned to paint the crystals which were to serve to decorate the chests and other adornments of the royal apartments”. And again, Domenico Coscia is mentioned as a painter who “was very able in painting those crystals used for decorating desks”. The list of Neapolitan painters who were disciples of Giordano and who are remembered for their glass paintwork may also be enriched by many more characters, such as Domenico Perrone, Francesco della Torre, Andrea Vincenti.

During the second half of the 17th century, numerous cabinets were created by these successful artistic congeries, in which the best glass painters of the time were able to cooperate with manufactures that were highly specialized in creating greatly complex designs made from precious materials such as tortoiseshell. The piece proposed here is in fact similar to works painted by students of Luca Giordano. Among the most significant examples of this is the cabinet dated from the 1670s and given to the Palazzo Pitti Collection in Florence by Emmy Levy (fig. 1), similar to our piece but even more monumentally proportioned. Other comparisons can be made with the cabinet found the Palazzo Barberini in Rome and with the London Victoria and Albert Museum cabinet (fig. 2) which was acquired by the museum in 1870. Analogous artefacts are furthermore catalogued and described within the inventory documents of the Prince of Avellino and of Cardinal Carafa, both members of the Neapolitan aristocracy.

 

Comparative literature

A. González-Palacios, Il Tempio del Gusto. Le Arti Decorative in Italia fra Classicismi e Barocco, II, Roma e il Regno delle Due Sicilie, Milan 1984, p. 223;

M. Riccardi Cubitt, Mobili da Collezione. Stipi e Studioli nei secoli, Milan 1993, pp. 10-12 e 87-89

E. Colle, Il Mobile Barocco in Italia, Milan 2000, pp. 66-67;

G. Baffi, Il mobile napoletano nella storia e nell’arredamento, dal 1700 al 1830, Portici 2011, pp. 14-15

 

 

 

Estimate   € 80.000 / 120.000
201611090101300.jpg

A LOUIS XVI PAIR OF GIRANDOLES, FRANCE, CIRCA 1775

Green granite and gilded and chiselled bronze; vases decorated with pearled chains surmounted by leaf-like folds, each centred by a branch terminating in a pineapple, modelled base on square plinth, four lights in total, height 85 cm

 

Often produced as pairs so as to decorate, with their frilly folds, commodes and consoles as well as fireplaces and gaming tables, girandoles were extremely popular in the 18th century. What characterizes this particular type of candélabre is always a great sense of refinement: in the middle of a blaze of variously styled arms we find a central light that rises up as if it were a sudden firework, creating a wondrous play of effects that astonishes and entices the observer. While girandoles were historically made from a great variety of materials, including gold, silver, glass, and crystal, during the reign of Louis 16th gilded bronze became a favourite, often mounted upon bases made of porcelain or marbles such as porphyry and alabaster. Following this fashion, queen Marie-Antoinette commissioned Piton with the gilding of two copper putti which would adorn the girandoles for the Petit-Trianon; between 1782 and 1783 Remond delivered to the count of Artois a number of girandoles decorated with arabesques, “figure de nègre” and camels; finally, little chains, as well as leaf and pearl decorative motifs, enrich a pair of small three-arm girandoles mounted upon white porcelain vases supplied by Gallien in 1789 to Madame Élisabeth for her chateau in Montreuil.

Alongside pompous and elaborate decorations still reminiscent of rococo, the third quarter of the 18th century, under the reign of Louis XVI, saw the development of a new taste which privileged straighter and more clearly defined lines. Known as goût grec and inspired by the architecture of ancient Greece, the new style spread so rapidly that, by 1763, Baron de Grimm noted how “...tout est à Paris à la grecque”, everything in Paris was made in the new a-la-Greek style. It is against this background of stylistic transition that Jean-Claude-Thomas Chambellan-Duplessis carried out most of his work. He was born in Turin but was fully French in terms of formation, as well as being the son of Jean-Claude Duplessis, the sculptor, bronze-worker, and artistic director of the manufacture of Vincennes-Sèvres.

Founded in 1740 in the royal chateau of Vincennes and later moved to purposely built warehouses in Sevres, thanks to the support and protection of Louis XV and of Madame Pompadour, the manufacture managed to quickly attract the best French technicians, artists, sculptors and designers of the time. Duplessis senior was modelling director between 1748 and 1774, Jean-Jaques Bachelier was in charge of decorations between 1751 and 1793, Etienne-Maurice Falconet was responsible for the sculpting department between 1756 and 1766. These artists, together with the painter François Boucher, gave a fundamental contribution to making the manufacture the leader of the time in dictating the rules dominating French arts and crafts. The manufacture distinguished itself for its ability to constantly offer the most avant-gardist models and to always stay ahead of the evolution of its clientele’s taste. Under the guidance of Duplessis senior, the Sevres manufacture was among the first to be seduced by the forerunner style of French Neoclassicism and became its standard-bearer. It was under him that his son Jean-Claude-Thomas was formed; and in 1752 the latter began to assist his father in drafting models for the manufacture’s production.

After becoming maître fondeur en terre et sable in 1765, Duplessis specialized in creating various types of vases, authoring two series between 1775 and 1780. He became the reference point for the most illustrious French clientele, boasting prestigious clients such as Marie-Antoinette, for whom in 1775 he created the stand for a pair of vases which are today held in the Royal Collection in Buckingham Palace in London; or the Comtesse du Nord, Maria Feodorovna, for whom he created in 1782 the mounting for a toiletterie kit.

Among his most illustrious works, we may count four large neoclassical bronze candelabra, made around 1775 for the Fermier Général Laurent Grimod de La Reynière (1733-1793) and which went on to furnish the latter’s Paris residence, built in the same year.

Davillier, Julliot, and Paillet, in the catalogue for Le Cabinet du duc d'Aumont et les amateurs de son temps, remember the four girandoles as one of the best works by the artist, citing in support of their attribution to Duplessis the Almanach des Artistes from 1777: "Ces candélabres, dont le travail est très-soigné, ont été exécutés, lisons-nous dans un ouvrage du temps, par M. Duplessis, fameux Ciseleur de Paris, bon dessinateur qui travaille d'après ses dessins".

While two of these girandoles have already been identified as those sold at an auction at Christie’s in 2007 (fig. 1), the lot presented here – similar in everything to the former save for the colour of the granite, green instead of gray – could well complete the foursome commissioned by Laurent Grimod to decorate the palace designed for him by the architect Jean-Benoît-Vincent Barré, considered among the founders of the Louis XVI architectural style.

Further supporting the attribution of these two girandoles to Duplessis is the comparison with the pair of girandoles published by Kjellberg with an attribution to Duplessis (fig. 2), which bear almost identical motifs on the leaf-like arms centred by a large branch terminating in a pineapple, as well as an identical green granite base resting on a gilded-bronze square plinth; the lot we are offering here features fewer arms, and this fact, together with the rather sober pearled chain substituting the rich leafy decoration which runs down from the bights to the base, seems to bring the present artefact closer to a phase in which neoclassical taste was beginning to become more decidedly preeminent.

 

Comparative literature

J.-C. Davillier, P.-F. Julliot, A.-J. Paillet, Le Cabinet du duc d'Aumont et les amateurs de son temps : catalogue de sa vente avec les prix, les noms des acquéreurs et 32 planches d'après Gouthière, accompagné de notes et d'une notice sur Pierre Gouthière, sculpteur, ciseleur et doreur du Roi, et sur les principaux ciseleurs du temps de Louis XVI, par le baron Ch. Davillier, 1870;

P. Verlet, Les bronzes dorés français du XVIIIe siècle, Parigi 1987;

P. Kjellberg, Objets montés du Moyen-âge à nos jours, Parigi 2000;

G. Campbell, The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts, I, Oxford University Press 2006, p. 336

 

 

Estimate   € 80.000 / 120.000
201611090101400.jpg

RARE CENTRE DESK, LOMBARDY, THIRD QUARTER OF THE 18TH CENTURY
Veneered chestnut and chestnut briar, rounded shape, four large drawers with an additional three on the side, standing on eight feet made of carved chestnut, 84x164x77 cm

Lombardy’s passage from Spanish to Austrian rule determined not only a change in the Duchy’s borders, but also an evolution in taste, with a progressive abandonment of baroque in favour of the newer rococo style, which was immediately adopted in the estates of the most important Lombard families of the time, such as the Borromeo, the Litta, the Sormani, and the Clerici. Internationally renowned artists were summoned to Lombardy, spreading rocaille-style decoration among their rich Lombard customers. This style of decoration was already popular with architects and decorators on the other side of the Alps, and is characterized by the indented and sinuous lines used to frame pictures. This à cartouche motif became the chief characteristic of Lombard rococo and was employed by most of the artists and decorators of the time. This included the local master woodcarvers, who added to the typical black-frame Lombard decoration a novel division of the piece of furniture into elegant panes embellished with refined rocaille inlays, inspired by similar French and German models, and thus gave these furnishings a more international feel. Among the major interpreters of this style we can mention Pietro Canevesi, Giuseppe Colombo, also known as “Mortarino” (fig. 1) Pietro Antonio Mezzanotti, as well as a very young Giuseppe Maggiolini.

It is then within this cultural and artistic context that we are to place this centre desk, which, given its size, proportions, and uniqueness, was doubtless crafted by a master woodcarver for a rich Lombard family. A prelude to the lot presented here can be seen in the desk from the first half of the 18th century which comes from Villa Borromeo d’Adda in Arcore (published by Clelia Alberici in Il mobile lombardo – fig.2), which features a frontal division into three etched panes.

This desk rests upon eight robust feet, finely carved into intertwined scrolls, out of which grow eight rounded uprights, which soften the desk by ridding it of sharp angles, and which end with elegant curls onto which rests the table itself, contoured and with bird’s beak styled rimming. Built in an “a cattedra” shape, this desk features four large drawers, as well as three smaller ones on the side, and is decorated with elegant inlaid panes on all sides, on the legs, and on the plane of the table, framing the chestnut briar root in the larger spaces whilst decorating the smaller ones. These inlays, made of bosswood and styled into fringed rocailles, derive from Lombard “turnip-skin” style decoration and originating in Austria and Germany. On the centre-front, the desk features a blazon which without doubt belonged to its original acquirer.        

