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17 décembre 2016

Jupiter and Juno, Southern German, probably Augsburg, 17th century


Lot 249. Jupiter and Juno, Southern German, probably Augsburg, 17th century. Estimate 30,000 — 50,000 GBP. Photo: Sotheby's.

gilt bronze, with painted wood and gilt metal bases - figures: 62cm., 24 3/4 in. and 57.8cm., 22 3/4 in.

Property of a German noble family

ProvenanceEpiscopal Palace, Bishop's Residence (Fürstbischöfliche Residenz), Augsburg;
by descent to the present owner

ExhibitedBerlin, Bode Museum, Von Allen Seiten Schön: Bronzen der Renaissance und des Barock, 1995

LiteratureV. Krahn, Von Allen Seiten Schön: Bronzen der Renaissance und des Barock, exh. cat., Staatliche Museen, Berlin 1995, cat. nos. 208 and 209, pp. 550-551

NotesAs Krahn explains in the catalogue for his 1995 bronze exhibition in Berlin (op.cit.), there are no other casts or known models for the present large and exceptional pair of gilt bronzes. Clearly inspired by the antique, Jupiter’s pose is reminiscent of a statue of Jupiter which was in the Giustiniani Collection in Rome in the 17th century and is known through prints by Claude Mellan (1598-1688) and others. Two volumes of engravings of the antique statues in the collection were compiled, under the direction of Joachim von Sandrart, in 1631. Juno’s elaborate drapery is reminiscent of the carving on several of the marble statues of goddesses in the Giustiniani Collection as well as the so-called Urania in the Capitoline Museums. It is likely that the sculptor of these bronzes was familiar with this statue at least through prints.

The subjects of Jupiter and Juno were popular in baroque sculpture, Alessandro Algardi, active in Rome, modeled a set of four firedogs representing the elements in the guise of mythological figures; two of the designs were figures of Jupiter and Juno as fire and air. The models were created just before Algardi’s death in 1654 and were executed on a reduced scale for the French court, both in silver and in bronze.

However, the stationary conception and anatomical details of this figure of Jupiter are distinct from the more fluid conceptions of French artists. The terrain style bases are unusual, while the sharpness of details, in particular the drapery, is reminiscent of goldsmith's work. Their lack of affinity to both French and Italian bronzes of the period indicate that these figures may be rare surviving examples of bronzes produced in the second half of the 17th century in Augsburg, the centre of baroque goldsmithing in Germany.

The relative size and demeanor of this pair indicate that they may have been made to surmount firedogs like the figures of Vulcan and Cyclops on the silver firedogs made for the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, by the Augsburg silversmith Abraham II Drentwett in 1685 (Zarensilberop. cit. nos. 54 and 55) and another pair by Joahannes Kilian and Lukas Lang made about 1680, now in the Kremlin Armory (Seelig, op. cit., pls. 22 and 25). In addition, a corresponding pair of large, silver, classically draped, figures serve as finials and support the central coat of arms on the silver throne of Queen Christina of Sweden, made in 1650 also by Drentwett (Seelig, op. cit., fig. 12).

RELATED LITERATURE : L. Seelig, Silver and Gold: Courtly Splendour from Augsburg, Munich and New York, 1995; ZarensilberAugsburger Silber aus dem Kreml, exh. cat. Moscow, Kremlin Museums and the Maximilian Museum, Augsburg, Munich, 2008

Sotheby's. Of Royal and Noble Descent, London, 19 Jan 2017, 10:00 AM