MARINO MARINI (1901-1980) Studio per Miracolo 43 1/3 in (110 cm) (length) (Conceived and cast in 1953-54)

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Lot 15
Studio per Miracolo 43 1/3 in (110 cm) (length)

Sold for US$ 620,075 inc. premium

Impressionist & Modern Art

14 May 2019, 17:00 EDT

New York

MARINO MARINI (1901-1980)
Studio per Miracolo
stamped with the artist's initials (on verso of the left hind leg)
43 1/3 in (110 cm) (length)
Conceived and cast in 1953-54


  • The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the Fondazione Marino Marini, Pistoia. The work is recorded in their archive under no. 257 and is accompanied by a certificate issued by the foundation.

    Walter Fontana, Milan (acquired from the artist in the 1970s).
    Thence by descent.

    Casalbeltrame, Galleria Studio Copernico, Divino – dall'antichità ad oggi, 2011, pp. 139-142.
    Korea, MOA Museum, Italian Modern & Contemporary Sculpture, 2016, pp. 44-45, p.14.
    Casalbeltrame, Galleria Studio Copernico, Duecento Sculture esposte a Materima, September 20 – December 20, 2017 (illustrated in the catalogue p. 59).

    SH. Ledrer & E. Trier, The Sculpture of Marino Marini, Milan, 1961 (illustration of another cast p. 124).
    J. Setlík, Marini, Prague, 1966 (illustration of another cast p. 55).
    A. M. Hammacher, Marino Marini: sculpture, painting, drawing, New York, 1970, no. 205 (illustration of another cast p. 205).
    P. Waldberg, H. Read, G. Di San Lazzaro, The Complete Works of Marino Marini, New York, 1970, no. 314 (illustration of another cast p. 247).
    C. Pirovano (ed.), Marino Marini scultore, Milan, 1972, no. 320 (illustrations of other casts pp. 124-126).
    G. Di San Lazzaro, Omaggio a Marino Marini, Milan, 1974 (illustration of another cast p. 68).
    C. Pirovano, Marino Marini, Catalogo del Museo di San Pancrazio di Firenze, Milan, 1988, no. 152 (illustration of another cast p. 163).
    M. Meneguzzo, Marino Marini: Cavalli e cavalieri, Milan, 1997, no. 79 (illustration of another cast pp. 148-151).
    Fondazione Marino Marini (ed.), Marino Marini, Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculptures, Milan, 1998, no. 388 (illustration of another cast p. 271).

    Conceived and cast in 1953-54, Studio per Miracolo is an exceptionally rare example of Marini's most celebrated theme, that of the horse and rider. In choosing this subject, Marini drew upon an enduring tradition of equestrian painting and sculpture that held a prominent place in the discourse of Western art. From small-scale votive renderings of early civilizations, to the grand and triumphant statues of modern-day rulers and military leaders, the motif of horse and rider is omnipresent. While firmly grounding his art in this tradition, in contrast to the often bombastic and politically motivated sculptures created by his predecessors, Marini's horses and riders acquire a more spiritual, and often mystical character to become a timeless symbol of humanity. Throughout his career, Marini's equestrian sculptures grew increasingly stylized and abstract, and Studio per Miracolo is a powerful reflection of the artist's dramatic view of the world.

    In the years leading up to and during the Second World War, Marini endowed his horses with a sense of grandeur and grace that drew upon the influence of classical sculpture. However, after returning to Milan from Switzerland where he spent the second half of the war, Marini shifted gears and imbibed his infamous motif with an intensity and dynamism that more accurately reflected the post-war mood of anguish and instability. Beginning in 1951, Marini embarked on a series entitled Mircacles, a highly stylized version of the horse and rider theme that deviated significantly from his earliest examples on the theme. Studio per Miracolo is a quintessential example of the artist's transition toward a more expressive post-war style. No longer satisfied with the renderings of heroic figures on horseback, Marini, like many post-war artists such as Giacometti and Picasso, invested his work with an emotional intensity that had not been present in his earlier sculpture. Marini explained this transition: "My equestrian figures are symbols of the anguish that I feel when I survey contemporary events. Little by little, my horses become more restless, their riders less and less able to control them. Man and beast are both overcome by a catastrophe much like those that struck Sodom and Pompeii" (Marini quoted in S. Hunter, Marino Marini, The Sculpture, New York, 1993, p. 60).

    The horse and rider is Marino Marini's most important and enduring artistic theme, and Studio per Miracolo is a particularly dynamic example of this celebrated exploration. The present lot is remarkable for its dramatic depiction of a precise and critical moment in a time in which the horse has fallen and its rider is thrown backward. The sculpture exemplifies the fragility of human life in its literal depiction of a man on the threshold of impending death. The fragility of human life became a dominant artistic theme in this post-war period of uncertainty. As Marini explained, "I am no longer seeking, in my own equestrian figures, to celebrate the triumph of any victorious hero. On the contrary, I seek to commemorate in them something tragic – in fact, a kind of 'Twilight of Man,' a defeat rather than a victory. If you look back on all my equestrian figures of the past twelve years [between 1946 – 1958] you will notice that the rider is each time less in control of his mount, and that the latter is each time more wild in its terror, but frozen stiff, rather than reared or running away. All this is because I feel that we are on the eve of the end of a whole world" (Marini quoted in 'Interview with Edouard Roditi' in Dialogues—conversations with European Artists at Mid-century, London, 1958, p. 87). The present work is characterized by an exceptional intensity of expression, and this is complemented by its highly worked surface, a testament to the artist's detailed approach to sculptural finish.

    The Italian art historian Carlo Pirovano described the Miracolo series as "The motif of the rearing horse with the rider thrown back, so that he ends up by clinging to the saddle, with the transformation of the symbolic roles assigned to the two protagonists. In the final stage of this emblematic and stylistic event, the two forms - they are either antithetical or complementary - are clearly identified, at least as far as the alternate dynamism of the impulses, is concerned but their outward appearances tend to correspond and merge so that they resemble indistinguishable larviform phantasms, corroded and deformed by a mysterious blow or by events that are too obscure for us to grasp. This is a testimony to turmoil rather than the record of a story" (C. Pirovano, Marino Marini, Mitografia (exhibition catalogue), Galleria dello Scudo, Verona, 1994-95, p. 106).

    Studio per Miracolo is distinguished by its important early provenance. The present work was owned by Walter Fontana (1919-1992), an Italian Senator and esteemed art collector who acquired the piece directly from Marini in the 1970s. Fontana was friends with Marini and other Italian artists including Andrea Cascella, Pietro Consagra, Giacomo Manzù, Luciano Minguzzi, and Arnaldo Pomodoro among others. It is through these close personal relationships that Fontana became an important patron of the arts and amassed a collection of over three hundred important works of art, including the present work. The lion's share of Fontana's collection remains in his namesake foundation Collezione Walter Fontana located outside Milan.

    The present work was conceived and cast during the artist's lifetime in an edition of four bronzes. Other casts from the Studio per Miracolo edition reside in the permanent collections of the Marino Marini Museum in Florence, and the Kunstmuseum Winterthur in Switzerland.
MARINO MARINI (1901-1980) Studio per Miracolo 43 1/3 in (110 cm) (length) (Conceived and cast in 1953-54)
MARINO MARINI (1901-1980) Studio per Miracolo 43 1/3 in (110 cm) (length) (Conceived and cast in 1953-54)
MARINO MARINI (1901-1980) Studio per Miracolo 43 1/3 in (110 cm) (length) (Conceived and cast in 1953-54)
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