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    Sale 7745

    Important European Furniture, Sculpture & Clocks

    9 July 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 136

    A PAIR OF BRONZE FIGURES OF SS. IGNATIUS LOYOLA AND FRANCIS XAVIER

    BY FRANCESCO BERTOS (1678-1741), FIRST QUARTER 18TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    A PAIR OF BRONZE FIGURES OF SS. IGNATIUS LOYOLA AND FRANCIS XAVIER
    BY FRANCESCO BERTOS (1678-1741), FIRST QUARTER 18TH CENTURY
    The former with a putto at his side holding up a book inscribed 'AD MAIOREM DEI GLORIAM' and 'SOCIETATIS GIESV FVNDATO'; the latter with another putto holding aloft a crucifix; each on an integrally cast plinth; light brown patina
    24 and 23 in. (61 and 58.4 cm.) high (2)


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    Francesco Bertos has long been an established artistic figure of the 18th century, not least because of his highly recognisable style. Often composed of multiple figures in seemingly weightless poses, his complex groups are also often arranged to provide dramatic silhouettes. However, our understanding of Bertos' oeuvre and his significance in 18th century Venice have recently been promoted by the appearance of a monograph devoted to him by Charles Avery. Avery fleshes out the details of Bertos' life and stresses the importance of his patrons, including the aristocratic Venetian Antonio Manin and Field Marshal Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg. More importantly, the book brings together all Bertos' known compositions in marble and bronze.

    Among these, it becomes clear that there is a small but significant number of devotional works of art including the present two bronzes. Representing Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier - two of the founding fathers of the Jesuit Order - they stand out even among the devotional works as the only known portraits of this type. Described by Avery as 'unparalleled', each figure stands in a graceful contrapposto and has been cast and finished to create a surface with great vivacity. Loyola points to a book being held by a cherub at his side which is inscribed with the latin for 'To the Glory of God, Founder of the Society of Jesus'. Francis Xavier - flanked by a cherub holding a crucifix - holds his hand to his breast and looks heavenward. As Avery points out, their impressive scale suggests that they may have originally adorned a large reredos in a Jesuit church where their gestures and dramatic silhouettes could inspire the faithful. It may be that other bronze saints by Bertos remain undetected in the churches of the Veneto but, to date, the present two figures are the only pair to have surfaced.

    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.


    Provenance

    Dr Adolf Hommel, Zurich; his sale Lempertz, Cologne, 10-18 Aug. 1909, lots 425-6.
    With Heilbronner, Lucerne, 1957.
    Ernest Brummer, New York; his sale Koller, Zurich, 16-19 Oct. 1979, lots 117-8.
    Christie's, London, 3 July 1985, lot 118.
    With Bernard Black and Hugues Nadeau from whom purchased by the present owners.


    Saleroom Notice

    The figure of St Ignatius Loyola has been inscribed to the interior in red paint with the number '441.' and St Francis Xavier similarly with the number '442.'


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE FOUNDATION (LOTS 136-137)


    Literature

    E. Viancini, 'Per Francesco Bertos', in Saggi e memorie di storia del' arte, 19, Venice, 1994, figs. 17-8.
    C. Avery, The Triumph of Motion: Francesco Bertos (1678-1741) and the Art of Sculpture - Catalogue Raisonné, Turin, 2008, nos. 174-175, pls 52-54, pp. 57-58.