The composition of our Rivergod is different : the bearded man is here - following the antique tradition - seated with his legs stretched to the side, leaning against an urn from which water pours, and holding a paddle in the other hand. Our terracotta is identical to a Rivergod in the Fitzwilliam museum in Cambridge (inv. n° M.6-1992), signed and dated like ours 1755. It has been suggested that the Cambridge terracotta is the 'figure de Fleuve' presented by Caffieri in the Salon of 1757. Another terracotta version, slightly larger, signed and dated 1772 may certainly have been a private commission to the artist almost 20 years later (Sotheby's Paris, collection Dillée march 18, 2015, lot 81, sold 75 000 €).
Rivergods have always been a fascination for sculptors. The antique marbles of Tiber and Nile, rediscovered in 1512 and 1523 (Rome, Vatican museums), served as a source of inspiration. Also, Caffieri must have known his master's Oceanus, made by Lemoyne in 1740 for the Versailles gardens, as well as Robert Le Lorrain's terracotta Rivergod from the 1737 Salon (Louvre, inv. n° RF2492). But it is certainly his impressions of Rome which he took home with him, seeing Gianlorenzo Bernini's fountain of the Quattro Fiumi which inspired Caffieri to make this Rivergod. This finely modelled terracotta illustrates perfectly the Roman Baroque and Caffieri's skill in rendering a muscular body in fresh clay, the treatment of beard and hair, showing the artist's talent.
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