Comparative literature

C. Alberici, Il mobile lombardo, Milano 1969, p. 102;

R. Bossaglia, V. Terraroli, Settecento lombardo, Milano 1991, V.26

Estimate   € 60.000 / 90.000
201611090101500.jpg

PAIR OF MIRRORS, VENICE, SECOND QUARTER OF THE 18TH CENTURYPAIR OF MIRRORS, VENICE, SECOND QUARTER OF THE 18TH CENTURY in ebonized, lacquered and gilded wood with mother of pearl marquetry and foliage in sculpted and gilded wood, 168x98 cm This pair of frames is a typical and refined expression of the early rococo atmosphere in Venice during the second quarter of the 18th century. This was a moment in time in which the gilded mirror passed from being mostly used for private grooming to constituting a furnishing element in its own right, over a progressive process of emancipation. During this still transitory phase, during which each city exhibited its own decorative techniques, Venice became one of the main protagonists, laying the foundation for a decorative style that will constitute a key influence for the coming decades. Over the course of the 18th century, the creation of these artefacts is so deeply rooted in the venetian lagoon that within the guild of the marangoni, or woodworkers, there developed a specific branch of highly specialized master carvers, the marangoni de soaza. At the same time, there was a multiplication of workshops managed by soaza artisans: 36 workshops with 94 masters, 124 workers and 24 helpers according to a 1773 statistic polled by the magistrates and trade regulators of the Savi della Mercanzia. The venetian masters did not shy away from letting their creativity run loose, using an ornamentation technique at which they excelled, enamelling, in which the decoration, drawn on a monochrome stucco base is then polished with a layer of varnish, called sandracca. It was in this way that the same kinds of ornamentations which decorated chests and other furnishings went on to embellish mirror-frames, animating them with exotic themes, or chinoiserie. A particular predilection is reserved for decorations modelled after flowers and of oriental inspiration which, drawn vividly and with narrative gusto, stand out with their rich colours against the neutral, often dark backgrounds, alternated with branches and leaves and creating an exuberant but at the same time composedly elegant picture. When a given commission is particularly important, these decorations may also be further enriched by evocative pearl inlays, as with the red and gold lacquered wood frame made in Venice at the end of the 17th century and currently held in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin (fig. 1), or the one probably dating from the early 18th century and held in a private collection (fig. 2). It is also the case of our two frames, which were probably requested by an important family for a significant occasion. The combination of lacquer and pearl was a venetian prerogative between the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Many carvers produced this kind of decoration, among whom we must mention the architect, engraver, carver, and inlayer Domenico Rossetti, famous for his “works with pearl and in the Chinese style”. This pictorial richness was paralleled by an equal sculptural vivacity, which expressed itself – as well as in the creation of frames in a wide array of styles and shapes – in adding further elements of carved wood to the frames. Additions in sculpted and gilded wood are often attached to the four outer corners of the frame. We can see this in our pair’s ogival motif, creating a kind of counter-frame which was supposed to make the mirror stand out against the wall. But a greater importance is without doubt given to the coping, a necessary crowning of the upper part of the mirror. In the carving of this component, the venetian masters let their creative imagination run wild, showing off their whole repertory of leaves, shells, festoons, and, as in the present case, cartouches, often made so that they would hold a family crest or, as is the case here, decorated with the same pictorial motifs embellished with pearl that are found on the main body of the frame. Almost as if replying to the painted floral motifs, the coping is populated by elements in painted and carved wood, made with a mastery fully on par with that of the expert and imaginative master painters. In our mirror-frames, flower and fruit alternated with leafy folds frame the central coping, the asymmetrical position of which creates a decentred effect typical of the 18th century, whilst the four corners of the frames are marked – symmetrically this time – by small sculpted and polished folders in the middle of the pearl component. And whilst often in this kind of mirror-frame the sculptural element tends to dominate over the pictorial one, concentrating the focal point of attention on the coping, here the overall composition is characterized by a marked equilibrium, in which all elements, both sculptural and pictorial, cohabit and form a harmonious whole. In this sense, these mirror-frames can be fully included in early rococo production, when the festive and daring baroque evolved into lines which – whilst still dominated by an inventive force and capricious exuberance – reflected the period’s more graceful and refined taste. During these few years, many sculptors and woodcarvers place their art in the service of frame-making, including Antonio Gai, Antonio Corradini, or Andrea Brustolon, noted for having made multiple frames alongside the furnishings for the Venier family, now held in Palazzo Rezzonico. Following his drawing, the luxurious throne for the church of the Gesuati in Venice was made in the early 18th century (fig. 3). Its precious pearl inlays, together with its folds and rich wooden sculpted and gilded flowers, constitute one of the first examples of a decorative taste which will exercise much influence over the following decades. Our mirror-frames, thus, may be included precisely in this current. Comparative literature G. Mariacher, Specchiere italiane e cornici da specchio, dal XV al XIX secolo, Milan 1963, pp. 16-24; E. Colle, Il mobile barocco in Italia, Milan 2000, p. 332; C. Santini, Mille mobili veneti. L’arredo domestico in Veneto dal sec. XV al sec. XIX, III, Modena 2002, pp. 246-247 nn. 424-426 PAIR OF MIRRORS, VENICE, SECOND QUARTER OF THE 18TH CENTURY in ebonized, lacquered and gilded wood with mother of pearl marquetry and foliage in sculpted and gilded wood, 168x98 cm This pair of frames is a typical and refined expression of the early rococo atmosphere in Venice during the second quarter of the 18th century. This was a moment in time in which the gilded mirror passed from being mostly used for private grooming to constituting a furnishing element in its own right, over a progressive process of emancipation. During this still transitory phase, during which each city exhibited its own decorative techniques, Venice became one of the main protagonists, laying the foundation for a decorative style that will constitute a key influence for the coming decades. Over the course of the 18th century, the creation of these artefacts is so deeply rooted in the venetian lagoon that within the guild of the marangoni, or woodworkers, there developed a specific branch of highly specialized master carvers, the marangoni de soaza. At the same time, there was a multiplication of workshops managed by soaza artisans: 36 workshops with 94 masters, 124 workers and 24 helpers according to a 1773 statistic polled by the magistrates and trade regulators of the Savi della Mercanzia. The venetian masters did not shy away from letting their creativity run loose, using an ornamentation technique at which they excelled, enamelling, in which the decoration, drawn on a monochrome stucco base is then polished with a layer of varnish, called sandracca. It was in this way that the same kinds of ornamentations which decorated chests and other furnishings went on to embellish mirror-frames, animating them with exotic themes, or chinoiserie. A particular predilection is reserved for decorations modelled after flowers and of oriental inspiration which, drawn vividly and with narrative gusto, stand out with their rich colours against the neutral, often dark backgrounds, alternated with branches and leaves and creating an exuberant but at the same time composedly elegant picture. When a given commission is particularly important, these decorations may also be further enriched by evocative pearl inlays, as with the red and gold lacquered wood frame made in Venice at the end of the 17th century and currently held in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin (fig. 1), or the one probably dating from the early 18th century and held in a private collection (fig. 2). It is also the case of our two frames, which were probably requested by an important family for a significant occasion. The combination of lacquer and pearl was a venetian prerogative between the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Many carvers produced this kind of decoration, among whom we must mention the architect, engraver, carver, and inlayer Domenico Rossetti, famous for his “works with pearl and in the Chinese style”. This pictorial richness was paralleled by an equal sculptural vivacity, which expressed itself – as well as in the creation of frames in a wide array of styles and shapes – in adding further elements of carved wood to the frames. Additions in sculpted and gilded wood are often attached to the four outer corners of the frame. We can see this in our pair’s ogival motif, creating a kind of counter-frame which was supposed to make the mirror stand out against the wall. But a greater importance is without doubt given to the coping, a necessary crowning of the upper part of the mirror. In the carving of this component, the venetian masters let their creative imagination run wild, showing off their whole repertory of leaves, shells, festoons, and, as in the present case, cartouches, often made so that they would hold a family crest or, as is the case here, decorated with the same pictorial motifs embellished with pearl that are found on the main body of the frame. Almost as if replying to the painted floral motifs, the coping is populated by elements in painted and carved wood, made with a mastery fully on par with that of the expert and imaginative master painters. In our mirror-frames, flower and fruit alternated with leafy folds frame the central coping, the asymmetrical position of which creates a decentred effect typical of the 18th century, whilst the four corners of the frames are marked – symmetrically this time – by small sculpted and polished folders in the middle of the pearl component. And whilst often in this kind of mirror-frame the sculptural element tends to dominate over the pictorial one, concentrating the focal point of attention on the coping, here the overall composition is characterized by a marked equilibrium, in which all elements, both sculptural and pictorial, cohabit and form a harmonious whole. In this sense, these mirror-frames can be fully included in early rococo production, when the festive and daring baroque evolved into lines which – whilst still dominated by an inventive force and capricious exuberance – reflected the period’s more graceful and refined taste. During these few years, many sculptors and woodcarvers place their art in the service of frame-making, including Antonio Gai, Antonio Corradini, or Andrea Brustolon, noted for having made multiple frames alongside the furnishings for the Venier family, now held in Palazzo Rezzonico. Following his drawing, the luxurious throne for the church of the Gesuati in Venice was made in the early 18th century (fig. 3). Its precious pearl inlays, together with its folds and rich wooden sculpted and gilded flowers, constitute one of the first examples of a decorative taste which will exercise much influence over the following decades. Our mirror-frames, thus, may be included precisely in this current. Comparative literature G. Mariacher, Specchiere italiane e cornici da specchio, dal XV al XIX secolo, Milan 1963, pp. 16-24; E. Colle, Il mobile barocco in Italia, Milan 2000, p. 332; C. Santini, Mille mobili veneti. L’arredo domestico in Veneto dal sec. XV al sec. XIX, III, Modena 2002, pp. 246-247 nn. 424-426

PAIR OF MIRRORS, VENICE, SECOND QUARTER OF THE 18TH CENTURY

in ebonized, lacquered and gilded wood with mother of pearl marquetry and foliage in sculpted and gilded wood, 168x98 cm

 

This pair of frames is a typical and refined expression of the early rococo atmosphere in Venice during the second quarter of the 18th century. This was a moment in time in which the gilded mirror passed from being mostly used for private grooming to constituting a furnishing element in its own right, over a progressive process of emancipation. During this still transitory phase, during which each city exhibited its own decorative techniques, Venice became one of the main protagonists, laying the foundation for a decorative style that will constitute a key influence for the coming decades.

Over the course of the 18th century, the creation of these artefacts is so deeply rooted in the venetian lagoon that within the guild of the marangoni, or woodworkers, there developed a specific branch of highly specialized master carvers, the marangoni de soaza. At the same time, there was a multiplication of workshops managed by soaza artisans: 36 workshops with 94 masters, 124 workers and 24 helpers according to a 1773 statistic polled by the magistrates and trade regulators of the Savi della Mercanzia.

The venetian masters did not shy away from letting their creativity run loose, using an ornamentation technique at which they excelled, enamelling, in which the decoration, drawn on a monochrome stucco base is then polished with a layer of varnish, called sandracca. It was in this way that the same kinds of ornamentations which decorated chests and other furnishings went on to embellish mirror-frames, animating them with exotic themes, or chinoiserie. A particular predilection is reserved for decorations modelled after flowers and of oriental inspiration which, drawn vividly and with narrative gusto, stand out with their rich colours against the neutral, often dark backgrounds, alternated with branches and leaves and creating an exuberant but at the same time composedly elegant picture. When a given commission is particularly important, these decorations may also be further enriched by evocative pearl inlays, as with the red and gold lacquered wood frame made in Venice at the end of the 17th century and currently held in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin (fig. 1), or the one probably dating from the early 18th century and held in a private collection (fig. 2). It is also the case of our two frames, which were probably requested by an important family for a significant occasion. The combination of lacquer and pearl was a venetian prerogative between the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Many carvers produced this kind of decoration, among whom we must mention the architect, engraver, carver, and inlayer Domenico Rossetti, famous for his “works with pearl and in the Chinese style”.

This pictorial richness was paralleled by an equal sculptural vivacity, which expressed itself – as well as in the creation of frames in a wide array of styles and shapes – in adding further elements of carved wood to the frames. Additions in sculpted and gilded wood are often attached to the four outer corners of the frame. We can see this in our pair’s ogival motif, creating a kind of counter-frame which was supposed to make the mirror stand out against the wall. But a greater importance is without doubt given to the coping, a necessary crowning of the upper part of the mirror. In the carving of this component, the venetian masters let their creative imagination run wild, showing off their whole repertory of leaves, shells, festoons, and, as in the present case, cartouches, often made so that they would hold a family crest or, as is the case here, decorated with the same pictorial motifs embellished with pearl that are found on the main body of the frame.

Almost as if replying to the painted floral motifs, the coping is populated by elements in painted and carved wood, made with a mastery fully on par with that of the expert and imaginative master painters. In our mirror-frames, flower and fruit alternated with leafy folds frame the central coping, the asymmetrical position of which creates a decentred effect typical of the 18th century, whilst the four corners of the frames are marked – symmetrically this time – by small sculpted and polished folders in the middle of the pearl component. And whilst often in this kind of mirror-frame the sculptural element tends to dominate over the pictorial one, concentrating the focal point of attention on the coping, here the overall composition is characterized by a marked equilibrium, in which all elements, both sculptural and pictorial, cohabit and form a harmonious whole.

In this sense, these mirror-frames can be fully included in early rococo production, when the festive and daring baroque evolved into lines which – whilst still dominated by an inventive force and capricious exuberance – reflected the period’s more graceful and refined taste. During these few years, many sculptors and woodcarvers place their art in the service of frame-making, including Antonio Gai, Antonio Corradini, or Andrea Brustolon, noted for having made multiple frames alongside the furnishings for the Venier family, now held in Palazzo Rezzonico. Following his drawing, the luxurious throne for the church of the Gesuati in Venice was made in the early 18th century (fig. 3). Its precious pearl inlays, together with its folds and rich wooden sculpted and gilded flowers, constitute one of the first examples of a decorative taste which will exercise much influence over the following decades. Our mirror-frames, thus, may be included precisely in this current.

 

Comparative literature

G. Mariacher, Specchiere italiane e cornici da specchio, dal XV al XIX secolo, Milan 1963, pp. 16-24;

E. Colle, Il mobile barocco in Italia, Milan 2000, p. 332;

C. Santini, Mille mobili veneti. L’arredo domestico in Veneto dal sec. XV al sec. XIX, III, Modena 2002, pp. 246-247 nn. 424-426

 

 

 

 

Estimate   € 70.000 / 100.000
201611090101600.jpg

Regia Scuola di incisione sul corallo

EBONY, LAVASTONE, GILT BRONZE, MOTHER-OF-PEARL, TORTOISESHELL AND CORAL CABINET

Torre del Greco, 1891, 164x142x74 cm

 

This piece of furniture stands on eight legs shaped as inverted obelisks divided in two groups, each with a platform and fret. In the front top there are drawers with reliefs with siren-like decorations, knobs in the shape of Medusa’s heads and on the sides there are sphinxes. Beneath the writing top, a thin band sports more drawers with tortoiseshell lining, enriched by coral and mother-of-pearl decorations on the borders. The upper body lies on a frame with reliefs depicting Erotes and it is divided in three parts by columns (double columns in the centre of the piece), in bright lavastone with green and red details. The doors have reliefs framed by coral, mother-of-pearls and tortoiseshell motifs: the relief in the centre depicts Venus on a shell with a dolphin among the waves and Eros firing an arrow; the others, on the other sides, depict dancing figures with the attributes of the Seasons. The upper cornice repeats the same colour tones and motifs of the inferior part of the cabinet, with masks and garlands, and topped by small vases and a small group of sculptures standing on a base with the inscription " SCUOLA DI INCISIONE SUL CORALLO  TORRE DEL GRECO   NAPOLI". Other inscriptions are evident on the lateral plinths.

