Friday, December 9, 2005

Henryk Ittar (1773-1850), Poland, circa 1800

European Sculpture & Works of Art
Sale L05234 - Session 1 - 09 Dec 05 - 10:30 AM - London, New Bond Street
A grey Marble bust of Antoniuis, POLAND, circa 1800
HENRYK ITTAR (1773-1850),
LOT 143 50,000—80,000 GBP Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 54,000 GBP
measurements note63.5cm., 25in.
in royal Egyptian headdress, the bust finished with herm truncation and left rough-hewn to the rear
This version of the deified youth Antinous was designed to be placed within the Tomb of Illusions, a temple within the romantic, classicising garden of Arkadia, the conception of the Princess Helen Radziwill created in the last decades of the 18th Century in Poland. Antinous, the beautiful young Greek favourite of the emperor Hadrian, died in the river Nile at the age of 18 or 20, as legend has it whilst saving the Emperor's life. The grief-stricken Hadrian deifed the youth and changed the name of his birth-place to Antinoöpolis, now el-Sheikh Ibada. A cult began in Antinous' honour and coins and statues were produced in his image. Here he is depicted in Egyptian costume, presumably referring to his death in the Nile. Antinous' connotations of youth, beauty and death were perfectly suited to the sensibility of the Princess' conception and Henryk Ittar's own classicising artistic concerns. Another, smaller, version of Ittar's bust is in the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg. The model may refer to an antique depiction of Antinous as the Egyptian god Osiris found at Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli in 1738-39, now in the Vatican Museums. The royal headress and slightly convex chest of Ittar's Antinous seem to be inspired by the antique prototype. Another antique bust which is very similar to the Vatican version is at Bowood in Wiltshire. It was found in the Pantanello of Hadrian's Villa in 1769 and it is possible that the two antiquities formed a pair. To create Arkadia, Princess Radziwill persuaded her husband to acquire the village of Lupia, on the road to Lowicz, because of its sublime landscape and particularly the river running through it. He obtained the village in exchange for another with the Archbishop of Gniezo. Helen Radziwill's conception of the garden was based on the classical writings of Virgil. His pastoral Arcadia, populated by shepherds, was an oasis of the calm and gentle, and yet in one of the most famous passages Virgil states that death, too, is present in Arcadia: 'Et in Arcadia ego'. The Tomb of Illusions was the Princess's way of entering the solemnity of death into her own Arkadia. The ashes of her three daughters were kept there.Helen Radziwill was well read and well travelled. She had strong literary interests and a magnificently stocked library containing several thousand volumes of the classics as well as modern poetry and prose by the likes of Voltaire and Chateaubriand. The Princess was also a great art collector and obtained a great number of antiquities, many of which were the gift of her friend, Catherine II of Russia. Gardens such as Arkadia were much in vogue amongst the Polish aristocracy in the later decades of the 18th Century and Helen Radziwill's motivation was certainly competition as well as erudition. Hers was one of the last of these gardens and one of the very few to be preserved to the present day. The project took her 40 years and included her own tomb.Henryk or 'Enrico' Ittar was the son of the architect Stefano Ittar. Stefano appears to have been born in Poland, but was Italian, descended from Guidone de Hittar, Conte del Balneo di Toscana. He worked in Catania, Sicily, before going on to Malta to design the new library for the Knights of St John in Valetta. Stefano stayed in Malta with his family until his death in 1790. Two of his sons had considerable success as architects. Henryk's brother Sebastiano counted Lord Elgin amongst his patrons and some of his drawings of the Parthenon Frieze are in the collection of the British Museum. Henryk went to Poland immediately after his father's death and his patrons there included the influential Zamoyski family as well as the Radziwills. Towards the end of his life his style evolved from the Classicism nurtured by his father into a Gothic Revival. RELATED LITERATURE Piwkowski, unpaginated; Raeder, figs. 108.1 & 108.2; Sammut, pp.20-27