An Irish George III white statuary marble and scagliola chimney-piece in the manner of Pietro Bossi
Lot 83
A George III Irish white statuary marble and scagliola chimney-piece in the manner of Pietro Bossi
Sold for £72,000 (US$ 117,544) inc. premium

Lot Details
A George III Irish white statuary marble and scagliola chimney-piece
in the manner of Pietro Bossi
The inverted breakfront moulded shelf above a frieze decorated with riband tied ivy leaves flanked by classical urns above projecting jambs, decorated with trailing entwined ivy leaves and stylised wheatsheaves and thyrsus, on plinth bases, 174cm wide, 14cm deep, 142cm high (68.5" wide, 5.5" deep, 55.5" high), the interior aperture 114cm wide, 120" high, (44.5" wide, 47" high).

Footnotes

  • Provenance: Removed from a house in Montpellier Hill, Dublin, since demolished.

    Scagliola is the decorative technique which simulates coloured marble inlay, (pietra dura) and was first developed by the Romans, it was revived in the 16th century by Guido del Conte, a master mason from Carpi. The technique thrived in the area and was at its height in the 18th century Tuscan monasteries due to the work of Friar Don Enrico Hugford, Don Pietro Belloni, Don Torello Mannini and Lamberto Christiano Gori. It is known that Joseph Leeson, of Russborough and Ralph Howard of Shelton Abbey ordered scagliola table slabs whilst on their Grand Tour in the 1750's from Don Belloni, illustrating the early developed taste for scagliola in Ireland.

    Although not much is known about Pietro Bossi, his name is used to describe a style of coloured paste inlay onto a marble ground, known as 'Bossi-work or 'Bossi inlay', particularly found on Irish chimney-pieces and Irish marble slab tops in the neo-classical manner. No recorded examples by Bossi are known, but it has recently been documented that he had worked at Aldborough House, Dublin. Conor O'Neill, in his article, In Search of Bossi, for Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies, The Journal of The Irish Georgian Society, Volume I discusses the problem of attribution and has linked many of the known Bossi type chimney-pieces into comparable groups.

    Pietro Bossi came to live and work in Ireland, probably through England and it is now thought that was he born possibly in Dresden, Germany where a family of stuccadores are listed including a Pietro Luigi Bossi. He may have been the same Bossi working for John Augustus Richter in Dresden in 1765, who later moved to London working under Bartoli and Richter. Bartoli and Richter are known to have supplied Lord Belmore at Castlecoole, Co Fermanagh in the early 1790's.

    Bossi arrived in Ireland prior to 1785 when he can be seen registered in Wilson's Dublin Directory from 1785-1798 as an 'Inlayer in Marble and Stucco-worker', with an address at no. 22 Fleet St Dublin, which later changed to 38 Fleet Street in the 1790 edition of the Directory.

    Donald Cameron in his article, Scagliola Inlay Work, for Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies, The Journal of the Irish Georgian Society, Vol.VII, p.141-155, mentions a recently found advertisement in Saunders Newsletters dated 1786 describing the type of work Bossi employed:

    Peter Bossi, Inlayer of Marble, lately removed to No.38 Fleet-street, has now for sale an elegant pair of statuary marble tables, also chimney pieces, the whole inlaid scagliola, on an entire new design. He engraves the above pieces to be as good workmanship as any done in London. Apply as above.

    O'Neill draws reference to a prominent group of Bossi chimney-pieces, those that incorporate highly realistic vine leaves, which can be seen in the above lot. The riband tied vine leaves can be seen in a chimney-piece from Upper Mount Street, Dublin, (plate.5), Russborough House, Co Wicklow, (plate.7) and Avondale House, Co Wicklow, (plate.8) and another example is in the Director's office of the V & A in London, originally from a house in Dublin. The closest example can be seen in the chimney-piece from Mount Ievers, Co.Clare, which also shows very similar decoration on the jambs, (plate.12).

    See also Christies New York, 15 April 2005, lot 65 for a chimney-piece attributed to Bossi, circa 1790, possibly from Duffryn House, Glamorgan, Wales. Also Sotheby's London, Chesney's Chimneypieces and Fire Furniture, 14 September 2010, lots 64 and 94.

    An almost identical scagliola inlaid marble chimneypiece in the manner Bossi, circa 1780 was recently sold by the Northern Ireland dealers, Ryan and Smith Ltd.
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