An Italian gilt-bronze and verde-antico marble mounted alabaster Warwick vase by Francesco and Luigi Righetti Rome, late 18th Century / early 19th Century
- gilt-bronze, alabaster
- 43cm. high, 24cm. diameter; 1ft. 5in., 9½in.
Property of a Lady
Alvar González-Palacios, Il Neoclassicismo, Ristudiando I Righetti, Turin, 1992; vol. III. page 38.
Alvar González-Palacios, Il gusto dei Principi, Milan, 1993; Ristudiando I Righetti, vol. I, page 303.
Alvar González-Palacios, Nostalgia e invenzione / Arredi e arti decorative a Roma e Napoli nel Settecento, Milan, 2010, pages 158-164.
There are a number of stylistic similarities between this so far unrecorded beautiful vase and the work of the celebrated silversmith, bronze-founder and sculptor Francesco Righetti whose life and work has been profusely studied by Alvar González-Palacios (op. cit.).
The form of the present vase is based on an ancient Roman marble vase with Bacchic ornament that was discovered at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli about 1771 by Gavin Hamilton, a Scottish painter-antiquarian and art dealer in Rome and subsequently owned by George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick. From the second half of the 18th century onwards, excavated antique models such as the Warwick-vase were copied and adapted to the taste of the time by employing precious materials such as antique marbles and also alabaster embellished by gilt-bronze mounts.
These characteristics are typical for Francesco Righetti's work, which was directly inspired by the silver produced by his teacher, Luigi Valadier (1726-1785).
The combination of several elements on this vase allow us to attribute it with certainty to the Righettis (see post), although this specific model is not mentioned in the foundry's catalogue from 1794. The stone work could be the workshop of Lapicida Francesco Franzoni, who worked closely with the Righetti workshop.
Of particular interest are the following three details:
- the classical gilt-bronze patera showing flowerheads and eagles that are applied to the top of the socle - originally alternated by stylised acanthus leaves, now missing - are found in an identical manner on a pair of brûle parfums attributed to Francesco and Luigi Righetti, sold at Sotheby's, Paris, 15th October 2003, Collection de Madame Barbara Piasecka Johnson, lot 73 as well as on the gilt-bronze frame cartaglorie executed by Francesco Righetti around 1801 - 1803 which is today housed in San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. They also appear on the base of a Righetti surtout in the antique style, in the Museum of Capodimonte in Naples (see Fig.1). The latter two pieces were the subject of intense studies by Alvar González-Palacios, op.cit, vol II, fig.526-527 and fig.536. A border with similar motifs is found on the sockets of two busts attributed to Luigi Righetti which are housed in a private collection (op. cit., fig.511).
- the Warwick vase with applied gilt-bronze heads and handles on the present work of art is identical to a Warwick vase mounted on a small monument attributed to Francesco and Luigi Righetti incorporating the three Borghese graces in patinated bronze (see Fig.3).
- Lastly, the allegorical figures applied around the centre of the alabaster socle can be compared to related mythological scenes found on the base of the above mentioned surtout in the Museum of Capodimonte in Naples (see also Fig.1). The vine-festooned bacchus masks on the socle of the present lot are identical to those used on the bases of a pair of candelabra by Franceso Righetti in the Quirinal Palace in Rome (see Fig.2).
Francesco Righetti (1749-1819) was a pupil of the leading 18th century Roman goldsmith Luigi Valadier (1726-1785). In the late 1780's in Rome, a new development seems to have taken place in the commercial production of small bronze copies for the Grand Tourist and Righetti was a leading figure in this. In 1794 his foundry even produced a catalogue, printed in French, offering copies in three sizes, including full-size, to "amateurs de l'antiquité et des beaux arts". He produced a wide variety of pieces including copies of many antique and modern statues, busts, vases, trophies, animals, marble pedestals, replicas of fountains and gilt ornaments for clocks and obelisks. In 1780 Francesco's son Luigi was born and he was to become his pupil and partner in the famous workshop. Interestingly, in 1782 Pope Pio VI visited the workshop and after that Righetti's relationship with the Vatican intensified. In 1805 Francesco Righetti became "fonditore camerale" of the Vatican. He was also the favourite founder of Antonio Canova. After Righetti's death, Luigi and his son Francesco Righetti the younger (born 1805) continued the foundries in Naples and Rome.