5

Details & Cataloguing

19th & 20th Century Sculpture

|
London

Ignazio Villa
1813 - 1895
ITALIAN
HERO
signed and dated: I.ZO .VILLA. F. / A. ROMA. 1849
white marble
132 by 65cm., 52 by 25 5/8 in. 
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Catalogue Note

This compelling marble tells the tragic love story of Hero, a young priestess of Aphrodite. She had an affair with Leander, who lived across the Hellespont and would swim over every night, guided by the light of a torch she held. One night, however, her lover did not arrive, as a storm had swept him into the sea. The sculpture shows Hero, hand outstretched, holding her torch, straining to see whether she can detect Leander in the water. Discussing the sculpture Villa described how he “expended much effort in giving her Greek features, and in impressing on her face love, fear, impatience, anxiety [...]."(I. Villa, Opere scientifiche ed artistiche composte, disegnate ed illustrate da Ignazio Villa e pubblicate a spesa del medesimo, Parte 2: Arte, Florence, 1860, p. 45; as quoted in Cobianchi's expertise). 

Villa studied at the Accademia di Brera and lived in Rome from 1840 onwards, receiving a stipend for sculpting from the Viceroy of Lombardy-Veneto until 1849. His Hero, first executed in his final year in Rome on commission by Marquisa Maria Luigia Serbelloni, was copied several times in different dimensions. A version of the marble is currently in the collection of Hughenden House, National Trust (inv. no. NT 429100) - it was acquired by Benjamin Disraeli at the Great London Exposition in 1862. Ignazio Villa set up a palace-studio in Florence, open to the public, where he showed his marbles and plasters as samples, to be replicated. However, due to the dating and the location on the present marble, this is most likely the original version commissioned by Marquise Serbelloni.

RELATED LITERATURE
E. Marconi and B. Matucci, 'Ignazio Villa: un eclettico dell'800 da riscoprire attraverso alcune inedite sculture tra Palazzo Pitti e la sua Palazzina-studio a Firenze', MDCCC 1800, vol. 5, July 2016, pp. 25-43

An expertise by Roberto Cobianchi is available from the department upon request.

19th & 20th Century Sculpture

|
London