A written sheet of paper is inside:

Wedding desk decorated with Corals, Tortoiseshell and Sculptures made of Antique Stones of Pompeii and Lavastones of the Mount Vesuvius etc.; the colors are all natural – created in 1891 by the R a Scuola d’Incisione sul Corallo of Torre del Greco (Naples) as prototype of a new Artistic furniture in Neo-Pompeian style; awarded with Golden medal at the National Exhibition of Palermo -1891- and with another Golden medal at the Italo-American Exhibition in Genoa -1892-.

Invention and design of Prof. Enrico Taverna from Turin, Director of the Scuola,= Execution by the students Palomba Vincenzo, Porzio Francesco, Betrò Vincenzo, Porzio Francesco, from Torre del Greco, and Ferrer Alessandro from Naples, and the stonecutter Ferrer Gaetano from Naples under the direction of the engraving professor Giuseppe A. Giansanti, from Trani.

The President Comm. Antonio Brancaccio from Torre del Greco

 

The origin of this work is accurately described in the long document, reported above, which attests how it was created by a famous professional school, established in Torre del Greco, a historical centre for the manufacture of coral. This cabinet is, therefore, the result of the efforts of some masters who worked under the supervision of the director Enrico Taverna (1864-1945 – fig. 1). He was responsible for the numerous innovations introduced in the school aimed at increasing its importance internationally.

The general catalogue of the National Exhibition of Palermo in 1891 reported the numerous pieces presented by the Royal School of Torre del Greco at that exposition. Besides the coral objects, there were also several albums of ornate designs, architectural and engineering drawings, some plaster, clay, wax models, sixty-eight engraved coral pieces, lavastone, mother-of-pearl, shell, ivory or wood, other artwork and, finally, a “cabinet with writing desk, in Pompeian style, made of ebony with engraved coral, lavastone, tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl decorations”1. Some pictures of that period2 show our cabinet with other furnitures, two armchairs and a writing desk, manufactured with the same technique and the same style and exhibited at the National Exhibition of Turin in 1898. 

 

The Regia Scuola di incisione sul corallo, di arti decorative e industriali (this was its full name) was founded in 1878 by a ministerial decree: the purpose was to train new workers in this technique that was the pride of the region, but it lacked workers and new projects. Situated in the former Convent of the Carmelites in Torre del Greco, after a few difficult initial years, it was completely renovated by Enrico Taverna from Turin, who directed it from 1886 to 1934.

Painter and versatile architect Taverna designed the mother-of-pearl, coral and metal chest, purchased by the King Humbert I during the International Exhibition in Milan in 1906, and a bronze and coral marble altar for the Church of St. Teresa in Torre del Greco3. Thanks to his contribution, the school of Torre del Greco would become a modern art school with laboratories specialized in different techniques. Although Taverna had to face much opposition and difficulties in his attempt to modernize the school, in 1888 he founded an art course on Pompeian Decorative Art. The discovery in Pompeii in 1890 of the Sarno Frigidarium would lead to the execution, by Taverna and some students, of a graphic reconstruction that gained a remarkable success during the Exhibition of Architecture in Turin. The course was carried on until 1898, and its most famous result is the cabinet, we are presenting here, which combines several of the techniques developed in the school.

Some of the artists who took part in the execution of this object and whose names are reported in the above-mentioned inscription, were well-known. The wood carvers Antonio Giansanti and Gaetano Ferrer were mentioned amongst the workforce since 1879. Giansanti (1827-1900) reproduced a relief in lavastone depicting The Night by Berthel Thorvaldsen4 and collaborated to the production of a black marble panel with lavastone and coral inlaid reliefs and cameos (1884). Gaetano Ferrer, most probably of Spanish origin, was most likely related to his namesake, who was one of the professors of carving in the Real Laboratorio delle Pietre dure of Naples from 1770 at least until 18055. Vincenzo Palomba is the author of a Bacchus, stored in the Coral Museum in Torre del Greco6. The surname Porzio, finally, is common to many artists of the place, the best known of which is Domenico, who worked assiduously between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

 

The architectural and decorative taste of the nineteenth century was inspired by the interior decorations and furnishings of the Roman period, but it is not until 1840 and 1850 that this style really developed.

Built around 1830 in the form of a Pompeian villa, the Römischen Bäder in Potsdam was designed by Ludwig Persius and by the most important German architect of that period, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, for the future Frederick Charles IV of Prussia, crown prince at the time and creator of the architectural project of the building. The particular interest in classical antiquities started in the eighteenth century and reached its highest level in that period. In Rome in 1840 J.-A.-D. Ingres finished his painting Antiochus and Stratonice (Chatilly, Musée Condé), in which the internal decorations and the furnishings were inspired by the drawings of the architect Victor Baltard. Ingres also collaborated with the architect J.-I. Hittorff for the Temple of Empedocles, a building commissioned by the Prince Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte for the actress Rachel in 18557. Designed by the architect Alfred-Nicolas Normand together with the decorator Charles Rossigneux8, the Maison pompéienne, dwelling of the Prince, was inaugurated a few years later in 1860. For the construction and decoration of the house in 1850, Norman took inspiration from some pictures of Pompeii, Rome and of other archaeological sites. Today, however, only a few drawings and some rare pictures still remain of the building.

Although there are copious examples we will only mention the most recent ones such as the Achilleion in Corfù, built in 1891 for the Empress Elisabeth of Austria by the Neapolitan Raffaele Carito and Antonio Landi or Villa Kerylos in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, built for Theodor Reinach at the beginning of the twentieth century based on the design of Emmanuel Pontremoli. In the latter building there are numerous furnishings influenced by the Pompeian style, as in the case of our cabinet, even if more scenographic in style and rarely mentioned in sources. In the case of this cabinet, the allusive figures of the seasons are almost flawlessly reproduced from a series of paintings discovered in Herculaneum in the eighteenth century that have since inspired decorations of furniture and porcelains as it had happened for the paintings and furnishings in Villa Favorita a Resina. The figures of the seasons were used also on some armchairs and a sofa, dating back from the end of 1700 and the beginning of 18009 that can be found today in Capodimonte. 

This cabinet can be considered one of the latest example of the Neoclassical style of the beginning of the XVIII century: being more similar to Neoclassicism than to the opulent style of the late nineteenth century, its style better suits to today's taste. This artwork, perfectly executed, is, therefore, regarded as an object of study because designed by a group of artists and performed by skillful craftsmen. The Neapolitan art of that period reached its highest level thanks to this influence, as testified by the magnificent statues in Neo-alessandrine style by Vincenzo Gemito.

 

September 2016

 

Alvar González-Palacios

 

 

_____________________________________

1 Esposizione Nazionale Palermo 1891-189 Catalogo generale, repr. Palermo 1991, pp. 410-411.

2 C. Ciavolino, La Scuola del Corallo a Torre del Greco, Napoli 1988, p. 109.

3 Ibidem, p. 90.

4 Ibidem, pp. 66, 67, 77.

5 A. Gonzalez-Palacios, “Il Laboratorio delle Pietre Dure dal 1737 al 1805” in Le Arti Figurative a Napoli nel Settecento. Documenti e ricerche, edited by N. Spinosa, Napoli 1979, pp. 103, 106, 108, 112, 114, 115, 143, 151.

6 A. Putaturo Murano, A. Perriccioli Saggese, L’arte del corallo. Le manifatture di Napoli e di Torre del Greco fra Otto e Novecento, Naples 1989, fig. 37, p. 86.

7 R. Rosenblum, Transformations in late Eighteenth Century Art, Princeton 1967, pp. 134 sqq.

8 M.-C. Dejean de la Batie, “La Maison pompéienne du Prince Napoléon Avenue Montaigne” in Gazette des beaux-arts, 87, 1976, pp.127-134

9 A. Gonzalez-Palacios, il Tempio del Gusto, Milan 1984, p. 370, figg. 603, 605, 607

 

 

Comparative literature

Esposizione Nazionale Palermo 1891-1892. Catalogo generale, repr. Palermo 1991, pp. 410-411;

C. Ciavolino, La Scuola del Corallo a Torre del Greco, Napoli 1988

 

 

Estimate   € 40.000 / 60.000
Price realized:  Registration
201611090101700.jpg

RARO OROLOGIO DA POLSO CON CRONOGRAFO PATEK PHILIPPE, REF. 130, MOV. N. 867’038, CASSA N. 630’157, ANNO DI PRODUZIONE 1946, IN ACCIAIO E ORO ROSA, CON ESTRATTO DI ARCHIVIO PATEK PHILIPPE

Cassa in acciaio con fondello a scatto, lunetta e corona in oro rosa 18 kt, pulsanti cronografici rettangolari. Quadrante rosè con indici e numeri arabi applicati oro, scala tachimetrica e divisione dei cinque minuti periferiche, due quadranti ausiliari ad ore 3 e 9 rispettivamente con registro dei 30 minuti e secondi continui, lancette a foglia oro, secondi cronografici neri al centro. Movimento a carica manuale calibro 13''', cassa, quadrante e movimento firmati

diam. mm 33,5

 

Corredato di Estratto d’Archivio Patek Philippe datato Marzo 2013 che conferma la produzione di questo orologio nel 1946 e la sua successiva vendita il 6 Novembre 1947.

 

AN EXTREMELY FINE AND RARE STAINLESS STEEL AND 18K PINK GOLD CHRONOGRAPH WRISTWATCH, PATEK PHILIPPE , REF. 130, MOVEMENT NO. 867’038, CASE NO. 630’157, MANUFACTURED IN 1946, WITH PATEK PHILIPPE EXTRACT FROM THE ARCHIVE

circular stainless steel case with 18 K pink gold bezel, gold crown, stainless steel snap on back, two rectangular chronograph buttons in the band. Pink dial, applied gold baton and Arabic numerals, outer hard enamel five minute divisions and tachymetre scale, two subsidiary dials for constant seconds and 30 minutes register Patek Philippe. Cal. 13''' mechanical movement, case, dial and movement signed
33.5 mm. diam. 

 

With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives dated March 2013, confirming production of the present watch in 1946 and its subsequent sale on November 6th, 1947.

Estimate   € 130.000 / 180.000
201611090101800.jpg

Domenico Pellegrini

(Galliera Veneta 1759 - Rome 1840)

PORTRAIT OF FILIPPO AND COSTANZA DE MARINIS AS CUPID AND PSYCHE

oil on canvas, 134x174 cm

signed and dated "D:co Pellegrini F:it Napoli / 1790" lower right

 

Provenance

Marchese Giovann'Andrea De Marinis, Naples

Principi Sangro di Fondi, Naples

Private collection

 

Literature

G. Pavanello, Domenico Pellegrini 1759-1840. Un pittore veneto nelle capitali d'Europa, Venezia 2012, p. 17

 

Under the protection of Antonio Canova, the young Veneto painter Domenico Pellegrini (1759-1840) travelled from Rome to Naples, in order to perfect his studies and to achieve recognition from this artistic centre of excellence. From Naples, he came back to Rome. He later moved first to Venice and then to London, which, together with Lisbon, became the favourite places for his activity. He spent the final years of his life in Rome and he generously donated to the Accademia di San Luca his collection of paintings: first among others, the Capriccio architettonico by Canaletto.

The artist, already renowned in Rome, started to expand his experiences, and, as a reason for his stay, he was appointed by Canova to create a copy of the Danae by Titian, stored in Capodimonte. It was the end of the ninth decade of the XVIII century. An extract by Antonio d'Este in his Memorie sheds light on this period:

 

It was around that time that the artist (Canova) met Domenico Pellegrini, who, out of the financial support granted to him in Rome by a Venetian aristocrat, found himself without economic means fearing for a gloomy future due to the political situation of that time. In order to help him, Canova sent him to Naples, at his own expenses, to paint a replica of the Danae by Titian: thus Pellegrini, who stood out for his use of colour, began his career and Canova provided for the needs of an artist that, by means of his brush, managed to put aside enough savings to live comfortably[1].

 

That stay turned out to be fortunate because Pellegrini was supported by the name of Canova, who, at that time, was leader for the commissions of sculptures in the city, starting with the group of Adonis and Venus, already sculpted in 1789 and placed by the Marquis Francesco Berio in a small temple in the garden of his palace in via Toledo.

Canova, again, represented for Pellegrini the support of Ranieri de Calzabigi, the famous intellectual who took the young painter under his protection, introducing him to the Neapolitan artistic environment. Leading figure of such environment was William Hamilton, special delegate of his Majesty the King of Great Britain in Naples, collector and scholar of Greek vases and classical antiquities: the magnificent four volumes on his collection of ancient vases would be featured in the library of Canova. Pellegrini promptly painted the portrait of Emma Hart, Lady Hamilton.

