Lot 16
  • 16

NORTH ITALIAN, PROBABLY MANTUA, CIRCA 1550, AFTER THE ANTIQUE | Allegory of the Abundance

Estimate
300,000 - 500,000 EUR
Sold
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Description

  • Allegory of the Abundance
  • bronze, dark brown patina, with silvered bronze or lead eyes and nails ; on a later ebonised wood base engraved on the back : N° 67
  • H. (bronze) 41,3 cm; 16 1/3 in.

Provenance

- In the inventory of the Garde-Meuble royal, Hôtel of the Petit-Bourbon, Paris, 1684 
- ibidem, 1707
- ibidem, 1722 
- ibidem, 1733
- in the inventory of the new Garde-Meuble royal built up by Ange-Jacques Gabriel, Louis XV Place (current Place of the Concorde), Paris, 1775 
- ibidem, exhibited in the Gallery of the Royal Bronzes, 1791 
- delivered to Gabriel Aimé Jourdan, on 2 Fructidor of the Year IV (19 August 1796) 
- in the inventory of the estate of his godson, Aimé Gabriel d'Artigues, by Me Turquet, assisted by Me Sibire, auctioneer, and S. Mannheim, expert, 1848 (no. 142) 

Literature

SOURCE
- Livraison à Jourdan le 2 Fructidor de l'an IV, A. N. O1 3376 LITERATURE
- Inventaire des diamans de la Couronne, perles, pierreries, tableaux, pierres gravées, Et autres Monumens des Arts & des Sciences existants au Garde-Meuble, par les commissaires MM. Bion, Christin & Delattre, Députés à l'assemblée nationale, suivit d'un rapport sur cet Inventaire, par M. Delattre, Paris, 1791, p. 251
- J.-J. Guiffrey, Inventaire général du mobilier de la Couronne sous Louis XIV (1663-1715), vol. 2, Paris, 1886, p. 36, no. 67:
- S. Baratte, G. Bresc-Bautier, Les Bronzes de la Couronne, exh. cat. musée du Louvre, 1999, p. 94

RELATED LITERATURE
- W. Bode, Collection of J. Pieront Morgan: Bronzes of the Renaissance and Subsequent Periods, Paris, 1910, I, p. XXXI, II, n° 143, pl. CIII (comme Venise, fin du XVe siècle) 
- J. Pope-Hennessy, A. F. Radcliffe, Sculpture in the Frick Collection, vol. III, New York, 1970, pp. 180-182
Von Allen Seiten schön. Bronzen der Renaissance und des Barock, cat. exp. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin, 1995, pp. 206-207

Catalogue Note

‘A woman holding a cornucopia in her left arm; height fifteen pouces [40.6 cm], estimated at three hundred and fifty livres’. (cf. Inventaire des diamans [...], 1791, op. cit., p. 251) The composition of this bronze is adapted from antique models such as those portraying Livia, wife of Emperor Augustus; Sabina, wife of the Emperor Hadrian; and an unknown woman known as Julia Titi. These three are all shown in the guise of Ceres, Roman goddess of fertility, holding a cornucopia as an attribute (Musée du Louvre, Paris, inv. nos. MA 1242, MA 1190 and MA 1256).

The theme of Abundance, deriving from the antique model of Ceres, occurs frequently in sixteenth century Venice – in both painting and sculpture – symbolising the wealth and commercial prosperity of La Serenissima. Two antique marble sculptures of the subject were placed in the niches of the Foscari Portico, commissioned by Doge Francesco Foscari and built in the mid-fifteenth century in the courtyard of the Doge’s Palace. A marble of Abundance was carved by Danese Cattaneo (1512-1572) for the funerary monument of Leonardo Loredan in the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo. Another, by Francesco Segala (1535-1592), was displayed in one of the niches of the Golden Staircase (Scala d’Oro) in the Doge’s Palace. The cornucopiae on its own, borrowed from allegorical figures of Abundance or representations of Ceres, is also a recurring motif in Venetian Renaissance statuary – carried, for example, by the two bronze candle-bearing angels by Girolamo Campagna (1549–1625) in Santa Maria dei Carmini.

