This sculpture shows a old man, nude, leaning on a jar from which water is flowing in powerful waves. His lewd position, emphasized by his long thin and supple limbs form a contrast with the age of his facial features, marked by a thick beard and hair. In his right hand, he holds an impressive cornucopia overflowing with fruits, its opening ending between his legs.
This exceptional terracotta that is modelled flexibly is an allegory of a River, as shown by the jar. Italian sculptors of this period had a very pronounced taste for this type of representation, such as Niccolò Tribolo (1500-1550) who used terracotta for creating modelli of larger compositions, in particular for the ornamentation of fountains, which required them to be seen from all angles. Our modello is a perfect example of this type of creation.
Giancarlo Gentilini, in “Antiqua Res secoli XIII-XVI”, catalogue edited by Francesca Gualandi, Bologna 2011, under n°11, pp. 38-43.
This magnificent pair of angels form part of a small group of works, all created with a similar technique combining papier mache (or coated canvas), polychrome and gilded wood, that Giancarlo Gentilini (see bibliography) attributes to an Umbrian sculptor who remains anonymous, but is close to Romano Alberti (1502-Sansepolcro-1568), from whom he is distinguished by greater simplicity of movement. It is probably an artist who trained in Alberti’s workshop. The sculptures of this group all depict children with curly hair and pink cheeks, and despite their profane appearance, probably had a liturgical function (candlestick, candelabra holder, or to hold the cords of a canopy). This type of object combining different materials was highly popular in Umbria, at least as early as the 15th century. Examples in Perugia are the double-sided banner created in 1453 by Battista di Baldassare Mattioli for Santa Maria di Monteluce comprising a relief in papier mache showing The Coronation of the Virgin, or the elegant St. Julian, made around 1465 in a very similar technique to our two angels for the church of Santa Maria dei Servi, now in the Museo del Capitolo di San Lorenzo.
Already well-known (Avery, 2008, p. 185, cat. 54), this representation of America is one of the singular "machine allegoriche" produced by the highly original, enigmatic creative mind of the Venetian sculptor Francesco Bertos.
With its typical pyramidal structure, the marble consists of a round base on which the scene is laid out around a kind of tree trunk. While not violent, this is a decidedly curious scene, to say the least. On one side, we see a half-reclining nude young man, right arm raised, dagger in hand, sitting on a "lucerta" ("lizard": the way Cesare Ripa in his Iconologia defines what critics generally call an "alligator", meaning the canonical attribute of this continent), which he has just given a mortal blow – we imagine to avenge the death of the child lying out beside him. On the other side, another, naked child stands brandishing stones, which, in a primitive impulse, he is preparing to throw at the female figure (whose left hand holds what was probably once a pointed stake, the right being placed on the visible part of a bow), perched on the shoulders of a sturdy bearded man. The latter has one foot on the dead child and the other on the leg of the young man with the dagger, and holds up a kind of stick in his left hand, while the right hand, emerging from the folds of a falling drape, supports the back of the woman. Facing him, another full-length male figure, whose tensed left leg rests on the ground, while the right is slightly raised, is shown pulling on part of the drapery with his left hand, while the right hand, the arm slightly bent, also seems to be holding a slightly sharpened stone.
Probably one of a series of allegories of continents – of which only the representation of Africa still exists, as far as we know (Avery, 2008, p. 185, cat. 53) – the sculpture presented here should be compared in terms of both stylistic affinity and composition with the group of the same subject now in the Palazzo Reale in Turin, along with many others (idem, p. 183, cat. 50). Even if there are obvious differences between the two versions of the Allegory of America, the similarities are considerable – for example, between the figure of the reclining young man with the dagger in the Piedmontese work and the one here: the pose is the same, as is the depiction of the facial features (the aquiline nose, the ears, the delineation of the lips, etc.) and the modelling of the muscles. Another point in common is the figure with the raised right leg, holding in his left hand the drapery of the female figure at the top of the pyramid. This figure is important in the composition, because it is the only one looking towards the viewer.
As we know, works like these and others produced in bronze, made Francesco Bertos an "uomo celebre... solo nell’arte di simil genere" ("a famous man... singular in this kind of art") (Alice Binion, La Galleria scomparsa del Maresciallo Von der Schulenburg, Milan, 1990, p. 127-128). The importance of these words and this precise definition lies in the fact that they come from the editors of the catalogues for the collection of Marshal von der Schulenburg, one of the greatest collectors of Venetian art in the 18th century. His collection, famous throughout Europe, contained at least twelve works by Bertos, making him the sculptor most represented.
