See also : Sculpture Sculpture by painters Bust Italy Modigliani
Chronology : 1570-1599 1610-1619 1640-1649 1810-1819 1910-1919 1911 1972 2001 /
1590-1610 The Kinetic Mannerism of Giambologna
2019 SOLD for € 4.5M including premium
His masterpiece is the 4.10 m high group of three figures cut in a single block of marble, installed in 1582 at the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence. The action is vertical. A muscular man raises a pretty woman of whom he tramples the old husband. This group of three nudes is traditionally considered as the Rape of a Sabine. The dramatic tension is similar to the Laocoon, an ancient sculpture designed for a unique angle of view. It already announces the Baroque style.
Customers request bronzes, which are of course made in reduction. The master approves these copies while leaving a great autonomy to his bronze makers. The best examples are made by his collaborator Antonio Susini, renowned for the beauty of his finish with the chisel.
A Rape of a Sabine 59 cm high was sold for £ 3.7M including premium by Christie's on July 10, 2014. The extreme quality of this cast is confirmed by the X-Ray observation of the regular thinness of the walls. It bears a rare mark identifying the artist's studio and was made between 1587 and 1598.
On December 11 in Paris, Sotheby's sells a bronze of the same model, made by Susini around 1600. It appears in 1689 in the inventory of the collection of Italian bronzes assembled by Louis XIV for the Grand Dauphin. Its setting in color by a brown patina was made by Gouthière for Louis XVI. It is estimated € 2.5M, lot 14.
In the same sale, the lot 15 estimated € 1M is a Fortuna 47 cm high, also attributed to Susini after Giambologna and having belonged to the same French royal collection. This bronze was probably made before 1587, when Susini began to carve the irises in the eyes of his characters.
An Allegory of Architecture 35 cm high was sold on March 27, 2019 by Artcurial for € 3.75M including premium. The quality of its realization is in the style practiced by Susini in the 1580s. This bronze is a copy from an original marble made in 1565 by Giambologna.
RESULTS including premium :
Rape of a Sabine, SOLD for € 4.5M
Fortuna, SOLD for € 1.8M
1616 Bernini Father and Son
2021 SOLD for $ 8.9M including premium
Pietro Bernini has been living in Rome since 1605. His main clients are the Borghese and Strozzi families. Skillful and inventive, he offers new themes in antique fashion while including the exaggerated movements and multiple angles of view of modern mannerism.
His son Gian Lorenzo is extremely talented but too young to be allowed to receive commissions on his own behalf. From 1615 he develops the baroque sculpture, adding vitality to the mannerism. Patrons will find in this new style the same expressive power as in the Laocoon.
Prince Strozzi prepares his luxurious villa, for which he asks Bernini for many contributions. A great lover of antiques, he commissions in particular two groups of four statues, both on the theme of the Four Seasons. One of them is made up of two antique marbles and two modern additions. The other is entirely the work of Bernini.
The complete series executed by Bernini has not been separated. It is kept in the Aldobrandini collection. From the other group, the two antique statues have disappeared, another has not been identified, and the fourth, Autumn, is estimated $ 8M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on January 29, lot 121, coming from the Hester Diamond collection. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
The two Autumns have a comparable height, 125 cm for the Diamond marble, but also important differences. The Aldobrandini Autumn, seated, is almost life-size. The Diamond Autumn is standing. He has one hand on a trunk without being leaned back, in a remarkable mastery of balance.
The anatomical details, including the protruding muscles, and the expression of intense happiness of the Diamond satyr, resolutely baroque, prove that the younger Bernini is its principal maker. Whether or not this work came before the Aldobrandini satyr cannot be established. The date of 1616 is proposed. Undoubtedly, the styles of the two sculptors were already diverging. They stop collaborating in 1619 after Gian Lorenzo has reached his majority.
Rubens, the master of baroque painting, also dealt around the same time with the theme of the fruit-bearing satyr.
1640s The Five Labours of Hercules
2018 SOLD for £ 6.8M including premium
Tacca designs groups in violent action as well as equestrian monuments, made in bronze by assembling elements. His statue of King Philip IV of Spain on a rearing horse only standing on its hind legs and tail is an unprecedented technical feat but the artist died in 1640 just before the installation of this masterpiece.
