Sculpture from Tomasso Brothers on View in New York
Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi, Ganymede and the Eagle,
ca. 1714, bronze, 31.5cm high, 38.5cm wide.
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Important European Sculpture from Tomasso Brothers Fine Art
Carlton Hobbs LLC, New York, 19–28 January 2017
Tomasso Brothers Fine Art returns to Manhattan soon after their participation in the inaugural TEFAF New York Fall to present their now well-established and much-anticipated annual catalogued exhibition of Important European Sculpture, at Carlton Hobbs LLC on the Upper East Side from 19th to 28th January 2017. The gallery will bring together examples of the finest antique sculptural works in terracotta, marble, and bronze—many of them rarities and new discoveries—from the Renaissance to the Neoclassical periods. Highlights include a pair of terracotta relief panels depicting Bacchanalian scenes from Pompeii created by the great English sculptor John Bacon the Elder, circa 1770; a rare bronze mythological group by Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi; a newly-discovered portrait bust by the prominent Roman Neoclassical sculptor Domenico Cardelli; and a superb and previously unpublished bronze by Gian Francesco Susini of The Borghese Satyr.
A series of frescoes were uncovered at the so-called Villa of Cicero at Pompeii in January 1749 illustrating, among other subjects, the revelries of Centaurs and Bacchantes, followers of the god Bacchus. Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795) had access to the Pompeiian models through the Marquess of Lansdowne (1737–1805). It would seem Wedgwood had the present terracotta roundels faithfully produced after the ancient prototypes around 1770 by John Bacon the Elder, one of the most prominent English sculptors of the period, who collaborated on a number of other occasions with Wedgwood. Highly finished, the roundels are the models from which Wedgwood’s white stoneware and black basalt versions of the Centaur reliefs were derived. They display a confident handling of anatomies and a sense of movement that fully does justice to the lithe dynamism of the original Pompeiian frescoes. The roundels constitute a rare and beautiful example of the early resonance of Pompeii’s influence. Formerly in the collection of Dr. Terry Friedman (b. Terence Friedman in Detroit, Michigan), a leading art historian and authority on 18th-century architecture, keeper of decorative arts at Temple Newsam historic house (1969–93), and later principal keeper at Leeds City Art Gallery.
Another mythological subject, Ganymede and the Eagle, circa 1714, by Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi (1656–1740) is a wonderful example of the dramatic and pictorial style of Soldani’s compositions and a rare model by the artist. The only other known version is held by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Soldani-Benzi became the finest bronze caster in late 17th- and early 18th-century Europe and, along with Giovanni Battista Foggini, is considered the most significant proponent of the Florentine late Baroque style in sculpture. In 1682 Soldani-Benzi became Director of the Grand-Ducal Mint, and his large workshop in the Galleria degli Uffizi enjoyed the patronage of kings, princes, and dukes. The present work is probably one of the four bronzes ordered by the Earl of Burlington (1694–1753) after seeing terracotta models at Soldani’s studio on his Grand Tour.
A rediscovered portrait bust by Domenico Cardelli (1767–1797) of Prince Francis Xavier of Saxony (1730–1806) is a highlight among works in marble to be presented. Cardelli displayed remarkable talent from a young age, enjoying early patronage from members of the Polish court and Grand Tourists in Rome. By 1793 his work was compared to that of Canova by the art historian Georg Zoega. In 1797 Cardelli was summoned to Naples to complete a commission for the Riario-Sforza family but fell gravely ill during the journey and died, at only 30 years of age. This untimely death shortened a most brilliant career and makes the present marble portrait bust—a recent rediscovery by Tomasso Brothers Fine Art—a major addition to Cardelli’s oeuvre.
An unpublished and newly-discovered bronze statuette of The Borghese Satyr by Gian Francesco Susini (1585–1653) is a beautifully finished reduction of one of the most impressive and admired ancient marble statues in the Borghese Collection, Rome—currently displayed in the Entrance Hall of the Villa Borghese. The statuette, immaculately modelled after its ancient prototype, displays the characteristic traits of Susini’s oeuvre. These include the remarkably high and detailed quality of the casting, the silky-smooth polished texture of the surface, the use of a warm cherry red lacquer, and the size of the bronze.
Works to be offered at the exhibition range in price from $50,000 to $1,500,000 US, and a fully-illustrated catalogue will be available.