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Juin-Octobre 1985

Transcendence and the Sublime Juin-Octobre 1985 In the annals of the history of art, it is those who have triumphed in forging and defining an iconic style that are inducted into the rarefied league of artistic masters. To have achieved such success yet continue to challenge oneself, pushing past previous heights, requires a quality that goes beyond talent, courage, and perseverance: it requires a profound wisdom. It is this wisdom that opens the door for one to create something that endures through the ages. Many artists belonging to the era of modern art have devoted the prime of their lives to creating these enduring masterpieces, often designed for public display, as a way of leaving something to posterity, to close ones life and career with a grand finale. Matisse, for example, during his artistic prime, designed the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence; Rothko created the paintings that hang on the walls of the Rothko Chapel in Houston; Tsuguharu Foujita designed and painted the frescoes for the French chapel, Our Lady Queen of Peace. Each of these endeavours was inspired by religious themes, and from these themes, the artists harnessed an energy and intensity that elevated the works to the realm of the spiritual. By the 1950s and 60s, Zao Wou-Kis paintings from his Oracle-Bone Period (1954-1959) and Hurricane Period (1959-1972) had already been inducted into the permanent collections of important museums and institutions in Europe and the Americas, establishing Zao Wou-Ki as the first Asian master to attain such levels of international renown. But Zao Wou-Ki had his eyes set on something higher. He continued to strive, breaking through the boundaries of his previous limits, and by the 1970s, the artist had embarked upon the Infinite Period, a brilliant era that would accompany him for decades. This Infinite Period marked his arrival at the highest summit. The paintings express the divinity of the universe, brushing up against the apex of human civilization. By the 1980s, this achievement had firmly established Zao Wou-Kis now-indisputable status as an international master. With great pride and honour at this Evening Sale, Sothebys presents the single largest oil painting created by Zao Wou-Ki during his lifetime, Juin-Octobre 1985 (Lot 1004). This triptych of extraordinary size was commissioned by renowned architect I.M. Pei for the Raffles City complex in Singapore. The painting is a singular accomplishment, a prodigious effort by the artist to express his ideas and essence at full capacity, with great artistic power and boldness. During his entire career, Zao Wou-Ki created no more than twenty large-scale triptychs. The offering of this singular masterpiece at Sothebys Evening Sale marks a grand achievement in East Asian auction history. Rewriting Asian Art History in the 1980s As it was in the West, the 1950s to 1970s was a period of emergence and intense vying among different schools of thought in the post-war Asian art world. But avant-garde artists from China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia had their gazes fixed upon Europe and North America; entry into the Western art world was the ultimate goal and marker of accomplishment. By the 1970s and 80s, alongside the rapid rise of Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore, Mainland China also started on its important journey of reform and opening up. Overnight, the entire East Asian economy was roaring forward, and finally, after thirty years of leaning toward the West, a monumental change was occurring among the Asian post-war artists. They were turning back towards the East, a trend that was becoming the new mainstream. As an artist who had already established a reputation for himself in the West, Zao Wou-Kis own return to his motherland was deeply symbolically significant. In 1981, Zao Wou-Ki held a large solo exhibition at the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais in Paris, and exhibiting at the same time was the equally renowned Russian-French abstract master Nicolas de Staël. This was an event that signified the Western art worlds high regard of Zao Wou-Ki, and served as the consummate conclusion to this stage of the artists Western journey. Following the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais exhibition, the artist immediately embarked upon a rotating exhibition in East Asia, launching at the Fukoka Art Museum in Japan, and