In 1706 Soldani wrote to Prince Johann Adam von Liechtenstein in Vienna stating that he had completed a series of twelve bronzes mostly after the antique and famous statues of Florence. Among them was a small version of the allegorical marble group representing Florence Triumphant over Pisa, commissioned in 1565 by Francesco de’Medici from Giambologna for the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, and now in the Bargello. The personification of Florence, or an allegory of Virtue, overcomes a man cowering on the ground, and represents either Vice or the city of Pisa, depending on the interpretation. The triumph is expressed by a gesture of physical dominance. Although Soldani remained faithful to Giambologna’s model, the bronze was produced on a large scale in several slightly different models, and is known by various titles: Virtue Triumphant over Vice, Honor Overcoming Falsehood and Beauty Chaining Strength.
The model of the present bronze is one of the subjects listed in the inventory taken by the Doccia porcelain factory, which purchased numerous molds from Soldani’s son and heir in 1744 (Camins, loc. cit.). As Avery has suggested, several casts from this series are known, and Soldani’s workshop must have produced a number of series of these bronzes, explaining the differences in quality of the chasing and patina. The composition spirals upwards, hence the name of ‘figura serpentinata’. Its refined lacquer, modeling and chiseling make the present statuette a particularly fine example.
The label on the base probably refers to the Hearst Hacienda on the Milipitas Ranch, near the missions of San Antonio, near Jolon, which was re-built for William Randolph Hearst by his architect Julia Morgan and was furnished circa 1931. Christie's would like to thank Dr. Mary Levkoff, Museum Director of Hearst Castle, San Simeon, for her help researching the provenance of this lot.