The solid cast and the thick, dark patina of this allegorical figure of Abundance are typical of northern Italian bronzes produced in Mantua, Padua and Venice in the sixteenth century. A further example of the same model was in the collection of Isaac Camondo, a pendant to a second bronze, alike in every respect but reversed: with the cornucopia in her right arm and the face turned to the left (Musée du Louvre, Paris, inv. no. OA 6480). Another almost identical pair – whose cornucopias bear traces of gilding – is in the Frick Collection, New York (inv. nos. 16.2.57 and 16.2.58, H. 39.4 cm and 40.1 cm). Another pair – without gilding to the cornucopias – came from the collection of Emma Budge (1852-1937) in Hamburg, and is now in the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven (inv. nos. 1971.26.1-2; cf. J. Pope-Hennessy, A. F. Radcliffe, op. cit.). These two female figures could have been designed as candelabra supports or fire-dog figures, similar to the models created by Niccoló Roccatagliata (1593–1636), Tiziano Aspetti (1557/59–1606) and Girolamo Campagna – who was responsible for the pair depicting Venus and Adonis in the Ca’ d’Oro, Venice.

Some scholars have attributed the Louvre bronzes to the Venetian sculptor and bronze founder Girolamo Campagna (1549-1626) (cf. A. Gibbon, Guide des Bronzes de la Renaissance italienne, Paris, 1990, p. 84). Originally from Verona, Campagna produced the monumental bronzes in the Church of Il Redentore and San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. He is known to have been working in Venice in 1571, in the workshop of Danese Cattaneo, whose influence – which in turn perpetuated the style of his master, Jacopo Sansovino – can be observed in the powerful forms and solid character of the cast of the present female figure. Although Campagna was also known for his smaller bronzes, produced for private clients, it does not seem that the present female figure can be firmly attributed to him.

The frontal composition of this allegory of Abundance, which gives it a hierarchic character, is close to models of the mid-sixteenth century, contemporary with the muscular forms of Jacopo Sansovino (1486-1570) and Danese Cattaneo. The solid cast and the thick and dark patination can also be compared to bronzes by Paduan sculptors such as Francesco Segala (circa 1535-1592) – who followed in the footsteps of Andrea Riccio (1470-1532) and Jacopo Alari Bonacolsi, known as Antico (circa 1460-1528) – and who also took advantage of the potential for chromatic variations created by using different alloys on the same bronze. Traces of silver and lead can be seen on the surface of some parts of the present female figure, especially in the eyes and nails, as it was a tradition in Paduan and Mantuan bronzes. For example, a small bronze figure of a Standing Boy attributed to the circle of Andrea Mantegna (1430/31-1506), Mantua, third quarter of the fifteenth century – earlier than the Ribes Abundance – has comparable silvered eyes with small round pupils deeply set in the metal (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917, inv. no. 17.190.1402). As in the present figure of Abundance, lead is used for the eyes in a bronze of Hecate, goddess of the lunar triad – or perhaps an allegory of Prudence Padua, around 1500 (Staatliche Museen, Berlin, inv. no. 1942).

Although its original provenance is unknown, this bronze appears in the inventory of the King’s Garde-Meuble from 1684, and therefore entered the French Royal Collections at a relatively early date. Archival records indicate that in 1788 it was displayed in the Bronzes Gallery of the new royal Garde-Meuble, built by the architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel on the Place Louis XV (later the Hôtel de l’Etat-Major de la Marine, on what is now the Place de la Concorde). This space was laid out between 1786 and 1788 by the steward of the Garde-Meuble, Thierry de Ville d’Avray, before being opened to the public. In this narrow gallery, with walls painted in trompe-l’œil to imitate stone, the bronzes were displayed around 150 cm above ground level, on socles and shelves painted to simulate yellow Siena marble. A drawing by Jean-Démosthène Dugourc (1749-1825), the architect who oversaw the project, gives a clear picture of the arrangement of the bronzes in the gallery where reductions of royal monuments were displayed, each flanked by two marble busts, and surrounded by busts and other bronze figures (Musée Carnavalet, inv. no. D.6927).

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