continuing onward to the Tokyo Nihonbashi Art Gallery, the Fukui Prefectural Museum, the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, and the Museum of Modern Art in Kamakura. He followed with solo exhibitions at the Hong Kong Arts Centre and the National Museum Art Gallery in Singapore. In 1983, Zao Wou-Ki held exhibitions on both sides of the strait, at the National Museum of History in Taipei as well as the National Museum of Fine Arts in Beijing and the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou (formerly the National School of Fine Art). In May of 1985, Zao Wou-Kis three-week art lectures at the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts marked the first time an overseas artist had been invited to teach a workshop in Mainland China since the countrys reform and opening up. Students were selected from all across China, and included Shang Yang, who later became the Associate President of the Hubei Arts Academy, as well as Xu Jiang, the current President of the China Academy of Art. The workshop was highly influential for the development of Mainland Chinese art in the 1980s. It also produced the only extant Zao Wou-Ki instructional text, The Lecture Notes of Zao Wou-Ki in China. Soon after this historic series of lectures, Juin-Octobre 1985 was created. A Crown for the Lion City The dimensions of Juin-Octobre 1985 are highly unusual, the painting created through a commission by I.M. Pei. Both Zao Wou-Ki and I.M. Pei were born to large families during the Republic of China, and both had fathers who were successful bankers Zao Wou-Kis father Zhao Hansheng was a Managing Director at the headquarters of Shanghai Commercial and Saving Bank , and I.M. Peis father Pei Zuyi was the President of the Central Bank of the Republic of China as well as one of the founders of the Bank of China. Both of Chinese descent, these two international masters first met in 1952 at the Galerie Pierre Loeb in Paris, and established an immediate camaraderie. Zao Wou-Ki reunited with I.M. Pei and his wife in 1964 during his travels to New York. As I.M. Peis career as an architect gained momentum and success, he began commissioning Zao Wou-Ki to create paintings for the walls of his building projects. In 1979, when I.M. Pei took on the construction of the Fragrant Hill Hotel in Beijing, he commissioned the artist to create a set of quadriptych ink panels for a central location in the main hall of the hotel. In 1980, after more than a decade since the project was first proposed, I.M. Pei was given the reins to design Singapores Raffles City. Ground was broken next to the Raffles Hotel at the location of the original Raffles College. Six years later, the architectural complex was completed, becoming a Singaporean landmark. But shortly prior to its completion, in May of 1985, I.M. Pei had invited Zao Wou-Ki to tour the premises, and commissioned the artist to create a large panel painting for the grand lobby of the main building. The painting would be displayed alongside works by Ellsworth Kelly and Kenneth Nolan, and together, these three paintings would become Singapores most important public contemporary art collection. Following careful deliberation, Zao Wou-Ki settled on a triptych measuring 2.8 x 10 meters, and immediately after completing his three weeks of lectures at the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts, Zao Wou-Ki returned to France and devoted himself to the painting, working tirelessly for five months. Juin-Octobre 1985 was finally completed and unveiled to the world in October of the same year. It was first exhibited at the Galerie de France, which at the time was managing the artist. On the day of the opening, Zao Wou-Ki released another edition of a large artist monograph, first published in 1978 and edited by his friend Jean Leymarie, but this time with Juin-Octobre 1985 featured on the covers. In 1986, after the exhibition closed, Juin-Octobre 1985 was officially moved to Raffles City and put on public display. All the way until 2005, when the painting was relocated during a significant reconstruction, Juin-Octobre 1985 remained at Raffles City, open for public viewing, serving as the brilliant crown in the architectural landscape of the Lion City. The Majestic Epic of the Triptych Within Zao Wou-Kis oeuvre, the large-scale triptych occupies a special position. In the forty years from 1966 to 2006, the artist completed twenty large-scale triptychs, eight of which were created after 2000. Among these twenty large-scale