Charles Avery, The Triumph of Motion: Francesco Bertos (1678-1741) and the Art of Sculpture, Turin, 2008.
General Bibliography :
J. Rasmussen, Deutsche Plastik der Renaissance und des Barock, cat. Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, 1975, pp. 49 and 103-104, no. 31
These are two carved plaster slabs underwired with hemp and laid down on slate slabs that we present here. The first represents the death of Absalom in the forest of Ephraïm, the second a soldier killed by a horseman. Absalom was the third son of King David and stirred up a rebellion against him in the town of Hebron. King David had to flee, for he could’nt resist it. During a battle, Absalom’s army was in trouble, soi t was his time to flee. His lonh hair was catche in tree branches, and he remained suspende by it. At this moment arrived Joab, a general in David’s army, who threw his spear three times in his body. The artist choose to represent the first throw. Joab’s coat flaps and his horse seems very fiery. Absalom hangs by his hair, waving his legs, while his horse escapes. More enigmatic, the second slab shows a horseman stabbing a warrior. Then again, the horseman’s cloth and the horse ardour are well represented, the wounded warrior expiring ,his sword being caught in a tree-trunk. On the left, a small pyramidwith a partial inscription of the Roman republic device : SPQR. In the background on the left, a soldier researches onsomething on the ground with his sword. Is this a biblical, or roman scene? Those stabs seem nonetheless to have been conceived as pendants.
It seems reasonable to attribute thoses works to Georg Schweigger . Effectively, the treatment of figures with much movement and the slight sgraffito on the background reveal his way of working. We can notice his hand in the way of describing very precisely the figures in the foreground whereas those in the background are less described, rather suggested.
Schweigger is a sculptor and medallist native of Nuremberg, a city famous for its tradition of high quality bronze castings (the Vischer brothers). He likes working the details, showing the medallist he is as well as a sculptor, essentially on Solnhofen stone. This material enables him to express himself, as he does with these two plaster slabs. The artist is represented in museums such as Bristish museum, Herzog Anton Ulrich in Braunschweig or Kunsthistorisches museum in Vienna, we will concentrate on comparing our plasters to a low-relief in Vienna, representing the baptism of Christ and one representing Cephalus and Procris dated 1641 in the Kunstgewerbe museum in Hamburg. In both of them we have a foreground rather detailed whereas the background is made of a slight sgrafitto, enriched with some vegetal elements.
It is very possible that these slabs were made with a cast in mind, for a copper plate identical to the Absalom slab was sold in Neuilly in 2016.
This delicate terracotta with its elongated proportions recalls the style of the Franco-Piedmontese sculptor Francesco Ladatte who lived in Paris as part of the suite of the Prince de Carignan. He won the Prix de Rome in 1726 and then studied at the French Academy in Rome. He was back in Paris from 1734 to 1744, and was admitted to the Academy as an agréé in 1736. He became a full member in 1741, presenting a marble group of Judith (Musée du Louvre, the terracotta study is in the Musée de Chambéry) as his reception piece. Its sinuosity is closely comparable to our statuette. He was appointed an associate professor and exhibited regularly at the Salon and worked for Versailles, but the best known project from his French period consists of the two plaster sculptures adorning the altars of the transepts of the church of Saint-Louis-en-l’Ile in Paris, dated 1741. In 1744, he settled definitively in Turin where he was appointed sculptor to the court, while continuing his production of ornamental bronzes, collaborating, amongst others, with the famous cabinetmaker Pietro Piffetti on the queen’s Toilette Cabinet in the royal palace of Turin. Our figure’s face is very close to that of the main figure of the terracotta group of the Triumph of Virtue signed and dated 1744 (Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs), and also to that of military glory in the gilt bronze group that forms the clock Time and Military Glory (Turin, Royal Palace). Our group should therefore be dated to the artist’s second Italian period.
Bibliography : Cerboni-Baiardi, Anna (a cura di), Giovani Battista Nini, Da Urbino alle rive della Loira. Paesaggi e volti europei, Federico Motta editore, Milano, 2001.
