A marble and porphyry group of the dwarf Morgante
Lot 30
An Italian 19th century Jaune de Sienne marble group of the naked dwarf Morgante riding a turtle after the 'fontanella del Nano Morgante'
£40,000 - 60,000
US$ 66,000 - 99,000
Lot Details
An Italian 19th century Jaune de Sienne marble group of the naked dwarf Morgante riding a turtle
after the 'fontanella del Nano Morgante'
on a square Belgian black marble base inset into a green porphyry base on gilt-bronze scrolling feet, 34cm wide, 34cm deep, 34cm high (13" wide, 13" deep, 13" high).

Footnotes

  • This group representing the dwarf Morgante is after a fountain commissioned by Cosimo I de' Medici (1519-74), the first of the Grand-Dukes of Tuscany, for his gardens behind the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Valerio Cigoli (1529-1599), a pupil of Niccolo Tribolo, was restoring the Medici's collection of ancient Roman statuary when he was commissioned to create a white marble statue between 1561 and 1564. In 1579, the 116cm high statue was made a part of the fountain. The sculpture depicts Braccio di Bartolo, the court dwarf at this time. Ironically named after the giant Morgante Maggiore from the 15th-century epic poem by Luigi Pulci, the dwarf is recorded to have arrived at the court of Cosimo I de' Medici around 1540. This was a relatively common profession in all of the major courts in Europe at the time, sometimes coinciding with the role as the court jester. As small people were considered to be 'lucky charms' and sometimes healers, they were highly desirable in the courts. Morgante is depicted riding the tortoise with his right hand in a similar position to that of Marcus Aurelius equestrian statue in Rome. It is interesting to note that one of Cosimo's personal symbols is a turtle with a sail, chosen to illustrate his motto: Festina lente (more haste, less speed).
    As the Duke's favourite jester, Morgante was portrayed in several artworks. The sculptor Giambologna (1529-1608) mounted him on a dragon.
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