pieces, three have been inducted into museum collections, and seven are in the care of the Zao Wou-Ki Foundation, leaving only ten in the hands of private collectors. Because the triptychs span the artists Hurricane and Infinite periods, they serve as a connecting thread, offering a new angle from which to interpret Zao Wou-Kis work, and illuminating the elements of constancy in the artists artistic pursuits across different periods. The path that led to Zao Wou-Kis eventual use of the triptych format began with his creation of large-scale single-panel paintings. Large-scale canvases were favoured by the abstract expressionists, who Zao Wou-Ki had encountered while living in New York. These tall and wide panels allowed the artists a greater degree of freedom and unrestrained expression. After returning to Paris, Zao Wou-Ki also began painting on large-scale canvases. The artists later adoption of the triptych format, however, was not simply another expansion of creative space. Within the Western tradition since the Renaissance, the triptych has been closely tied to religious themes in painting, and carries with it an aura of deep solemnity and divinity. And in fact, examining the dimensions of Juin-Octobre 1985, one discovers that the widths of the three panels are not entirely equal. The centre canvas is 280 x 400 cm, while the left and right panels are 280 x 300 cm. This arrangement reveals the artists clear intention in invoking the religious paintings from the Renaissance. Correspondingly, within traditional East Asian painting, large-scale pieces often appear in the format of several joined or separate panels, together expressing an atmosphere of grandeur and magnificence. In a gesture to both Eastern and Western traditions, then, Zao Wou-Kis triptychs often express sentiments of respect and homage. This is apparent in many of the artists painting, including Hommage à André Malraux 01.04.76 (now in the collection of the Hakone Open-Air Museum in Japan), dedicated to the artists friend and French Minister of Culture; Hommage à Claude Monet, février-juin 91, in honour of the founder of French Impressionism; Hommage à mon ami Henri Michaux avril 1999-août 2000, for his friend and French poet laureate; Hommage à mon ami Jean-Paul Ripolle Histoire de deux érables canadiens, 21.06.2003, for the Canadian and fellow abstract painter; Hommage à Françoise, 21.10.2003, painted for his wife; and Le Temple des Hans, 2005,  created in honour of the Han dynasty. It was an attitude of devotion and respect that Zao Wou-Ki brought to the triptych. Beginning in the 1980s, the artist began receiving invitations for solo exhibitions at important museums, as well as more commissions. In 1980, for example, Zao Wou-Ki had solo exhibitions at the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Carleroi in Belgium and the Musée dHistoire et dArt in Luxembourg. Both exhibits featured large-scale oil paintings. In the same year, Zao Wou-Ki designed a large-scale mosaic for the Honoré de Balzac grammar school in Mitry-Mory, built by architect Roger Taillibert. Later, in October, Zao Wou-Ki was appointed as professor of mural painting at the Parisian École nationale supérieure des art décoratifs, a post he held until 1984. In 1981, Zao Wou-Ki travelled extensively around China, encountering the majestic and romantic ancient Yungang grottoes and frescoes in the province of Shanxi. The reverence and longing for the deities expressed by these ancient large-scale creations left a deep impression on Zao Wou-Ki. The artist fervently studied the mural form for the next five years, even purchasing a studio space in the French countryside of Loiret, larger than the one on Paris Rue Jonquoy, so that he could create large-scale paintings. Each of these creations were a step in the preparation toward creating Juin-Octobre 1985. Boundless Mystery: Manifesting the Spirit of the Universe Juin-Octobre 1985 possesses the trademark characteristics of Zao Wou-Kis Infinite Period. As Yann Hendgen, Art Director of the Zao Wou-Ki Foundation, explains in an essay for Sothebys Hong Kong 40th Anniversary Evening Sale: From the beginning of the 1980s, Zao Wou-Ki was then able to give free rein to his desire to create large-scale painted polytychs; a new workshop, public commissions, and an enthusiastic public for the introduction of such monumental compositions. Such large works also communicate a decisive turn in Zao Wou-Kis work: his gradual rediscovery of China (15.01.82 Triptych and Its Role