In addition to the two noblemen, there were the Earl Giuseppe Lucchesi Palli di Campofranco, collector, writer of libretti and impresario and Carlo Castone della Torre di Rezzonico, intellectual and art critic, panegyrist of Adonis and Venus by Canova: both affiliated, together with the Marquis Berio, to the Masonry. The successes became frequent and Naples became a centre of excellence in this period and destination of prominent personalities, travellers and artists, Canova in primis, who sojourned in Naples in 1780 and in 1787, right after the inauguration of the Funeral Monument of Clement XIV[2].

 

In addition to the mythological paintings, Pellegrini made several portraits, that became the painter's favourite subject of his production, while the close contact with the painting of Titian certainly stimulated this artist to venture on the path of the in-depth study of the colouring, constant feature in the following decades.

 

From the letter of Calzabigi to Canova on October2nd, we learn that

 

He has many works to do under my supervision. He has already started three portraits: one for the Earl Rezzonico, who you know as president of the Accademia delle Belle Arti of Parma; one for the young Lady Hart, English beauty who lives in the house of Sir Hamilton, British minister in Naples: he is working on that portrait in direct competition with that painted by Lady Le Brun, who you already know; and another one for a friend of mine. On Thursday he is starting (he promised) an historiated portrait of the two children of one of the most important lords of this country, who then wants one for himself; and soon he will have to prepare another historiated portrait for one of the most important ladies of this court with her 3 children[3].

 

The Neapolitan aristocracy - «one of the most important lords of this country»  – is here represented by Giovann’Andrea de Marinis, Marquis of Genzano, who, in addition to the «historiated portrait of the two children […] wants one for himself». We can state with certainty that, in the gallery of the heirs of the Marquis, the Princes of Fondi, there were a Portrait of the Family and a painting depicting Cupid and Psyche[4] by Pellegrini. A mid-nineteenth century text reports that, in the Neapolitan palace, was stored «a beautiful, life-size painting, depicting an Allegory, work of a painter of that time, known as Pellegrini, where there are two figures whose lineaments resemble de Marini's brother and sister»[5].

It is supposed that the figures to whom the documents of the archive refer to as “the two children” of the “historiated portrait” mentioned by Calzabigi, are the children of the Marquis Giovann’Andrea de Marinis, Filippo and Costanza, depicted as Cupid and Psyche[6].

We can now confirm this hypothesis, thanks to the recovery of this important painting. In fact, the faces of the two young figures are portrayed in accordance with the trend of portraits of “historiated” groups, in the style of Kauffmann, whose art also "bloomed" along the fertile slopes of Vesuvius. There is evident homage to the painter and to the world of Canova: both artists depicted the young Henryk Lubomirski as Eros[7] in an allegorical way and again Kaufmann chose the mythological representation to portrait the Plymouth children in 1795[8].

A second example of a similar double allegorical portrait – that of Caterina and Vettor Pisani as Cupid and Psyche – is today stored in Pisani Moretta Palace and was painted by Pellegrini in Venice for Vettor Pisani[9].

There is nothing archaeological or scholarly in the couple of de Marinis's children and in that of the Pisani's, in which Pellegrini shows himself as up to date for the modern trends and freed from all academic influences: resorting to allegory was the best way to combine grace and good taste, which were requested by customers, influenced by the international trends on portraiture: after Angelica Kauffmann, Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun was also active in Naples with equal success.

Our couple is presented in a natural environment, on a rocky rise where clothes are laid down, in particular, a flashy red cloth, reminding of the style of Giorgione and Titian. Even the arboreal wing, opening on the lateral distance, reminds of the Venetian techniques of very early sixteenth century, in particular the Tre filosofi. Provided that the Pisani children, with their infantile innocence, were suited for the allegorical transformation, in the portrait of the two preadolescents, the painter has instead chosen a more cunning use of the allegory. We could dare to say that the atmosphere of Naples was different from that of Venice: probably, there was the intention to turn a classical ideal into modernity, for which Naples represented one of the best artistic centres of Europe.

Canova was applying himself to finish the group of Cupid and Psyche embracing, already shaped in June 1787 for the colonel John Campbell (then Lord Cawdor), who the sculptor met in Naples during his stay in 1787. In his painting Pellegrini recalls Canova's group, even with compositional diversity, as it is evident in the presence of the cloth laying on the ground, as well as the rocky rise and the minimal veil on the body of Psyche. Psyche, although winged, reminds of the Canovian statue of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and also to the second version of the group, sculptured for the Russian Prince Nicola Jusupov[10].

It is important not to miss the intensity of the looks and of that embrace between the figures, with its realistic, emotional tone, that is, without those particular stylizations that characterize the Canovian group and that Pellegrini will reuse in the Venus and Adonis of Lisbon[11]. The tone that properly fits the double portrait of this type is “familiar” and represents the true expressive focus of the painting contributing to improve the charm of this small masterpiece.

 

 

Giuseppe Pavanello



[1] A. D’Este, Memorie di Antonio Canova…, Florence 1864, pp. 88-89.

[2] G. Pavanello, Canova e Napoli, in Antonio Canova. La cultura figurativa e letteraria dei grandi centri italiani. 2. Milan, Florence, Naples, Bassano del Grappa 2006, pp. 279-294.

[3] A.L. Bellina, Ultime lettere di Ranieri Calzabigi. Corrispondenze amichevoli e “versetti” encominastici per Antonio Canova, in Studi in onore di Vittorio Zaccaria in occasione del settantesimo compleanno, edited by M. Pecoraro, Milan 1987, pp. 344-345.

[4] Inventory, dating back around the middle of the nineteenth century (Catalogo de’ quadri componenti la galleria del Principe di Fondi: Rome, Central Archives of the State, Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione, Gen. Dir. AA.BB.AA., Dept. Museums, Gall. and Pinac., I vers. (1860-1890), b. 250, fasc. 117-121 published by G. Manieri Elia, La quadreria napoletana de Marinis-de Sangro. Dall’influenza del classicismo romano al dissolvimento del collezionismo aristocratico, in Collezionismo e ideologia. Mecenati, artisti e teorici dal classico al neoclassico, edited by E. Debenedetti, Rome 1991, pp. 329-337 (p. 329 for the paintings made by Pellegrini: Cupid and Psyche in the first antechamber and Portrait of the Family in the second antechamber).

[5] M. d’Ayala (Vita degli Italiani benemeriti della libertà e della Patria uccisi dal carnefice, Rome 1883, p. 237), mentioned by Giulio Manieri Elia, who suggests that the picture refers to the «Portrait of the Family» reported in the inventory of the palace (see previous footnote).

[6] P. Fardella, Tra antico e moderno: Antonio Canova e il collezionismo napoletano, in Antonio Canova. La cultura figurativa e letteraria dei grandi centri italiani. 2. Milan, Florence, Naples, Bassano del Grappa 2006, p. 316. The academic reports that the Marquis commissioned to Pellegrini «also an Allegory to commemorate the death of his son Filippo, dead in 1799, mentioned by D’Ayala» (P. Fardella, Riflessi della Repubblica sul collezionismo privato napoletano, in Novantanove in idea. Linguaggi miti memorie, A. Placanica, M.R. Pelizari, eds., Naples 2002, p. 244); G. Pavanello, Domenico Pellegrini 1759-1840. Un pittore veneto nelle corti d’Europa, Verona 2013, p. 17.

[7] Cfr. H. Honour, Gli Amorini del Canova, in “Arte illustrata”, VI, 55-56, 1973, pp. 312-320.

[8] Angelika Kauffmann, exhibition catalogue (Düsseldorf, Kuntmuseum; Munich, Haus der Kunst; Coira, Bünder Kunstmuseum) edited by B. Baumgärtel, Ostfildern-Ruit 1998, pp. 310-311, cat. 168.

[9] A. Mariuz, Due bambini di Casa Pisani ritratti da Domenico Pellegrini, in Per Maria Cionini Visani. Scritti di amici, Turin 1977, pp. 138-140; Pavanello 2013, p. 20, fig. 13. The extract from a letter of Canova to Giuseppe Falier on September 17th 1796 highlights the affinity between the sculptor and the painter in this moment: «if the children were portrayed in miniature, they could be represented as Cupid and Psyche taking old drawings as models or the ancient group in plaster stored in Ca’ Farsetti», that was in reality a very famous cast in marble stored in Musei Capitolini, incunabulum also for the double portrait of the young children of the Pisani family.

[10] Cfr. G. Pavanello, L’opera completa del Canova, Milan 1976, cat. 65, 84-85; Idem, sheet in Antonio Canova, exhibition catalogue (Venice, Museo Correr) G. Pavanello, G. Romanelli, eds, Venice 1992, cat. 122.

[11] There is a replica at the Accademia di San Luca: cfr. Pavanello 2013, figg. 70-71.

 

Estimate   € 60.000 / 80.000
201611090101900.jpg

Antonio Fontanesi

(Reggio nell'Emilia 1818 - Turin 1882)

IL GUADO

oil on panel, 78,5x115 cm

signed lower left

on the reverse of the frame: labels of the exhibitions of Turin (1932), Paris (1935), New York (1949), Rome (1951-1952), Milan (1954), Tokyo - Kyoto (1977-1978), label with "Monti & Gemelli Milano 81", label with the number "427", inscribed "Esposiz. Int. Venezia 1901 N. 574" and "1901 Venezia N. 427".

 

Provenance

Cristiano Banti collection, Florence

Conte P. Gazelli Brucco collection, Florence

Luigi Cora collection, Rapallo

Gran Uff. Rag. Mario Rossello collection, Milan

Paolo Stramezzi collection, Crema

Private collection Milan

Private collection

 

Exhibitions

Salon de 1861, Palais des Champs-Élysées, Parigi, 1861, Peinture, n. 1140

Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, dessin, etc. exposés au Palais électoral, Palais Électoral, Ginevra, 1861, n. 108

Esposizione delle opere di Belle Arti nelle Gallerie del Palazzo Nazionale di Brera per l'anno 1861, Palazzo Nazionale di Brera, Milano, 1861, n. 340

Quarta Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte della Città di Venezia, Palazzo dell'Esposizione, Venezia, 1901, Sala O - Mostra retrospettiva di Antonio Fontanesi, n. 16

Antonio Fontanesi 1818-1882, Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Torino, 1932, Sala Prima, n. 11

L'Art Italien du XIXe et XXe siècles, Musée des Écoles étrangères contemporaines - Jeu de Paume des Tuileries, Paris (?), 1935, Peinture, n. 100

Exhibition of Italian XIX Century Paintings, Galleria Wildenstein - Metropolitan Museum, New York,1949, n. 37

VI Quadriennale Nazionale d'Arte di Roma, Roma, 1951-1952, Sale 57-58, n. 1

Il paesaggio italiano - Artisti italiani e stranieri, Società per le Belle Arti ed Esposizione Permanente, Milano, 1954, Sala IV, n. 48

Fontanesi, Ragusa e l'arte giapponese nel primo periodo Meiji, Museo Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Tokyo - Kyoto, 1977-1978, n. 10

 

Literature

Explication des ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, gravure, lithographie et architecture des artistes vivants, catalogo della mostra, (Parigi, Palais des Champs-Élysées), Parigi 1861, p. 137 (con il titolo Le gué)

Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, dessin, etc. exposés au Palais électoral, catalogo della mostra, (Ginevra, Palais Électoral), 1861, (con il titolo Le gué)

Esposizione delle opere di Belle Arti nelle Gallerie del Palazzo Nazionale di Brera per l'anno 1861, catalogo della mostra, (Milano, Palazzo Nazionale di Brera), Milano 1861

Catalogo illustrato. Quarta Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte della Città di Venezia, catalogo della mostra (terza edizione), (Venezia, Palazzo dell’Esposizione), Venezia 1901, p. 128

M. Calderini, Antonio Fontanesi. Pittore Paesista 1818-1882, Torino 1901, p. 86 ill.

M. Bernardi, Antonio Fontanesi 1818-1882, catalogo della mostra, (Torino, Galleria d'Arte Moderna), Torino 1932, pp. 7-8, 20, tav. f.t.

mar. ber., Cronaca cittadina. Rievocazione di un grande artista. Torino per Antonio Fontanesi, in "La Stampa", 19 agosto 1932

M. Bernardi, I maestri della pittura italiana dell'Ottocento. Antonio Fontanesi, A. Mondadori Editore, Milano 1933, pp. 37, 39, 67, 245, tav. XVI

Catalogue. L'Art italien des XIXe et XXe Siècles, catalogo della mostra, (Parigi, Musée des Écoles étrangères contemporaines - Jeu de Paume des Tuileries), 1935, p. 53 (con il titolo En Dauphiné)

R. Calzini, 800 Italiano. 12 opere di Maestri italiani nella Raccolta Stramezzi, Milano 1948, s.p., tav. 2 (con le misure 116 x 80,5 cm)

E. Somaré, Pittori Italiani dell'Ottocento, catalogo della mostra, (New York, Galleria Wildenstein - Metropolitan Museum), New York 1949, p. 54 (con le misure 80,5 x 126 cm), tav. 37

VI Quadriennale Nazionale d'Arte di Roma, catalogo della mostra, (Roma), Roma 1951, p. 122

G. Castelfranco, Pittori italiani del Secondo Ottocento, Roma 1952, p. 45, tav. XXXVII

Il paesaggio italiano - Artisti italiani e stranieri, catalogo della mostra, (Milano, Società per le Belle Arti ed Esposizione Permanente), Milano 1954, pp. 32, 176 (con le misure 115 x 80,5 cm e con la tavola come supporto), tav. 67

E. Somaré, Pittori Italiani dell'Ottocento, catalogo della mostra (seconda edizione), (New York, Galleria Wildenstein - Metropolitan Museum, 1949), Milano 1957, p. 54, tav. 37

C. Maltese, Storia dell'arte in Italia, 1785-1943, Einaudi, Torino 1960, p. 191, tav. 83

L. Mallé, La pittura dell'Ottocento piemontese, Torino 1976, p. 209 ill., tav. 259

Fontanesi, Ragusa e l'arte giapponese nel primo periodo Meiji, catalogo della mostra, (Tokyo - Kyoto, Museo Nazionale d'Arte Moderna), a cura di A. Dragone, K. Adachi, M. Kawakita, Tokyo 1977, s.p. (con i titoli Il guado o The Ford), tav. f.t.

