• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 12245

    Post-War & Contemporary Art Day Auction

    7 October 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 247

    GIACOMO MANZÙ (1908-1991)

    Grande Cardinale Seduto (Large Seated Cardinal)

    Price Realised  


    GIACOMO MANZÙ (1908-1991)
    Grande Cardinale Seduto (Large Seated Cardinal)

    bronze with light brown patina
    91 x 57 ½in. (231 x 146cm.)
    Conceived in wood in 1983 and cast in bronze in 1989 for the present owner; this work is unique

    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

    Contact the department

    Cast in bronze in 1989, Giacomo Manzù’s Grande Cardinale Seduto reinvigorates a conventional religious motif through the subtle language of abstraction. Towering above the viewer at over seven feet, the cardinal’s hieratic imposing posture, coupled with his impersonal demeanour, produces a powerful monumental vision. Stripped of any ornamentation, the subject’s solemn facial features are described in uncomplicated geometric forms. His statuesque garments are reduced to sharp planes subtly animated by stylized folds. These liturgical vestments envelop the cardinal in a pyramidal silhouette that billows with a sweeping movement into the viewer’s field of space. Despite his religious subject, Manzù remains interested in the cardinal’s visual presence rather than his spiritual connotations, maintaining that his sole concern lies in ‘not the majesty of church, but the majesty of form’ (G. Manzù, quoted in J. Rewald, Giacomo Manzù, London 1967, p. 60).

    The subject of the cardinal has remained a recurring theme within Manzù’s oeuvre. During a visit to Rome in 1943, Manzù, at the time just twenty-six years old, was struck by the powerful sight of Pope Pius XI seated between two cardinals. Manzù’s interest in cardinals simultaneously draws from his experience as a child growing up in Bergamo – a longstanding centre of Catholic devotion – where curious vestiges of cardinals and bishops processed through the town streets. Within a practice devoted to exploring historical and religious themes through sculpture, lithography, etching and painting, the Cardinali continue to stand among Manzù’s most definitive works.

    Special Notice

    Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
    These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. This VAT is not shown separately on the invoice. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.


    Private Collection, Palm Beach (acquired directly from the artist in 1989).
    Thence by descent to the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text



    M. de Micheli, Giacomo Manzù, Milan 1988, no. 217, p. 282 (illustrated pp. 274-275).