105
105
Laurent Delvaux (1696-1778)
Southern Netherlandish, circa 1776
CARITAS ROMANA (ROMAN CHARITY)
Estimate
50,00070,000
LOT SOLD. 1,064,750 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
105
Laurent Delvaux (1696-1778)
Southern Netherlandish, circa 1776
CARITAS ROMANA (ROMAN CHARITY)
Estimate
50,00070,000
LOT SOLD. 1,064,750 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Old Master Sculpture and Works of Art Including Highlights from the Reinhold Hofstätter Collection

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Laurent Delvaux (1696-1778)
Southern Netherlandish, circa 1776
CARITAS ROMANA (ROMAN CHARITY)
signed: L. Delvaux
white marble, on a wood base
marble: 76cm., 29 7/8 in.
base: 100 by 57 by 56cm., 39 3/8  by 22½ by 22in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Laurent Delvaux (1696-1778);
by descent to Jean-Godefroid Delvaux, 2 March 1778;
by descent to his heirs;
sale, Brussels, 5 May 1868 'pour sortir d'indivision';
there acquired by Jean-François Stein, 16 rue Montoyer, Brussels;
described by Selon Fiévet, 1878-1880, as being in a German collection;
private collection, Italy

Literature

F-V. Goethals, Histoire des lettres, des sciences et des arts en Belgique et dans les pays limitrophes, Brussels, 1840, p. 403;
Journal des Beaux-Arts et de la Littérature, 10th year, 1868, pp. 51-52;
E. De Busscher, 'Laurent Delvaux, sculpteur statuaire', Annales de la Société royale des Beaux-Arts et de Littérature de Gand, vol. XIII, 1873-1877, pp. 419-420;
E. De Busscher, 'Delvaux (Laurent)', Biographie Nationale, vol V, Brussels, 1876, , col. 502;
E. Marchal, 'Mémoire sur la sculpture aux Pays-Bas pendant les XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, précédé d'un résumé historique,' Mémoires de l'Académie royale de Belgique, Classe des Beaux-Arts, vol. XLI, Bruxelles, 1877, p. 103;
E. Fiévet, Notice sur la vie et les ouvrages du sculpteur Laurent Delaux, Nivelles, 1878, pp. 14, 17;
E. Fiévet, 'Catalogue des oeuvres de Laurent Delvaux', Annales de la Société archéologique de l'Arrondissement de Nivelles, vol. I, 1879, p. 109 (as Pietà);
E. Fiévet, Notice sur la vie et les ouvrages du statuaire Laurent Delaux, 1880, pp. 28, 32 (as Pietà);
E. Marchal, La Sculpture et des Chefs-d'oeuvre de l'Orfèvrerie belges, Brussels, 1895, col. 523;
G. Willame, Laurent Delvaux, 1696-1778, Bruxelles-Paris, 1914, p. 56;
J-L. Delattre and R. Laurent, Laurent Delvaux 1696-1778: Exposition commémorant le bicentenaire de sa mort, Collégiale Sainte-Gertrude, Nivelles, September, 1978, p. 32, n. 5;
R. Van Peteghem, Liste des Principaux ouvrages de Laurent Delvaux,' Rif Tout Dju, no. 218, May 1978, Nivelles, p. 18; 
R. Van Peteghem, 'Notes manuscrites originales servant à la biographie de Laurent Delvaux, Rif Tout Dju, no. 219, June 1978, Nivelles, p. 8, n. 4;
A. Jacobs, Laurent Delvaux: Gand, 1696-Nivelles, 1778, Paris, 1999, pp. 483-485, no. SM 14 (including a list of further archival references to the present marble)

Catalogue Note

Delvaux's Carita Romana was last seen in public in 1868 when it was sold by his heirs at auction in Brussels. Its rediscovery marks an exciting and important development in the understanding of Laurent Delvaux, who was one of the most celebrated 18th-century Flemish sculptors.

Alain Jacobs, author of the 1999 catalogue raisonné of Delvaux's oeuvre, quotes Laurent-Joseph Delvaux-de Saive (1773-1861), who described the present marble as the last work executed by the sculptor, which was left partly unfinished at the time of his death. The model is also known from a small terracotta in the musée de Groesbeke-de Croix, Namur (inv. no. Sc. 35), which has been identified by Jacobs as the preparatory model for the present marble. The subject, Roman Charity, is inspired by the story of Cimon who was incarcerated and left to starve prior to his execution, but sustained through the ordeal by his faithful daughter, Pero, who visited her father in prison and secretly breastfed him. The episode is recorded in Valerius Maximus' Memorable Acts and Sayings of the Ancient Romans, and Pero was held up in antiquity as an exemplar of Roman honour and filial piety.

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.

Old Master Sculpture and Works of Art Including Highlights from the Reinhold Hofstätter Collection

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London