R. Maggio Serra, "Antonio Fontanesi pittore paesista". Un artista italiano in Europa, in Antonio Fontanesi 1818-1882, catalogo della mostra, a cura di R. Maggio Serra, (Torino, Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea), Torino 1997, pp. 70 (con il titolo Le gué), 77 (con i titoli Le gué o Il guado) - 78, 80 ill., 84

E. Canestrini, Cronologia, in Antonio Fontanesi 1818-1882, catalogo della mostra, a cura di R. Maggio Serra, (Torino, Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea), Torino 1997, p. 245 (con il titolo Le gué)

P. Sanchez, X. Seydoux, Les Catalogues des Salons - VII - (1859-1863), Dijon 2004, s.p.

E. Staudacher, La collezione Rossello. Storia di una raccolta d'arte leggendaria, in La collezione segreta. Raccolta Mario Rossello, a cura di F.L. Maspes, E. Staudacher, Gallerie Maspes, Milano 2016, pp. 73 ill., 78

E. Staudacher (scheda), in La collezione segreta. Raccolta Mario Rossello, a cura di F.L. Maspes, E. Staudacher, Gallerie Maspes, Milano 2016, pp. 286 ill. - 288

 

1861, the year of the Unification of Italy, was a happy year for Fontanesi: the works he exhibited in May in Paris in the Salon – Il guado, dated 1861, and Il prato (already exhibited in Turin in 1859) – and that were later sent to Milan in December for another exhibition, were much praised by Corot and Troyon; the paintings exhibited in Florence were admired by the Macchiaioli, one was purchased by King Vittorio Emanuele II (Dopo la pioggia, today in the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Florence) and the other by the Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione (la Quiete), who in 1863 destined it to the Civica Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Turin.

Therefore, at the age of 43, the artist was at the height of his success, with paintings that proved he had wholly reached a mature and very original artistic language.

After taking part in the First Italian War of Independence in 1848-1849 with the Garibaldine volunteers, he found refuge in Switzerland, first in Lugano and finally in Geneva. Here he quickly settled down, both learning and improving different techniques (besides oil and pastel painting, he dedicated himself to drawing, as is shown by the many sketchbooks and by the fusain, the charcoal drawings of which François Diday was the master in Geneva; but he also acquired an exceptional skill in lithography, to meet the requirements of several important commissions; in 1858 he started applying himself to etching, and from 1862 onwards he produced cliché-verres of extraordinary allure), and developing his own recognizable formal language (it is enough to observe the large drawing Cour de St. Pierre, 1851, to recognize the atmosphere and the typical elements of his poetics).

Starting from his fundamental stay in Paris, as Troyon’s guest, in order to visit in 1855 the Exposition Universelle, he updated his style drawing inspiration from the most advanced French experiences of the previous decades. An evolution that was favoured by frequent stays in the Dauphiné, where, from 1858 onwards, he was a guest of François-Auguste Ravier, thanks to whom he got to know the colony of Lyonnaise anti-academic artists who used to gather together round him. But year after year Fontanesi, painting en plein air between Crémieu, Creys, Optevoz and Morestel, expressed his own “sentiment of nature” that went far beyond the styles of the other artists that frequented those areas: much more refined and intense is the poetry with which he is capable of interpreting landscape, and more original is his way of applying and working the chromatic material. Fontanesi’s paintings in fact, show a very personal language and style, that gave rise to admiration among experts and innovators, but also perplexity among the more traditional public, a “lazy” spectator in its habits that was unprepared to observe, prejudice free, the novelties that the more sensitive artists were able to offer: these looked indeed to the great masters of the past centuries, but also renewed their inspiration comparing themselves – with “free” mind and eyes, engaging their deepest feelings – with the reality of the period.

If we observe those paintings by Fontanesi, we recognize a lyrical and elegiac strength, a spirit of intimate idyllic life, that is rooted in classical poetry and in the painting of the past centuries, but that is also translated into substance of disconcerting freshness and simplicity of application – gestural, one would say –: that manages to enhance light in the representation of landscape, of figures and of the sense of harmony that captures “the moment”, and at the same time places itself in a “timeless”, almost eternal, dimension.

The artist portrays and fixes an essence of an expansive and airy nature in his works, so vast as to seem to challenge the transience of time, but also to evoke that subtle disquiet (an aspect that will be intensified over the following decades, until the Bufera imminente in 1874) that arises from the awareness that it is just a moment seized in its most intense and vibrant beauty, and not eternity, although it may appear so.

Yet, in this happy 1861 – when the artist could hope to have overcome the wounds his sensitive soul had endured due to the ferocious experience of war and of the bloody conflicts on the battlefields, and to be able to enjoy the fruits of his admirable unceasing, professional artistic commitment – the tone of his paintings is characterized by a fully elegiac serenity.

This applies to La Quiete, 1860, a masterful composition played on the balance between the left side of the painting, with the two elegant figures (tridimensional silhouettes against a space that stretches towards infinity), and the right side of full nature, in which the rock of heavy-bodied paint is almost dialoguing with the calm stretch of water; while in the centre the vertical axis is marked, at the bottom, by the typical small figure leaning towards the spring, and, at the top, by the light that pours through between the leafy branches of the trees.

In fact, already in this phase, the most charming and fascinating element in Fontanesi’s paintings is light: it is enhanced by a careful composition built on successive planes, where areas of shade and different degrees of luminosity alternate, capable of introducing the vision of a space that stretches out and fades into infinity; in both Dopo la pioggia and in Il guado, light is the protagonist.

In this extraordinary masterpiece, the foreground in shadow (with the threadlike greenery that reaches the water and that will be seen again around 1875 in his paintings of ponds, along with a very essential and incisive way of painting, incredibly avantgarde for the time) creates the effect of a visual telescope: it emphasizes the magic light that falls on the animals wading across the stretch of water and that also arrives from the right, illuminating in full sunlight all that horizontal area of the painting, with the firm figure of the shepherd against the light and the rest of the cattle illuminated that moves across the sand towards the mottled, crystal clear surface of the water. This appears as calm as the meander of a lake but also rippled by a slight current, which is expressed by the colour tone vibrations of the paint that convey the thousand refractions of light onto a wonderfully vibrant surface that multiplies the variations of azure, silver, gold and the delicate browns of the reflections of animals and trees.

The delicacy and the chromatic richness of the water find a companion in the soft, majestic beauty of the vast sky; but it is in the eurythmy of the trunks and in the vibrant foliage and branches where Fontanesi – once again – manages to alternate shaded, half-lighted or fully illuminated areas: he thus ends up creating a painting in which one never tires of finding new details, each one more refined and poetic than the other. The Studio per “Il guado” (oil on carton, 32x44,5 cm, in the Galleria Ricci Oddi, Piacenza) reveals quite clearly the conception of the composition, with a curved upper profile and the choice to simply depict the nature of the place, with neither animals nor shepherds.

The fact that Il Guado is an extraordinary masterpiece of this phase of Fontanesi’s career is not just an opinion I share with the main scholars of the artist who came before me, but it is also demonstrated by the prestigious collections it was part of: recent studies confirmed it once belonged to the Florentine Cristiano Banti, one of the most sensitive and cultured painters of his time, friend and important patron of Fontanesi (of whom he owned dozens of works, even if Calderini – in his fundamental monography – lists only ten paintings in his name, without mentioning Il guado) and then passed on to the most illustrious private collections of the 1900s.

Lastly, it is no coincidence if Angelo Dragone – in the exhibitions held in Japan in 1977-1978 that celebrated the hundredth anniversary of the Kōbu School of Fine Arts in Tokyo, the first centre created by the Japanese nation for the teaching of European style arts, where Antonio Fontanesi was called for a three-year contract as a teacher – bestowed particular attention on Il guado.

That was the occasion for my father to resume studies on Fontanesi started decades before, examining the subject in depth in such an organic and complete way as had never been done before (also drawing up the catalogue raisonné of his engravings), achieving one of the most thorough critical and historical interpretations of the painter, uncontradicted even today, though integrated over the last forty years with many further studies.

In the sophisticated, trilingual, Japanese catalogue, the large photograph of Il guado dominates the cover.

                                                                                                          Piergiorgio Dragone

 

 

 

Estimate   € 130.000 / 160.000
Price realized:  Registration
201611090102000.jpg

Eugène Boudin

(Honfleur 1824 - Deauville 1898)

TROUVILLE, LE RIVAGE

oil on canvas, 55,5x92,5 cm

signed and dated "1896" lower left

 

Provenance

Gérard, Paris

Private collection

 

Exhibitions

Eugène Boudin 1824-1898, Kunsthalle, Brema, 23 settembre - 4 novembre 1979, n° 73, ill. a colori p. 75

Eugène Boudin 1824-1898, Galerie Schmit, Parigi, 7 maggio - 12 luglio 1980, n° 49, ill. a colori

Eugène Boudin 1824-1898, Knoedler & C°, New York, 10 novembre-12 dicembre 1981, n° 32, ill. a colori

Eugène Boudin 1824-1898, Galerie Schmit, Parigi, 10 maggio - 20 luglio 1984, n° 39, ill. a colori

 

Literature

R. Schmit, Eugène Boudin, Paris 1973, III, n° 3584, ill. p. 369

G. Jean-Aubry, Eugène Boudin, intr. e doc. di R. Schmit, Neuchâtel 1987, p. 229


The painting is included in the Schmit Archive with the number B-T.1897/383/3584.
We are grateful to Manuel Schmit for confirming the painting to be a work by Eugène Boudin. 

 

It was Eugène Boudin, before Claude Monet, Camille Pissaro and Alfred Sisley, who was the first to challenge tradition, moving his easel from his studio out into the open air in the splendid landscapes of Normandy and Le Havre, following in the wake of the experience already explored by the School of Barbizon, where the main subjects were landscapes and country scenes populated by peasants and grazing animals.

Boudin is not inclined however, towards a realistic-romantic interpretation of landscape, but is enchanted by the constantly changing light effects, the wonders of nature, the countrysides and the beaches that come alive in his canvases.

Born in Honfleur, Normandy, in 1824, Boudin discovered his vocation as a painter late in life. After working as a sailor, he opened a frame shop that gave him the opportunity to meet many of the artists who frequented the area, such as Courbet and Corot. Later on, for the love of painting, he left everything to go to Paris, where, instead of studying at the Academy, he preferred to copy the great Venetian and Dutch masters at the Louvre.

He would return to Normandy whenever he could, moving from one beach to the other with his easel. He considered painting in the open air the only way to work: he was convinced that “two brush-strokes in contact with nature are worth more than two days of work in a studio”. Sometimes, during his painting excursions, he was accompanied by a much younger man, of whose qualities he was already well-aware: Claude Monet. They roamed together with their easel, trying to transfer onto the canvas those shimmering skies that, always changing, cast their reflections on the surface of the sea. In an age when the public preferred clear, well-defined painting, Boudin painted without defining the shapes: his palette grew lighter and fainter, making his works often look like sketches. The most important thing for him was to seize the exact moment when the reflection varied or the light changed colour, an aim he pursued throughout his life. In 1920 Claude Monet confessed to his biographer Gustave Geffroy that he owed all his success to Eugène Boudin, whom Corot had defined “the king of skies”. Through him Monet had learnt to read nature and to educate his eye; he recognized in him the gift of immediacy, a fundamental quality that always fascinated him. Boudin’s interest in nature and in the portrayal of landscape paved the way for the great Impressionist revolution.

