• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7608

    Important European Furniture and Sculpture

    10 July 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 97

    A PAIR OF TERRACOTTA FIGURES OF HERCULES AND APOLLO

    ITALIAN, PROBABLY TUSCAN, MID 18TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    A PAIR OF TERRACOTTA FIGURES OF HERCULES AND APOLLO
    ITALIAN, PROBABLY TUSCAN, MID 18TH CENTURY
    Each depicted standing, Hercules wearing his lion pelt and holding his club in his right hand, Apollo wearing a helmet, armour and a cloak, and with his shield at his feet; each cast in two parts and on an integrally cast plinth; chips, restorations, minor firing cracks, surface incrustations
    72½ and 76 in. (184.2 and 193 cm.) high, approx. (2)


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    These imposing terracotta figures are known to exist in at least one other version - as part of a set adorning the facade of the villa La Tana, near Candeli, in Tuscany. The existing house, which replaced a 15th century structure, belonged in the 16th century to Bianca Capello, the Venetian mistress of Francesco de' Medici. It later belonged to the Ricasoli family, and it was under their patronage that the villa was transformed into the baroque villa which exists today. In the first part of the 18th century, the Ricasoli employed Giulio Foggini - architect brother of the more celebrated sculptor Giambattista Foggini - to redesign the facade, at which time a clock and vases were added to the parapet, and a curving double staircase was constructed. Part of the new decorative scheme included a set of terracotta figures on the railings, and among these figures is an identical pair to the present lot, standing at the foot of the left hand staircase (see Acton, op. cit., pl. XVII, fig. 71). Like the present figures, they were each cast in two sections, and it may be that they were copied from garden statues executed in stone, such as the series of figures adorning the facade and parterre of the nearby Villa Corsi-Salviati (ibid, fig. 64).

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    Literature

    COMPARATIVE LITERATURE:
    Acton, Sir Harold, Tuscan Villas, London, 1973, p. 167.