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A BRONZE GROUP OF HERCULES WITH ACHELOUS IN THE FORM OF A BULL
A BRONZE GROUP OF HERCULES WITH ACHELOUS IN THE FORM OF A BULL
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A BRONZE GROUP OF HERCULES WITH ACHELOUS IN THE FORM OF A BULL

WORKSHOP OF GIANFRANCESCO SUSINI (1586-AFTER 1646), AFTER A MODEL BY PIETRO TACCA, FLORENTINE, CIRCA 1620

Details
A BRONZE GROUP OF HERCULES WITH ACHELOUS IN THE FORM OF A BULL
WORKSHOP OF GIANFRANCESCO SUSINI (1586-AFTER 1646), AFTER A MODEL BY PIETRO TACCA, FLORENTINE, CIRCA 1620
On a later rectangular molded wood base inscribed 43.28 in red paint
11 ¾ in. (29.9 cm.) high; 16 ¾ in. (42.5 cm.) high, overall
Provenance
With Duracher, London.
With J&S Goldschmidt, Frankfurt-am-Main.
William Salomon, London.
Salomon sale, Anderson Galleries, New York, 4-7 April 1923, lot 430.
With French & Co, New York, 1941.
Cranbrook Academy, Michigan (CAM 1941.28), until de-accessioned,
Sotheby's, New York, 25 March 1972, lot 172.
Literature
W. Bode, The Italian Bronze Statuettes of the Renaissance, New York, ed. and rev. J. Draper, 1980, p. 69, fig. 83.
M. Schwartz, ed., European Sculpture from the Abbott Guggenheim Collection, New York, 2008, pp. 78-79, no. 33.

COMPARATIVE LITTERATURE:
F. Baldinucci, Notizie dei professori di disegno, ed. F. Ranalli, 1846, IV, p. 118.
J.G. Mann, Wallace Collection Catalogues: Sculpture, London, 1931, no. S124.
H. R. Weihrauch, Europäische Bronzestatuetten. 15.- 18. Jahrhundert., 1967, p. 217.
J. Pope-Hennessy and A. Radliffe, Sculpture in the Frick Collection, New York, 1970, vol. IV, pp. 62-69.
A. Radcliffe, “Ferdinando Tacca, The missing link in Florentine Baroque Bronzes”, Kunst des Barock in Toscana, Italienische Forschungen, ser. 3.9 (1976), p. 22, fig. 10.
Edinburgh, London, Vienna, Royal Scottish Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Giambologna 1529-1608, Sculptor to the Medici, 19 Aug. 1978 - 28 Jan. 1979, C. Avery and A. Radcliffe eds., pp. 122-135.
A. Radcliffe and N. Penny, Art of the Renaissance Bronze 1500-1650, The Robert H. Smith Collection, London, 2004, pp. 204-209, no. 35.
Exhibited
San Francisco, The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Renaissance and Baroque Bronzes from the Abbott Guggenheim Collection, 3 Mar. – 11 Sep. 1988, L. Camins ed., pp. 90-92, no. 31.

Condition report

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Lot Essay


This superb bronze group is thought to be derived from a series of the Twelve Labors of Hercules originally created by Giambologna (1529-1608) in silver in the 1570s and 1580s as part of a commission to decorate the Tribuna of the Grand Duke Francesco I de' Medici in Florence. Although the original six silver examples are all now lost, documents exist which show that Pietro Tacca (1577-1640), who inherited Giambologna's workshop in the Borgo Pinti, was working, himself, on a series of Labors to be cast in bronze between at least 1612 and 1633. On a larger scale than the original silver compositions, it is thought that the models executed by Tacca were based upon those created by Giambologna, but may also have included original compositions to complete the series. The popularity of the models ensured that examples entered some of the most prestigious collections; seven Labors were numbers 301 to 308 of the collection of Louis XIV.

The subject of the present group may be either Hercules and the Cretan Bull which is one of the Labors, or Hercules wrestling with Achelous in the form of a bull, which is another of Hercules’ adventures. In fact, several of the models created by Giambologna and Pietro Tacca were not true Labors of Hercules. Because the canonical Labors included stories that were virtually impossible to convey in sculptural terms, some other histories surrounding the life of the hero were conscripted to complete the traditional number of twelve. The present group has traditionally been attributed to Giambologna but it is now generally agreed that the model is more likely to be by Pietro Tacca. The composition is reversed compared to the two enlarged versions of the Wallace collection, London (attributed to Ferdinando Tacca (1619-1686), mid 17th century; inv. S124) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Manner of Giambologna, early 17th century, inv. 33.20). The quality of this bronze suggests that it was produced in the workshop of Gianfrancesco Susini (1586-after 1646), which was known for its production of animal groups (Baldinucci, loc. cit.). Gianfrancesco was the nephew of Antonio Susini who was Giambologna’s principal assistant and the author of many of the most beautiful casts to have emanated from the Giambologna workshop. Gianfrancesco studied and worked with his uncle and his casts share the jewel-like quality for which the latter was famous. Hercules is here depicted grasping the fallen bull by the horns and about to defeat him. This pose - with the knee on the back of the bull - directly derives from representations of the subject on Roman sarcophagi (Camins, op. cit., p. 90). The fluid modeling of the surfaces with the movement of the lion’ skin is beautifully complemented and the absence of precise chiseling reflects the talent of Susini’s foundry.

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