Boudin exhibited for the first time at the Salon in Paris, with his work Le Pardon. In the summer of 1862 he painted his first beachside, a subject that, in its never-ending atmospheric variations, was to characterize his oeuvre. Over time, Boudin’s canvases kept to the same subjects, changing them according to the time of day: Plage aux environs de Trouville (1864) or Concert au casino de Deauville (1865) are examples of this group of works. Besides this genre, in the 1870s in particular, he also devoted himself to portraying the middle-class during their leisure time. The main locations of these works were the beaches and the new recreational facilities popular with the wealthy: the subject of these paintings is therefore, once again Normandy, where Boudin would spend half of the year, returning to Paris only for the winter. In December 1870 he moved to Bruxelles, summoned by the art dealer Gauchez, and worked there throughout 1871, also travelling to Antwerp, Bordeaux and the Netherlands, so as to vary his production. With the art market crisis in the middle of the 1870s, moving became more difficult; he started travelling again in the 1880s, until he moved into the house he had had built in Deauville, Lower Normandy: here the colours of his palette maintained a certain darkness, reflecting the weather of those northern lands. In 1874 he took part in the exhibition of the Impressionists in studio of Nadar. Several years later, in 1883, Paul Durand-Ruel, the first art dealer to understand the importance of Impressionists and a great admirer of Boudin’s work, dedicated a very successful exhibition to him in his new gallery in Boulevard de la Madeleine in Paris. Only in 1892, when for health reasons Boudin moved to the south, to the French Riviera, did his palette become lighter: he felt however incapable of translating the light of those lands and that sea into his painting. He will spend the following years between the French Riviera, Venice and Florence; he died in his beloved Deauville in August 1898.

 

Estimate   € 100.000 / 150.000
Price realized:  Registration
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Sir William Hamilton

(Henley-on-Thames 1730 - London 1803)

CAMPI PHLEGRAEI. OBSERVATIONS ON THE VOLCANOS OF THE TWO SICILIES.

Naples, [Pietro Fabris], 1776.

 

[Bound with:]

 

Supplement to the Campi Phlegraei. Being an Account of the Great Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the Month of August 1779.

 

Naples, [Pietro Fabris], 1779.

 

Folio (460 x 335 mm). Typographical title page; hand-coloured double-page map of the Bay of Naples, engraved in 1776 by Giuseppe Guerra after Pietro Fabris; [1] l. with “References to Plate I”; hand-coloured chalcographic title-page with six vignettes depicting the Aeolian Islands; pp. 3-90; [1] l. with imprimatur; typographical title page; [53] ll. of text alternating with [53] hand-coloured chalcographic plates numbered II-LIIII; typographical title page of the Supplement; [1] l. with “References to Plate I”; hand-coloured chalcographic title-page with six vignettes depicting the eruption of Vesuvius; pp. 1-29 [1]; [1] l. with a dedication to Ferdinand IV; [4] ll. of text alternating with [4] hand-coloured chalcographic plates numbered II-V. Complete. Contemporary long-grain red half morocco; spine with six nerves and seven finely gilt compartments, the second with gilt lettering; marbled covers, endpapers and edges; gilt floral roll on covers. Occasional pale age-toning, binding slightly rubbed, but overall a very good copy.

 

Title and text in English and French, on two columns.

 

Provenance: Lyons Library (heraldic bookplate on inside front cover); Pregliasco sale, Turin, December 1940 (bibliographic record); private collection.

 

Bibliography: Brunet III 31. Graesse III 205. Jenkins and Sloan, Vases and Volcanoes. Sir William Hamilton and His Collection, British Museum Press, 1996. Lewine 232. Lowndes II 989. Rudwick, Bursting the Limits of Time, 2005, p. 30.

 

MAGNIFICENT COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION OF THE FAMOUS WORK OF SIR HAMILTON ON ITALIAN VOLCANOES, BEAUTIFULLY ILLUSTRATED WITH 59 ETCHINGS WITH FINE CONTEMPORARY HAND-COLOURING.

 

Unanimously considered as an editorial masterpiece and one of the most beautiful books of the 18th century, Hamilton’s Campi Phlegraei is a milestone in the fields of both book illustration and volcanological research.

 

The name “Campi Flegrei”, or “lands burned by fire”, designates the vast area that includes Naples and its surroundings that is characterized by a lively volcanic activity since antiquity. In fact, Vesuvius, its spectacular eruptions, and the places that surround it are the undisputed protagonists of this work. But it should be pointed out that the meticulous volcanological research conducted by Hamilton also involved other volcanoes of southern Italy, in particular those of the Aeolian Islands and Mount Etna; most of them appear in plates and commentaries of the book.

 

Hamilton’s modern approach to scientific inquiry, which made the Campi Phlegraei a revolutionary text in the field of volcanology, is laid out by him in his introductory letter of the work, addressed to Sir John Pringle, president of the Royal Society of London, of which Sir William was a member since 1766. Unlike the naturalists of the past, whose theories were mostly conceived and developed at their desks, Hamilton, a true apostle of Enlightenment, believed that nature should be studied with accurate and detailed live observations; these should be then reported in the most faithful and understandable way.

 

Therefore, the text of Campi Phlegraei, which consists of the series of letters sent by Hamilton to the Royal Society between June 10, 1766 and October 1, 1779, is basically a very detailed record of his many ascents to Mount Vesuvius and excursions to its surrounding areas. During these trips, he recorded every volcanic phenomenon worthy of relief and came to the innovative and fundamental conclusion that the activity of volcanoes has a decisive impact on the earth’s surface and the shaping of the landscape.

 

In the same letter to Pringle, Hamilton also describes both the genesis of the spectacular plates that adorn the work and the publishing history of the book. True to his modern scientific methodology, he wished that his report were accompanied by images that reproduced precisely and in detail what he observed. He commissioned the work to Pietro Fabris, whom he called “a most ingenious and able artist”, and asked him to draw each volcanic place they visited, as well as samples of volcanic rocks and particular eruptions. These include the Vesuvius eruptions occurred at the turn of 1760 and 1761, the night of 20 October 1767 and 11 May 1771, and in August 1779. The latter is the subject of the entire Supplement to Campi Phlegraei.

 

Hamilton supervised directly the work of Fabris, who accompanied him in his excursions. In fact, the two men are portrayed in many plates, the first with a red coat, the second in blue. Fully satisfied with the artist’s work, which he described as executed with “the uttermost fidelity” and “as much taste as exactness”, Hamilton decided that what he had initially requested for his personal satisfaction was instead published for the benefit of a wider audience. He entrusted again the enterprise to Fabris and took on the huge costs, requiring that the plates reproduced the original drawings “with such delicacy and perfection, as scarcely to be distinguished from the original drawings themselves”.

 

Not surprisingly, even nowadays those who browse a copy of Campi Phlegraei are awed by the colouristic virtuosity of its plates, which, as Hamilton wrote, truly seem original drawings. But Fabris’ images also amaze because they are entirely pervaded with the concept of “sublime”, obtained by the contrast between a Nature that is portrayed in all its vastness and power and the tiny size of the human figures that inhabit it. Many views feature small scenes of everyday life, as well as minute depictions of buildings, transport and local flora.

 

The subjects of the plates include numerous images of craters and lava layers on Mount Vesuvius and other volcanoes; views of various volcanic locations of Campania; illustrations of lakes and of ample landscapes; spectacular and dramatic eruptions at night and during the day; views of the Gulf of Naples and Posillipo, Pozzuoli, the Solfatara, Porto Paone at the island of Nisida, Ischia, Ventotene, and Stromboli, Etna from Catania, the excavations at the temple of Isis in Pompeii. Plates from 42 to 54 reproduce samples of tuff, pumice stone, types of lava and marble, curious volcanic rocks. The plates of the Supplement, the most famous and reproduced, and are even more spectacular and beautiful in their representation of the extraordinary eruption of Vesuvius in 1779.

 

Each of the 54 plates of Campi Phlegraei and of the 5 in the Supplement is accompanied by a page with captions describing with scientific precision every detail depicted by Fabris. In many captions, Hamilton also wanted to add what the purpose of that particular table was, and what he wanted to show through it.

 

A Scottish nobleman and a man with versatile interests, Sir William Hamilton was a distinguished diplomat, volcanologist, archaeologist, antiquarian and collector. He grew up at the court of King George II, his mother being his mistress. Initially, he embarked on a military career, which he abandoned when he married his first wife, Catherine Barlow. Given the poor health of the latter, in 1764 he requested and obtained the role of British Ambassador to the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, a position he held until 1800. He then moved to Naples, where, in addition to fulfilling his diplomatic duties and welcoming at its famous villas guests as Mozart, Goethe and Horatio Nelson, he devoted himself actively to his two passions: collecting antique vases and studying volcanoes.

 

In 1766, he sent to the Royal Society of London a first record of the eruption of Vesuvius in the summer of that year, an essay thanks to which he was appointed member of the prestigious society. In 1770, the report of his trip to Etna also granted him the Copley Medal, the highest award in science conferred by the Royal Society.

 

His beloved Catherine died in 1782. Hamilton remarried later with Emma Hart, 35 years younger, famous for her beauty and for her liaison with Admiral Nelson. The scandal has inspired Susan Sontag's novel The Volcano Lover (1992).

 

Estimate   € 50.000 / 70.000
Price realized:  Registration
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LARGE FAN DECORATED WITH TWO WATERCOLORS BY GIACOMO FAVRETTO (1849 - 1887) AND ENHANCED BY OVER 60 IMPORTANT AUTOGRAPHS AND DEDICATIONS, 14 BY FAMOUS MAESTRI, WRITERS AND ACTORS, 1883-1993

 

in white paper with top and bottom edges in gold, wooden frame lacquered in red with floral decoration in green and gold on the supporting slats. Width of the open fan: 91 cm. Height: 50 cm. Kept in a specific wooden box with lid (53.2 x 4 x 6.5 cm) with handwritten heading “Gentil Signora Amalia Tibaldi, Verona” and wax seals (one with initials “GV”). The inside of the lid bears a glued white paper strip with a partial list of the names of the authors of dedications and autographs, presumably drawn by the owner of the fan, and complemented by two loose sheets with lists of names stored on the bottom of the box. Light wear.

 

Over the centuries, the fan has been a typical weapon of feminine seduction. Gestures associated with it even constituted a “language” that allowed to communicate in secret with the male universe. This particular fan, however, perhaps too large to fulfil its traditional task, was used by its owner, Amalia Martinez Tibaldi, as an unusual support for an extraordinary collection of artistic, musical and literary “souvenirs” by great protagonists of Italian culture from 1883 onwards. Thus transformed into a unique and beautiful object, Amalia’s fan bears a more subtle and noble kind of seduction: that of the aesthetic and intellectual pleasure.

 

The oldest “souvenirs” date back to 1883. They include two watercolours by Giacomo Favretto, one on each side of the fan, with the portrait of the Japanese lady in kimono bearing the date “1883” under the signature of the artist. The ornamentation of this side of the fan, characterised by flat areas of colour, also includes a floral decoration consisting of branches of flowers and leaves in silver and green, and a small sparrow in flight. On the opposite side, Favretto painted an intense portrait of a lady characterised by muted colours (perhaps Amalia herself?), and purple branches scattered with large flowers and birds in fuchsia and gold. The expression of the woman, who has dark hair and wears a lilac-coloured shawl, is languid, her eyes almost sleepy and her lips slightly parted in a smile.

 

1883 was also the year of the first of the major autographs of the fan, the one by Giuseppe Giacosa, playwright and librettist, who wrote verses of the comedy The siren, first represented that same year in October. Afterwards, one of our greatest 19th century writers, Giovanni Verga, intervened on Amalia’s fan also quoting one of his plays, the drama In portineria, brought on the Milanese scene in 1885.

 

The following years, and particularly the last decade of the 19th century, saw the succession of dedications by distinguished maestri, including: Pietro Mascagni in 1892, with musical bars from Cavalleria Rusticana; Giacomo Puccini in 1893, with the famous lines “Manon Lescaut mi chiamo”; Ruggero Leoncavallo in 1896, with the bars of his “ridi pagliaccio”; Arrigo Boito, undated but presumably in the same period, with bars from Il primo Mefistofele; Don Lorenzo Perosi in 1901, with bars from Il Natale del Redentore.

 

Amalia’s fan is also enriched with many “souvenirs” by theatrical artists, among them Eleonora Duse, who signed it in 1922. Another famous actress, Sarah Bernhardt, in 1899 wrote on it in French “it is women who make men fascinating, full of attentions and good, and your husband is all this”. Name and activity of Amalia’s husband, Eugenio Tibaldi, Lieutenant, can be inferred from other dedications, from which it is also possible to understand that, occasionally, he also asked that the artists contributed to his wife’s fan. A brilliant example is the “souvenir” by the painter Cesare Pascarella, who in 1885 wrote a sonnet in Roman dialect, followed by the phrase (in Italian)[i] “Dear Tibaldi you ask me a sonnet and a donkey for your lady. You’ve read the sonnet ... Here is the donkey ... “And Pascarella added a small self-portrait with monocle and pipe.

