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Collection David Peel Esq., Londres.
A. Jacobs, Laurent Delvaux, Gand, 1696 - Nivelles, 1778, Paris, 1999, no. 553, pp. 263-4.
F. Haskell and N. Penny, Taste and the Antique - The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500-1900, New Haven et Londres, 1981, pp. 229-232, no. 46.
Post Lot Text
A CARVED MARBLE FIGURE OF HERCULES BY LAURENT DELVAUX (1696-1778), MID 18TH CENTURY Depicted standing with his right hand behind his back and with his lion pelt about his hips, leaning on his club on an integrally carved square base, signed to the bottom of the lion pelt 'DELVAUX.F'; very minor chips
Please note the present lot will be offered with a full art historical report written by Alain Jacobs.
Laurent Delvaux was one of the first 18th century Flemish sculptors to leave his native homeland in search of patronage in England. He arrived in London in 1717 when he was only 21 years old and quickly won a number of commissions for funerary monuments in Westminster Abbey. The 1720s were a time of great prosperity for him, and he worked actively for major English patrons such as Lord Castlemaine, the Earl of Rockingham, Sir Andrew Fountaine and later, but most significantly, the 4th Duke of Bedford at Woburn Abbey which boasts the greatest single group of Delvaux's sculpture anywhere in private hands.
The present figure of Hercules is based upon a celebrated Roman marble dating from about 200 AD, now in the Museo Nazionale, Naples, which is in turn derived from a fourth century BC original, possibly by the sculptor Lyssipus. The Roman sculpture had been discovered in the Baths of Caracalla in Rome by 1556 and was acquired by Pope Paul III Farnese, hence the name 'Farnese Hercules'. The sculpture was displayed by the Farnese family in the arcade around the courtyard of the Farnese Palace in Rome. The antique marble is clearly a piece that Delvaux would have studied from engravings and small bronzes or marble copies when he was in England and then would have studied at first hand during his trip to Rome in 1728.
Delvaux executed several versions of Hercules resting, a life-size marble statue of the Farnese Hercules for Lord Castlemaine made in around 1722 and which is now housed in Waddesdon Manor, England; a small terracotta statue of the Farnese Hercules created in Rome (now in a private collection), the marble seated Hercules in the Musée Royaux des Beaux-Art in Brussels, and the Farnese Hercules commissioned in 1768 by Charles de Lorraine in Brussels for his palace.
The present lot is, according to Alain Jacobs, stylistically closest to the one in Waddesdon Manor and this statue is the one that best reflects the heroic expression of Hercules. The present lot reveals Delvaux's ability to play between Classicism and Baroque and affirms his talents not only in copying the Roman version but also in creating original and varied interpretations: using a lion pelt to preserve Hercules' modesty, changing the positions of the arms and legs to create an idealised composition that is both harmonious and less severe (Jacobs, op. cit., p. 263-4). Delvaux stripped the model of the stiffness found in the antique prototypes - regimented by the canons of proportion and style - and successfully created a natural, and organic, composition that would define the style of his latter years.