ANTONIO PIATTI | EL HUERFANO DEL LABRADORES (THE FARM LABOURERS' ORPHAN)
active second and third quarter 19th century
EL HUERFANO DEL LABRADORES (THE FARM LABOURERS' ORPHAN)
signed and dated: A. PIATTI ROMA 1847.
white marble, on an ebonised wood base with bronze mounts
marble: 134cm., 52½in.
base: 75cm., 29½in.
Overall the condition of the marble is excellent with minor dirt and wear to the surface consistent with age. There is natural veining to the marble consistent with the material throughout but particularly to the proper right shin. There are some minor naturally occurring inclusions in the marble including to the proper left arm. There are a few minor abrasions to some edges around the integral base. The base is in good condition and revolves. There are some chips to the ebonised wood surface. There is minor stable splitting to the wood base consistent with material
"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.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
Rome, Scuderie del Quirinale, Ottocento da Canova al Quarto Stato, 29 February - 10 June 2008
Antonio Piatti studied under Thorvaldsen's pupil, Pietro Tenerani, at the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca in Rome. He took the unusual step of emigrating to Mexico in 1855, responding to an invitation to help build an autonomous artistic culture in the New World. His arrival in Mexico City corresponded with the blossoming of a national Mexican aesthetic. The art institutions of Mexico looked to Italy for their formation, and in particular to Rome. Mexico City's Accademia di San Carlos sent its prize students to Rome aided by government funding. Italian sculpture was purchased for the city's galleries and Rome's Accademia di San Luca was asked to provide a sculpture tutor.
In 1845 the Accademia di San Luca selected the Catalan-born Manuel Vilar, pupil of Thorvaldsen and Tenerani, for the post. Vilar in turn selected first works by Piatti for the Mexican academy, and later asked that the sculptor himself come to Mexico. In the year of his arrival, Piatti exhibited three statues at the academy, one of which was his Huerfano del labradores, perhaps in the present version. After Vilar's death, Piatti was given the chair of sculpture at the Accademia San Carlos. He also oversaw decorative works including the re-design of the academy's façade and other monuments.
The present work was originally given the rather more conventional title of Il Genio dell'agricultura (The Genius of Agriculture). Piatti's master, Tenerani, had produced a sculpture of the same subject, the plaster for which is in the collection of the Museum of Rome. The Mexican title gives the marble very different associations. It resonates well with the carefully observed awkwardness of adolescence and the boy's air of melancholy.
This lot is sold with an expertise by Dott. Stefano Grandesso.
M. Sartor, "Le relazioni fruttuose. Arte ed artisti italiani nell'Accademia di San Carlos di Messico" in Ricerche di Storia dell'Arte, no. 63, 1997, pp. 7-34; S. Grandesso, Pietro Tenerani, Cinisello Balsamo, 2003