 

The great protagonists of the 20th century who appear on the fan are: Gabriele D'Annunzio, with an autograph dated 1919; Ignacy Jan Paderewski, pianist, composer and Polish politician, with an autograph dated 1932; Richard Strauss, with a signature in green ink, undated; Arturo Toscanini, with a large autograph in red ink, dated 1955; and finally, Luciano Pavarotti, with his typical dedication “per caro ricordo”, dated 1993.

 

We do not know who continued Amalia Tibaldi’s collection up until recent years (presumably her descendants), neither have we found precise information about this lady and her husband. However, from the dedications one senses much of their lives. Amalia and Eugenio were well integrated into the high society of the time and were passionate about theatre and opera. The fact that Amalia loved to collect dedications on this fan was notorious, as evidenced by the words of journalist Baldassarre Avanzini, who wrote “Either you give me a dedication, or your life! – Amalia demands from behind the slats, in ambush. Here is the dedication! ... No! ... I have not found it ... But my life is here, if you want it.”

 

Giacinto Gallina, playwright, contributed in a similar way and added a nice quote in French by La Rochefoucauld: “You ask me a thought, my dear Eugene? Here is one by La Rochefoucauld that is also true about friendship: Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans fires.

 

Aware of joining a large group of celebrities, some “souvenirs” playfully underline their own inadequacy. Ferruccio Benini, actor, in May 1900, wrote in a tiny handwriting, not far from the autograph of D’Annunzio, “In this fan there are so many sublime examples of art that I shall put myself here, sheepishly ... so maybe I go unnoticed” Armando Falconi, theatre actor and comedian, in November 1933, snapped in an amusing: “Here I feel like a dog in church!”

 

Among the other numerous witty dedications, we point out the one by Augusto Sindici, poet, “The woman is born a woman, and into her pupils / The man looks when he is born, and becomes imbecile” and the one by Enrico Panzacchi, poet and critic, “The Heart said to the Brain: / - Why are you up there at the top? - / It was answered - Brother, / To be a lookout, / And to monitor from above / all of the nonsense that you can do”. Finally, we like to quote the beautiful “souvenir” by Renato Fucini, poet and writer, who commented on the fan and on life: “An Archimandrite motto asked the fan: / - Tell me, Fan, what is life? / - And the fan, with much waving: / - It's all wind, wind, wind wind”.



[i] All quotations from the fan have been translated into English from the original Italian

 

Estimate   € 20.000 / 30.000
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Andrea Scacciati

(Firenze 1642-1710)

VASO DI FIORI ALL'APERTO, SU UNA PIETRA; SULLO SFONDO, PIANTE SELVATICHE E UN TAPPETO, CON URNA E VASI METALLICI SU UN PIEDISTALLO

olio su tela, cm 125x180,5

firmato e datato: "A. Scacciatj 1679" in basso a destra su una pietra (le C incrociate)

 

Provenienza

New York, Sotheby’s, 19 Gennaio 1984, n. 62.

 

Bibliografia

L. Salerno, La natura morta italiana 1560-1805, Roma 1984, p. 297, fig. 84.1.

M. Cinotti, Catalogo della pittura italiana dal 300 al 700, Milano 1985, p. 307.

G. e U. Bocchi, Naturaliter. Nuovi contributi alla natura morta in Italia settentrionale e Toscana tra XVII e XVIII secolo, Casalmaggiore 1998, p. 498, fig. 626.

S. Bellesi, Catalogo dei pittori fiorentini del 600 e 700: biografie e opere, Firenze 2009, I, p. 252.

S. Bellesi, Andrea Scacciati pittore di fiori, frutta e animali a Firenze in età tardobarocca, Firenze 2012, p. 110, n. 20.

 

Riemersa dopo più di trent'anni dalla raccolta privata che lo custodiva, questa importante composizione di Andrea Scacciati è stata ripetutamente celebrata come uno dei capolavori dell’artista fiorentino sebbene, fino a questo momento, fosse nota solo attraverso la vecchia fotografia in bianco e nero pubblicata per la prima volta da Luigi Salerno.

Come è stato osservato da Sandro Bellesi, che ha ricostruito le vicende e il catalogo del pittore e in particolare la storia del nostro dipinto, la tela qui offerta va confrontata con un gruppo di opere strettamente coeve, di cui condivide l’imponente formato e l’impianto compositivo. Si tratta in particolare della coppia di tele di cui una firmata e datata del 1678 già presso Nystad all’Aja che, esposte nel 1964 alla storica mostra sulla natura morta italiana tenuta a Napoli, a Zurigo e a Rotterdam, segnarono in qualche misura la riscoperta di Andrea Scacciati, fino a quel momento confuso con altri fioranti, e della sua posizione tra i protagonisti della natura morta barocca (La natura morta italiana. Catalogo della mostra, Milano 1964, pp. 79-80, nn. 166-167, tavv. 76 a-b).

Al pari del nostro dipinto, le tele citate accostano infatti uno scapigliato bouquet di fiori variopinti raccolti in un vaso scolpito a una pianta selvatica, fiorita spontaneamente nel terreno sassoso: una sofisticata variazione sul tema del paragone tra natura e artificio, così familiare all’estetica del Barocco. Il nostro dipinto la ripropone, estendendola all’universo dei manufatti, e in particolare agli oggetti preziosi creati dall’uomo per mostrare la ricchezza e il gusto raffinato dei potenti. Ecco dunque, raro ma non unico esempio nella produzione nota di Andrea Scacciati, i vasi in metallo istoriato e il tappeto dalla frangia dorata che a sinistra concludono la composizione. Motivi che tradiscono la competizione con la scuola romana e in particolare con la fortunata produzione di nature morte cresciuta intorno all’esempio del cosiddetto Maltese, ora identificato con Francesco Noletti, e soprattutto con Carlo Manieri: ma, vorremmo dire, qui spogliati di ogni intento puramente decorativo e ricondotti a una necessità tematica più scoperta. Elementi che ricorrono comunque in altri quadri eseguiti dall’artista fiorentino nel corso del nono decennio del Seicento, confermando la relazione da lui sempre intrattenuta con la scuola romana, sottolineata per la prima volta da Mina Gregori nel 1964 a proposito della sua produzione di fiori.

Il nostro dipinto si distingue tuttavia dalla coppia citata (divisa in occasione di un passaggio sul mercato antiquario; si veda in proposito Bellesi 2012, nn. 12-13, tav. VI) e da altre tele coeve di Andrea Scacciati ad esso confrontabili (i vasi di fiori già a Bergamo presso Previtali, catalogati e più volte riprodotti da Sandro Bellesi, 2012, n. 14) per l’ambientazione notturna, che non riscontriamo nelle altre sue composizioni all’aperto fin qui note. Una scelta atta a far risaltare la brillante cromìa dei suoi fiori recisi, anemoni e tulipani in tutte le gradazioni del rosa, le pieghe sontuose del panno dalla frangia dorata e il bagliore dei vasi metallici. Ancora una volta, un richiamo all’esempio di Mario dei Fiori, condiviso anche da Bartolomeo Bimbi che insieme a Scacciati fu protagonista a Firenze del genere della natura morta.

 

 

Note biografiche

 

Nato a Firenze nel 1644, Andrea Scacciati si iscrive nel 1669 all’Arte del Disegno, avendo compiuto il proprio apprendistato. A partire dall’anno successivo è documentata la sua attività per lavori di decorazione eseguiti nel palazzo dei marchese Riccardi a via Larga; risale invece al 1672 il suo primo dipinto datato, un Vaso di fiori ad olio su tela.

Accademico del Disegno nel 1676, Scacciati alterna la sua produzione di pittore di fiori, con varie opere datate più o meno coeve al dipinto qui offerto, a quella di decoratore per la corte medicea e in particolare per Vittoria della Rovere, documentata a partire dal 1680 e proseguita nell’ultimo decennio del Seicento. Tra le opere certificate da pagamenti e descrizioni inventariali (tra cui specchi dipinti, secondo il modello romano proposto da Mario dei Fiori a palazzo Colonna) resta probabilmente un orologio dalla cassa di ebano dipinta a fiori identificato da Alvar Gonzales-Palacios e da lui posto in relazione con un documento del 1692: un’attività proseguita dal figlio, Michele Scacciati, costantemente operoso per le botteghe granducali.

Attivo in collaborazione con pittori di figura in una serie di scene all’aperto o nei festoni di fiori con figure di gusto romano, fra il 1683 e il 1687 Andrea Scacciati dipinse insieme a Pier Dandini un fregio dedicato alle stagioni per la villa di Poggio Imperiale.

I numerosi dipinti restituiti al suo catalogo da Sandro Bellesi, molti dei quali firmati e datati, lo confermano tra i protagonisti della natura morta italiana, e non solo fiorentina, del secondo Seicento, tra i pochi in grado di coniugare gli accenti fortemente scenografici che distinguono il genere in epoca barocca alle intenzioni naturalistiche che all’inizio del secolo avevano presieduto alla sua nascita.

 

 

 

Estimate   € 40.000 / 60.000
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Maestro della lunetta di via Romana,

alias Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli

(Firenze 1450-1526)

MADONNA COL BAMBINO

tempera e oro su tavola, cm 49,5 x 34,8, superficie dipinta cm 47 x 33, spessore originale cm 2

 

Questa tavoletta presenta sui quattro lati la barba del gesso che risaliva sulla cornice originale, perduta quando il supporto, in spessore originale, venne rifilato, a segno che la superficie dipinta non è ridotta e il taglio, sia della valva in alto sia del bracciolo del faldistorio in basso, è quello illusionistico pensato ad arte dal pittore, per potenziare lo squarcio di ambiente. Il legno presenta un nodo in basso a destra, che non si è ripercosso in maniera significativa sulla superficie, molto ben conservata, anche in alcune finiture, come i tocchi di luce sulla veste rossa damascata della Vergine, e nelle lamine dorate, limitate ai due nimbi, a polsini e scolli e al laccio del mantello, fittamente operate coi punzoni e profilate con nero a vernice, di spettacolosa integrità. L'opera venne pubblicata da Bernard Berenson (Homeless paintings of the Renaissance, London 1969, pp. 178-179, fig. 320), come "homeless", con un'attribuzione dubitativa a Pier Francesco Fiorentino, mentre va ricondotta ad un gruppo di dipinti che Offner raggruppò sotto il nome di Master of the Via Romana Lunette, da una lunetta affrescata sul portale di una casa di via Romana (al nr. 27r), raffigurante la Madonna col Bambino fra due angeli, già pertinente ad un ospizio della compagnia del Bigallo, gruppo di opere che Everett Fahy ha ristudiato nel 1989 sotto il nome di "Argonaut Master" (E. Fahy, The Argonauti Master, in "Gazette des Beaux-Arts", CXIV, 1989, pp. 285-299; in quella sede, p. 292, lo studioso riporta il raggruppamento operato da Offner tra 1923 e 1927, con annotazioni nella Frick Art Reference Library di New York). Everett Fahy in quell'occasione raggruppava numerosi dipinti intorno a uno dei due cassoni del Metropolitan Museum con le storie delle Argonautiche (essendo il compagno di Biagio d'Antonio). In un secondo tempo lo studioso ha poi maturato la convinzione, come mi ha confermato oralmente, che in questo gruppo si nasconda la giovinezza di Jacopo del Sellajo, grazie al trait-d'union offerto dalla Madonna adorante il Bambino del Musée Tessé a Le Mans, ma anche che alcuni numeri del suo folto catalogo vadano scorporati, in quanto spettanti ad un alter ego di profilo minore, in sostanza il Master of the Via Romana Lunette offneriano, per cui si può prospettare con solidi argomenti un'identità invece con la fase iniziale del più giovane Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli.

