Raffaello Romanelli Italian, 1856-1928
- Raffaello Romanelli
- The coins of her headdress inscribed: SULAMITIDE
- white marble
In 1915 the San Francisco Examiner described Raffaello Romanelli as ‘to Italy what Rodin is to France’ (11 June 1915). Professor Raffaello was the second generation of a dynasty of Florentine sculptors active from the 1820s. Like his father, Pasquale, and his son, Romano, he worked in a traditional style, making numerous public monuments as well as more commercial subject marbles and portrait busts. At the height of his career, around the turn of the century, Raffaello had an international reputation and was regarded by many as ‘Italy’s greatest living sculptor’ (The Anglo-American Gazette, Nice, 14 March 1908). His model for the equestrian monument to Czar Alexander II of 1914 received widespread acclaim.
The present marble epitomises Romanelli’s ideal or subject sculpture. Technically fluent and compositionally restrained, these works were sold to an international clientele visiting Florence. At a meeting in Romanelli’s studio in 1925, A. Bartlett described how Romanelli always puts ‘the finishing touches on all [his marbles], injects life lines into them; and it was while he stood there that I saw the sculptor with a fine chisel add wonderful expression to the eyes and mouth of a nymph, and with marvellous dexterity soften the dimples of a laughing child’.
The subject of the present marble, Sulamitide, is inspired by the 18th century author Giuseppe Maria Ercolani’s play La Sulamitide boschereccia sagra di Neralco pastore arcade, published in 1732, about a son of the king of Egypt during the time of Solomon. Another version of this marble sold in these rooms on 26 November 1996 for £45,000.
Bartlett, p.14; Panzetta, vol.1, p.236; Vicario, vol.2, pp.900-901