Lot 249
  • 249

Southern German, probably Augsburg, 17th century

30,000 - 50,000 GBP
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  • Jupiter and Juno
  • gilt bronze, with painted wood and gilt metal bases
  • Southern German, probably Augsburg, 17th century


Episcopal Palace, Bishop's Residence (Fürstbischöfliche Residenz), Augsburg;
by descent to the present owner


Berlin, Bode Museum, Von Allen Seiten Schön: Bronzen der Renaissance und des Barock, 1995


V. Krahn, Von Allen Seiten Schön: Bronzen der Renaissance und des Barock, exh. cat., Staatliche Museen, Berlin 1995, cat. nos. 208 and 209, pp. 550-551


Overall the condition of the bronzes is very good, with minor dirt and wear to the surface consistent with age. There are some minor surface abrasions and rubbing to gilding, particularly at the high points. The bronzes are cast in sections and stable original joints are visible. In particular, Juno's body is cast in two main sections and a joint is visible horizontally at the torso. Both raised arms are cast separately and joints are visible. There are casting flaws to both bronzes, particularly around the original joints and to the crevices in the drapery. The attribute in Jupiter's proper left hand is lost. There are a few plugs and a minor hole to Jupiter's proper left arm. There are a few further holes to both bronzes, including a small hole in Jupiter's drapery at the back and another in the top of Juno's head. Jupiter's eagle and section of drapery, and Juno's peacock have been cast separately. Both statuettes have three screws to the reverse. The bronze bases are cast in sections and open joints are visible, particularly at the underside of the rockwork terraces. The wood bases are in good condition, with some minor chips. There is some rubbing to the gilt metal of the bases.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

As Krahn explains in the catalogue for his 1995 bronze exhibition in Berlin (op.cit.), there are no other casts or known models for the present large and exceptional pair of gilt bronzes. Clearly inspired by the antique, Jupiter’s pose is reminiscent of a statue of Jupiter which was in the Giustiniani Collection in Rome in the 17th century and is known through prints by Claude Mellan (1598-1688) and others. Two volumes of engravings of the antique statues in the collection were compiled, under the direction of Joachim von Sandrart, in 1631. Juno’s elaborate drapery is reminiscent of the carving on several of the marble statues of goddesses in the Giustiniani Collection as well as the so-called Urania in the Capitoline Museums. It is likely that the sculptor of these bronzes was familiar with this statue at least through prints.

The subjects of Jupiter and Juno were popular in baroque sculpture, Alessandro Algardi, active in Rome, modeled a set of four firedogs representing the elements in the guise of mythological figures; two of the designs were figures of Jupiter and Juno as fire and air. The models were created just before Algardi’s death in 1654 and were executed on a reduced scale for the French court, both in silver and in bronze.

However, the stationary conception and anatomical details of this figure of Jupiter are distinct from the more fluid conceptions of French artists. The terrain style bases are unusual, while the sharpness of details, in particular the drapery, is reminiscent of goldsmith's work. Their lack of affinity to both French and Italian bronzes of the period indicate that these figures may be rare surviving examples of bronzes produced in the second half of the 17th century in Augsburg, the centre of baroque goldsmithing in Germany.

The relative size and demeanor of this pair indicate that they may have been made to surmount firedogs like the figures of Vulcan and Cyclops on the silver firedogs made for the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, by the Augsburg silversmith Abraham II Drentwett in 1685 (Zarensilber, op. cit. nos. 54 and 55) and another pair by Joahannes Kilian and Lukas Lang made about 1680, now in the Kremlin Armory (Seelig, op. cit., pls. 22 and 25). In addition, a corresponding pair of large, silver, classically draped, figures serve as finials and support the central coat of arms on the silver throne of Queen Christina of Sweden, made in 1650 also by Drentwett (Seelig, op. cit., fig. 12).

L. Seelig, Silver and Gold: Courtly Splendour from Augsburg, Munich and New York, 1995; Zarensilber. Augsburger Silber aus dem Kreml, exh. cat. Moscow, Kremlin Museums and the Maximilian Museum, Augsburg, Munich, 2008