The composition is broadly derived from Rubens' Caritas romana in the Siegerlandmuseum, Siegen (inv. no. R 158), formerly in the collections of the Dukes of Marlborough at Blenheim (Rubens was also responsible for another version of the subject, now in the Hermitage, Saint Petersburg). As in Rubens' painting, Delvaux has presented Cimon shackled, leaning forward, straining his neck, his dishevelled beard pressed to her breast. Pero modestly bares only her right breast, her hand obscuring the left, and turns her head to her left anxiously watching out for guards who may prevent her from nourishing her father. Delvaux may have been familiar with Rubens' composition through a drawing, or possibly through the Hermitage version, which was then in the collection of the Plenipotentiary Minister, Cobenzl, in Brussels (though this follows a different arrangement). It is, however, interesting to note that Artus Quellinus (1609-1668) produced a version of the subject for a water pump in the courtyard of Amsterdam Town Hall, which is also closely inspired by the Rubens picture. This sculpture is also known through a terracotta sketch in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Interestingly Quellinus, whose model is more Baroque in spirit than the Delvaux group, has included two prisoners to the reverse, shielded from view by the modest Pero.
Delvaux's marble, whilst following a Baroque prototype, is imbued with the principles of the burgeoning Neoclassical movement. The innate sense of pathos in Rubens' painting, together with the almost grotesque nature of the subject, has given way to an elegant solemnity with the emphasis on Pero's virtuousness. Her head turns more sharply away from the breastfeeding, mirroring her father's profile and creating a frieze-like effect when viewed from the front. Cimon, whilst still bald and bearded, has a more muscular, classically heroic, torso, which contrasts with his modestly draped daughter. Despite having been previously described as unfinished, the marble betrays some superb passages of carving, from the subtle musculature to the chiaroscuro of Cimon's drilled beard and hair, and naturalistic rockwork terrace. The tension evident as Cimon strains against his shackles towards his daughter, who gently rests her youthful hand on his shoulder, provides a powerful visual effect.
Laurent Delvaux was one of the leading Flemish sculptors of the 18th century. Trained by Pieter-Denis Plumier in Antwerp, he travelled to London in 1717 where he worked on a number of commissions with Pieter Scheemakers the younger, including the monument to John Holles, Duke of Newcastle at Westminster Abbey. Between 1728 and 1732 he travelled to Italy, principally residing in Rome, where he was patronised by, amongst others, Cardinal Lorenzo Corsini, later Pope Clement XII, and produced a number of marbles for Woburn Abbey. In 1733 he was appointed court sculptor in Brussels and went on to train many of the leading sculptors of the next generation, including Gilles-Lambert Godecharle, and produced his masterpiece, the Hercules, for the Royal Palace in Brussels between 1768 and 1770.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale