Francesca Antonacci, Damiano Lapiccirella - Two masterpieces of the grand tour

 

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Francesca Antonacci, Damiano Lapiccirella - Two masterpieces of the grand tour

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francesca antonacci damiano lapiccirella two masterpieces of the grand tour masterpiece 2012

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luigi bienaime carrara 1795-1878 dancing bacchante carrara marble height 149 cm signed and dated on the trunk l bienaime f a roma 1846 provenance yeaton pevery near shrewsbury former home of the wakeman family rome galleria francesca antonacci milan private collection exhibited camuccini finelli bienaimé protagonisti del classicismo a roma nell ottocento galleria francesca antonacci rome 2003 the present statue is a version of one of the most famous works by this great nineteenth century sculptor born in carrara in 1795 and son of a possibly flemish sculptor luigi bienaimé moved to rome in 1818 when he won the accademia di belle arti of carrara scholarship prize as for many other artists coming from several different countries rome became bienaimé s adoptive town in the urbe they all found the perfect condition for practicing sculpture they were constantly in contact with the most celebrated models of the classical antiquity they lived in the 19th century capital of the international art market for the flow of foreign travellers and collectors and more importantly they could enjoy the privilege of the mastery of antonio canova and bertel thorvaldsen ­ two of the most important sculptors of the age bienaimé was first a pupil of the danish bertel thorvaldsen when the master broke off with his favorite pietro tenerani he then became the dane main assistant despite being employed as chief assistant in thorvaldsen s workshop bienaimé could also establish himself as an independent artist as a matter of fact he often shared with his master very important patrons such as the count giambattista sommariva the duke of devonshire the tsar nicholas i and the prince alessandro torlonia on the artist see hartmann 1984 carozzi in carrara 1993 pp 172-173 moreover he was sought out and in some cases befriended by eminent members of the european nobility and the arts for example king württenburg ordered two bacchantes in 1840 and the italian poet angelo maria ricci took an especial interest in bienaimé s works ordering several statues from him and being one of the first persons to illustrate bienaimé s oeuvre in his sculture di l bienaimé da carrara of 1838 he never left his adopted city and died there in 1878 the repertoire of bienaimé s creations always available in a series of plaster models for new marble version consisted of sacred subjects that recall thorvaldsen s works the guardian angel baby saint john literary subjects that embody the idea of beauty telemachus and mostly mythological subjects of gracious and refined inspiration however unlike sculptures from antiquity bienaime s statues exuded not monumentalism but softb thorvaldsen dancer 1817 plaster model copenaghen thorvaldsens museum ness this softness a canova dancer with bells 1812 marble berlin bode museum realized for andrei razumovskij russian ambassador in vienna nevertheless although sentimental was not overly so as in the work of some of his elders or contemporaries through polished variations of subject which had also been represented by thorvaldsen bienaimé found his own artistic vein carrying out the same themes with a narrative and sentimental approach that was different from his master s severe philosophical style the subject of this statue the dancing bacchante was also tied to works thorvaldsen and before him antonio canova had previously treated in particular the dancer sculpted in 1817 by the dane for prince nicolaus esterhàzy the model is now at the thorvaldsen museum in copenhagen these works shared a common archaeological reference to antique statues draperies swelled by the wind such as the hora at the uffizi and the hora that was at that time part of the ludovisi collection a reference also echoed in pietro tenerani s flora di majo susinno in rome 1989 p.322 grandesso 2003 p.136 compared to his master s works bienaimé expressed an original face physiognomy that was not influenced by thorvaldsen s oeuvres furthermore he notably amplified the movement by expanding the threedimensional development of the figures which turns out to be very different from the typical frontality of the dane s sculptures the serpentinato development of the figure within the space which is similar

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to works such as the psyche or the zephyr italy in 1845 although he ordered works determined the absence of a privileged side from many different artists during this trip thus benefitting a multitude of viewpoints bienaimé was particularly favored by the tsar this work intended for a decorative use when he visited him in his studio from most was one of the most successful sculptures sculptors nicholas i had ordered only one or within bienaimé s production possibly two statues from bienaimé he coma drawing of the dancing bacchante is missioned four including a replica of the recorded on plate xiv of angelo maria dancing bacchante the completed statue was ricci s book on bienaimé s oeuvre ricci transported to st petersburg in 1850 where it 1838 and is also described in hawks le was placed in the winter palace although grice s walks through the studii of the sculpnicholas i s dancing bacchante can now be tors of rome 1841 as standing in bienaime s found in the national gallery at erevan anstudio as having been executed for prince other one of larger sizes signed and dated doldenburgh the most interesting history 1840 and coming from the collection of the connected with this statue however origiprinces of ol denburgskij s arrived at the hernates with the russian expatriate community mitage in 1923 where it can still be found in rome a city that had attracted a number today a further smaller version also in the of russian artists at this time a frenetic hermitage was probably commissioned by building activity had taken over the wealththe prince boris yusupov it is not dated but iest inhabitants of st petersburg these new in the catalogue for the 1996 exhibition i palaces and mansions needed to be decomarmi degli zar it is argued that it must have rated and with this in mind the upper echbeen made during the 1840s as a copy of the l bienaimé dancing bacchante 1846 detail elons of russian society travelled around earlier larger versions it is probable that after europe acquiring objects for their homes the patronage of such illustrious collectors as nicholas i himself entertained ambitions of founding a new imperial prince doldenburgh and tsar nicholas i the dancing bacchante enjoyed museum in st petersburg as demonstrated he was already familiar with great fame and that the present version was executed for another prestithe art of italy thus it is not surprising to find him travelling through gious client sharing similar tastes l bienaimé portrait of the tsar nicholas i 1846 marble saint petersburg the state hermitage museum l bienaimé shepherdess 1854 marble saint petersburg the state hermitage museum literature roma 2003 camuccini finelli bienaimé protagonisti del classicismo a roma nell ottocento galleria francesca antonacci cited literature carrara 1993 scultura a carrara ottocento essays by mario de micheli gian lorenzo mellini massimo bertozzi artists biographies by renato carozzi bergamo 1993 carrara massa 1996 i marmi degli zar gli scultori carraresi all ermitage e a peterhof carrara accademia di belle arti massa palazzo ducale april 13 june 23 1996 exhibition catalogue edited by massimo bertozzi milano 1996 hartmann 1984 jorgen birkedal hartmann la triade italiana del thorvaldsen alcune considerazioni su temi mitologici e cristiani in antologia di belle arti 1984 nn 23-24 pp 90-115 grandesso 2003 stefano grandesso pietro tenerani 1789 1869 cinisello balsamo 2003 jørnæs 1997 biarne jørnæs bertel thorvaldsen la vita e l opera dello scultore roma 1997 le grice 1841 hawks le grice walks through the studii of the sculptors at rome with a brief historical and critical sketch of sculpture 2 voll rome 1841 ricci 1838 sculture di luigi bienaimé da carrara roma 1838 roma 1989 bertel thorvaldsen 1770 1844 scultore danese a roma roma galleria nazionale d arte moderna november 1 1989 january 28 1990 exhibition catalogue edited by elena di majo bjarne jørnæs stefano susinno roma 1989.

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abraham-louis-rodolphe ducros 1748 moudon-1810 lausanne a noble group of russian grand-tourists visiting the neptune s grotto at tivoli 1782 c oil on canvas 90 x 132,2 cm provenance bern private collection this painting1 depicts a foreshortening of the inside of the so-called neptune s grotto at tivoli a large cavern in the rock wall underneath the town where the river aniene flows after a large waterfall 2 the neptune s grotto was one of the most notorious attractions of tivoli and represented a fundamental stop for the grand-tourists of the 18th century the following is a 1794 description by an anonymous traveller the grotto is in the depths where the river immediately past the large waterfall vertically falls down from high rocks a narrow path leads to these depths along the rock wall but one must be careful not to make a fatal jump the grotto seems to be shaped by nature and partially carved by the falling waters it looks like a 15 feet high building as much wide that is transparent on three sides the imposing view of water precipitating for five storeys the sound the thunder of this powerful element sometimes frightens sometimes elicits pleasure and admiration the body is shaken and the spirit gets confused the whole grotto and its vault are wonderfully covered by moss and herbs of a beautiful green tone you stand there on the smooth stones you get wet and yet you remain the scene is too odd and extraordinary to leave immediately 3 our painting represents the inside of the grotto we can see the large dark and massive arch of the vault behind which the waterfall runs on some rocks towards the foreground two gentlemen are depicted on the smooth stones described by the anonymous traveller one is standing already contemplating the grandiose view whereas the other one is cautiously moving with the help of a local guide two other men are coming from the path on the right followed by a dog an additional dog is sniffing the plants in the foreground in my opinion this painting is by the swiss painter abraham-louisrodolphe ducros who arrived in rome in 1776 after a trip to sicily with a group of dutch grand-tourists he settled in the eternal city in 1778 even if in 1770s and in the early 1780s the roman market of views and landscapes was dominated by jakob philipp hackert 1737-1807 ducros could find his own place in 1780 he formed a partnership with the roman engraver giovanni volpato 1735-1803 successfully selling hand-colored engravings reproducing ancient monuments moreover he specialized in the technique of watercolors that hackert disregarded being famous for his brown ink drawings these large watercolors painted with bright shades represent well-known sites such as the tivoli and terni waterfalls or famous roman monuments which soon became ducros mark who thus secured his own niche in the roman art market when hackert left to naples in 1786 ducros further consolidated his position and worked with increasing success at last helped by two assistants franz kaisermann and filippo giuntotardi in 1793 ducros was compelled to leave rome for naples where he lived until 1805 4 and where he also painted seascapes in 1800/1801 he visited malta island back to rome in 1805 the artist remained there until 1807 then he moved moved back to switzerland where in 1809 he was appointed director of berne academy unfortunately he died before he could get this position while watercolors by ducros are present in several private and public collections he only made few oil paintings in fact he used this technique just in a short period of time during the first half of 1780s to 1785 dated two paintings apparently missing at the moment both described in the roman art journal memorie per le belle arti which additionally tells us that they were commissioned by a certain milord breadalbane still according to the journal reporter ducros had painted another oil with the view of syracuse and a wood in the foreground where cicero uncovers the tomb of archimedes probably commissioned by frederick augustus hervey 4th earl of bristol and bishop of derry 1730-1803 5 while these works are still missing a painting with a view of the temple of the sibyl at tivoli is rather well-known 6 the catalogue of kenwood exhibition of 1985 tells us about ducros oil paintings production between 1782 and 1785 ducros painted several `conversation pieces in oil this type of portrait fashionable since pompeo batoni painted his masterpieces was taken up by many but ducros did not persevere in this particular field being more at ease with the large water-colour landscapes which were to become his speciality after 1785 7 to these conversation pieces belong two additional oil on canvas even though they depict characters in a landscape context both works of art were commissioned by a very high-ranking patron the grand duke pavel petrovich romanov the future tsar paul i 1754-1801 who visited rome in february 1782 with his wife maria feodorovna born princess of württemberg 1759-1828 her brother prince friedrich of württemberg the future king friedrich i 1754-1816 and prince nicolai borisovich yusupov although the noble couple travelled incognito under the name counts of north their presence in rome awoke great interest and their movements their visits to monuments and to artists ateliers were commented for instance by the diario ordinario newspaper published by the chracas brothers on march 9 1782 they went on a trip to tivoli guided by the landscape painter jakob philipp hackert also this event was commented by the diario ordinario 8 despite the roman newspaper did not mentioned ducros presence he was certainly part of the group who followed the grand dukes indeed he was asked to document their fig 1 abraham-louis-rodolphe ducros the grand duke pavel petrovich and the grand duchess maria feodorovna visiting neptune s grotto at tivoli 1782 c oil on canvas pawlovsk palace museum fig 2 abraham-louis-rodolphe ducros the grand duke pavel petrovich and the grand duchess maria feodorovna visiting the roman forum 1782 c oil on canvas pawlovsk palace museum.

