LONDON - The Moor of Venice symbolizes more than just a Shakespearean character. Othello has come to represent all that we associate with the anguish of jealousy and notions of fidelity, which, as with all Shakespearian themes, has become the universal symbol of that particular aspect of the human condition. Pietro Calvi’s Bust of Othello, the Moor of Venice in the upcoming April 8 sale is a consummate work by this ethnographic sculptor whose work reflected a fascination with the Orient.
Looking at the expression of despair and rage in this work, one is struck by the sculptor’s skill in conveying such emotive weight through the groundbreaking mixture of bronze and marble. The work has a real presence, which must be experienced in the flesh, and as I stood before it I realized why Calvi was acclaimed for capturing the dramatic potential of his African sitter. The anguish is palpable, and the sheer impact of the bust is captivating. It is hard to know when a work of such calibre will come onto the Orientalist market again.