79
79
Alessandro Magni for Società Ceramica Richard
Italian, Milan, circa 1885
MONUMENTAL VASE WITH THE TEMPTATION OF SAINT ANTHONY
JUMP TO LOT
79
Alessandro Magni for Società Ceramica Richard
Italian, Milan, circa 1885
MONUMENTAL VASE WITH THE TEMPTATION OF SAINT ANTHONY
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

19th & 20th Century Sculpture, including works from Cecil Howard’s Studio

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Alessandro Magni for Società Ceramica Richard
Italian, Milan, circa 1885
MONUMENTAL VASE WITH THE TEMPTATION OF SAINT ANTHONY
signed: AMagni
glazed ceramic and plaster, on a wood plinth
vase: 155cm., 61in. overall
figures: 54cm., 21¼in. to 80cm., 31½in.
plinth: 91cm., 35¾in.
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Provenance

Private collection, Belgium, purchased at the Universal Exhibition, Antwerp in 1885;
thence by descent to the present owner

Exhibited

Antwerp, Exposition Universelle, 1885

Literature

Exposition Universelle d'Anvers 1885: Catalogue Officiel, p. 44

Catalogue Note

This magnificent Vase is an apparently unique masterpiece exhibited by the Società Ceramica Richard at the Exposition Universelle in Antwerp in 1885. Modelled by the company's talented young sculptor Alessandro Magni, this tour de force in ceramic and plaster received effusive praise in the official catalogue of the Exposition. Its authors hailed it as a 'new and original' creation in the art of ceramics, with 'admirably modelled' figures, continuing that 'there is in the details and the whole of this composition something vibrant and novel, which instinctively arrests the passer-by. Our sincere congratulations to M. Magni, and the Società Richard, which possesses such an artist' (op. cit., p. 44). 

Magni populates his ornate, monumental Art Nouveau amphora with fantastical figures in plaster that create a striking visual effect while providing a narrative theme for the work. Two alluring female nudes are writhing from the handles in a state of ecstasy, forming a dangerous temptation to the crouching monk at the foot of the vase, whose face and pose betray his inner torment. A popular subject since the Renaissance, the Temptation of Saint Anthony gained particular currency within the Symbolist movement of the 19th century. The technical accomplishment of the figures' modelling reveals Magni as a highly able sculptor as well as ceramicist. With its combination of materials, decorative extravagance, and moral significance, his vase is a unique fin-de-siècle showpiece.

Remarkably, the Vase has remained in the same private collection since it was shown in Antwerp in 1885. Now seen in public for the first time since this event, it retains its dramatic visual power in the eyes of the modern viewer. 

19th & 20th Century Sculpture, including works from Cecil Howard’s Studio

|
London