Lot 12 (Garden and Natural History Live Auction, 11th June 2019)
Garden Statues: After Pietro Cipriano: A bronze dancing Faun
Italian, last quarter 19th century
on marble base
the bronze 142cm high; 164cm overall
Provenance: The Countess of Midleton, Eastwell Park Estate; Thence by descent
Cipriani’s Faun modelled in 1722-24 is based on a Hellenistic statue that has been on display in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence since the second half of the 1600s. Such copies of Greco-Roman statuary were popular among contemporary wealthy art collectors who wanted their own versions of ancient art seen during their travels in Europe and Greece, on what was known as the “grand tour.”
Many art historians consider Cipriani as the most gifted bronze sculptor of his generation in Florence. In 1709 Cipriani assisted his teacher, Massimiliano Soldani Benzi (1656-1740) in casting four figures for the Duke of Marlborough’s collection at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Like this faun, these works were inspired by ancient sculptures that had been on display in the Uffizi collection in Rome since the second half of the 1600s.
This dancing faun is now more precisely identified as a satyr. Satyrs are roguish figures from ancient mythology and literature known for their love of wine, music, and mischief. This satyr holds metal cymbala in his hands and wears a kroupezion attached to his sandal. The latter is a device with a metal plate that would have made a noise rather like a modern tap shoe. His faunlike features are visible in the tiny horns above his forehead, and in the small goat’s tail at his rear. His head is bent over, absorbed in the music, and every muscle of his athletic body, from his deltoid muscles, his abdomen, to his calves, appears tense as he plays.
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