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F. Haskell et N. Penny, Taste and the Antique - The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500-1900, New Haven et Londres, 1981, no. 88, pp. 141-43 et 325-28, figs. 5 et 173.
Post Lot Text
A PAIR OF BRONZE FIGURES OF THE VENUS DE' MEDICI AND THE BELVEDERE ANTINOUS
AFTER THE ANTIQUE, ITALIAN, FIRST HALF 18TH CENTURY
Each depicted nude, standing, Venus with a dolphin at her feet and Antinous leaning against a tree-trunk; each on an integrally cast rectangular plinth and associated gilt-bronze-mounted ebony-veneered square pedestal decorated to the front with a female mask; warm medium brown patina; minor cracks and damages
The antique version of the Belvedere Antinous, currently housed in the Musei Vaticani, Rome, was first recorded in 1543 when the vast sum of 1000 ducats was paid by Pope Paul III for it to be placed in the Belvedere Garden. Since then it has been regarded as one of the finest antique sculptures to have survived, displaying, as Hogarth once said, the 'utmost beauty of proportion' (Haskel and Penny, op. cit, p. 142). Similarly, the Venus de' Medici in the Uffizi, Florence, first documented about 100 years after the Antinous, attracted incredible attention with artists, writers and patrons alike solemnising her form, shape and beauty. Humorously, Haskel and Penny (ibid., p. 325) go as far to say that virtually every writer who devoted lines of literary praise to her always prefaced their remarks with comments on their inadequacy to 'describe the indescribable' - this latter comment having been made by Byron, which concluded his five stanzas of description of her. It is, therefore, no surprise that two of the finest antique survivals, which perfectly embody the idea of classical beauty, have been paired together since the 16th century as in the lot offered here.