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    Sale 2135

    Important Old Master Paintings and Sculpture

    28 January 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 14

    A BRONZE GROUP OF VENUS AND A DOLPHIN

    FRANCO-FLEMISH, EARLY 17TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A BRONZE GROUP OF VENUS AND A DOLPHIN
    FRANCO-FLEMISH, EARLY 17TH CENTURY
    Depicted with her right hand outstretched and her left foot raised and standing on a dolphin, on a later red griotte marble base, with traces of red lacquer
    16 in. (40½ cm.) high
    TRUESDELL COLLECTION


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    This bronze is a slight variation of the Venus de' Medici. The marble Venus de' Medici was one of the most celebrated of all antiquities, considered by many to be the ideal image of female beauty (Haskell and Penny, loc. cit.). In the Truesdell version, the left arm of Venus hangs along her side, rather than being held in front of her, and her head is turned to her right, rather than to the left. So, in some respects, it is in fact closer to the bronze version of Venus and Cupid with a dolphin in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Fogelman and Fusco, loc. cit.). As the Getty catalogue notes, this frontal stance is that of a Venus 'non-pudica', as she does not reach in front of her body to cover herself and appears completely unself-conscious in her nudity. The closest classical prototype to this sixteenth century Getty bronze, and particularly close to the Truesdell model as it also includes only a dolphin, is perhaps the Mazarin Venus. It was also known in the sixteenth century and is now in the J. Paul Getty Museum (ibid., p. 56).

    This enigmatic bronze, like its unconfirmed provenance from the Hermitage Museum, is a tantalizing mix of Northern and Italian sensibilities. The 'smooth form, robust proportions and relatively small head' all recall the Wrestling Women, of which there are versions in the Fitzwilliam, Cambridge and Stockholm (Larsson, loc. cit.). Yet the refined quality of the hair and unusual skin of the dolphin in the Truesdell Venus, as well as Venus' general body type, is probably more closely related to the Venus Amphrite in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, and which has been attributed as possibly to Duquesnoy, and dated circa 1645 (Krahn, loc. cit.).

    Provenance

    The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (by repute).
    with Cyril Humphris, London, 24 November 1965.


    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from the Collection of Professor and Mrs. Clifford Ambrose Truesdell


    Literature

    COMPARATIVE LITERATURE
    F. Haskell and N. Penny, Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500-1900, New Haven and London, 1981, pp. 325-28, no. 88, fig. 173.
    V. Krahn, ed., Von allen Seiten Schön: Bronzen der Renaissance und des Barock, Berlin, 1995, no. 198.
    L. O. Larsson, European Bronzes: 1450-1700, Stockholm, 1992, p. 114-15.
    P. Fogelman and P. Fusco, Italian and Spanish Sculpture: Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2002, no. 8.