In 1612 the heir to the throne of England is the 18 years old Prince Henry. He communicates to the Grand Duke of Tuscany his interest in bronzes. Appealed by the idea of an easy support for a new alliance, the Grand Duke commissions to Tacca a set of groups illustrating the labours of Hercules.
Around 1614 Tacca prepares five models but the young English prince had died and the project no longer interests anyone. Twenty years later there were still arrears of payment.
It is not Pietro but his son Ferdinando who brings to perfection the art of the Florentine bronze, with a surface finish that simulates in a differentiated way the skin, the hair, the textile, the hide, the rock, the plant. The five groups of Hercules had remained unused. Ferdinando made the first bronzes of this series after the death of his father. The sculpture is out of fashion. Ten years later Ferdinando had become a theater machinist and an architect.
In 1681 the French King Louis XIV wishes to complete the education of his son and heir the Grand Dauphin. He gathers a collection of nine humanist minded bronzes including four groups of Hercules made in the 1640s by Ferdinando Tacca.
Released from the royal collections during the French Revolution, Hercules slaying the Acheloüs bull, 58 x 55 x 38 cm with a beautiful reddish-brown patina, was sold for $ 1.65M by Sotheby's on May 20, 1994. It will be sold by Christie's in London on July 5, lot 110. The press release of April 16 announces an estimate in the region of £ 5M.
Groupe en bronze représentant Hercule terrassant Achelous sous la forme d'un taureau. Attribué à Ferdinando Tacca, Florence, XVIIe siècle. Cadeau de #LouisXIV au Grand Dauphin en 1681. Portant le n°302 dans l'inventaire des bronzes de la Couronne. @Sothebys Londres 05/07 pic.twitter.com/KA4OE8frr5— Didier P. Doré (@DPDORE) June 19, 2018
1814 Ideal Heads by Canova
2018 SOLD for £ 5.3M including premium
Through a process developed by the artist, the finish is beautiful and brilliant, reaching the delicacy of a real skin. Canova explained his method of passing a brush dipped in sanded water on the surface and then cleaning with a sponge. The marble remains natural without adding pigments.
The busts of young women suit very well the perfection reached by Canova. From 1811 he proposes to his clients his Ideal Heads (Teste Ideali) to which he usually attributes mythological, historical, literary or allegorical denominations. Some of them are presented to patrons whom he wishes to honor.
In March 2012 a marble head is auctioned in London without identification of author, title and provenance. The buyer inspects it after the sale and identifies it as the Bust of Peace carved by Canova in 1814 while he was working on a full length statue on that theme for a Russian minister.
At this time the whole Europe is eager to end the Napoleonic wars. The Pope asks for help from Canova for the repatriation of looted art. The Bust of Peace is promised and then delivered by the artist to a British Lord involved in this project. The identification of the piece was lost by the descendants.
This bust 53 cm high including its white marble socle will be sold as lot 25 by Sotheby's in London on July 4. The video below shows that its quality is real. It is surprising that no attribution was attempted in 2012.
1822 Maddalena giacente by Canova
2022 for sale on July 7 by Christie's
His composition was inspired from lying figures by Bernini but in an unprecedented manner for Magdalene. The life size penitent is in a fainting agony, revealing the beauty and frailty of her bare breasted body and flexible folds of the lower drapery. A tear falls on her cheek and the hair is loose.
Canova indeed desired to demonstrate that he was able to bring in sculpture the same emotional impact as in Baroque painting. The plaster dated 1819 is preserved in the Canova museum in Possagno.
This project made him busy for three years in parallel with two other masterpieces, a Sleeping Endymion and a Sleeping Nymph. It should have been a breakthrough in the expressive art of sculpture. Sadly Canova unexpectedly died in October 1822 a few weeks only after completing the Magdalene.
The Magdalene was delivered in 1823 to Lord Liverpool who had paid 1,200 pounds for it. Its attribution to Canova was lost in 1920 during the global sale of a manor. Its further provenance has nevertheless been reconstituted, including a 1938 auction where it was described as a "classical figure of a dying woman holding a cross".
A couple of British amateurs acquired it for £ 5,200 for their own decorative use in a specialized garden statuary auction in 2002. They wisely required an expertise to the team of former Christie's expert Francis Outred.
