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Post Lot Text
A BRONZE FIGURE OF AN ARCHER
ATTRIBUTED TO FERDINANDO TACCA (1619-1686), MID 17TH CENTURY
Depicted standing with his feet astride and poised to shoot an arrow towards the ground; on a modern square ebony-veneered moulded base; medium brown patina and lighter high points; the bow and section of drapery lacking
This bronze figure, examples of which have been called Jason, Apollo, or simply A Warrior, has long been grouped with a series of bronze statuettes attributed to the Grand Ducal sculptor Ferdinando Tacca. The attribution was first put forward by Anthony Radcliffe in a paper delivered in the autumn of 1974 (and subsequently published in 1976, op. cit.). In it, Radcliffe argues that Tacca, who inherited the workshop previously used by Giambologna, and then his own father, Pietro, forms a vital link between the mannnerism of the late 16th century and the baroque creations of artists such as Giovanni Battista Foggini.
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. However, as a touchstone, Radcliffe uses the bronze relief executed by Tacca representing The Martyrdom of St. Stephen, presented to the church of Santo Stefano al Ponte, Florence, in 1656.
The present bronze figure - which in some versions includes a dragon at which the figure aims his bow and arrow - shows a number of similarities to figures in the St Stephen relief (for an illustration of the latter see Radcliffe, op. cit., p. 15). In general terms, the figures all display elongated limbs which clearly recall a Florentine mannerist heritage. More importantly, there is a common theatrical exaggeration to many of the poses. Striding forward and with its somewhat awkward torsion, the present bronze is closely comparable to the standing male figure at the extreme right of the bronze relief.
By contrast, the facial features evident here, including the prominent nose and heavy-lidded eyes, fit less well into Tacca's oeuvre, and the somewhat protuberant lower stomach might even suggest a northern influence. It therefore appears that Ferdinando Tacca still remains the most probable author for the present bronze, althought it may be that future work may lead to new art historical discoveries.