• 500 Years: Decorative Arts Eur auction at Christies

    Sale 7784

    500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe

    10 December 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 847



    Price Realised  


    On a rectangular bronze plinth; dark brown patina with traces of a reddish gold lacquer
    6½ in. (16.5 cm.) high

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    The present bronze model of a leaping boar - which appears to be a unique cast - is here attributed for the first time to Giovan Battista Foggini (1652-1725), court sculptor to the Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany. It is identical with one that forms part of a 35 cm high terracotta group representing Meleager and the Calydonian Boar in the Museo Richard-Ginori di Porcellana di Doccia in Sesto Fiorentino near Florence (inv. 96; see fig. 1).

    The terracotta group in Sesto Fiorentino was produced employing piece moulds that belong to a large collection of moulds formed in the 18th century by the founder of Doccia, Carlo Ginori. This collection of moulds served to produce models after which porcelain figures were crafted. The terracotta group shown here is one of these models. No version of it in Doccia porcelain is known and, indeed, not every model of this type was translated into porcelain as can be deduced by a comparison between the models listed in an 18th century inventory of the models of Doccia first published by Klaus Lankheit in 1982 and the porcelain versions after these models known today.

    It is in this 18th century inventory that the composition of Meleager and the Calydonian Boar is attributed to Foggini (see Lankheit, op. cit., p. 161). Number 8 is a list of five models, the first being described generically as 'un gladiatore con porco sulla base sotto la mano sinistra' ('a gladiator with a pig on the base under the left hand'). At the end of the list it notes: 'Tutte del Foggini, con forme' ('All by Foggini, with [their] piece moulds').

    This composition must have been devised by Foggini for a bronze group but none seems to have been preserved and none is documented. As he is known to have done on numerous occasions, Foggini's son Vincenzo must have sold to Ginori either a wax group cast from the moulds made to cast his father's composition in bronze or, in case such a bronze was never cast, a wax group produced after taking piece moulds from his father's original model for it.

    The terracotta model in the Museo Richard-Ginori is, on the contrary, a later cast, produced inside the factory from the model that was sold to Ginori. Though it contains supports both under the boar and at the back of Meleager, it still preserves the original composition, highly characteristic of Foggini's style, who often invented small sculptural groups with figures independent from each other.

    The appearance of the present boar therefore represents an important discovery of a bronze model which can be firmly attributed to Giovan Battista Foggini. Meticulously finished overall and with traces of its original reddish gold lacquer, it is an example of the superb workmanship still evident during the final decades of Medici patronage of the arts in Florence.

    We would like to thank Dimitrios Zikos for his attribution of the present bronze to Foggini, and for his assistance in the preparation of this note.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Klaus Lankheit, Die Modellsammlung der Porzellanmanufaktur Doccia - Ein Dokument italienischer Barockplastik, Munich, 1982.
    G. Pratesi ed., Repertorio della Scultura Fiorentina del Seicento e Settecento, Turin, 1993, I, pp. 45-46, 78-81, II, figs. 152-240.