Formally identified as the long sought Canova"s Maddalena Giacente and consigned by the happy couple, the 75 x 176 x 85 cm marble is estimated £ 5M for sale by Christie's on July 7, 2022, lot 8. It had lost in its anonymous phase the lower part of the crucifix and the wonderful finish of Canova's ultimate marbles.
A landmark re-discovery, #AntonioCanova's 'Maddalena Giacente' (Recumbent Magdalene) (1819-1822), the Italian titan's lost masterpiece will be a star lot during Christie's Summer edition of #ClassicWeek in London: https://t.co/DxRuZNCNnk @FT pic.twitter.com/TmqOii3wUq— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) March 17, 2022
1911-1912 Woman and Caryatid
2014 SOLD for $ 71M including premium
Brancusi is one of the greatest innovators of sculpture. Reacting against the realistic details of clay and bronze, he is the first to seek beauty through basic and simplified forms that will lead him up to abstraction.
Brancusi and Modigliani find inspiration for their new styles in the antique and African arts. In 1910, Modi draws women topped with a tablette in reference to the Caryatids of the Erechtheion. His series of busts made in 1911 and 1912 will be his temple of art.
Modi is not yet famous. He uses limestone blocks taken from construction sites and carries them in a wheelbarrow to his modest studio in Montparnasse. His heads of women create around him a crowd of pure and stylized faces with the intense force of a tribal ceremony.
On June 14, 2010, a caryatid bust 64 cm high including the cubic base was sold for € 43M including premium by Christie's.
On November 4 in New York, Sotheby's sells a bust, 73 cm high including the base, lot 8. The press release of October 3 is announcing an estimate in excess of $ 45M.
I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's :
1911 Modigliani sculpted the Timeless Woman
2010 SOLD 43 M€ including premium
His female heads are a synthesis of all ages and all civilizations. They are simple as the Cycladic idols, noble as queens of Egypt, Mannerist as a Botticelli, mysterious as African masks, serene as deities, geometric like the art of his friend Brancusi. They are designed to be viewed as a group, such as the Cariatides of a Greek temple.
Made in a very limited quantity, they were dispersed. Only the artist in his small studio in Montparnasse, or some friends at an exhibition in 1911 or 1912, could breathe the mystical atmosphere of the whole.
One of these statues, made of Parisian limestone, 64 cm high including the cubic base, is on sale at Christie's in Paris on June 14. It is obvious that this lot, estimated € 4 million, is exceptional. It is shared in an article in French by Le Figaro.
Modigliani carved the stone in direct cut. In 1914, he had to give up his vocation as a sculptor for reasons of health and money. His brush was as clever as his chisel to express the purity of the curves, and he became the best portrait painter of his time.
POST SALE COMMENT
The information provided by Christie's did not leave any possibility for doubt: this sculpture is a masterpiece. Result: € 43 million including premium.
1911-1912 The Unfinished Temple
2019 SOLD for $ 34M including premium
From 1909 to 1914 Modigliani is obsessed with a unique project : to build a temple dedicated to feminine beauty. To provide a roof for his monument, he tirelessly draws figures of caryatids which he calls his columns of tenderness.
Around 1911 he finally exerts his indisputable skills for sculpture in a series of limestone and sandstone women's heads. These elongated heads with a long neck on a cubic base are similar to each other but details of the faces are different. The varied heights show that the overall design of the temple is far from fixed.
All art critics have searched for models and styles that have inspired the timeless beauty of Modigliani's women's heads. They are indeed a synthesis of aesthetic conceptions of all times and all cultures.
Modigliani carved about 25 heads. In 1911 five of them are recognizable by photography in his solo exhibition organized with the help of Brancusi in the vast workshop of Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso. In 1912 the Salon d'Automne aligns seven heads in the Cubist Hall.
In 1913 Modigliani feels that his project of temple is ready. He chooses to use marble and visits Carrara. He carved only one caryatid. His fragile health will not allow him to do more. He abandons his great project and becomes a portrait painter again.
A Tête 64 cm high exhibited by Souza-Cardoso and at the Salon d'Automne was sold for € 43M including premium by Christie's on June 14, 2010. A 73 cm high Tête from the Salon d'Automne was sold for $ 71M including premium by Sotheby's on November 4, 2014. In limestone as the two examples above, a 51 cm high Tête carved around 1911-1912 with no early exhibition history is estimated $ 30M for sale by Christie's in New York on May 13, lot 31A.
