These expressive marble putti are imbued with the drama of the Roman baroque. Their poses, together with the high quality of the carving, drilling and deep undercutting, indicates that they were executed by a sculptor working in the wake of Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680). They find close parallels in the work of Antonio Raggi, who initially trained with Alesssandro Algard, but became one of Bernini's leading assistants, responsible for the Danube
from the master's Four Rivers Fountain
in the Piazza Navona. Compare the face of Touch
in the present pair of groups, together with the overall focus on tactility in both groups, with Raggi's Eros and Anteros
in the Galeria Estense in Moderna (circa 1645). Also note the putto in Raggi's stucco Personification of Papacy and Empire
(Marburg Index no: bhim00013908). In terms of concept - of seated putto wrestling with a snake - compare also with Ercole Ferrata's Infant Hercules
group sold in these rooms on 9 December 1987, lot 176. Ferrata, another assistant of Bernini, likewise presents a seated putto with expressive pose, but in a more classical mode, akin to the work of Alessandro Algardi, with whom Ferrata worked later in his career. With their beautifully carved naturalistic settings, and the variation of surface textures, these pendant groups represent a dramatic and impressive baroque offering.
O. Ferrari and S. Papaldo, Le sculture del Seicento a Roma, Rome, 1990, pp. 112, 114-115, 281, 310, 491