AFTER HENDRICK DE KEYSER (1565-1621)
NETHERLANDISH OR AUSTRIAN, 17TH CENTURY
lead, on an associated lead base
figure: 35.5cm., 14in.
base: 18.5cm., 6¾in.
Overall the condition of the lead is very good with minor dirt and wear to the surface consistent with age. There has been a small knock to the end of the nose. There are a few further small knocks and nicks, including to the lower back at the proper left side, to the buttocks, and to the proper right calf. The proper left wing on the helmet has probably been knocked and is warped. There are various very minor nicks and abrasions consistent with age and the material. There are a few patches of wear to the surface including to the proper left shoulder blade and to the proper left arm, and to the proper left thigh. There are various minor nicks and scratches to the base.
"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."
Empress Elisabeth of Austria (‘Sisi’) (1837-1898), the Hermesvilla, Vienna;
Prince Eugen of Bavaria, her great-grandson;
his sale, Sotheby’s, Munich, 5 July, 1988, lot 7;
Sotheby's London, 8 December 2006, lot 96;
private collection, London
London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2007-2016 (on loan)
F. Scholten and M. Verber, From Vulcan's Forge. Bronzes from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam 1450-1800, exh. cat., Daniel Katz Ltd., London, 2005, pp. 122-25, no. 38, fig. 38b
The model for the present lot, dated 1611 and monogrammed, was acquired by the Rijksmuseum in 1959. The monogram, HDK, allowed for the Utrecht-born sculptor and architect Hendrick de Keyser to be identified as the creator of the model. The identification of the bronze formed a pivotal moment in the study of the sculptor's oeuvre, and enabled later attributions of small bronzes to de Keyser, based on the characteristics of the Mercury. Primary source material, including the inventory of Hendrick de Keyser's estate, seems to indicate that the Mercury was a well known model in the 17th century. A cast of the Mercury can be seen in Balthasar van den Bossche's painting of The Interior of a Sculptor's Studio (sold in these rooms, 23-24 May 2017, lot 186). It is known that replicas of de Keyser's bronzes were cast in a variety of materials in the Netherlands in the 17th century (Scholten, op. cit. pp. 67-69)
The present cast is one of three currently known versions after the original 1611 bronze, and the only one to have been produced in lead. It is three centimetres larger than the bronze casts, which are currently in the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris (inv. no. Gr. 62) and in the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Brunswick (Berger and Krahn, op. cit. no. 133). Its exceptional provenance includes ownership by Empress Sisi, who kept it in her private retreat in Vienna, the Hermesvilla. Following its acquisition by the present owner, the statuette was exhibited on loan at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in the Gilbert Bayes Gallery of Sculpture, between 2007 and 2016. Considering the sculpture's Austrian provenance, as well as the popularity of lead as a material in Austria, an argument can be made for a possible Austrian facture of the piece.
U. Berger and V. Krahn, Bronzen der Renaissance und des Barock, cat. Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Brunswick, 1994, no. 133; F. Scholten, Daniel van Tetrode, Sculptor, c. 1525-1580, Amsterdam, 2003, pp. 66-69