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visit to neptune s grotto in a painting now at pawlovsk see fig 1 9 in the f o re ground there are some masterly painted figures depicted with every detail of their clothes we can see a lady with an imperial bearing certainly t h e gr a n d duchess offering her hand to a lord in a deep-red fig 3 heinrich friedrich füger portrait of the prince yusupov 1781 cloak her oil on canvas saint petersburg the state hermitage museum husband he holds an umbrella over his wife s head perhaps because in the humid atmosphere of the grotto some drops might have fallen other characters of the imperial couple s entourage arrive from their right the painting shows the grotto from a more distant perspective than the one in our painting besides the large waterfall is represented on the left while tivoli buildings are depicted at the summit of the rock wall ducros also painted the pendant of this canvas representing the grand dukes during their visit to the roman forum see fig 210 here as well the characters are depicted with great care and the figure of the young grand duchess stands out clearly taller than her husband for what concerns our painting its excellent description of figures clearly marks a difference when compared to the multitude of representations of the grotto by famous and less famous painters two gentlemen escorted by two local guides have already reached the water at the centre of the painting while one is visible only from his back the face of the second one though partially covered by his hat can be recognized by his profile he is wearing white trousers and a red jacket the sleeves of which show the laces of his shirt ­ equally white from the right two other gentlemen are getting closer the one on the left wearing a turquoise coat a silvery waistcoat with a lace jabot and elegant white silk stockings has put his left hand in his trousers pocket with nonchalance moving broadly the other hand he shows the grotto pointing out by means of his saber as if it was a cane he is apparently explaining something to his companion this last one is keeping a folder under his arm listening with attention his right hand is raised and pointing with a finger as if he was only awaiting for the right moment to interrupt the speaker and add an important detail unlike the character at his side he is wearing some boots that are less elegant but more suitable to the humid environment his coat is in a less extravagant color and instead of the saber he is holding a cane we can gather that this man belongs to a lower social class his folder might suggest he is a scholar thoroughly competent in leading the visit to the grotto the artist s mastery in painting the figures of the gentlemen and of their guide is really striking the round cheek and slight double chin face of the man in turquoise is as much visible as the rather hollow cheek face of his companion it is fairly evident that they must relate to real people thus suggesting they must be portraits these analogies in depicting figures allow us to compare our painting to the canvas now at pawlovsk both paintings are the same sizes and same sizes are also the figures compared to the surrounding grotto likely similar is also the representation of the dark rock and the partition of the image space in shade and light the large leaf green plants visible on the lower side also appear on the left of the water in pawlovsk painting therefore i would like to formulate the hypothesis that ducros painted our canvas at the same time when he was also painting the view of neptune s grotto at tivoli now at pawlosk perhaps around 1782 the gentlemen represented in our painting might be members of the group who travelled with the russian gr a n d du k e s maybe one of them fig 4 a.l.r ducros a noble group of russian grand touwished to have a sou rists visiting the neptune s grotto at tivoli 1782 c detail venir of their staying in tivoli for himself commissioning ducros to paint a canvas in our painting ducros only shows the grotto with the waterfall in the background maybe because his client thus requested it to him the contrast between the clear water masterfully painted in its transparency and immateriality and the massive rocks of the grotto variously lighted from total dark to half-light to sunny areas discloses once and again the artist s mastery and makes this canvas a masterpiece it might be possible to give a name to the only face clearly visible among the gentlemen the one wearing a turquoise coat he could be identified with a member of the grand dukes entourage prince nicolai borisovich yusupov 1750-1831 a great art lover and owner of one of the most important collections of his period 11 there are two portraits of the prince by heinrich friedrich füger 1751-1818 see fig 312 and by johann baptist lampi the elder 1751-183013 which show the young russian nobleman s round face slight double chin and pointed nose comparable to the features of the gentleman in our painting see fig 4 whereas the man to his side depicted with the dignity of a professor and carrying a folder could be identified with one of the four scholars who followed the grand dukes during their trip that it is to say the poet friedrich maximilian klinger 17521831 lector of pavel petrovich ludwig heinrich nicolay 1737-1820 see fig 5 director of the science academy of st petersburg andrej samborskij 1732-1815 theologian franz hermann lafermière 1737-179614 swiss librarian of the imperial couple though characters identififig 5 portrait of ludwig heinrich nicolay cation can only be an attempt to interpreting the painting indeed this canvas excels both in figures representation and grotto rendering with the waterfall in the background this painting can be considered as one of ducros masterpieces and equals the quality and the importance of the canvas commissioned by the russian grand dukes now at pawlovsk general literature on ducros images of the grand tour louis ducros 1748-1810 kenwood the iveagh bequest 1985 ­louis ducros 1748-1810 paesaggi d italia all epoca di goethe exhibition catalogue edited by pierre chessex rome 1987 ­abraham-louis-rodolphe ducros un peintre suisse en italie exhibition catalogue edited by jörg zutter lausanne musée cantonal des beaux-arts 1998 dr claudia nordhoff

