Born in 1861, Vittorio Caradossi studied sculpture under Augusto Rivalta at the Accademia di Belle Arti. He was commissioned to execute a number of public monuments and is most remembered for his celebrated statue to the Renaissance artist Desiderio da Settignano, the model for which was exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle.
In contrast to his municipal works, Caradossi specialised in depictions of celestial and ethereal nudes, such as the present example. Other examples that belong to this category of marvelously abandoned female nudes include Dolce Far Niente, Tre Nereidi (see Christie's East, 26 October 1993, lot 46), Dusk, A Moon Nymph Admiring Her Own Reflection (see Christie's London, 29 February 1996, lot 405), Shooting Stars (see Sotheby's New York, 24 October 1996, lot 114) and Il Fumo che Sale Verso le Nubi (see Christie's New York, 20 April 2005, lot 40). Although echoing the sensuality of his predecessors Pradier and Clésinger, who portrayed their nymphs in a similar attitude of abandon, Caradossi's works exhibit a greater humour and modernity, partly dispelling the rather heady voluptuousness of the former sculptors.
The present lot is a wonderfully balanced model depicting a sea nymph gliding through the air, sensuously enwrapped in the sale of a vessel engulfed in a tempest. The composition demonstrates the technical virtuosity of the artist in this free-floating figure carved out of a single block of marble. Caradossi's extraordinary skill is further evident in the movement and sense of weightlessness the composition achieves.