Saturday 22 September 2018

Francesco Fanelli - Part 4

Francesco Fanelli -

Part 4.
The Bronze Reliefs.

Bought under the Murray bequest for £185, in 1959. The reliefs were formerly in the collection of Dr Richard Mead (Mead cabinet).

Literature -  
Webster, Mary, "Taste of an Augustan Collector. The Collection of Dr Richard Mead I", in: Country Life, Jan. 29, 1970, pp. 249-251.

Orpheus Playing to the Animals.

The reliefs were formerly in the collection of physician and collector, Dr Richard Mead (1673-1754). A variation on the Orpheus relief, together with eight of the animal plaquettes based on the same models, also appear on John Evelyn's cabinet (W.24-1977)


Orpheus Playing to the Animals.
Francesco Fanelli.
Bronze Relief.
Height: 22.2 cm, Width: 12.4 cm

This relief was possibly in the collection of Charles Jenners, Ormond St (cf. Dodsley 1761).


Radcliffe, A and Thornton, Peter. 'John Evelyn's Cabinet', Connoisseur, CXCVII, April 1978.
Dodsley, J and R. London and its environs described, London, 1761, p. 96.
Pope-Hennessy, John. 'Some Bronze Statuettes by Francesco Fanelli', in The Burlington Magazine, XCV, May 1953 reprinted in Essays on Italian Sculpture, London, 1968, p. 166-171.

Victoria and Albert Museum

John Evelyn Ebony Cabinet 
with bronze reliefs attributed to Francisco Fanelli
Victoria and Albert Museum

The cabinet was made in Florence. It is veneered in ebony and incorporates 19 pietra dura, or hardstone, plaques supplied by Domenico Benotti. The gilt-bronze mounts and plaques were added in England, in the workshop of Francesco Fanelli, though it is not known for certain when this took place. The gilt-bronze strawberry-leaf crest was probably made and added in about 1830-1840.

Subjects Depicted
The subjects include 'Orpheus Playing to the Beasts' and the figures of Juno, Hercules and Jupiter.

The cabinet was owned by John Evelyn, who travelled extensively through France and Italy during the English Civil War of 1643-1645. When in Florence, he ordered the pietra dura plaques directly from Domenico Benotti, who was then considered to be one of the 'Celebrated masters'. On arriving in England, the cabinet was most likely housed in Dover Street, London. Soon after Evelyn's death in 1706 it was moved to his country residence, Wotton House in Wotton, Surrey. In 1813, John Evelyn's diaries were discovered in a 'ebony cabinet', quite possibly this one, in Wotton House.


Daniel in the Lions Den 
Attributed to Fanelli
Bronze 18.5 x 25.5 cms
Private Collection
Formerly with Tomasso Brother


Holy Family and Two Saints.

Francesco Fanelli (workshop of ?).
Bronze Relief
17.8 x 13.7 cms

Sotheby's Lot 370, 10 December 2015.

The association of the present composition with Francesco Fanelli was first made by Charles Avery in his 1975 discussion of the prototype at the Royal Ontario Museum (op. cit.). The attribution to Fanelli's workshop has largely been accepted, and it has been argued that the presence of Saint George in the present version of the relief suggests an origin in the Genoese period of the artist's workshop (see Rossi, op. cit.).

Related Literature.

C. Avery and K. C. Keeble, Florentine Baroque Bronzes and Other Objects of Art, exh. cat. Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, 1975, pp. 34-35; F. Rossi, La Collezione Mario Scaglia. Placchette, Bergamo, 2011, vol. I, pp. 463-464, no. XIII.9

Info and photograph courtesey Sotheby's.


Holy Family and Two Saints.

attributed workshop of Fanelli.
178 x 137 mm

Another example in gilt-bronze was sold in these rooms, 18 April 2002, lot 574. This also showed a similar reverse with multiple sprues. The saint on the right has been identified as St. George, the patron saint of Genoa and this would lend credence to an origin in that city.

Morton and Eden.  Lot 13 - 13 - 14th June 2016.

the closeness to the Sothebys version would suggest that they are perhaps one and the same - the photographs taken in different lighting conditions.

Andromeda Shackled to the Rock

attributed to Fanelli
Bronze relief
330 x 185 mm.
Petworth House
National Trust.


Christ carrying the Cross
15.6 x 22.2 cms

Minneapolis Institute of Art

Anonymous Sale 8 July 2005


The Holy Family and the Miraculous Cure of the Robber's Child
17 x 24.5 cms.
Given by Alfred de Pass - 1933.

Previously attributed to Vincezo Danti (1530-1576) and to Ferdinando Tacca (1619-1686). The latter by Anthony Radcliffe. Fanelli was born in Florence in 1577, and was last documented in England in 1641.

Sotheby's. 1988. European Works of Art and Sculpture.London: Sotheby's p. 118
, lot 283, a comparable relief of the Holy Family in the robber's house, there attributed to Ferdinando Tacca.
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

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