Initially a pupil of his father in Urbino, Nini very quickly went to improve his skills in Bologna, and in 1735 won a sculpture prize at the Academia Clementina. The landscape engravings that we know of (the most ambitious dating from 1740) date from his Bolognese years. Nini then stayed (but we do not know how long) in Verona, and the only known work of this stay is an engraving dated 1740. It is also attested that he was in Madrid in 1747, working for the Real Fàbrica de Cristales. He left Spain in 1757, after two years in prison for a crime of heresy, from which he was finally absolved. He then decided to settle in France, and he was documented as early as 1758 in Paris, rue Saint-Honoré. He began his production of small portraits, of which he met the models in certain Parisian salons. He also worked for a few years at the manufacture of La-Charité-sur-Loire, founded in 1756 by Michel Alcock , and which became royal manufacture in 1766 (manufacture of ceramics and metal objects), where he continued to engrave on crystal.
It was in 1771 that Nini portrayed the man who determined the rest of his career: Jacques-Donatien Leray de Chaumont. Donatien Leray, was from 1753 to 1763 Grand Master of Water and Forests of France for the department of Blois, Berry, Haut and Bas Vendômois, adviser to Louis XV, intendant of the Invalides from 1769 to 1776, and above all a skilled entrepreneur: he had opened a leather factory in Amboise, painted canvas in Paris, and a crystal, ceramic, and tile factory in Chaumont sur Loire, where in 1750 he had acquired the castle and adjoining land. The meeting with Nini, which certainly took place before 1771, was decisive for the development of this last enterprise, and the artist settled down from (and definitively) from 1772.
Nini's medallions, modeled after rulers, aristocrats, courtiers, men of the times (Franklin), or simple bourgeois and elegant, were - when hung on the wall - to have the same value as a painted portrait. Often, not being able to approach his model, Nini has recourse to the engraved portrait (in particular those of Cochin), or to the medal (for the portraits of sovereigns). Besides the images of kings and queens, or prominent personalities (Caylus, Franklin, Voltaire), the models of Nini belong to very different worlds, revolving around the Court, or met later in Chaumont. Unfortunately, many of the designs of these medallions remain anonymous due to a lack of identifying markings.
The model of the medallion presented here can be identified because there are several versions in terracotta titled "L’AMIRANDE MAR-QUISE DE VAUDREUIL" . It is therefore Marie-Claire-Françoise Guyot de la Mirande, who married in Saint-Domingue on June 12, 1732 the sixth son of the Marquis de Vaudreuil, Joseph-Hyacinthe de Rigaud de Vaudreuil, and who died in Paris on April 20 1776 (note here that none of the commentators on the work gives his date of birth). Our medallion is generally dated to the mid-1770s, shortly before the model's death.
It should be noted here that the bronzes of J-B Nini are rare, and recent scientific research suggests that during his stay at the Royal Manufacture of La-Charité-sur-Loire, its workers were very skilled in melting metal, he could have given models to have fonts made. Our medallion would thus be a rare witness to this very special collaboration.
This bronze group is a reduction of the monumental and gilt one that since 1538 stands on the Roman Capitol, of which Michelangelo made the focus point to re-organize the place from 1539-1540, that was achieved only in 1561. This sculpture is known since at least the twelfth century, but it is more plausible that it was never buried. The identification of the sitter varied through centuries, he was for long considered to be the emperor Constantine (which probably saved it), and it was only at the end of the fifteenth century that the name of Marcus Aurelius was suggested, to impose itself only at the beginning of seventeenth century. This important group was a constant reference for equestrian monuments, but was also copied in bronze or other materials and in various sizes for “Grand Tourists” or connoisseurs all over Europe.
The original marble was discovered probably in 1569 or somewhat earlier in Rome and as soon as 1613 is described in the Borghèse collection. It was acquired, with the main part of the Borghèse antiques by Napoléon in 1807 and is since in the Louvre. It has been sometimes described as Saturnus devouring his children, and though this interpretation was widespread in late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the identification to Silenus is preferred.
It was one of the most admired sculptures in Rome, and many copies of all materials and sizes were made of it.
Cybèle, considered The Mother of Gods by the Ancients, is a divinity of Near-Eastern origin, goddess of fertility (here illustrated by the cornucopia), also worshipped by Greeks and Romans. Her head is crowned by a wall with towers, she holds the keys of the earth, giving access to all the wealth.