Among the Large-Scale Paintings by Zao Wou-Ki). The paramount characteristic of the Infinite Period is a compositional departure from using a central axis, in which the visual weight is distributed along a vertical or horizontal dividing line. The artists change in composition is not merely a visual one, however, but a significant shift rooted deeply in artistic and human philosophy. During the Hurricane Period, Zao Wou-Kis career and romantic life were carrying on smoothly. His mood was one of contentment; his body was strong. As the artistic described himself, during this period, he approached the canvas wielding his bold ambition, as though the canvas were an oppositional force, and he were fighting against [it]. Thus, his use of the central-axis in the paintings from the period demonstrates a strong sense of individualism. It is a scene in which the dominant individual conquers space in every direction, constructing a new world. This was the overriding creative spirit. But in 1972, this formidable energy of domination came to a halt the artists wife, May Zao, had passed away. After a period of deep contemplation and reconsideration, the artist began creating paintings that displayed a striking open composition, in which the perimeters of the canvas are reinforced, and more space is given to the centre. This new composition revealed a sudden opening-up, an enlightenment in the artists soul, a liberated state of non-self. The artist had departed from his previous perspective of man conquering nature, toward a belief in the oneness of nature and humanity. This foundational shift in ideology formed the basis for the Infinite Period. The Western tradition of painting derives from a single-point perspective, originating philosophically from Western civilizations individual-centred way of viewing and conceptualizing. The tradition of Chinese paintings scattered perspective, however, comes from Taoism, the belief that all things in the universe are one. The Western tradition places its faith in man being made in the image of a Christian God, whereas the Eastern interpretation of god, informed by Taoism, is our omnipresent and all-encompassing nature. The most profound value of the Infinite Period, then, is the manifestation of Eastern philosophys belief in nature as god, within which there exists a continuous cycle of life and death. It is this endless cycle that is the permanent law of the universe. The ultimate essence of the universe is that of oneness. Juin-Octobre 1985, an epic of abstraction, is a grand expression of this idea. Primordial Mist, Roaming as One with the Universe In a 2001 special interview with Phoenix Television, Zao Wou-Ki explained that painting is a slow creation of a world. This philosophy is manifested with brilliant perfection in Juin-Octobre 1985. Making use of the capacious size of the panels, the artist has taken the lateral scroll of Chinese painting and expanded it, creating an abstract space that seemingly expresses a concrete realness. Standing in front of the painting, the viewers gaze naturally departs from viewing in a point-to-point manner, and instead allows ones eyes to freely roam across the canvas. In this way, the viewers perspective is in constant change, as though immersed in a scattered perspective arrangement, journeying across the spectacular world created by the artist. The arrangement continues without end, with flowing light driving the changes and shifts in colour, representing the boundless, infinite, ever-flourishing universe. When creating the painting, Zao Wou-Ki released his drive to conquer, but rather allowed his spirit to linger contently within the painting, achieving an even more prodigious aura of freedom and ease. Throughout the painting, his use of colour and brush technique is also dynamic, dancing and adapting with natural ease. At the beginning of the Infinite Period, the artist was drawn to the empty space emphasized in Chinese ink-wash paintings. This translated into the use of white tones in his oil paintings in the 1970s, which by the 1980s, had become all the more brilliant and richly expressive. During this time, the artist had returned to the soil of his motherland, encountering again the landscape and surroundings he had been away from for a long time, and once again, they nourished his mind and body. The verdigris green and ultramarine colours that appeared in his earlier works are in Juin-Octobre 1985 melded in with softer, lighter tones. His oil colours are further diluted, heightening the appearance of translucence. The pearlescent, clear light, along with a ravishing violet, soft orange, and bright yellow intersect in meticulous concert.  