A very fine early 19th century Neoclassical white marble sculpture of "Venere", on a grey porphyry pedestal attributed to Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844) or his circle
Lot 162
A very fine early 19th century Neoclassical white marble sculpture of "Venere", on a grey porphyry pedestal
attributed to Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844) or his circle
Sold for £74,500 (US$ 125,221) inc. premium
Lot Details
A very fine early 19th century Neoclassical white marble sculpture of "Venere", on a grey porphyry pedestal
attributed to Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844) or his circle
the standing Venus by a tree stump, holding an apple in her right hand and drapery in her left, on a circular integral base; raised on a circular grey porphyry pedestal numbered to the top in red paint 10180/ T, on a waisted white marble base and square plinth, the Venus: 35cm in diameter, 123cm high (14in in diameter, 48in high), overall: 232cm high (91.5in high). (2)

Footnotes

  • In the winter of 1803-04 the Russian countess Irina Vorontsova commissioned Thorvaldsen (already famous for his 'Giasone') a series of sculptures. The orders included Bacco, Apollo, Ganimede, a group of Amore and Psyche and Venere. The Venere was never delivered in time as was only made in marble between 1805 and 1809. It was subsequentlty sold in 1811 to Prince Malthe von Putbus who bought the sculpture for his castle on Rügen island. This first Venere was on a smaller scale than a life-size statue (probably 110/ 120cm tall). Theodor von Ropp commissioned another Venere in Marble that was finished in 1817 and sent it to his estate in Pokroy, Lithuania.
    This time Thorvalsdsen made a life-size sculpture (160cm) which was finished in 1816. This model in marble was reproduced by accomplished students of Thorvaldsen in different sizes over the course of the next few years.
    The first reproduction of the 'Venere' made in 1813-1816 was commissioned by Richard Bingham and sold by Christie's in 1932 to the American newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst who kept it in his castle in San Simeon, California. Another marble version was commissioned by William Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire, and is now in Chatsworth House. Another 'Venere' was commissioned by Peter Caesar Labouchère and inherited by his son Henry, Lord Taunton. In 1920 the latter was bought at Sotheby's by the Thorvaldsen Museum. Johann Scholl, a pupil of Thorvaldsen made a new 'Venere' in 1846 for the same museum. Other fine examples in marble made by Thorvaldsen or his circle are now in the Museums of Fine Art in Houston and at the Neue Pinakothek in Munich. A model in chalk with all the measurements can be found at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome. A white marble 'Venere' by Bertel Thorvaldsen (in the same size as our model) is in the permanent collections of the Louvre in Paris.
    The author Julius Lange comments in an article that the Thovaldsen's Venere, as with many other statues made between 1803 and 1819, appears to be a critical commentary on the works of Canova, in this case the 'Venere Italica' (1804-12, Florence, Galleria Palatina). This 'Venere' is also inspired by the greek-roman sculptures, especially the 'Venere Cnidia' by Prassitele, now in the Museo Vaticano. Julius Lange adds that the Thorvaldsen 'Venere' belongs to his less antique figures as he remarks that all antique sculptures show self-assurance whereas this one doesn't. He notes "...she grabs the golden apple that Paride gave her and for a moment she reminds us of Eva, but not a tempting one. This is a Venere concentrating on the apple that will start the war in Troy".

    Literature:
    Bertel Thorvaldsen, 1770-1844: Scultore danese a Roma, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome, 1989-1990.
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