• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7433

    Important Early European Furniture, Sculpture and Tapestries

    8 November 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 165

    A POLYCHROME WAX PORTRAIT PROFILE RELIEF OF VITTORIO PAVONI

    BY ANTONIO MARESCOTTI (ACTIVE 1444-1463?), CIRCA 1463

    Price Realised  

    A POLYCHROME WAX PORTRAIT PROFILE RELIEF OF VITTORIO PAVONI
    BY ANTONIO MARESCOTTI (ACTIVE 1444-1463?), CIRCA 1463
    Depicted facing to dexter and wearing a hat; on a rectangular slate ground inscribed to the left 'AETATIS SVAE LII'; minor repairs
    3 1/8 in. (8 cm.) high, the relief


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    The highly individual and sensitively modelled portrait relief offered here has been attributed, through stylistic comparisons to his oeuvre, to the early renaissance medallist Antonio Marescotti. Portraits reliefs in wax are extremely rare due to the fragility of the material and by virtue of the fact that models were destroyed in the casting process, but the present wax probably represents a different aspect of the creative process.

    A little-known medal, examples of which can be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Museo Brera, Milan, depicting the same man as on the wax relief here, identifies the sitter as Vittorio Pavoni (1413?-1471?), an official in Ferrara who became chancellor to the Grand Duke in 1463. Both the wax and the medal depict a man, seemingly in his early fifties, wearing a cap with soft crown and turned up rim and virtually identical facial features. Indeed, the inscription on the slate ground upon which the wax relief is mounted indicates that Pavoni was 52 years old when the wax was executed, two years after he became Chancellor. It is known that Marescotti was active in Ferrara between 1444 and at least 1462 and was commissioned to execute a number of medals including one commemorating his former master, Antonio Pisano, also known as Pisanello. The existence of the present wax appears to extend this period of activity by at least a further year. In each instance Marescotti has paid similar attention to the rendition of the faces, head-dress and drapery as well as to the lettering around the rim.
    The highly refined modelling of the wax combined with the use of multiple colours suggest that this relief was not the model used to cast the medal, but that it may in fact have been the presentation piece given by the artist to the sitter. This idea could be supported by the fact that the wax shows Pavoni sporting a beard while the medal does not. It is possible, therefore, that upon seeing the presentation piece, Pavoni requested that he be depicted without the beard which resulted in the evolution of the model.

    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 Richard Gaetten, Heidelberg (died 1965).