The exquisite and ethereal splashes and spatters of paint replace the brittle lines; sharp edges are concealed, further amplifying an aura of vitality and spirituality. Every inch is imbued with the breath and vigour of the universe. Blue is a colour that Zao Wou-Ki used in all of his stylistic periods. He once explained that his understanding of the colour originated from his earliest days in Paris. He was at a museum, and encountered a painting of the Virgin Mary and Jesus by Giotto, the Early Renaissance master. The classic painting depicts the Virgin Mary wrapped in a blue robe, the image holy, sublime, and pure. The use of blue in all of Zao Wou-Kis periods has been executed with great richness. Up until the 1980s, Zao Wou-Kis use of blue often manifested in its deeper shades, the blue of grapes, gentle and exquisite, with a sheen of translucence. Applied with varying pressures and speed, it splattered and flowed, coalescing into a crystalline and mysterious space. In Juin-Octobre 1985, the blue manifests in a shade closer to purple jade, and in its various permutations of rich and light, dry and wet, it becomes void and substance, emptiness and fullness, linking together all the exquisite complementary colours that reverberate across the canvas. In tracing the painting back to its Eastern roots, it is important to note that after many years apart, Zao Wou-Ki reunited with the Zhang Daqian, a great master of Chinese painting, in Taipei in 1981. The inspiration behind Zhang Daqians iconic splashed-color landscapes came from the Western abstract paintings of the 1960s. These landscapes established a revolutionary new style for traditional Chinese painting. This example of invoking traditional Chinese painting techniques and artistic concepts was perhaps an inspiration for Zao Wou-Ki. He, also, could return to tradition. To examine the paintings Western roots, one looks to the colour philosophy of the Impressionists. The romantic and enchanting blue-purple tones are the result of developments in optical science during the mid-19th century, and, in Monets later years, they became the poetic images of his lily pond, seen through his fading vision. These subtle threads to the past resonated with Zao Wou-Ki, who boldly applied these blue-purple tones across the canvas. Later, this colour was also the basis of the triptych completed in 1991, titled Hommage à Claude Monet, février-juin 91. The Artists Prime, the Key to the Summit Juin-Octobre 1985 symbolizes the beginning of Zao Wou-Kis late-career work. By the time of the opening ceremony of Raffles City, the artist had already been commissioned to create the poster for the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. In 1993, the artist received the Commandeur de lOrdre de la Légion from French President François Mitterrand, as well as an honorary doctorate from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In 1994, he was awarded with Japans Praemium Imperiale. Shortly after, in 1996, the artist held a large-scale retrospective exhibition at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, titled Infinite Image and Space. The following year, Zao Wou-Ki accompanied French President Jacques Chirac on a visit to China, where he confirmed three retrospective exhibitions in honour of sixty years of painting. They were to be held in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou between 1998 and 1999. In 2002, Zao Wou-Ki was inducted as a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts, the highest honour of his lifetime. The following year, he held a large-scale solo exhibition at Paris Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume. The number of visitors to the exhibition exceeded 135,000 people. Since then, across all the arenas of academia, culture, and the market, the artists prodigious reputation has proven unshakeable. Zao Wou-Kis accomplishment of artistic flourishing over thirty years late in his career, among all of the artists of the world, is a rare one indeed. And Juin-Octobre 1985 can be said to be the beginning of this glorious chapter. Signed in Chinese and Pinyin; signed in Pinyin, titled and dated Juin-Octobre 1985 on the reverse

  • HKGHong Kong
  • 2018-09-30
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THE MAGNIFICENT FLORENTINE PIETRA DURA, EBONY AND ORMOLU CABINET MADE FOR THE 3RD DUKE OF BEAUFORT

