A BRONZE MODEL OF AN ECORCHE HORSE
A BRONZE MODEL OF AN ECORCHE HORSE
A BRONZE MODEL OF AN ECORCHE HORSE
A BRONZE MODEL OF AN ECORCHE HORSE
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THE PROPERTY OF A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION
A BRONZE MODEL OF AN ECORCHE HORSE

AFTER THE MATTEI HORSE, THE CAST ATTRIBUTED TO GIUSEPPE VALADIER (1762-1839), LATE 18TH OR EARLY 19TH CENTURY

Details
A BRONZE MODEL OF AN ECORCHE HORSE
AFTER THE MATTEI HORSE, THE CAST ATTRIBUTED TO GIUSEPPE VALADIER (1762-1839), LATE 18TH OR EARLY 19TH CENTURY
On a rectangular bronze plinth; warm brown patina with greenish-brown and reddish-brown highlights
35¾ x 34½ x 12 in. (90.5 x 87.2 x 30.5 cm.) the bronze; 37½ in. (95.1 cm.) high, overall
Provenance
Probably the Dukes of Northumberland, circa 1816.
Collection of Boris Kochno and Christian Bérard by 1946.
Collection of Baron Alexis de Redé (1922-2004) by 1949.
Sotheby's Monaco, Meubles et Objets d'art provenant de l'Hôtel Lambert et du Château de Ferrières appartenant au Baron de Redé et au Baron Guy de Rothschild, 26 March 1975, lot 187.
Private Collection (acquired at the above sale).
By descent to the present owner.
Literature
G. S. Salmann, 'An attempt at analysis', Connoisseur, Jan. 1969, p. 19-23.
F. Robinson, 'Springfield's anatomical horse of bronze', Springfield, Museum of Fine Arts, Mass. Annual Bulletin, XXXVI, no. 1, Oct.-Nov., 1969.
Isabelle de Wavrin, Sotheby's à Monaco - 10 ans - 1975-1985, Paris, 1986.
Valadier - Three Generations of Roman Goldsmiths, London, 1991, no. 77, pp. 148-150.
D. Macmillan, A Catalogue of the Torrie Collection, 2004, pp. 13-15.
H. Vickers ed., Alexis - The Memoirs of the Baron de Redé, Paris, 2005, p. 165.

COMPARATIVE LITERATURE:
Carlo Ruini, Anatomia del'Cavallo, Bologna, 1598, I, pls. 243, 245, 247.
Northumberland Accounts, Lord Percy, 14-21 June 1816, Feb. 1 1817. Northumberland Archive, Inventory of Northumberland House, (after the death of the 3rd Duke) 1847, p.2 (H. VIII. I. b).
W. Suida, 'A bronze horse attributed to Leonardo', International Studio, XCIX, June 1931, p. 51.
A. Lensi, La Donazione Loeser, Florence, 1934, pp. 34-37.
E. Dhanens, Jean Boulogne, Giovanni Bologna Fiammingo, 1956, p. 279.
H. Weihrauch, Europaische Bronzestatuetten, Brunswick, 1967, fig. 437.
Edinburgh, London and Vienna, Royal Scottish Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and Kunsthistorisches Museum, Giambologna 1529-1608 - Sculptor to the Medici, 19 Aug. 1978 - 28 Jan. 1979, pp. 185-6, no. 169.
C. Avery, Giambologna - The Complete Sculpture, Oxford, 1987, p. 257, no. 38.
Exhibited
London, David Carritt Limited, Valadier - Three Generations of Roman Goldsmiths, 15 May - 12 June 1991.
University of Edinburgh, Scotland, The Torrie Collection, on loan 2003-2004.
The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England, on loan September 2005 - November 2008 (inv. AAL 18-2005).
Sale room notice
Please note that the later plinth is made of black-painted composite marble.

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Lot Essay

This magnificent horse relates to 'Un basamento di marmo quadrilungo intagliato con sopra la Anatomia del Cavallo di metallo patinato' (the anatomy of a horse in patinated metal above a carved marble quadrilateral plinth) that was documented in an inventory of 1810 of the workshop and contents of Giuseppe Valadier (Registro Generale, op. cit., p. 166) the celebrated Roman bronze founder, architect and designer. It is one of four casts known to exist on this scale, and is the only one in private hands.

Studies such as this, of the anatomy of a body with the skin removed and the superficial muscles displayed were a Renaissance invention. Since that time, artists have held a continued fascination for the structural qualities of human and animal bodies, and some, such as Leonardo da Vinci, took part in dissections of the body to aid their study. The first documented écorché models were made in Italy in the sixteenth century, often in bronze. Later, the celebrated painter of horses, George Stubbs (1724-1806), made a remarkable series of engravings of The Anatomy of the Horse. The present écorché is a manifestation of this great tradition: an intertwining of art and science.