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notes 1 i saw the painting on may 18 2012 also pierre chessex saw it in 2006 and confirmed the attribution to ducros this attribution is present in a letter dated to february 2006 by dr thomas loertscher partner spiegel bei bern a gallery that acted for the previous owner 2 the course of the aniene was diverted after the flood of 1826 and the waterfalls famous in the 18th century are no longer visited as in the past however the neptune s grotto has remained unchanged about this subject see sante viola cronaca delle diverse vicende del fiume aniene in tivoli rome 1835 p 54-58 3 tagebuch einer reise nach italien im jahre 1794 mannheim 1802 p 134 die grotte liegt in der tiefe wo sich der fluß gleich nach dem großen wasserfall über die hohen felsen senkrecht herunter stürzet in diese tiefen zu kommen führt ein schmaler fußpfad längs den felsen hin und wer seine sinne nicht recht zusammen behaltet kann da leicht einen fatalen sprung machen diese grotte scheint von der natur geschaffen und theils durch das herunter strömende wasser ausgehöhlt zu seyn solche stellt ein 15 schuh hohes und eben so breites gebäude vor welches auf drey seiten durchsichtig ist der majestätische anblick des über 5 etagen hoch herunterstürzenden wassers das geräusche das getöse ja das donnern dieses gewaltigen elementes verursachet abwechselnd schrecken und bewunderung so wie vergnügen der ganze cörper wird erschüttert und der geist weis sich kaum zu finden die grotte ist ringsumher so wie auch das innere des gewölbes mit moos und kräuter von prächtiger grüner farbe bewachsen man steht da auf den glatten steinen wird naß und man bleibet dennoch stehen die scene ist zu fremd und zu auffallend als daß man solche so geschwinde wieder verlassen könnte see also reise ins unterirdische italien grotten und höhlen in der goethezeit exhibition catalogue hrsg fritz emslander frankfurt a m 2002 4 8 diario ordinario n 754 march 1782 p 9 hackert was given an enamelled gold box for his services moreover he was asked to paint several views of tivoli and of other sites visited by the grand dukes also johann wolfgang von goethe commented this event in his biography on the painter werke vol 46 winckelmann/philipp hackert weimar 1891 p 227 chapter grand duke and grand duchess 9 abraham-louis-rodolphe ducros the grand duke pavel petrovich and the grand duchess maria feodorovna visiting the neptune s grotto at tivoli pawlovsk palace museum oil on canvas 99 x 137 cm on this painting see kenwood exhibition catalogue 1985 entry 56 see also grand tour il fascino dell italia nel xviii secolo exhibition catalogue edited by andrew wilton and ilaria bignamini rome palazzo delle esposizioni 1997 entry 96 this painting was engraved by raffaello morghen 1758-1833 on the engraving see kenwood exhibition catalogue 1985 ill p 78 10 abraham-louis-rodolphe ducros the grand duke pavel petrovich and the grand duchess maria feodorovna visiting the roman forum pawlovsk palace museum oil on canvas 99 x 137 cm on this painting see grand tour il fascino dell italia nel xviii secolo exhibition catalogue edited by andrew wilton and ilaria bignamini rome palazzo delle esposizioni 1997 entry 95 as a consequence of the french revolution and terror a hostile atmosphere had developed in rome towards the french which in 1793 caused the lynching of the french embassy secretary nicolas jean hugon de basseville after this event many artists and foreigners also from other countries left the city memorie per le belle arti i 1785 p 55-56 11 on yusupov as an art collector see ljubov savinskaja la collection de peintures de nikolai borissovitch youssoupoff in hubert robert et saint-pétersbourg les commandes de la famille impériale et des princes russes entre 1773 et 1802 exhibition catalogue edited by hélène moulin valence musée des beaux-arts et d`histoire naturelle 1999 s 7287 savinskaja saw the painting in a picture and asserts that the character in the turquoise coat can be identified with prince yusupov e-mail dated to may 21 2012 i thank ljubov savinskaja for her kind help heinrich friedrich füger portrait of the prince yusupov st petersburg hermitage oil on canvas 112 x 87 cm this portrait was probably painted around 1781 13 12 5 6 abraham-louis-rodolphe ducros view of the temple of the sibyl at tivoli private collection oil on canvas 78 x 108 cm unsigned on this painting see d m perception of nature a selection of 18th and 19th century oil paintings and sketches gallery catalogue munich 2002 p 14 entry by claudia nordhoff 7 johann baptist lampi the elder portrait of the prince yusupov st petersburg hermitage oil on canvas cm 72x57 see catalogue of kenwood exhibition 1985 p 77 about this subject see anna ananieva erinnerung und imagination der landschaftspark von pawlowsk im europäischen gartendiskurs zwischen 1777 und 1828 in exhibition catalogue krieg und frieden ­ eine deutsche zarin in schloß pawlowsk munich haus der kunst 2001 p 16 14 francesca antonacci via margutta 54 00187 roma tel +39 06 45433036 +39 06 45433054 info@francescaantonacci.com damiano lapiccirella borgo ognissanti 54/56r firenze tel fax +39 055 284902 damiano@lapiccirella.eu

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