Friday, December 9, 2005

ROMAN, EARLY 19TH CENTURY BEARING THE MONOGRAM OF LUIGI PICHLER (1773-1854) A MARBLE BUST OF EMPEROR CARACALLA (211-217 A.D.)

ROMAN, EARLY 19TH CENTURY BEARING THE MONOGRAM OF
LUIGI PICHLER (1773-1854) A MARBLE BUST OF EMPEROR CARACALLA (211-217 A.D.)

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MEASUREMENTS
measurements note
bust: 38cm., 15in.overall: 50cm., 19¾in.
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DESCRIPTION
signed: L.P. in Greek, the truncation finished at the neck-line and mounted on a black marble base
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CATALOGUE NOTE
Although not known to have sculpted in the round, Pichler was a highly distinguished gem-engraver quite capable of carving in stone. He was in any case a multi-talented artist, trained as a painter in the studio of Domenico de Angelis and taught to model in wax by his father Giovanni. Pichler often signed his gems, cameos and intaglios in Greek, either with his full name or his initials, as they appear on the present bust. His coin-dies are also initialed.
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The intriguing use of red diasper marble from the Urals raises the possibility that the bust was a special commission from one of Pichler's many distinguished Russian clients, which included Tsar Alexander I and his consort Elizabeth, Count Tatischtschew and Grand Duke Alexander. The termination of the bust at the neck line is consistent with many surviving versions of Caracalla that came to light in 18th century excavations, for example that in the Carlsberg Glyptotek (inv.730). The primary version is in the Museo Nazionale di Napoli. Haskell identified the impact of the turned head and ferocious gaze as the reason for its fame, which frightened some contemporary observers familiar with his ruthless reign: 'As one looked at the bust, or rather was looked at by it, the past suddenly and dramatically became present'.

RELATED LITERATURE
Forrer, vol.4, p.522-30; Taste and the Antique, p.172-3, no.18; Cheneviere, p.263, no.287
Sale: L05234 | Location: London, New Bond Street, Auction Dates: Session 1: Fri, 09 Dec 05 10:30 AM, LOT 136 21,600 GBP
PROVENANCE: Private collection (SDK)