The present horse derives from, or was cast after, a bronze version made in the sixteenth century that is probably the example now in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence (92.5 cm. high): the so-called Mattei Horse. We know that one Renaissance example must have existed by 1598 because a print of that date by Carlo Ruini shows an écorché horse of almost identical form (Ruini, loc. cit.). This horse was first documented in the Mattei collection in Rome in 1703. Its celebrity was such that when Giuseppe Mattei attempted to sell the horse in 1770 along with other items from his collection, Pope Clement XIV forbade permission for it to leave Rome. However, during the Napoleonic era, the Mattei collection was finally sold to Cardinal Fesch, Napoleon's uncle, and the horse was then sold in the Fesch sale in Paris on 17 June 1816, lot 263. It seems that this was the horse which was later bought by Charles Loeser in London in 1913 and bequeathed to the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence on his death in 1928.

The present cast is known in two other apparently later examples, both in museums: one in the Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Massachusetts (91 cm. high), the other in the Torrie Collection, University of Edinburgh (90.2 cm. high). The version in Springfield was purchased in Venice in 1900 by Mrs James Ramsdell as by 'Valadier' and was given to the museum in September 1968 by Hazel Brill Jackson (Robinson, op. cit.). The Torrie cast was originally owned by Sir James Erskine, who attempted unsuccessfully to sell it at Christie's London, 1 May 1804, lot 76, where it was described as 'AN ANATOMICAL FIGURE of a HORSE, from the Villa Mattei, CAPITAL'. He then donated the horse, along with the rest of his collection to the University of Edinburgh in 1824 (Macmillan, loc. cit.). Despite the claim in the 1804 catalogue, it is not possible that the Torrie version is the Mattei horse as the Mattei horse was still in the Fesch collection until the 1814 sale.

The son of the goldsmith Luigi Valadier (1726-1785), Giuseppe was born in Rome in 1762. Giuseppe became a celebrated architect, working in the neo-classical style, whilst he also took control of the family workshop and foundry. Luigi had been an eminent fondeur who cast numerous large scale bronzes, many after the antique, and Giuseppe continued this work, although the reddish-brown surface of the present horse represents a shift from the distinctive blackish-green patina of Luigi's known bronzes. The all' antica nature of the colour and finish of the present bronze therefore suggest a date of production in the late 18th or early 19th century when the workshop was under Giuseppe's direction. The reference to an écorché horse in the 1810 inventory of Giuseppe's workshop mentioned above was valued at the high price of between 200 and 450 scudi and may, in fact, be a reference to this very bronze.

It is possible that in the 19th century our bronze was in the collection of the Dukes of Northumberland. At the time of its sale in 1975 (Sotheby's, loc. cit.) it was included in the provenance section of the catalogue because a reference to that effect was reportedly published in an inter-war magazine. Unfortunately, subsequent research has failed to find this reference. However, in the Northumberland accounts of Lord Percy (Algernon, Earl of Beverley, son of the first Duke) there are the following references: 14th-21st June 1816: 'paid Mr. Okey's Bill for clearing case of Horse at Custom Ho. 3-10-6'; Feb 1st 1817: 'Dt. To pay for Horse 70-0-0 Paid for horse 68-5-0' (Northumberland Accounts, loc. cit.). An inventory taken of Northumberland house in 1847 also noted 'a fine bronze horse on a pedestal' in the library. (Northumberland Archive, loc. cit.).

The present bronze was certainly later in the collection of Boris Kochno and Christian Bérard, where it featured in a watercolour of their studio by the Russian artist Alexandre Serebriakoff (1907-1994) in 1946. A few years later in Serebriakoff's painting of the Drawing Room of the Hôtel Lambert we see the horse again (Vickers, loc. cit.). At this time the Hôtel, a sumptuous 17th century townhouse on the Ile St Louis in Paris, was the home of Baron Alexis de Redé (1922-2004), one of the great social figures of his day. Baron de Redé and his friend Arturo Lopez-Willshaw, a noted connoisseur and collector, were close friends of Kochno and Bérard, and it is safe to assume that the horse passed between them at some point in the years between 1946 and 1949. It was sold in 1975 in the Baron de Redé's celebrated auction at Sotheby's Monaco for the huge sum of 1,500,000FF (approximately £193,000), where it was purchased by the family of the current owner.

We would like to thank Alvar González-Palacios for his assistance with this note, and for his confirmation of the attribution based on the unpublished inventory of Giuseppe Valadeir's workshop in 1810: Registro Generale di tutti li lavori feri ordegni ed altri generi necesari per le professioni di argentiere doratore e fond.re di qualunque genere varie pietre dure e tenere lavorate e grezze nel negozio del Signore Giuseppe Valadier nell'anno MDCCCX.

The present bronze was x-rayed at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, in 2007. The report showed that the method of production was an indirect lost wax cast, and is available upon request.
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