Following the success of their debut show in New York last year, UK dealer Tomasso Brothers is returning to stage a second Scultura exhibition at the Williams Moretti Irving Gallery, 24 East 80th Street, New York , from Thursday 15 to Saturday 24 October 2009. The exhibition, which is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, presents European sculpture from the 14th to the early 19th centuries. The 2008 exhibition met with critical acclaim and sales were made to several international collectors and institutions including the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
Hubert Gerhard (c. 1550-1620), River God, Bronze. Height: 18¾ ins (48 cm) Tomasso Brothers
Prometheus bringing fire to Mankind, a superb 16th century small gilt bronze by Giambologna (1529-1608), depicts the Greek demi-god – the wisest of the Titans – holding a flaming torch towards earth, symbolising his gift of fire to man. This jewel-like bronze, which was once in the collection of the Comtesse de Chabannes at Château de La Brède near Bordeaux, had already been recognised by Tomasso Brothers as an early autograph work by Giambologna and subsequent research has enabled it to be fully accepted by world leading authorities in the field.
Giambologna was the greatest Mannerist sculptor of the latter half of the 16th century and although he spent most of his career in Florence, his work was admired throughout Europe. In addition to being the court sculptor to three successive Medici grand dukes, his patrons included several popes, the Holy Roman Emperors Maximilian II and Rudolf II as well as kings Henry IV of France and Philip II of Spain. This re-discovered masterpiece will be one of the highlights of the exhibition and will be offered for a price in the region of £1 million.
Another work with a significant provenance is a French 17th century white marble bust of a young faun wearing a pine wreath and a goatskin. It was formerly in the Feray Collection in the Hôtel Tannevot, Paris. It is atypical of French taste during the reign of Louis XIV when the gout Italien was all the rage. This engaging bust, with its air of mischief, is one of several pieces of French sculpture from this period included in the exhibition.
A rare equestrian bronze portrait of ‘The Sun King’, Louis XIV of France , attributed to Etienne Le Hongre (1628-1690), almost certainly belonged to the most famous art dealer of all time, Lord Duveen of Millbank (1869-1939), and was later in the collection of his daughter, the Hon. Mrs. Dorothy Rose Burns (1903-1985). This handsome desk bronze, with its translucent golden-red patina, is another highlight of the exhibition. Louis XIV was depicted on horseback by many eminent sculptors of the period, but this Tomasso example appears to be unrecorded, and possibly unique.
Along with the Giambologna Prometheus, another exciting Tomasso exhibit is a bronze figure of a River God by Hubert Gerhard (c.1550-1620) which represents a tour de force of 16th century Mannerist ideals based on ancient ideas. This early work by Gerhard has been enthusiastically received by art historians and is the most important example of his oeuvre to come to light in recent years. It was in a prestigious private French collection throughout the 20th century where it was much admired. Tomasso Brothers recognised it as an important lost bronze by this great Dutch Mannerist sculptor, an attribution that has since been fully endorsed by the great scholar and world authority on the artist, Dr Dorothea Diemer.
A charming and intimate pair of terracotta figures, circa 1705, by the versatile Flemish sculptor Jan Claudius de Cock (1668-1735) represents Air and Fire depicted as two putti. The chubby figures and playful stances are typical of de Cock’s style and in keeping with this type of figure which was popular in the Netherlands , Flanders and Germany during the late 17th and 18th centuries. Their inclusion in this New York exhibition, along with several other small-scale sculptures from various periods and media, offers collectors and curators the opportunity to enhance both private collections and those held by international institutions.
A majestic pair of Italian marble stylized recumbent lions, known as Stylobate lions, will be the earliest pieces of sculpture on offer in the show and a similar pair is in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Originating from the Romanesque period, this style of column support was used throughout Europe, especially in Italy. The Tomasso lions are made of white Carrara marble and date from the late 14th century. It is interesting to note that almost all of America ’s foremost collectors from the early to mid 20th century included examples of this type of sculpture in their collections – indeed it seemed that no collection was complete without it.
The three Tomasso brothers, Dino, Giovanni and Raffaello, established their company in 1993 and are based at Bardon Hall, Leeds, in the UK. Their dynamic partnership was forged through their passionate love of art and their education in fine art from an early age. Whilst they have an interest in several fields, including antiquities, Old Master paintings and fine furniture, Tomasso Brothers is recognised internationally for specialising in important European sculpture from the Early Renaissance to the Neo-Classical periods with a particular emphasis on European Renaissance bronzes. Tomasso Brothers has promoted and supported, through loans and exhibitions, major international institutions such as The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, the Centro Internazionale, Carrara, The National Gallery, Prague, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. In addition the company has advised a number of American private collectors of European sculpture and made significant sales to some of America ’s most prestigious museums.