Del dipinto in esame esiste una seconda versione, al Musée Bonnat di Bayonne (inv. 887: Musée Bonnat. Catalogue sommaire, Paris 1952, p. 79), che si differenzia per l'inserimento di un angelo nel varco della finestra di destra, già riferita da Everett Fahy a Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli. Come per la tavola Bonnat si possono infatti individuare palmari rispondenze con un pugno di dipinti, oltre alla sciupata lunetta di via Romana, ormai leggibile solo in una vecchia foto Alinari, in particolare con: una Madonna col Bambino e due angeli già nella pieve di Santa Maria a Fagna in Mugello, ora esposta nel Museo d'arte sacra Beato Angelico di Vicchio; una Madonna col Bambino dell'Academy of Arts di Honolulu (inv. 3046); una Madonna col Bambino della Strossmayerova Galerija di Zagabria; una Natività con due angeli del Museum of Fine Arts di Boston (inv. 03.562: cfr. L. B. Kanter, Italian Paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. I. 13th – 15th century, Boston 1994, pp. 165-167, cat. 47, come dell'Argonaut Master) e una Madonna adorante il Bambino e un angelo dello stesso museo (inv. 17.3223: cfr. Kanter, op.cit., pp. 163-165, cat. 46, come di Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli). Questo pittore, un tempo confuso nel grande raggruppamento berensoniano del Maestro di San Miniato, sembra guardare intensamente alla fase lippesca giovanile di Jacopo del Sellajo e contaminarla con attenzioni anche ad Alesso Baldovinetti, evidenti specialmente nel vasto paesaggio della Madonna adorante il Bambino di Boston, che ha pure delle misteriose tangenze col gruppo del ferrarese Maestro della Madonna Cambo, a sua volta connesso con la formazione fiorentina di Francesco del Cossa nel settimo decennio del Quattrocento. Uguale è la pittura pastosa delle carni, con intensi arrossamenti, il segno stemperato sui volumi netti e taglienti dei volti, le palpebre marcate, l'illusione pittorica dei damaschi, la semplice freschezza con cui sono interpretati i veli lippeschi trapunti di semplici rosette, l'impasto di luce nelle bionde capigliature. Ci sono poi dei riscontri puntuali nello stesso gusto paesaggistico, in particolare nella Madonna adorante il Bambino e un angelo di Boston, nelle rocce scheggiate di tonalità cretosa fra torrenti copiosi di acque dalla superficie increspata, e identiche in entrambe le opere sono le operazioni dell'oro, pur declinate con combinazioni e fantasie diverse (si noti il ricorso dell'identico punzone, una rosetta a sei punte incluso in un bollo, ma anche il modo di sovrapporre i bolli per creare un effetto di collana, sullo scollo della nostra Madonna come lungo l'orlo del nimbo del Bambino di Boston, dove più impegnato è il tentativo di illudere lo spessore del piattello dell'aureola).

Il gusto assai vistoso per carnati luminosi e rosati, per stoffe sgargianti pittoricamente illuse, per paesaggi copiosi e fantastici, richiama anche il modello fondamentale di un pittore versatile e affatto particolare come Neri di Bicci, cui deve tanto, pur temperandone i modelli con quelli più aulici di fonte lippesca e peselliniana, mediati verosimilmente dal rapporto col giovane Jacopo del Sellajo. L'inserzione del gruppo sacro in una camera vistosamente aperta sui lati verso il paesaggio, da varchi architravati che sfondano le pareti laterali, collegandosi ad una grande valva absidale al centro, dipende da soluzioni sceniche care a Neri di Bicci, che così scomponeva e rimontava le suggestioni lippesche, e si ritrova in una Madonna col Bambino passata ad un'asta di Christie's a Londra il 1 aprile 1960, lotto 88, che potrebbe appartenere pure a Bernardo Rosselli, anche se non è immediatamente riconoscibile, probabilmente per estensive ridipinture (vedila riprodotta come di "ignoto fiorentino", ma a fianco della Natività di Boston, in Il 'Maestro di San Miniato', a cura di G. Dalli Regoli, Pisa 1988, pp. 98-99, fig. 73). Il semplice telaio architettonico aperto lateralmente sul paesaggio ricorda in particolare l'ideale pergula marmorea, traforata sull'oro, squadernata da Neri di Bicci nella Madonna col Bambino e quattro santi del Museo d'Arte sacra di Peccioli, del 1463, quando Bernardo aveva 13 anni ed era nella bottega di Neri. Aperture comparabili, seppur stagliare sul fondo oro, si trovano anche in alcune Annunciazioni di Neri, come quella assai suggestiva di Certomondo presso Poppi. Gustose sono le digressioni che animano gli squarci laterali sul paesaggio: cacciatori alla rincorsa di animali selvatici, un ponte di legno su un torrente gonfio d'acque, castelli sui poggi, filari di cipressi e conifere lungo la riva, e nelle nubi scherzi di pennello che delineano la testa di un drago. Non manca, in poco spazio, lo scorcio a sinistra di un poggiolo rosso, con un vaso di fiori in bilico, e sulla pertica della finestra, una colomba che si è poggiata un istante, giustificata come allusione allo Spirito Santo, ma alla fine tradotto in notazione aneddotica.

Come Neri di Bicci era avvezzo a policromare stucchi e terrecotte degli scultori contemporanei, così questo pittore deve avere intrattenuto rapporti analoghi con le botteghe dei principali scultori contemporanei, verosimilmente policromando prodotti seriali e ricavandone importanti suggestioni compositive. La composizione richiama immediatamente modelli scultorei post-donatelliani dell'ambito di Antonio Rossellino, per il taglio stesso un po' di tralice, con un solo bracciolo del faldistorio a vista. Questo rapporto può essere circostanziato. Il dipinto infatti riproduce in sostanza, con qualche variante di dettaglio (ad esempio nel diverso rapporto tra la mano destra della Madre e quella del Bambino) una invenzione ricondotta al lucchese Matteo Civitali, verso il 1461-1462, da Francesco Caglioti (in Matteo Civitali e il suo tempo. Pittori, scultori e orafi a Lucca nel tardo Quattrocento, catalogo della mostra di Lucca, Cinisello Balsamo 2004, pp. 296-301), nell'ipotesi di una sua giovanile frequentazione fiorentina della cerchia di Antonio Rossellino, di cui esistono un marmo bellissimo nella chiesa di San Vincenzo Ferrer e Caterina de' Ricci a Prato e numerose repliche in terracotta e stucco policromi. Il pittore ha reinventato giusto il velo stretto da un cercine, riproposto nel solco della tradizione lippesca-donatelliana, ma riprende la posa del Bambino che accavalla i piedi in maniera identica e gioca con una lunga collana di perle di corallo che gli passa tra le mani. Egli riprese anche l'idea di un cordiglio con nappe alle estremità e una fibbia sul petto che ferma i lembi del mantello. Va notato che un'altra Madonna col Bambino del gruppo giovanile del probabile Bernardo Rosselli (già Londra, Christie's 5 luglio 1990, lotto 185) è derivata en revers da un celebre prototipo in marmo di Antonio Rossellino, attestato dal marmo dell'Ermitage e da numerose repliche.

È probabile che questa derivazione non abbia tardato di molti anni rispetto alla elaborazione e riproduzione del prototipo nei primissimi anni sessanta. Se è giusta l'identificazione del Maestro della lunetta di via Romana con Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli questi, nato nel 1450, frequentava dal 1460 la bottega di Neri di Bicci e potrebbe avere dipinto un'opera simile, appena affrancato e autonomo, poco dopo il 1465. Bernardo, cugino di Cosimo di Lorenzo Rosselli e del pittore e incisore Francesco di Lorenzo Rosselli, figlio di un fornaciaio, aveva bottega tra via Porta Rossa e piazza Santa Trinita ed ebbe poi una lunga carriera, che è stata ricostruita da Anna Padoa Rizzo (Ricerche sulla pittura del ‘400 nel territorio fiorentino: Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli, in "Antichità viva", XXVI, 1987, 5-6, pp. 20-27; Ead., in Maestri e botteghe. Pittura a Firenze alla fine del Quattrocento, catalogo della mostra a cura di M. Gregori, A. Paolucci e C. Acidini Luchinat, Milano 1992, pp. 104-105, 2001, p. 82). Tra 1472 e 1474 è documentato operoso nella Badia di Passignano, dove affrescò le lunette con le Storie dei progenitori del refettorio. Come Neri di Bicci con le Ricordanze, anche Bernardo ha lasciato un Libro di bottega, scoperto in collezione privata da Anna Padoa Rizzo e purtroppo ancora inedito. Rispetto alle opere sicure sue ci sono affinità morfologiche, ma anche obiettivamente uno scarto qualitativo. Nei dipinti della maturità di Bernardo, in genere di destinazione provinciale,  i tipi si fanno più stereotipi e vacui e i panneggi più piatti, anche se le scene ripropongono paesaggi tersi e marmi luminosi, indizi di un'educazione nel settimo decennio del secolo, tra Neri di Bicci e il cugino Cosimo Rosselli, allora imbevuto in parte degli ideali ancora della "pittura di luce" (si veda ad esempio la pala col Compianto di Cristo e santi di Santa Maria a Lamole presso Brucianesi, o la pala della chiesa dei SS. Bartolomeo e Jacopo a Terrossola presso Bibbiena, datata 1497).

Estimate   € 60.000 / 80.000
Price realized:  Registration
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CARVING, CHINA, LATE QING DYNASTY, XIX CENTURY
Red coral, 24,5 cm high, 1965 g. weight
Standing on a carved ivory base, 5,5 cm high

Extraordinary red coral branch, finely carved with the theme of WangMuZhuShou (王母祝寿), that means the “Celestial Anniversary of the Queen Mother of the West”.
The main figure Wangmu is dressed with an elegant robe and a majestic hairstyle; she is holding a big bunch of peonies in bloom. The secondary figures are sumptuously dressed and hold flowers and lanterns to accompany the Queen Mother. In foreground, in the centre of the scene, a male deity is kneeling in worship to celebrate the event; on the belt of his dress there are peaches, symbol of longevity.

The theme represented is a homage to the Taoist religion and to the legend “Journey to the West” (西游记) in which one of the most important female figures is the Queen Mother of the West, universal symbol of longevity and prosperity and guardian of marriage.

The first historical data on the existence of this celestial deity can be traced back to oracle bone inscriptions of the Shang dynasty (1766-1122 B.C.), that fully describe this figure both in her physical appearance and in her status.
The Queen Mother of the West is usually represented in her palace on the Mount Kunlun, where she hosts and summons all the Taoist and Buddhist deities. She is venerated by all worshippers for her pure and merciful soul.

On the third day of the third month of every Lunar year, the Queen Mother's birth anniversary is celebrated with the famous “party of the peaches”, during which she summons all deities in order to give them immortality. As a consequence, this goddess is intensely worshipped and she is mentioned in the legends of the Eastern culture.
This legendary and fascinating figure is also represented in a white jade carving at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Great Britain. Inv. n.VA07056.


王母祝寿珊瑚摆件,中国,晚清年间, 十九世纪

 

 

 

Estimate   € 15.000 / 20.000
Price realized:  Registration
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A GILT-LACQUERED BRONZE STATUETTE, CHINA, MING DYNASTY, 17TH CENTURY
81,5 cm high

representing Bodhisattva Transforming into Samantabhadra, seated upon an elephant with three pairs of fangs.
The right arm is bent at angle with the index and little fingers in the gesture of karaṇamudrā, while the left arm lies on the leg with the palm turned upward; the crossed feet rest on a lotus flower.
The whole figure is elegantly dressed with a draped robe and adorned with jewels. The head of the divinity is surmounted by a crown, decorated with the image of Buddha Transforming into Amitābha in position of Padmasana.

Samantabhadra, in Chinese 普贤 (Pǔxián), means Universal Worthy and represents Bodhisattva Transforming into Truth, protector in East Asia of those who practise meditation and in Tibet of the active compassion (Kurana).
He is considered protector of the Lotus Sūtra. In the Avatamsaka Sūtra he pronounced the ten great vows in his path to the achievement of Bodhisattva, that is the enlightenment of the being.
In several Buddhist traditions he is referred to as Bodhisattva, while in some others as Primordial Buddha, that means born enlightened.
According to the most popular Buddhist Tang legend, Bodhisattva Samantabhadra reincarnated in an orphan who was later brought to the temple GuoQing (国清寺) by the monk Feng Gan ChanShi (reincarnation of Buddha Transforming into Amitābha) where he grew up under the name of Shide (拾得). He then became one of the most famous Buddhist monks together with Handa Shi (寒大师), reincarnation of Bodhisattva Manjusri. The Buddhist culture would remind the three monks as the "Three Saints of Huayan" (华严三圣, Huayansansheng).

 In the traditional iconography Samantabhadra is depicted with clothes and other features common to some representations of Guanyin, like the jewels, the crown and the draped robe.
The figure is also represented seated on a white elephant with six fangs, symbolizing the six ways in which Bodhisattva progresses along the spiritual path to reach the enlightenment and to save the human beings, or the six perfect virtues (Paramita): almsgiving, morality, forbearance, assiduousness, meditation and wisdom.

 

 The earliest records about Bodhisattva Samantabhadra worship go back to China under the Northern and Southern dynasties in the period from 420 to 589 a.C. and then later spread throughout the empire during the peaceful years of the Sui dynasty (581-618) to reach the highest level under the Tang dynasty (618-907).
In order to pay homage to this important divinity of Buddhism, the Mount Emei (峨眉山) was dedicated to Samantabhadra together with the first temple built in 399, and under the Song dynasty a bronze statue was erected in his honour by the second Song emperor. 



铜鎏金普贤菩萨坐像, 中国, 明代年间, 十七世纪
 

Estimate   € 60.000 / 80.000
Price realized:  Registration
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