• 500 Years: Decorative Arts Eur auction at Christies

    Sale 7784

    500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe

    10 December 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 851

    A BRONZE FIGURE OF LUCRETIA

    FRENCH, 18TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A BRONZE FIGURE OF LUCRETIA
    FRENCH, 18TH CENTURY
    Depicted reclining and holding a dagger in her right hand; on a later bronze-mounted, black marble base; medium brown patina with lighter high points
    23 in. (58.5 cm.) long; 11 7/8 in. (30.1 cm.) high


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    The prototype upon which the present figure of Lucretia is based is the Hadrianic marble Cleopatra in the Musei Vaticani, Rome, which is itself a copy of a 2nd century BC original (Haskell and Penny, Taste and the Antique - The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500-1900, New Haven and London, 1981, pp. 184-7, no. 24). The Vatican marble was greatly admired from as early as its first recording in 1512 and is known to have been an inspiration for numerous variant models of reclinging women including Giambologna's Reclining Nymph. Interestingly, in his 1794 list of available bronzes, Francesco Righetti refers to a Lucretia by Giambologna (ibid., p. 343), although no early sources refer to Giambologna having ever executed such a model. Stylistically, the present bronze bears all the hallmarks of a French cast, and an attribution of the present composition to a French sculptor gains further credence when one considers that reproductions of the ancient Cleopatra were widely known in France from as early as the late 16th century. It is therefore plausible that an enterprising sculptor sought to make the Lucretia as a pendant to one of the smaller bronze examples of the much-praised antique original. Righetti's reference to a Lucretia by Giambologna might well have referred to one of these bronzes, the authorship of which had erroneously been transferred to the Florentine Master.

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