Circle of Giovanni Battista Pozzi (Italian circa 1670-1752) A collection of forty four mid 18th century ivory reliefs of Roman Emperors
Lot 210Y
Attributed to Workshop of Giovanni Battista Pozzo (Pozzi), Italian (circa 1670-1752) A rare collection of forty four mid 18th century ivory intaglios of Roman Emperors
Sold for £25,000 (US$ 42,020) inc. premium
Lot Details
Attributed to Workshop of Giovanni Battista Pozzo (Pozzi), Italian (circa 1670-1752)
A rare collection of forty four mid 18th century ivory intaglios of Roman Emperors
mounted in the original 18th century mahogany and crossbanded display case in five drawers, the interiors with green velvet lining, each intaglio inscribed in relief with the Emperor's name, originally a set of 52, 8 now lacking, the intaglios 4.75cm high, the box 19.5cm wide x 11cm high x 21cm deep


  • Pozzo specialised in producing intaglios and reliefs of classical theme for Grand Tourists visiting Rome and Naples. He signed his work Gio. Pozzo, but is often known as Pozzi. Both his sons assisted with his business, Roque Pozzo was an engraver who was known to have produced compositions for both his father and brother to work from, and Andrea Pozzo went on to have his own highly successful workshop, at the Buen Retiro Palace in Madrid, under King Carlos III.

    That these miniatures were held in very high esteem by the rich noblemen and antiquarians that purchased them, is demonstrated by the exquisite Walpole Cabinet in the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 1743 Horace Walpole commissioned William Kent to produce a cabinet to house a collection of miniature ivories of classical theme that he had purchased from Pozzo whilst on the Grand Tour. The cabinet was conceived as a 'Classical Temple of Worthies', and was surmounted by ivory figures of Palladio, Inigo Jones and Duquesnoy by the sculptor James Francis Verskovis. The pediment was decorated with eagles and the arms of Horace Walpole, also by Verskovis. Walpole was evidently very proud of his cabinet which, like the German Wunderkammers, demonstrated his wealth, worldliness and good taste. The cabinet was originally displayed in Walpole's house in Arlington Street, London. During the 1760s he moved it to the his country residence, Strawberry Hill in Twickenham, where it formed the centrepiece of the Tribune, a room in which some of the most precious small objects in his collection were displayed.

    A further set of Pozzo's ivory intaglios was purchased by Henry Howard, 4th Earl of Carlisle and remains at Castle Howard to this day. The earl travelled on the Grand Tour in 1714-15 and again in 1738-39, and became renowned for his collection of antique sculpture which he installed at Castle Howard. The Museo Oliveriano in Pesaro also has numerous examples of Pozzo's work.

    The present collection of forty four ivories has been attributed to Pozzo on the basis of their similarity to the known works in these collections. The extremely finely carved features of the faces that detail the individual characteristics of each of the Emperors, the unusual under-cutting at the neck, which undulates from front to back, and the incised text with the name of each sitter in Latin, is typical of Pozzo's work. A collection of this size and quality is exceptionally rare. A set of five ivory reliefs of classical theme attributed to Giovanni Battista Pozzi (Pozzo) were sold Sotheby's, London, July 8 2011, lot 110, £15,000.

    Related Literature:
    A. Pirzio Biroli Stefanelli, Studio Oliveriana, Volume XIII, 1993. (referred to as Giovanni Battista Pozzi).
    Tardy, Les Ivoires Paris, page 270 (referred to as Giovanni Battista Pozzo).
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  1. Rachael Osborn-Howard
    Specialist - European Sculpture and Works of Art
    101 New Bond Street
    London, W1S 1SR
    United Kingdom
    Work +44 208 963 2815
    FaxFax: +44 20 8963 2803