Exceptional Italian Baroque Sculptures Take a Star Turn at Carlo Orsi-Trinity Fine Art

Carlo Orsi-Trinity Fine Art of London, specialists in European Old Master paintings, sculpture and works of art from the 15th to 19th centuries, will unveil four exceptional examples of Italian Baroque sculpture at TEFAF New York Fall 2018. They will be presented parcour-style, to be viewed in succession, the better to appreciate particular Baroque stylistic themes. Complementing them will be an exciting variety of rare and fresh-to-market paintings, including an important work by the 16th century Mannerist, Il Salviati.

The four highlight sculptures, by leading Italian masters of the Baroque; Giovanni Battista Foggini (Florence, 1652-1725), Ferdinando Tacca (Florence, 1618-1686), Giuseppe Maria Mazza (Bologna, 1653-1741) and Giuseppe Piamontini (Florence, 1663 1744), each boast an aristocratic or important historical provenance. Whilst the great American collectors of the 19th and early 20th centuries avidly acquired paintings of the Baroque era, many of which are now housed in US museums, Baroque sculpture was less widely represented in their collections. Carlo Orsi-Trinity Fine Art now gives it a starring role, revealing the qualities of the Baroque in three-dimensional form.

Giovanni Battista Foggini (Florence, 1652-1725), Marguerite-Louise d’Orléans
Fresh to the market, this marble bust portrays Marguerite-Louise d’Orléans, wife of Cosimo III de Medici the enfant terrible of the Medici dynasty. A free-spirited woman, Marguerite-Louise, although she bore Cosimo three heirs, never submitted emotionally to the marriage, doing everything in her power to make her husband’s life miserable. Eventually she obtained a separation, returned to France, and lived as she pleased. The present work was possibly commissioned by the grand-duchesse Maria Vittoria della Rovere, her mother-in-law, with whom she fought endlessly. It is a one of a series of busts that celebrates Maria Vittoria’s extended family: her husband Ferdinando II, his brothers, their sons and the future grand-duchesse Marguerite. Some of these busts are now with American and European public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the Victoria & Albert Museum (London) and the Louvre (Paris). The bust dates to around 1690, a time when Foggini was heavy influenced by Bernini, the artist previously believed to be the author of these pieces. Among the most notable owners of this Foggini work is the famous collector and dealer Stefano Bardini, whose clients included Isabella Gardner Stewart, John Pierpont Morgan and John J. Johnson. Most recently the bust became the prized possession of Alessandro Contini Bonaccossi, whose collection is now a public museum in Florence. The bust will be offered at TEFAF New York Fall for a price in the region of US $3,500,000.

Giuseppe Maria Mazza (Bologna, 1653-1741), Portrait of a Young Nobleman
This important and hitherto unpublished terracotta bust can be dated precisely to August 1678, as it is signed and dated by its author, Giuseppe Mazza, one of the leading artists of the Baroque era in Bologna and a youthful 25 at the time. The work is also marked by the original owner Alessandro Fava, who initialled every piece he commissioned. Count Alessandro Fava was a renowned collector and an important a patron of the arts. His palazzo in Bologna became an informal accademia for young talented artists, where they could also study the famed 16th century ceiling frescoes by the Carracci. The sitter of this terracotta bust is certainly an ancestor of Count Alessandro, and the style of his hair and garments identifies him as one of two possible subjects, brothers Alessandro or Ludovico Fava, both of whom tragically died aged 19 fighting against the Turks. This emotionally-charged work is new to the market, with an impeccable provenance, and will be priced in the region of US $1,100,000.

Ferdinando Tacca (Florence, 1618-1686), Monument to Ferdinando I
This beautiful ensemble is a small-scale reduction of the monument to Ferdinando I, Grand Duke of Tuscany (1549-1609) which, since the late 19th century, has been sited on the Piazza Micheli in Livorno. This monument, famous for its over-life size bronze figures of the Quattro Mori or Four Moors by Pietro Tacca (1577-1640), has been described as “arguably one of the most politically and socially charged public monuments in early modern Europe”. The present reduction, which through recent research by Carlo Orsi-Trinity Fine Art has revealed it to be a ricordo commissioned directly by the Medici family, broadly reproduces the monument in its original state. Two versions of Ferdinando Tacca’s reduction are known, the present model and another in the collection of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid. The present version is a remarkable exercise in the successful translation of a large outdoor monument into a precious object, designed for display within the context of rich and elaborate Baroque courtly interiors. The gallery’s research also traces the work’s provenance back to a 1761 inventory of Palazzo Pitti, pinpointing the exact room in which the work resided after its commission until it was sold. The asking price is in the region of US $1,800,000.