THE MAGNIFICENT FLORENTINE PIETRA DURA, EBONY AND ORMOLU CABINET MADE FOR THE 3RD DUKE OF BEAUFORT BY THE GRAND DUCAL WORKSHOPS (GALLERIA DEI LAVORI) AND BACCIO CAPPELLI, THE BRONZE FIGURES OF THE FOUR SEASONS BY GIROLAMO TICCIATI, CIRCA 1720-1732 The cabinet of massive architectural form, the main part in three sections divided by crisply profiled stepped mouldings, fitted with ten cedar-lined drawers surrounding a central door enclosing a removable section with three smaller purpleheart and ebony-veneered cedar-lined drawers mounted with satyr mask and drapery ring handles, each drawer mounted with a panel edged with ormolu and banded with amethyst quarz, inlaid in brilliantly coloured semi-precious stones with birds perching and in flight among sprays of flowers, framed by pilasters in the central register panelled with lapis lazuli and Sicilian red jasper, the ormolu capitals centred by grey chalcedony (calcedonio di Volterra) masks joined by swags of ormolu foliage encrusted with hardstone fruit centred by a grey chalcedony lion-mask repeated at the sides, below a band of amethyst quartz mounted with cartouches of lapis lazuli in the centre and agate at the sides, the upper and lower sections with vertical amethyst quartz panels, the upper headed by female masks suspending fruit, the lower by grotesque masks, the frieze with concave-centred and bow-ended panels of lapis lazuli, red and green jasper (verde di Corsica); the stepped pediment centred by a clock face, studded with fleur-de-lys dividing the numerals, the brass back-wound falseplate timepiece movement with screwed dust-cover to the rectangular plates, four bossed pilars, going barrel train of five wheels and recoil escapement with steel crutch and silk-suspended pendulum with holdfast clip within the cupboard framed by pilasters and richly encrusted down-curved swags, surmounted by the Beaufort arms, supporters and motto in ormolu, lapis and red jasper, the angles mounted with four lightly draped ormolu standing figures emblematic of the Four Seasons; the sides fo the cabinet each centred by a large and brilliant panel of birds and a spray of flowers tied with red and blue ribbon with smaller panels of birds above and below; the cabinet supported on eight massive square tapering legs panelled with lapis lazuli and red jasper mounted with ormolu, the eared moulded edge mounted with S-scroll and shell plaques and satyr masks INSCRIPTIONS AND LABELS ON THE CABINET The cabinet has a label pasted onto the back of the removable central section inscribed in ink Taken from the North Breakfast Parlour & Cleaned By John Smith William Williamson Thomas Butler By the Orders of the 6 Duke of Beaufort -1813- taken of above 250 Pieces of Bronze The cabinet is also inscribed in pencil (below the third drawer down from the top on the right hand side) J.J. Smith April 1903 Cleaned Cabinet all over for Morants Bond Street and (on the inside backboard behind the removable centre section) Cleaned Easter 1903 In addition above the removeable centre section there is a pen and wash stretch of the front of a horse Further inscriptions and labels which were revealed during the restoration at Hatfields include two labels to the interior inscribed Giacomo Faggiani maestro di cassa del duca di beaufort à disfato questo gabbineto e nettato, e messo a scieme novembre 20 1775 badminton and a second April 1903 9th Duke of Beaufort This cabinet was cleaned and renovated and the missing parts replaced at the time the Drawing room was redecorated by J.S. Wallis of Morant & Co. 91 New Bond St. London NW. The movement of the clock is inscribed John Seddon St. James's London 1748. The central pietra dura plaque is inscribed to the reverse Baccio Cappelli Fecit Anno 1720 nella Galleria di S.A.R. and the plaque on the top left drawer bears a paper label inscribed No 1 Baccio Cappelli Fecit. THE DRAWINGS OF THE BADMINTON CABINET PREPARED BY THE GRAND DUCAL WORKSHOPS 1. VIEW OF THE FRONT OF THE CABINET WITHOUT THE BASE inscribed Scala di Braccia due à Panno Fiorentine and with a scale; black chalk, pen and brown ink, watercolour on two joined sheets, watermarks encircled fleur-de-lys (2) 1055 x 770 mm. 2. VIEW OF THE LEFT AND RIGHT SIDES OF THE CABINET inscribed with a scale; black chalk, pen and brown ink, watercolour on two joined sheets, watermarks encircled fleur-de-lys (2) 1056 x 785 mm. 3. VIEW OF A LEG inscribed Celle icy est la Boule/de Cuivre doré que/l'on pourrá ajouter/si l'on veut.; black