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CHARLES C. DENT (1917-1994) Charles Dent had many lives. He was a fervent supporter of the United Nations, a painter and a celebrated commercial airline pilot, but he was probably best known for the extraordinary effort he led in creating the 'the horse that never was'. This giant horse sculpture was based on a long-lost design by Leonardo da Vinci, which was probably commissioned by the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza in the early 1490's. Mr. Dent was originally inspired to create 'Il Cavallo' by a National Geographic magazine article in 1978, and he spent the rest of his life working towards realizing it. In 1999, five years after his death, the twenty-four foot high model was finally installed in Milan, to international acclaim. He was also known for the smaller-scale sculpture he amassed for his personal collection. Pamela Elizabeth West recounts in her The Dreamer and the Dreamed: The Extraordinary Life of Charles Cortland Dent, two of Charles Dent's finds (lots 47 and 40 in the present sale), which perfectly illustrate both his love of unusual objects and his rare eye and ability to find them. "On a crisp winter day in the early 70's, Charlie dropped in at a favorite West Coast antique store. It was the owner's birthday and Charlie was invited to the back of the store for cake. On the way past the shipping room, Charlie spied a brass lectern on the floor. Taking a step closer, he studied the bronze eagle with outstretched wings leaning against the side of a coke machine. He got down on his knees to look closer, noting the deep brown patina associated with age and a 1945 Los Angeles County Museum acquisition tag. 'What is that thing'? he said, hoping the piece was on its way in, not out, hoping he could afford it. The owner glanced up from his cake and said, 'A dictionary stand. Isn't it lovely?' 'Is it for sale?' Charlie asked, trying to sound casual. The owner named a price in the high three figures. Charlie paused briefly, calming himself, and then had the audacity to ask, 'being as how it's your birthday, could you make me a better price?' The owner did and Charlie quickly wrapped the piece up with newspaper. Back in his $16 a night Holiday Inn room, Charlie examined his find. It might be a 'married' piece as the base was difficult to date. But the eagle appeared to be 15th or 16th century. Charlie unswiveled the base and shipped it home labeled as a planter. He brought the eagle home in the cockpit of his DC-8 and took it to the head of the Cloisters in New York City for consultation. They discovered from the records at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that the piece had come from the W. R. Hearst estate. The Ladies' Auxiliary had later sold it at a museum fundraiser. It was almost Christmas and Charlie had spent the morning at the beach, painting a seascape. Now he dusted the sand from his feet and drove to the Pasadena Antiques Show. He stopped at a booth owned by a local decorator. A marble caught his eye. He was struck by the man's shrewd countenance, the lips pursed with an air of subterfuge, wisdom and latent menace. Charlie thought he had seen that same face in the Louvre on a bust attibuted to Bernini...This was Cardinal Richelieu... 'It came from the estate of Fanny Hearst,' the owner said. 'It has provenance.' Charlie stroked the marble cheek, knowing he was going to buy it..." Fittingly, the organization that Charlie founded to produce 'Il Cavallo' merged with another organization in 2003 to create the Da Vinci Discovery Center of Science and Technology. Now based in Allentown, PA, the Da Vinci Discovery Center is a hands-on science center where children experience the same wonders of discovery and exploration with which Charlie filled his life. Through its breathtaking demonstration facility, its outreach programs, and its professional development initiatives for teachers, it encourages inquiry-based learning: young people asking questions about the world around them - such as "What is it?" and "Why does it do that?" - and marveling in the answers they discover for themselves. PROPERTY FORMERLY IN THE COLLECTION OF CHARLES C. DENT AND SOLD TO BENEFIT THE DA VINCI DISCOVERY CENTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (LOTS 40-47)


A WHITE MARBLE BUST OF CARDINAL RICHELIEU AFTER THE MODEL BY BERNINI, FRENCH, 19TH CENTURY On an associated white marble socle 26¼ in. (66.5 cm.) high; 32¾ in. (83 cm.) high on socle
By repute, Fannie Hearst.
Special Notice

No sales tax is due on the purchase price of this lot if it is picked up or delivered in the State of New York.

Lot Essay

R. Wittkower, Gian Lorenzo Bernini: Sculptor of the Roman Baroque, 3rd. edition, Ithica, New York, 1981, pp. 209-210, 275, nos. 46 and 49.

This bust is after the celebrated marble model now in the Louvre. The attribution to Bernini himself has long been contested. As it has also been proposed that the marble bust of the Cardinal is by the hand of the sculptor Francesco Mochi. It was ordered in 1640, after the 'profils de son Eminence' were delivered to Rome. The bust was then delivered to Paris a year later on the 21st of August, 1641. Almost certainly the triple portrait of the Cardinal by Philippe de Champaigne may have served to help the sculptor in Rome (R. Wittkower, op. cit., p. 209). So, beside these images, there is no more iconic image of Richelieu.

There is another bronze version, probably after the marble, which was purchased by Frederick the Great in 1742 from the Polignac Collection and remains at the Palace of Sans Souci in Potsdam (Ibid., p. 210).

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