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Details & Cataloguing

19th & 20th Century Sculpture

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London

Luigi Bienaimé
1795 - 1878
ITALIAN
L'AMOR DIVINO (DIVINE LOVE)

Provenance

Purchased from the artist by Conrad Hinrich Donner (d.1854);
by descent to his grandson Conrad Hinrich III von Donner (d.1911);
by descent to his daughter-in-law Agnes Baroness von Donner;
by descent to her granddaughter Angelika von Donner (1960-1992); 
Sotheby's London, 9 July 2004, lot 111

Catalogue Note

Luigi Bienaimé, who had won a scholarship from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Carrara, became Thorvaldsen’s chief assistant and from 1819 managed his studio with Tenerani and Freund. He was a sculptor of international repute whose studio at Piazza Barberini 5 was visited by Czar Nicholas I in 1845. The Hermitage has at least five of his works and many others were commissioned by German patrons such as the King of Württemburg, Prince Oldenburg and Graf Dietrichstein.

Conrad Hinrich Donner was a financier, statesman and art collector who founded the Hamburg-based Donner Bank in 1798. He founded the Museumspavillon Donner - destroyed in 1942 - where the present piece accompanied Thorvaldsen's masterpiece The Three Graces. It is interesting to note that Bienaimé was the only Italian sculptor from whom Donner made purchases, the others being the Dane, Hermann Wilhelm Bissen, and the German, Adolph Moritz Jahn.

The present figure is one of just two marble versions of L’Amor Divino known to exist. The other is in the cappella della S. Sindone in Turin Cathedral, while the plaster model is in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (inv.no. I.N.621). The angel depicted in L'Amor Divino, also known as Angelo dalle braccia incrociate sul petto, is a reworking of the figure of the young child in Bienaimé's large 155cm group of Angelo Custode e fanciullo of 1831. The plaster L'Amor Divino in the Carlsberg Glyptotek is dated 1832 and the present work 1833, thus providing a clear sequence for its development and refinement.

RELATED LITERATURE
J.B. Hartmann, 'La Triade Italiana del Thorvaldsen, Alcune Considerazioni su Temi Mitologici e Cristiani', Antalogia di Belle Arti, 1984, nos. 23-24, pp. 106-107; A. Panzetta, Nuovo Dizionario degli Scultori Italiani dell'Ottocento e del Primo Novecento, Turin, 2003, vol. I, p. 91

19th & 20th Century Sculpture

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London