Enfilade

Terracottas from Tomasso Brothers on View in New York

Posted in Art Market by Editor on December 21, 2017

European Terracottas from Tomasso Brothers Fine Art
Carlton Hobbs LLC, New York, 25 January — 2 February 2018

Giovanni Bonazza, Allegory of Winter, ca. 1710, terracotta, 34 cm high.

Tomasso Brothers Fine Art of Leeds and London is participating in Master Drawings New York (MDNY) for the first time this coming winter when they hold their annual catalogued exhibition at Carlton Hobbs LLC on the Upper East Side from 25 January to 2 February 2018. Tomasso Brothers has for a number of years held a highly-regarded exhibition in New York in January. The decision this year by MDNY to additionally encompass painting and sculpture at its next edition (Saturday 27 January to Saturday 3 February 2018, Preview Friday 26 January 2018) offered a golden opportunity for the gallery to take part in this preeminent event.

This year Tomasso Brothers will present a selection of important European terracotta sculptures from the neolithic to the neoclassical periods. The exhibition traces the history of ‘fired clay’ starting with the Vinca civilisation of South-Eastern Europe in the fifth millennium BC, which produced the fascinating Idol of a Mother and Child in the show and from there, via the ancient classical period and the Renaissance, to the high baroque, ending with the neoclassical era.

Among the works to be offered is a North Italian idealised Portrait Relief of a Lady from the late fifteenth century, and an attentively described Portrait Bust of a Man from Emilia in Northern Italy, ca. 1500. Both testify to the birth of terracotta as a medium for portraiture which continued well into the early modern era. Among further highlights is a Portrait Bust of a Gentleman by the rare Flemish sculptor Servatius Cardon (1608–1649) and a poignant Portrait of a Young Man attributed to the great French artist Philippe-Laurent Roland (1746–1816). The latter work is a beautiful representation of the birth of the modern portrait, where hierarchy and status give way to the expression of individuality and emotion.

Parallel to this, the exhibition also demonstrates how terracotta was essential to artistic practice as a means for sculptors to develop ideas and compositions, shown by a recently rediscovered terracotta model for an allegorical representation of Winter, by the Venetian baroque master Giovanni Bonazza (1654–1736), which offers a crucial insight into the work of the sculptor, presenting a highly accomplished model for a finished work to be carved in either stone or marble.

A similar case is illustrated by a Character Head executed by Antonio Canova (1757–1822) around 1780, when he was still a young sculptor on the cusp of greatness. Inspired by the famous Laocoön group in the Vatican, this terracotta exists as an invenzione in its own right, and so a testimony to the sculptor’s search for his own artistic vocabulary. Deeply and richly modelled, the Character Head betrays a preoccupation with the representation of emotions, framed within a wider exploration of antiquity that would be a central theme throughout Canova’s career.

Another remarkable discovery and a highlight of the exhibition to be presented by Tomasso Brothers Fine Art is a terracotta model for a figure of Saint Mark by Giuseppe Piamontini (1664–1742), a colossal marble statue carved for the new baroque church of Santi Michele e Gaetano in Piazza Antinori on the central Via Tornabuoni in Florence.

Important European Terracottas, presented by Tomasso Brothers Fine Art as part of Master Drawings New York 2018, will take place at Carlton Hobbs LLC at 60 East 93rd Street NY from 25 January through 2 February 2018. A fully illustrated catalogue will be available. Prices will range from around $15,000 to $500,000.

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