Exhibition | The Sparkling Soul of Terracotta

Posted in Art Market, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 17, 2014

Press release (distributed by Cawdell Douglas), via Art Daily (the particularly handsome 124-page catalogue is available for free download as PDF file here).

The Sparkling Soul of Terracotta: 16th to 19th Centuries
Caiati & Gallo Gallery, Milan, 9 October – 8 November 2014

2014_07_04_16_31_41-caiaiti invitoCaiati & Gallo Gallery is paying tribute to terracotta with an important exhibition entitled The Sparkling Soul of Terracotta: Exploring the Vibrant Intensity of Sculpture from the 16th to 19th Centuries. The exhibition centres around fifteen works of art which represent the peak of their particular era. These important works have been tracked down through extensive research and collaboration by a team of leading scholars. Each piece has been selected for its unique contribution to the history of art.

One of the most touching examples is the late-baroque Lombard group of Jupiter and Semele by the Milanese sculptor Carlo Francesco Mellone. It represents Jupiter meeting his lover Semele, who has a small cherub at her side. A second cherub who has since lost both arms completes the scene. The figures rest on a rectangular base, possibly alluding to the bed in which their adultery was committed. Mellone’s figures are light and full of movement. Semele’s facial features are typical of the sculptor’s work: the delicate oval shape, small mouth and large eyelids exemplify a style repeated in numerous
other works.


Carlo Francesco Mellone (1670–before 1756), Jupiter and Semele, terracotta, 12 x 16 x 8 inches.

René Frémin (1672–1744), Allegory of America. This statue is of a girl crowned by a full head of feathers in a long dress, her legs covered in a short irregularly-shaped tunic. The delicacy of her affected gestures, her flowing drapes and the square base bring to mind the gardens of the Royal Palace at La Granja of Sant’ Ildefonso, the summer residence of the King of Spain. This enables us to place the statue within the works of Frémin since he was responsible for the decoration of the palace from 1721 onwards. He was Louis XIV’s favourite sculptor and entered the French Academy in 1696.

Ignazio (1724–1793) and Filippo Collino (1737–1800), Pair of statues. Defence of Glory and Strength by the two brothers who were among the most important sculptors in Piedmont in the second half of the eighteenth century. Defence of Glory. This light, standing female figure is particularly refined. Her beautiful features are highlighted by her full head of hair gathered behind her neck. Great emphasis is given to her lithe body that is accentuated by a dress which mischievously clings to her body. A soft cloak with folds and pleats hangs down to her feet. The presence of a sword and a laurel branch with berries held between the woman’s fingers suggests the figure is an allegorical personification of the Defence of Glory. Strength. The figure in this work holds a baton in her hands with an oval shield bearing a relief of a lion attacking a wild boar. The woman’s features are drawn from the classical model of female beauty. Created as part of a pair with the Defence of Glory, the work is both refined and cultivated in terms of style, bearing considerable similarity to the French Rococo, late-baroque Roman and Tuscan classicism and the eclectic styles of mid eighteenth-century Venetian sculpture.

Jean Del Cour (1627–1707), Saint John. The most important Flemish sculptor of his time, Del Cour sculpted in marble, bronze, and wood. He was influenced by French and Flemish styles as well as by Bernini who he had met and visited in Rome during one of his long stays in the Eternal City. Del Cour’s Bernini-esque interpretations were both brilliant and original thanks to his ability to present the modernity of his epoch and thus translate passion, love, sensuality, and mysticism into dynamism, strength, and elegance.

Antonio Begarelli (Modena 1499–1565) Saint with Book (Saint Justine?). Little is known of the life of Begarelli before 1522, when, as a young man (in those days, under twenty-five was considered very young), he burst onto Modena’s artistic scene. Without receiving any commission, he undertook a large statue in terracotta, the Madonna di Piazza that he offered for free to the city. Today, it is kept at Modena’s Museo Civico. The statue was hugely popular and eventually earned him the position of Modena’s official artist.

Antonio Calegari (Brescia 1699–1777) Madonna with Child. Having trained with his father, Sante, Calegari drew from the seafaring traditions of Venice and exploited the dynamism, chiaroscuro, and vivacity that characterised his better works. In later years, his work enjoyed brilliant Rococo influences in perfect harmony with the latest styles in Venice and, above all, the work of Giambattista Tiepolo. It is to this last phase, from the mid-1750s to the early-1760s, that this work belongs.

Guido Reni, (Bologna 1575–1642) from a model of the Bust of Seneca. This dynamic terracotta sculpture of the ancient philosopher has been perfectly conserved, so that the exceptional modelling of the clay is still in evidence. It can be compared to at least seven versions in terracotta, bronze, plaster, and stone, all of which are replicas of Reni’s Seneca. According to Carlo Cesare Malvasia, the original was a terracotta relief head. In his thorough biography of Reni, contained in his celebrated work Felsina Pittrice (1678), Malvasia exalts Reni as the quintessential artist of seventeenth-century Bologna. Of the sculpted copies now known of the powerful head, only the two terracotta versions and this unseen work, could truly claim attribution to the master.

Lorenzo Sarti ( ?) (documented in Emilia and Veneto from 1722 to 1747) The Trinity with the Guardian Angel and Saints Filippo Benizzi, Francesco da Paola, Filippo Neri and Carlo Borromeo and The Blessed Virgin between Saint Caterina d’Alessandria and Christ carrying the Cross, with Saints Augustine, Domenic and Thomas Aquinas. Having undergone recent restoration, these two important terracotta high reliefs demonstrate all the depth and detail of their original modelling. Though the provenance and collection histories are unknown, examination suggests that they are from a school which originated within the walls of Bologna. This school was formed under the aegis of Giuseppe Maria Mazza and was then led by his pupil Angelo Gabriello Pi . Sarti was one of his best pupils. The two rectangular reliefs which should be regarded as pendants, are of very similar dimensions and format. The compositions both have a pyramidal form, with the holy groups placed at the apex. The lower part is an ordered and symmetrical arrangement of saints who appear in hierachical order.

%d bloggers like this: