A PAIR OF BRONZE RECLINING PUTTI
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A PAIR OF BRONZE RECLINING PUTTI

WORKSHOP OF COSIMO FANZAGO (1591-1678), CIRCA 1630-50

Details
A PAIR OF BRONZE RECLINING PUTTI
WORKSHOP OF COSIMO FANZAGO (1591-1678), CIRCA 1630-50
Each on an integrally cast base and a modern wood support; the surface oxidised
28 and 27½ in. (71 and 70 cm.) long (2)
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Carolyn Moore
Carolyn Moore

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Lot Essay

These bronze putti would originally have adorned the angled sides of a pediment, probably a broken one, centred by a saint or coat of arms. In general pose and function they are directly comparable to Hubert Gerhard's putti adorning the pediment of the door to the Reiche Kapelle in the Residenz, Munich, from about 1590 (for illustrations see D. Diemer, Hubert Gerhard und Carlo di Cesare del Palagio - Bronzeplastiker der Spätrenaissance, Berlin, 2004, II, pls. 95 and 96). The body proportions of the putti here are very similar to those of Gerhard, and details such as the feet and drapery are also closely comparable. However, the facial types and treatment of the hair are quite different, and the alloy of the metal appears to have a high copper content, more commonly characteristic of bronzes produced in Italian foundries.

A likely candidate for authorship is the Neapolitan sculptor and architect, Cosimo Fanzago (1591-1678), and certainly there are stylistic similarities between the present two putti and his documented works such as the marble putti surmounting the Spire of San Gennaro in the piazza of Sisto Riario Sforza and those in the charterhouse of San Martino, both in Naples. In each instance one sees a similar attention to the chubby faces with large rounded cheeks, softly modelled torsos with bloated abdomens and the distinctive common feature of a twisted torso and the resulting tension in the skin. Although some finer details such as the modelling of the hair and nose are different, further parallels in the details can be seen in the treatment of the wings and the rendition of the individual feathers.

Fanzago was a prolific sculptor and architect in Naples from the 1620s onwards. It is therefore plausible that, given the stylistic closeness between these bronzes and his other known works, they were modelled and cast by a skilled workshop assistant following Fanzago's prototypes but adding elements of personal creativity.

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