C904: Kneeling woman drying herself
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© The Holburne Museum of Art, Bath
|Title||Kneeling woman drying herself|
|Object type||In category: Sculpture » Statuettes|
Attributed to Susini, Antonio (Italian sculptor and bronze caster, active 1572-1624) - Sculptor(s)
After Giambologna (Flemish sculptor and architect, 1529-1608, active in Italy) - Designer(s)
|Place of origin||Europe » Southern Europe » Italy » Central Italy » Tuscany » Florence|
24.9 cm height whole
|Materials & techniques||
|Description||Figure of a kneeling woman. She is naked and rests on her right knee on a draped oval base. Her torso is slightly twisted and her left arm is raised behind her head. She dries herself with a length of fabric which she clutches to her breast and wraps around her head.|
|Marks and inscriptions||
This superb cast is firmly attributed to Antonio Susini, Giambologna's principal assistant from around the mid-1570s. It is after a model by Giambologna that was itself derived from two ancient sculptures known as the Crouching Venus and the Callipygian Venus. Many different, and slightly varying, versions of a Crouching Venus, all thought to be copies of a Greek statue made in the third century BC, were discovered from the 16th century onwards. At one period the statue was thought to represent Venus just after her birth from a seashell (Venus Anadyomene), but it has also been described as the bathing or washing Venus. The Callipygian Venus depicts the partially draped godess standing and holding a towel after having come out of a bath. She raises the towel over her left shoulder. Now in the Museo Nazionale, Naples, the Callipygian Venus was formerly in the Farnese Collection, Rome.
When C904 was x-rayed in 1978 it was found to have been made in precisely the same technique as a version of the model personally signed by Giambologna in the Bargello, Florence. Unlike Giambologna, Susini was a specialist metal worker and it is generally felt that the finish on the Holburne version is finer than that in the Bargello. It is technically superb and almost flawless.
The sculpture is prominently engraved with 'No. 35' under her left shoulder blade. This is a French royal inventory mark that corresponds with the 1664 Inventaire Général des Meubles de la Couronne. The piece was acquired by Louis XIV in 1663 from heirs of Louis Cachon (c.1597-1662). Cahon, who took the name Hesselin on inheriting the fortune of a great-uncle of that name in 1620, was an important patron of the arts and a major collector of cabinet paintings, porcelain and small bronzes. His bronzes were predominantly casts after Giambologna and the antique that were probably acquired during visits to Venice and Rome in 1633 and 1637. This sculpture, however, it is perhaps identifiable with the 'Kneeling Woman' described as being by Antonio Susini, recorded in Cardinal Richelieu's collection in 1642. The sculpture appears in subsequent French Royal Inventories but left the collection at some point between 1775 and 1788. It subsequent history remains unclear until it is recorded in Holburne Collection in 1887. It is possible that it was the 'fine bronze of the Crouching Venus' sold from the Northwick Collection in 1859 (L115).
The sculpture was repatinated, probably in France, in the mid-nineteenth century.
Philippa Bishop, Holburne Museum of Art, Bath: Souvenir Guidebook, Bath 1999, pp.36-7
S. Castelluccio (ed.) Les Bronzes de la Couronne, exh. cat., Paris, 1999, p.81
Robert Wenley, ‘French Royal Bronzes in Great Britain’, Apollo, CL, pp. 6-8
Beatrice Paolozzi Strozzi, Giambologna, gli dei gli eroi, Florence, 2006, p.136
|Muse theme||The Art of Collecting
The History of the Holburne Collection » Sir William Holburne and his Collection » Establishing taste: Sir William' s Grand Tour, 1824-5
The History of the Holburne Collection » Sir William Holburne and his Collection » Building the Collection
The History of the Holburne Collection » The Collection » Sculpture
|Method of acquisition||Bequest|
|Provenance||Louis Cachon (c.1597-1662); from whose heirs acquired by King Louis XIV of France; thence by descent to Louis XVI; left the French Royal Collection between 1775-1788; ?collection of John Rushout, Baron Northwick (1770-1859), sold Phillips, 16 August 1850, lot 1266 (£36 15s); Sir Thomas William Holburne; by whom bequeathed to Mary-Anne Barbara Holburne (1802-1882); by whom bequeathed to the Museum|
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