Giuseppe Piamontini (Florence, 1663-1744), Milo of Croton
One of the most outstanding products of Florentine late Baroque marble sculpture, and for the first time offered on the American market, Piamontini’s Milo of Croton, a famous wrestler of the Greek era whose death became a myth and a cautionary tale against pride (he became stuck between two branches of a tree that he was trying to separate to show off his notorious strength, and was devoured by lions). The present sculpture stands 168 cm tall: it is a rare subject for the period, and technically challenging, and is the final work carved by Giuseppe Piamontini. Signed and dated 1740, the sculpture was inherited by the artist’s son Giovan Battista, who sold it to the Marquis Gerini of Florence. It remained in the Gerini palazzo, Florence until acquired by the gallery. The artist may have worked on this sculpture for more than ten years; a Milo by Piamontini is listed in an exhibition of 1729 without mention of its ownership. Perhaps Piamontini carved this piece for his own pleasure, without a commission; an uncommon move, especially considering the life-like size. Furthermore when compared to other late works by the artist, the present sculpture shows a degree of precision consistent with it being reworked over the course of many years. Guiseppe Piamontini also made a model of this composition for a small bronze cast. Two casts from the model are now respectively in the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore and the collection of Mr. and Mrs. J. Tomilson Hill of New York, while a smaller copy by his son has also passed through the art market. Alongside his master Giovan Battista Foggini and bronze sculptor Massimiliano Soldani Benzi, Giuseppe Piamontini was one of the leading sculptors of the late Baroque era in Florence. Like them he studied in Rome, and like Foggini (but unlike Soldani) he worked both in marble and in bronze. A large relief of the Fall of the Giants, praised as ‘stupendous’ by Gabburri, was completed by Piamonti in 1705 for the entrance to the former Feroni (now Ferragamo) palace, where it may still be seen today. This work will be offered in the region of US $2,300,000.

Carlo Orsi-Trinity Fine Art has chosen to present the four sculptures in a parcour style so that visitors can progress through the stand to appreciate various themes in Baroque style, including the inherent properties of different materials (marble, terracotta, bronze), the variety of techniques used in sculpting, and the artistic trends of Baroque Italy: how the three main centres of art gave rise to three different schools of thought – classicism in Bologna, drama and chiaroscuro in Rome, and the conservative style of Florence.

The Baroque sculptures will be supported in their starring role by a number of important paintings, one highlight being a fine oval Portrait of a Gentleman, executed on slate, by Francesco De’ Rossi, known as Il Salviati (Florence, 1510-Rome, 1563). Research by the gallery has now dated the work to around 1535 / 1538, and confirmed the attribution. Measuring 82cm x 53.5 cm, it depicts a man, possibly a scholar by his garb and demeanour, holding a gold medal on which is inscribed: CHE・CHI / MUORE・ONORATO / VIVE / SEMPRE (he who dies in honour lives forever). Slate was a support particularly fashionable in Rome (the example set by Sebastiano del Piombo in 1529); it crystalizes paint, forcing the artist to use smooth, firm brush strokes. The man’s face, with its austere nose and severe expression, displays the firm and distinctive draughtsmanship of Il Salviati. One of the greatest artists of 16th century Florence, Il Salviati was famed, liked Bronzino and Vasari (with whom he worked closely on a number of fresco commissions) for his portrait paintings. His works are in many international museums: in the US at The Getty Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the National Gallery, Washington DC. Il Salviati Portrait of a Gentleman will be priced in the region of US $2,300,000.

Carlo Orsi-Trinity Fine Art will be at Stand 337, Drill Hall, TEFAF New York Fall, which takes place at the Park Avenue Armory from 27-31 October 2018 (Preview Friday 26 October), and offers fine and decorative art from antiquity to 1920. Held three times a year on two continents, TEFAF is widely regarded as the world’s leading fair for museum-quality art, antiques and design.

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