PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION
1623, Villa Ludovisi, Palazzo Grande, Stanza delle statue: “Un’ putto che tiene un maschera in testa senza gambe” (Palma, op. cit, 1983, Docum. no. 11, p. 71, fol. 65)
1628, payment of 12 scudi to Alessandro Algardi “per haver restaurato un Putto antico dalla Maschera, alla detta Vigna” (Montagu, op. cit., p. 398)
1633, Villa Ludovisi, Gallerietta: “Una statuetta, d’un Puttino antico con un mascherone in capo, con una mano fuori del bocca di detto mascherone palmi tre incirca alto sopra base di Pietra mischia nigra” (Palma, op. cit, 1983, Docum. no. 13, p. 76, no. 120)
1641, Villa Ludovisi, second room of the Galleria Nuova: “Putto dentro une Mascara antica che caccia fuori una mano” (Palma, op. cit, 1983, Docum. no. 16, p. 86, no. 66)
1665 , Villa Ludovisi: “Una statua di marmo bianco d’un puttino che tiene una maschera grande di un vecchio sul viso e fa uscire una mano della bocca di detta maschera” (Palma, op. cit., 1983, Docum. No. 17, p. 92, no. 28)
Throughout the 17th Century, the faun with mask was consistently interpreted as a putto or puttino, in complete disregard of his diminutive yet quite visible tail on the small of his back. Even after photographs of it were made in the 20th century and published, the confusion still endures in the literature, since none of the views ever showed the back of the sculpture and no scholar has had access to the actual object until recently.
The Gardens of Sallust
The faun was most likely excavated on the grounds of the Villa Ludovisi between 1620 and 1623, when landscaping and construction of the villa took place within record time and at great expense. Unlike the restored statues from the Cesi Collection which had entered the Ludovisi collection prior to 1620, it was still in a fragmentary state when first exhibited at the Villa (see below). The land which Pope Gregory XV had chosen for his pleasure palace had a long history of housing such structures in antiquity, starting with the historian Sallust: its new owner knew that the area held a lot of potential for the discovery of new sculptures (see K.J. Hartswick, The Gardens of Sallust: A Changing Landscape, p. 24).
In the ancient Roman statuary group to which this figure originally belonged, the striding faun with Silenus mask was attempting to scare another figure. This humorous scene appears on Roman bas-reliefs, with putti or cupids in the role of fauns. On a sarcophagus the masked figure even wields a writhing snake at his antagonist, so as to increase the terrorizing effect of his surprise attack (P. Kranz, Jahreszeiten-Sarkophage [ASR 5, 4], Berlin, 1984, pls. 1,4; 5,1-4:http://arachne.uni-koeln.de/item/objekt/195031). It is possible that a now lost marble figure of a child with head thrown back and arms raised, also from the Ludovisi Collection, might have been part of the original group (see Palma Venetucci, op. cit., 1991, p. 22, fig. 3). Possibly once associated with the Ludovisi group and similar in scale to the present lot is a highly restored standing figure of a putto(?) wearing a large tragic mask and thrusting his hand through the mouth (Bol, op. cit., 1994, no. 509: http://arachne.uni-koeln.de/item/marbilderbestand/833578). This particular example, although unique, is not attested on reliefs, as opposed to the faun with comedy mask, which is ubiquitous.
The Villa Ludovisi
The earliest mention of the present statue occurs in an inventory of Alessandro Ludovisi’s antiquities collection drawn upon his death in 1623 as Pope Gregory XV. At the time the statue was located in the Stanza delle Statue in the main building of the Villa Ludovisi, the Palazzo Grande. There it is described as Un’ putto che tiene un maschera in testa, senza gambe (“A putto holding a mask over his head, without his legs;” Palma, op. cit, 1983, Docum. no. 11, p. 71, fol. 65). Five years later, Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi commissioned the sculptor Alessandro Algardi (1598-1654), Bernini’s main rival in Rome at the time, to do the same for the faun with mask. On March 23rd, 1628, a Ludovisi receipt records the payment of 12 scudi to Algardi per haver restaurato un Putto antico dalla Maschera (“for having restored an ancient putto with mask;” Montagu, op. cit., 1985, p. 398).
From then on, the statue is recorded in its restored state on three occasions at the Villa Ludovisi: in 1633 in the Galerietta, on a variegated black marble base, in 1641 in the second room of the Galleria Nuova, and finally in 1665 (Palma, op. cit., 1983, Docum. no. 13, p. 76, no. 120; Docum. no. 16, p. 86, no. 66; Docum. no. 17, p. 92, no. 28). While the statue was still at the Villa Ludovisi, the Florentine artist Stefano della Bella (1610-1664) executed both a drawing and an engraving of the object (Baudi de Vesmes, op. cit. 1906, and Di Castro and fox, op. cit. 1983); in the former he omitted both the base and the tree-support, in the latter only the tree. In 1670 the sculpture appears in a list of marbles to be sold by Giambattista Ludovisi (Palma, op. cit, 1986, p. 308, fol.127).
The Quintilij Collection
Soon after 1670 the faun passed into the antiquities collection of Roman lawyer and notary Giovanni Paulo Quintilij. In a codicil to his testament dated 1705 (see Palma, op. cit., 1986, p. 98) it is described as being one of a pair with another statue by Pierre-Étienne Monnot (1657-1733) representing the same putto seated on the ground and holding the mask at his feet. Based on the same document, Quintilij’s intention in commissioning the French sculptor to carve the other putto was to present the pair as an allegory of Love: the ancient one representing l’amore interesato e falso, wearing a mask simbolo della falsità e dell’inganno; the modern one unmasked, representing l’Amore sincere e vero. The current whereabouts of Monnot’s Amore Vero, if it survives, are as yet unknown (see S. Walker, The sculptor Pietro Stefano Monnot in Rome, doct. Diss., New York University, 1999).
It is not clear which of Giovanni Paulo Quintilij’s two daughters inherited the faun. According to B. Palma (op. cit. 1986, p. 98), it is likely to have been included, together with his pendant by Monnot, in the inheritance of Sabina Angela Quintilij del Cinque, even though no inventory exists to prove it.
From Rome to Northern Europe
The faun reappeared shortly after 1900 in the Istituto S. Alessio in Rome, an institution for the education of blind children, where photographers from the Vatican Museums recorded it on a single glass negative as it stood on a humble wooden table with his restored fingers still intact (Musei Vaticani, neg. no. XXX-73-10; Montagu, op. cit., 1985). Sometime in the early 20th century an art dealer offered the faun for sale to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptothek in Copenhagen. The three photographs sent by the dealer, each showing Algardi's restored fingers missing, were later forwarded by the museum to the team of the Photographische Einzelaufnahmen and published in 1947. The dealer in question might have been Jacob Hirsch in Geneva or Lucerne, in whose inventory the faun is said to have been in 1922.
Sometime in the 1920s/30s the faun was documented in a private collection in northern Europe. It remained in this collection, prominently displayed in the library of the owner’s residence, until 1938, when its Jewish owner had to leave the country and the statue behind. The Nazis then appropriated the residence and its contents but left them virtually untouched. In 1946, shortly after the owner had died in exile, the statue was restituted to his widow together with the house and its furnishings. The present owner, who acquired the statue from the widow of the collector, has owned it since the 1960s.
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