Raffaelle Monti 1818-1881 studied sculpture under Pompeo Marchesi a pupil of Canova, and under his father who had been trained by Bertel Thorvaldsen. He was only twenty when he showed a colossal marble group in Milan 'Ajax Defending the Body of Patroclus' This led to an invitation to Vienna to sculpt the emperor Francis of Austria and complete other imperial commissions. He moved permanently to England in the revolutionary year of 1848, having visited before when he created the `Veiled Vestal' for the Duke of Devonshire. This amazed the public with its skill in capturing silk and flesh from marble, when shown at the Great Exhibition of 1851, and coincided with Monti's emergence as a celebrity sculptor. At the International Exhibition of 1862, his genius was showed in a relatively new light: that of a designer and modeller of silver, in conjunction with the famous Jeweller and Goldsmith C.F. Hancock, a collaboration which produced many designs and models for expensive sculptural silver trophies and race prizes. Their collaboration was immortalized by the prime minister Benjamin Disreali, a friend of Hancock who brought them into his novel `Lothair' after Hancock's death in 1870. Chapter 33 begins `The Goodwood cup, my Lord; the Doncaster...something quite new. Yes parcel-gilt, the only style now; it gives relief to the design: yes, by Monti, a great man, hardly inferior to Flaxman, if at all.'
The first racing trophy of this design to have been made by Hancocks, for the Brighton Races of 1869, was won by Baron Mayer de Rothschild's horse Restitution (Sotheby's, Mentmore, 23 May 1977, lot 1665). According to contemporary reports, the Brighton Cup was 'the richest racing prize given on the turf' and, in December 1868, 'After a long examination of the various designs submitted to them, the Brighton committee selected the one of Messrs. Hancock, of Old Bond street, which represented a group of ancient Britons preparing to resist the invasion of England by Julius Cæsar. The piece of plate is designed by Signor Monti.' (The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent, Sheffield, Tuesday, 15 December 1868, p. 3f). Following the race itself, on 4 August 1869, the subject of the cup was described as being 'the assembling of British warriors, accompanied by their Druids, on the rocks of Pevensy Bay to resist the landing of Cæsar and his legions. The action of the British warriors, and the wild fury of the Priests, were depicted with great spirit, and the water breaking on the rocks was very truthfully represented, though the rocks themselves, owing to the colour with which the silver [sic] is stained, had not, to our thinking, so good an effect.' (The Brighton Herald, 7 August 1869, p. 3b; The Brighton Examiner, 13 July 1869, p. 3b).
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