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A BRONZE FIGURE OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST
PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR (LOT 165)
A BRONZE FIGURE OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST

ATTRIBUTED TO FERNANDO TACCA (1619-1686)

Details
A BRONZE FIGURE OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST
ATTRIBUTED TO FERNANDO TACCA (1619-1686)
Depicted standing on a naturalistic base with a punched ground, holding a cross, the cross missing elements
9¼ in. (23.5 cm.) high, the figure; 15½ in. (39 cm.) high, including base and cross

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Anne Igelbrink
Anne Igelbrink

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Lot Essay

COMPARATIVE LITERATURE:
Y. Hackenbroch, ed., Bronzes, Other Metalwork and Sculpture in the Irwin Untermyer Collection, London, 1962, fig. 80, pl. 77.

There is remarkably little documented bronze sculpture by Ferdinando Tacca, perhaps due to the reduced patronage provided by the Medici Grand Dukes in the mid-17th century. After Giambologna's death in 1608, his assistant Pietro Tacca took over as court sculptor to the Grand Dukes and when Tacca himself died in 1640, the role went to his son Ferdinando. Ferdinando thus inherited Giambologna's workshop and foundry in the Borgo Pinti and he can also be considered Giambologna's artistic heir, carrying on as he did the elegant mannerist style of late 16th century Florence well into the mid-17th century. Today, there are relatively few documented works by Ferdinando from which to construct a reliable oeuvre, however one of his most important commissions was for the bronze relief of the Martyrdom of St. Stephen in Santo Stefano al Ponte, Florence.

A. Radcliffe, in his paper 'Ferdinando Tacca, the missing link in Florentine Baroque bronzes' (in Kunst des Barock in der Toskana, Munich, 1976), attributes a number of small bronze groups to Tacca on the basis of their similarity to the Martyrdom relief, and it is in looking both at these bronzes and the relief itself which allows us to attribute the present bronze to Tacca as well. The first notable similarity is in the finishing of the rockwork base. It is almost a signature of the artist that he finishes his bases with a series of swirling patterns of punched trails as is evident on the base here.

There is another model of St. John the Baptist which was part of the Untermyer Collection and is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (no. 64.101.1467). It is missing its cross and the punching on the base is slightly more vigorous, and these differences would be expected in any hand-finished work, but it is nearly identical in all other respects.

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