1955 The Noblest Conquest of Marino Marini
2011 SOLD 4.2 M£ including premium
On May 8, 2007, Sotheby's sold $ 7M including premium a polychrome wooden statue 2.16 m high, made in 1956, unique in this material, entitled L'Idea del Cavaliere. Taking this artwork as a reference in a previous article, I described it as follows: "Here the man is mastering the beast, but this one, neck stretched upwards, utters a roar worthy of a character in Guernica."
On February 8 in London, Sotheby's sells a bronze of the same model, 2.20 m high, dated from the previous year, 1955. Painted in red by the artist, this copy of an edition of four is estimated £ 3.7 M.
Meanwhile, on October 14, 2010, the art market has confirmed Marini's riders as one of the most important series in modern sculpture, when Christie's sold £ 4.5 million including premium a chiselled bronze of 1951, only 1.18 m high but in a superb position with the rider on his back hand.
POST SALE COMMENT
The result, £ 4.2 million including premium, is in line with the two prices that I referenced in my article. Marini strengthens his position as one of the top sculptors of the twentieth century.
1972 Boccioni's Man
2019 SOLD for $ 16.2M including premium
In the following year, a group of young artists publishes another manifesto to apply these new ideas to painting. Umberto Boccioni is the theoretician of the group. Perhaps he appreciates that the expression of movement through painting is too difficult for the public. The centipede dog created by Balla in 1912 is a bit ridiculous.
Without neglecting the Futurist painting, Boccioni is now interested in sculpture, which he had never practiced before. He publishes solo in April 1912 a Manifesto tecnico della scultura futurista. He is also inspired by the Cubist fragmentations by Picasso and Duchamp-Villon.
Boccioni makes in 1913 three studies in plaster in which the movement is illustrated by a muscular extension. He then creates a man on the move which is a synthesis of his theories. For marking how much his approach is an incentive for a new art, he titles this figure Forme uniche della continuita nello spazio.
The Forme uniche has remained the only important sculpture by Boccioni, the artist who went too fast, died trampled by a horse in 1916. It expresses an extreme human energy while abandoning realism, and opens the way to Giacometti, Moore and also to the successive transformations of Matisse's Nu de dos and the humanoid robots of the movies. It was chosen in 1998 to illustrate the Italian coin of 20 cents of euro.
The four seminal sculptures by Boccioni were not edited during his lifetime. The first three were destroyed in 1927. The Forme uniche survived. Two bronzes were created in 1931. One of them brings a refinement, a pedestal under each foot, which still increases the extreme dynamism of the figure. This configuration was cast in ten units in 1972.
A 117 cm high bronze with a gold patina from the 1972 edition is estimated $ 3.8M for sale by Christie's in New York on November 11, lot 18 A. Despite its importance in the history of modern sculpture, this figure is extremely rare on the art market : no example had been offered at auction since 1975.
Please watch the video shared by Christie's.
2001 Him Again !
2016 SOLD for $ 17.2M including premium
His mockery of Catholicism comes in the following of the crucified frogs of Kippenberger. In 1999, he exhibited a life-size figure of Pope John Paul II crushed by a meteorite. The title, La Nona Ora, is a direct reference to the theology of Christ's death.
His most provocative work is Him, edited in 2001 in three units plus an artist's proof in wax, human hair, suit, polyester and pigments.
The kneeling character in a position of prayer has the size of a child but wears the gray suit of an adult in the outdated fashion of the 1930s. It is displayed for being at first viewed from behind. When reaching the front side, we recognize the figure of Hitler with his signature forelock and mustache. The viewer who had been tempted to laugh is now caught with the memory of the horrors of Nazism, which remains for many a taboo subject despite so many years.
The statements made by Cattelan unambiguously confirm that Him is an alert and not an apology. The attitude of this small Hitler looking like a penitent of Canossa does not eliminate the danger of racism and totalitarianism. For 15 years, Him has been widely viewed and discussed. The success of an exhibition in 2013 in the former Warsaw ghetto further indicates that this work must be perceived as a poignant request for peace.
The artist's proof is estimated $ 10M, for sale by Christie's in New York on May 8, lot 39 A. The essay of the catalog is significantly signed by a rabbi. The video shared by Christie's follows the correct way to show the work to reveal only at the ultimate moment the unsustainable and yet terribly current message.