JOSE DE VILCHES (SPANISH, 1813-1890)
JOSE DE VILCHES (SPANISH, 1813-1890)
JOSE DE VILCHES (SPANISH, 1813-1890)
JOSE DE VILCHES (SPANISH, 1813-1890)
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Specified lots (sold and unsold) marked with a fil… Read more
JOSE DE VILCHES (SPANISH, 1813-1890)

A monumental marble relief of Alexander taming Bucephalus

Details
JOSE DE VILCHES (SPANISH, 1813-1890)
A monumental marble relief of Alexander taming Bucephalus
signed 'VILCHES. ROMA'
marble
36 ¾ in. (93.5 cm.) high; 79 ½ in. (202 cm.) wide; 6 ¼ in. (16 cm.) deep
Circa 1850-1859.
Special notice

Specified lots (sold and unsold) marked with a filled square not collected from Christie’s by 5.00 pm on the day of the sale will, at our option, be removed to Cadogan Tate. Christie’s will inform you if the lot has been sent offsite. Our removal and storage of the lot is subject to the terms and conditions of storage which can be found at Christies.com/storage. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Cadogan Tate Ltd. All collections will be by pre-booked appointment only. Tel: +44 (0)20 7839 9060 Email: cscollectionsuk@christies.com. If the lot remains at Christie’s it will be available for collection on any working day 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Lots are not available for collection at weekends.

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Lot Essay

This monumental sculptural relief was almost certainly intended to emulate friezes from Roman antiquity. It was possibly inspired by the antique figural sculpture of Alexander and Bucephalus that stands in the Piazza del Quirinale, Rome; the authoritarian stance of the male figure to the left of the principal protagonists, and the dramatic equine poses are very similar. Another related scene, also in Rome, ‘Alexander the Great taming Bucephalus’, is depicted on a 16th century fresco by Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, in Agostino Chigi’s wedding chamber, Villa Farnesina. The Spanish sculptor, José Vilches, of which little is known, was in Rome in the early 1860s, and was undoubtedly aware of at least one of these masterpieces.

One of the most celebrated anecdotes regarding Alexander the Great is his taming of the horse, Bucephalus. According to Plutarch, Bucephalus was offered by Philonicus the Thessalian to King Philip II for the high sum of 13 talents, but because no one could tame the animal, the King refused to buy it. However, his son, Alexander, engaged in a wager, offering to pay the amount himself should he fail to tame it. Through his gentle handling of the horse, and turning it towards the sun so that it could no longer see its own shadow, which had been the cause of its distress, Alexander succeeded in taming it.

Other works by Vilches include a sepulchral monument of the Catalan sculptor Antoni Solà (1787-1861), created in 1862 in the church of Santa María de Montserrat de los Españoles in Rome, and a neo-classical statue of ‘Andromache’, dated 1853, in the Paseo de Recoletos, Madrid, Spain.

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