A PAIR OF BRONZE GROUPS OF THE HEROISM OF MARCUS CURTIUS AND THE FARNESE BULL
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 1… Read more THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE FOUNDATION (LOTS 205 - 207)
A PAIR OF BRONZE GROUPS OF THE HEROISM OF MARCUS CURTIUS AND THE FARNESE BULL

BY FRANCESCO BERTOS (1678-1741), CIRCA 1730-40, THE LATTER AFTER THE ANTIQUE

Details
A PAIR OF BRONZE GROUPS OF THE HEROISM OF MARCUS CURTIUS AND THE FARNESE BULL
BY FRANCESCO BERTOS (1678-1741), CIRCA 1730-40, THE LATTER AFTER THE ANTIQUE
Each on an integrally cast naturalistic base and later circular red velvet-covered plinth with brass plaques inscribed 'Bertos (Francesco) Venezia - VII - sec.'; blackish brown patina with warm medium brown high points; very minor repairs
31¾ and 29 1/8 in. (81 and 74 cm.) high (2)
Provenance
Giovanni Antonio Galeazzo Dondi Orologio (1673-1749), Padua, in whose posthumous inventory they appear 2 January 1750, no. 316.
By descent to Conte Paolo Avanzetti.
By descent to his daughter (d. 1837) who married a man with the surname Plateo.
On her death, passed to Sig. Bombarda.
Antonio Monterumici, 'Avvocato di Venezia', circa 1900.
Unknown parties until owned by Marchese Ferdinando Pica-Alfieri, Milan, but kept at his home Villa La Vallée, Castagnola, Switzerland.
Sold on the death of the above at Christie's, Villa Diodati, Cologny, Switzerland, 30 September 1996, lot 118.
Literature
Simone Guerriero, 'Per lattività padovano di Giovanni Bonazza e del suo 'valente discepolo' Francesco Bertos', in Bolletino del Museo Civico di Padova, XCI, pp. 105-120.
C. Avery, The Triumph of Motion: Francesco Bertos (1678-1741) and the Art of Sculpture, Catalogue Raisonné, Turin, 2008, nos. 138 and 139, pp. 20-21, 232-235, pls. 5 and 6.
Exhibited
Smart Museum, University of Chicago, The Place of the Antique in Early Modern Europe, 1999, nos. 36 and 37.
Special notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 17.5% on the buyer's premium.
Please note Payments and Collections will be unavailable on Monday 12th July 2010 due to a major update to the Client Accounting IT system. For further details please call +44 (0) 20 7839 9060 or e-mail info@christies.com

Brought to you by

Carolyn Moore
Carolyn Moore

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

These complex groups are among the largest bronzes executed by the Venetian sculptor Francesco Bertos, and the recent discovery of the identity of the family who originally commissioned them makes them a great rarity in the artist's oeuvre. They represent two scenes from classical literature: Livy's legend of the Heroism of Marcus Curtius and Pliny's tale of the Fable of Dirce.

The former story relates how a chasm opened in the Roman forum, and the oracles said that only by offering Rome's greatest treasure would it be closed again. The people of the city attempted to fill it, throwing various offerings into the abyss, but to no avail. Eventually, a young cavalryman named Marcus Curtius realised that Rome's greatest treasure was the courage and strength of its soldiers. He donned all his armour and leapt, with his horse, into the chasm, which closed over him. The Fable of Dirce depicts the story of Dirce, wife of Licus, King of Thebes. For her mistreatment of Licus' niece, Antiope, the sons of Antiope tied Dirce to a rampant bull, which killed her.

There is no obvious symbolic link between these two tales, and it may be that the two stories were chosen only because they allowed the sculptor to produce visually complementary groups. In fact, the two groups are of marginally different sizes, and it is possible that one group was commissioned first, and the second narrative was then chosen to become a pendant to it.

The coats of arms have been identified as belonging to the Paduan family Dondi Orologio which was raised to the Venetian nobility in perpetuity after the brothers Giovanni Antonio, Gerolamo and Franco donated 100,000 ducats to the cause of the Venetian war against the Turks in Crete. The commissioning of two such impressive bronzes from one of the leading sculptors of the day, would have served to enhance the reputation of the family as members of the Venetian cultural elite.
For further information on Bertos and his critical reception, see also the note to lot 205.
;

More from 500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe

View All
View All