Attributed to Filippo Parodi

Bust of a Philosopher, possibly Seneca

Lot Closed

July 5, 02:30 PM GMT


50,000 - 70,000 GBP

Lot Details


Attributed to Filippo Parodi

Genoa 1630-1702

Bust of a Philosopher, possibly Seneca

marble, on a red marble socle

72cm., 28¼in. overall

A head full of unruly locks that merge into a beard with thick curls suddenly turns to the left with a proud expression, made even more intense by the bushy eyebrows arched by the movement of the forehead, indicating a deep thought and the dignity of a strong morality. The partial nudity, with the collarbone and part of the pectoral muscles visible, and the broad and naturalistic drapery of a simple cloak with soft and loose folds, adds to the antique-inspired appearance of this bust.


The bust fits perfectly within the taste for the antique that began in Rome during the 17th century and found great success in Genoa. It reveals the interpretative power of an important sculptor, able to recall echoes of the antique in a composition that is original and dynamic. The artist can be identified as Filippo Parodi the most famous Genoese sculptor of the 17th century. His career started as a woodcarver in the footsteps of his father, but the painter Domenico Piola recognised his talent and introduced him to important patrons, while at the same time inspiring him to go to Rome to study marble sculpture. The direct vision of the great Baroque models in Rome allowed Parodi to revitalise the sculpture scene in Genoa.


A bust like this should have ideally been placed in a niche over a door or in a decorative complex where, together maybe with other busts or frescoes on the ceiling, the iconography would have been clearer. Without such context, it is difficult to establish the identity of the man represented. However, the thick and disheveled hair, the wild moustache covering the lips, the eyes with carved pupils and the pose looking to the side towards a far horizon give us the impression of being in the presence of a thinker or of an orator. In this case, an identification with Lucius Annaeus Seneca should not be ruled out, considering the similarities with the so-called Pseudo-Seneca, a model made famous in the 17th century, notably Wby a famous painting by Rubens.


In this bust, Filippo Parodi shows a synthesis of the influences he took from the sculptors who were fundamental in his formation. First, Pierre Puget with his powerful interpretation of the antique, then Domenico Guidi with his bronze busts of Saints from models by Algardi in the Franzone collection in Genoa. The naturalistic dynamism of this bust does not show the Bernini-inspired virtuoso treatment that Parodi uses in his Venetian works. It displays a sense of control taken from Puget, fitting comfortably within the “grand manner” of the 1670s, the period of the Telamons of Palazzo Brignole in Piazza della Meridiana in Genoa. For these reasons and for the typical style of Parodi in describing the hairstyle, the drapery and the wide incised eyes, the bust should be placed at the beginning of that decade, among the early works in the oeuvre of this eclectic sculptor.


We are grateful to Professor Daniele Sanguineti for cataloguing this lot, which is the subject of a forthcoming extensive article: D. Sanguineti, “Un ritratto nel ‘gusto’ dell’antico, ma che nell’antico non trova analogie”: un’aggiunta al catalogo di Filippo Parodi, in Studi in onore di Lauro Magnani (provisional title), a cura di D. Sanguineti, L. Stagno, in corso di pubblicazione (ottobre-novembre 2022).