Jean-Louis Ajon studied at the Toulouse academy sculpture with François Lucas, and drawing with Jean Suau; in 1786 he is at the Paris Academy studying with the sculptor Bridan. The Revolution surprises him that city, where he takes part to the demolition of the Bastille, before returning in his hometown to attempt the grand prix. He will make all of his career in that city and we can mention works for the Dalbade church(canopy, under the direction of Pascal Virebent, and in collaboration with Beurné and Vigan), Notre-Dame de la Daurade (a Black Virgin in 1806, and the the altar for the Holy Thorn, on a drawing by Virebent , of which remain two angels in adoration , gilt wood, in 1812), Saint- Nicolas (a group of Our Lady of Mercy ), Saint-Jérôme(pulpit, on a drawing by Virebent)and the cathedral (the ravishing of saint Augustine, and four trophies). We also know another terracotta sculpture of a seated Mars , signed and titled, belonging to the Musée du Vieux-Toulouse (see exhibition catalogue Toulouse et le Néo-Classicisme, les artistes toulousains de 1775 à 1830, musée des Augustins, 1989-1990, pp.124-125). The two gilt-wood angels, and the terracotta Mars share this massive body that we find here in our Cybèle. Thanks to his academic education, Ajon knew well the antiques without going to Rome: so we can recognize the Ludovisi Mars as inspiration for the Musée du Vieux-Toulouse terracotta, and for ours the Mattei Cérès (for the general figure) and the la Farnèse Flora (for the idea of raising the gown). Ajon’s after-death inventory, discovered by Jérôme Bouchet, to whom we are grateful, in the Archives départementales de Haute-Garonne (archives de Me Prouho), established on October, 3, 1843, mentions many statuettes in plaster or terracotta, either of Antique subjects (« la mort d’Achille en plâtre prisée dix francs », « le cheval Pégase en plâtre prisé trois francs », either modern (« deux petites statues représentant deux joueurs de vielle en terre cuite prisées trois francs »), but also portraits, decorative arts (« douze corbeilles en terre cuite prisées quinze francs »), and religious (among them « une statue en bois représentant notre dame la noire prisée quatre francs », possible modello for the Daurade ?),and a « une vierge en marbre ayant la main gauche appuyée sur un vase prisée quarante francs », material quite unusual in Toulouse.
Three « statue en terre cuite représentant Cérès » are listed in this inventory, the first one valued five francs, the two others fifteen francs each: can we imagine that our Cybèle, with her cornucopia that could refer to the harvest goddess, is one of them, « victim » of a misinterpretation ? Nothing enables us to affirm it, (the inventory give no indication of size, signature, we then suppose that all works are by Ajon), but it is tempting to suggest it.
Nagaland is a small state north-east of India, south of Himalaya, close to China and Burma, constituted by some thirty tribes, and was officially created in 1963. They are mostly (80% Christian), being the most important Christian sates in India.
This important element is typical of notable houses, and was located on the main façade, on one side and another of the door.
Expedition 1908-1910, Der Kaiserin Augusta Fluss, Otto Reche, Hambourg 1913, p. 413
Kunst vom Sepik 1, Heinz Kelm, Berlin 1966, ill. n°78 (expedition Sepik 1912-1913)
rattan mask, Mindinbit Iatmul, Middle-Sepik, P.N.G.
Peltier, Phlippe (ss dir.), Sepik, arts de Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée, Paris, coédition Skira / musée du quai Branly, 2015
According to anthropologist Heinz Kelm (1925-1983) "Masks made of rattan weaving and overmodeling of coconut or palm leaves belong to the oldest artistic forms of the Papuans. Usually kept in Houses of Worship, they were used more particularly in initiation rites, but also in other ceremonies. (…) Those that do not have a wooden mask are made earlier than the others”. It is therefore to this type of dance mask that the example presented here refers.
The use of Awan masks among the Iatmul speaking population of the Middle Sepik was restricted to instilling social rules and punishing children. They often take the form of human faces (that of ancestors) or animals such as fish or pigs and completely cover the dancer's body in order to materialize the idea of a body envelope. These masks were worn for dancing by the male members of the clan. They do not have a particular sacred charge and can thus be seen by all members of the clan, unlike other masks more particularly secret in initiation rites.
These voluminous and complex costumes have very rarely been preserved. Another example is currently known in the collections of the National Museum of Port Moresby (ill. 1) and a copy in the Museums of Cultures in Basel (ill. 2).