A RARE MEISSEN 'COMMEDIA DELL'ARTE' GROUP OF 'THE INDISCREET HARLEQUIN' CIRCA 1740
modeled by Johann Joachim Kändler, Beltrame, seated on his cloak on a small rockwork mound, embracing Columbine, seated in his lap, while Harlequin at his feet attempts to peer up Columbine's skirt, all on a shaped-mound base applied with flowers and foliage.
Height: 6½ in.
Harlequin's outstretched foot restored. Restoration to feathers in her hair, and edge of her left sleeve. His right little finger and her right fingers restored. Typical chips, losses and restoration to applied flowers and leaves on base, with two turquoise leaves entirely missing at the back. Restored chips to his hat.
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.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
Angela Gräfin von Wallwitz, Munich, March 2006
Siemen, 1995, pp. 1-39, fig. 18
von Wallwitz, 2006, pp. 70-75, pp. 84-9, cat. no. 13
Cassidy-Geiger, 2008, no. 51, p. 263, illus.
This model depicts a sexual lazzo interruption in the Commedia dell'arte performance. The young lovers Beltrame and Columbine are so absorbed with each other, they fail to notice the cheeky Harlequin peeking up Columbine's skirt. Such sexually lewd moments were extremely popular in the Comedy and the actors would often use suggestive props such as slapsticks, daggers, enemas and sausages.
Meredith Chilton, Harlequin Unmasked, Hew Haven, 2001, pp. 38 suggests this group may derive from two sources. Harlequin's pose could be based on the engraving by Gregorio Lambranzi from The New and Eccentric School of Theatrical Dancing, where Harlequin, reclining on the floor, reaches up between the legs of a blind beggar to steal from him. The couple's pose may derive from a series of twelve engravings The Amours of Columbine by Petrus Schenck, after drawings by Gérard-Joseph Xavery.. The author also reproduces these sources and illustrates a Meissen group of this subject in the Gardiner Museum, Toronto, which is painted in a similar color palette to the present lot, particularly Columbine's skirt and Harlequin's costume.
Examples of this model were included in the collections of Walter von Pannwitz, sold, Hugo Helbing, Munich, October 24-25, 1905, lot 313, pl. LXII; Siegfried Salz, sold, Cassirer and Helbing, Berlin, March 26-27, 1929, lot 19; Armand Esders, sold, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, June 19-20, 1941, lot 171; Gustav von Gerhardt, sold, Rudolph Lepke, Berlin, November 7, 1911, lot 85, subsequently in the Claude Cartier Collection, sold, Sotheby Parke Bernet Inc. Monaco S. A., Monte Carlo, November 25, 1979, lot 112a; and René Fribourg, sold, Sotheby's London, October 15, 1963, lot 484.