Details & Cataloguing

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


Sirio Tofanari
1886 - 1976
signed and dated: Sirio Tofanari 1928
Bardiglio marble, on a black marble base
161cm., 63 3/8 in. overall
panther: 71.5cm., 28 1/8 in.
base: 120cm., 47¼in. 
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With Galleria Bardi, Milan, 1930


G. Ponti (ed.), Domus: arte e stile nella casa, arte e stile nell'industria, 1930, p. 24;
V. Terraroli (ed.), Art Deco: Gli anni ruggenti in Italia 1919-1930, exh. cat. Musei San Domenico, Forlì, Milan, 2017, p. 285, no. 10.1

Catalogue Note

This compellingly ferocious group is an important work in grey Bardiglio marble by one of Italy's foremost animalier sculptors. Designed to overhang its plinth, the group represents a crouching panther savaging a pheasant, perched seemingly on the edge of a precipice. A variation of the model, in which the carnivore has captured a crocodile, is known in bronze (see a cast sold at Christie's South Kensington, 24 November 2004, lot 389). 

Sirio Tofanari was a self-taught sculptor who forged a remarkable career in the depiction of rare and exotic animals. He spent some time in London, where he took the opportunity to study the animals at the Natural History Museum. Whilst he mainly exhibited in Italy, his career brought him to a multitude of cities, including Milan, London, Paris, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. A number of Tofanari's models are held in the collection of the Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Florence.

Although undoubtedly influenced by the animalier sculptors of the 19th century, Tofanari approached his subject matter from a more modernist, elegantly stylised, background. This is seen in the present group, which represents a fundamentally naturalistic subject in an almost art-deco aesthetic. 

A. Panzetta, Nuovo Dizionario degli scultori italiana dell'ottocento e del primo novecento, vol. 2, Turin, 2003, p. 905

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