Ancient Sculpture
admin 29 February 2016
255 Auction Catalogue / Sculpture and Works of Art

ArtWorks from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque


The pages of newspapers have dealt recently with ancient sculpture by involving public opinion in matters traditionally for specialists, from the debated Michelangelo to the problem of safety of the works in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence.

Domenico Cafaggi (1530 – 1608), St. George killing the dragon, wood

Even auctions lost their confidential nature to open up to a wider audience, tied to the new economy, curious but sometimes naive on the subject. Once the aristocratic world trusting in the absolute primacy of connoisseurship disappeared, fine art has become a cultural and economic phenomenon that no longer concerns social ranks or cultural elite but a wide segment of the population. A long time has thus passed, since that spear stuck in the ground that the ancient Romans used to divide the spoils of war, after having amassed it around a “hasta”: auctions now offer a testimony of the tastes of the art market and provide a litmus paper to understand the changes of the global society.

Agostino di Giovanni, San Galgano, Siena, 1330 -1340, marble

To a sector like ancient sculpture, highly representative of Italian art events and suffering more than others of the rarity of the works in trade, Cambi Auction House has dedicated from 2012 to 2015 eight events, betting on the quality of the works and their preservation status, key factors for their estimate.

What emerged was a brand new good quality heritage – functional to studies and appreciated by Italian and international clients – with important works in marble, wood, bronze, which sum up the entire artistic history from the Middle Ages to the eighteenth century.

Among the objects from the Middle Ages, a Madonna and Child by a Tuscan sculptor influenced by Tino Camaino and Giovanni di Balduccio; a rare tile with San Galgano from the circle of Agostino di Giovanni, one of the greatest interpreters of the fourteenth-century Sienese sculpture, in which Galgano plant his sword in the ground as a symbolic gesture of renunciation to earthly goods; a deacon Head from an architectural compendium, fine example of Burgundian sculpture.

Pietro Torrigiani (1472 – 1528), Madonna with Child, early XVI century, terracotta

A painted stucco bust of the Saviour by Andrea Ferrucci (1465-1526) and an earthenware Madonna and Child from the circle of Pietro Torrigiani (1472-1528) are representative of the Florentine 15th century, a period also reflected in another beautiful painted wood Madonna and Child by an Abruzzo sculptor and a pediment with flying angels from the Aragonese court of Naples. The serene painted wood St. Sebastian recalls Venetian models popular in the Adriatic area; a sculptor working in the Alps is the author of a dramatic Pietà.

The fluffy robes qualify an elegant pair of sturdy marble angels geared to the Renaissance models, while international Mannerism is evoked by the refined painted wood group by Domenico Cafaggi (1530-1608) St. George killing the dragon. Three spectacular busts with St. Francis, St. Dominic and St. Bruno, in the spirit of the Counter Reformation, are to be ascribed to the rare Spanish sculptor Juan Martínez Montañés (1568-1649).

François Duquesnoy (1597 – 1643), Sleeping Cupid, marble

A refined polychrome earthenware portrait from the 17th century depicts with great accuracy in the physiognomy Carlo Emanuele I. Three marble works belong to the Baroque artistic culture: the lively drunken Cherub from the circle of Alessandro Algardi (1598-1654), the Sleeping Cupid close to François Duquesnoy (1597-1643) and a Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist ascribable to the Genoese entourage of Pierre Pujet (1620-1694).

A Baroque fountain gilded earthenware model with a central fight between Hercules and Caco and coat of arms d’Agricourt, which translates a drawing by François Boucher, was allegedly carried out in the third decade of the eighteenth century by Pierre Alexandre Aveline (1702-1760); finally a touching earthenware sketch depicting a Madonna and Child by an artist influenced by the Bolognese Giuseppe Maria Mazza has to be dated from the 18th century.

The next auction devoted to ancient sculpture, now a consolidated appointment for enthusiasts, dealers and collectors, is expected in spring.


Alfredo Bellandi