Christie's London, 13th December, 2001, lot 575, where acquired by the present owner; French private collection.
This terracotta is exceptionnal for its size and its fantastic modelling. Born into a Bolognese family of artists, Gaetano's brother was the renowned painter and sculptor Ubaldo (1728-1781) and his son, Mauro (1764-1834), became just as famous. The Gandolfi family embodies the transition between Baroque, Neo-Classicism and Romanticism. Gaetano trained first in his brother's workshop and then became the pupil of Felice Torelli and Ercole Lelli at the Accademia Clementina. His art reached its peak around 1775-80 with The Wedding Feast at Cana (Bologna, Pinacoteca, inv. no. 1468) and his frescoes of Santa Maria della Vitta. Another terracotta, depicting Magdalen, is in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (inv. no. M82.212). The Christ's magnificent profile recalls Gaetano's painting, notably his Deposition of Christ (Museo Provinciale dei Frati Minori Cappucini, Bologna) or his sanguine of the Head of Christ sold by Christie's New York (22 January 2003, lot 55).
Good condition overall with some minor surface dirt in the crevices consistent with age and handling. There are remains of grey paint at several places in particular to Saint John's back and in the crevices of Christ's drapery.
Because of its important size, the terracotta group has been dried and fired in several separate elements, reassembled after firing , in particular Christ's arms and legs, as well as His hands and feet (= abattis) where joints are visible to the terracotta (according to the usual technique for terracottas).
Christ's fingers of both hands may have been restored, notably His proper left index and His proper right small finger appear to have been reattached. Christ's both feet may have been slightly retouched with the big toe of His proper left foot reattached.
Christ's head appears to have been modelled separately and reattached after firing.
Firing cracks are visible to several places , mainly to the terrace. and in the folds of the draperies.The inside of the terracotta has been reinforced with terracotta and synthetic fillings as well as a metallic structure to the back.
Very impressive group, finelly modelled and in overall good condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."