chalk, pen and brown ink, watercolour 648 x 240 mm. THE BADMINTON CABINET by Alvar González-Palacios THE DUKE OF BEAUFORT'S VISIT TO ITALY AND THE ORIGINS OF HIS COMMISSION The maginficent Badminton Cabinet is the last great work of art made in Florence under the Medici. Standing almost 4 metres tall, it is also the most spectacular piece of furniture in private hands, and is documented indirectly before it was made. We refer to an account book of incidental expenses, kept by Dominique du Four who accompanied the 3rd Duke of Beaufort on his long Continental travels as a member of his household, which informs us that His Grace left Paris on 28 March 1726 and arrived in Florence on 27 April, remaining there until 2 May (document 18). As there is no evidence that he ever returned to the Tuscan capital it is highly probably that the decision to commission the Cabinet was taken at this time. B. Ford and J. Ingamells, A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1707-1800, New Haven and London, 1997, confirms from other sources the same dates that we had established. Two years later in a letter of 3 June 1728, the Duke's Roman agent, the architect and stuccoist Giovanni Francesco Guernieri, hinted at the existence of something being made for his master in Florence under the watchful eye of Thomas Tyrrel. If, as we shall see, we are quite well informed about Guernieri's activities, nothing surely was known until very recently of this Tyrrel. It seems that Tyrrel was found as a boy begging in Prague by the last Grand Duke Gian Gastone de Medici who took him back to Florence and ennobled him subsequently. He became well-connected with important tourists and died in Florence in 1753. Tyrrel was instrumental for the making of the Duke of Beaufort's Cabinet (B. Ford and J. Ingamells, 1997, p. 961). Guernieri writes to the Duke however that he had given instructions to the said Tyrrel to get the Duke's things ready so that they might be packed and sent to Leghorn (document 1). On 9 July, Guernieri, who in the meantime had left Rome for Leghorn to ensure that His Grace's acquisitions left for England in good order, wrote bitterly that in Florence, where he had stopped first, nothing was ready. He had, in fact, been there on 28 June when he met Tyrrel who had been instructed to supervise the executino of a 'Cabinet' in the Workshops of His Royal Highness the Grand Duke of Tuscany. He went on to say that Tyrrel has told him that 'le dit cabinet' would not be ready until the end of October 1728 because of certain changes to the original plan, including an increased number of metal ornaments, framing elements, and additional work on the Ducal coat-of-arms (document 2). Guernieri's account of the unfinished state of the cabinet is confirmed by a note of 24 July 1728 from the Duke's shippers stating that more time was needed before 'the cabinet and other things' would be ready (document 3). THE SHIPMENT OF THE CABINET Some years later, early 1732, a number of payments to agents and a ship's captain in Leghorn for custom and transport charges, including 'Port for unshipping of Cabinet or 5 cases', appear, relating to goods belonging to His Grace (documents 14, 15 and 16). Once again Dominique du Four's account book helps to illuminate the sequence of events leading up to the final shipment of the cabinet. Du Four noted that he left Florence for Leghorn on 12 August 1732 with an unidentified cabinet-maker and his son, and that they remained there until the 20th, the day after 'Mylord Duc's' cabinet had been put on board. Finally, on 21 August 1732, Captain Daniel Pullam and the Oriana sailed for London with 'five large cases... containing the severall parts of a large Cabinett of his Grace the Duke of Beaufort', as stated by a receipt signed by the captain himself (document 19). Although there is no record where the Cabinet went immediately after its arrival in London, it is more than probable that it had always been destined for Badminton, especially as the note of 24 July 1728 mentioned above stated that it would eventually be sent 'on some good ship for London if none should offer for Bristoll about time' (document 3). This Cabinet is, therefore, likely to be the piece of furniture that gave its name to the Cabinet Room mentioned in a 1775 inventory of paintings (Badminton Muniments, RA 1/2/1). Here it was surrounted by carvings by Grinling Gibbons and a good number of Italian paintings: an Education of Jove and a satirical piece by Salvator Rosa, two canvases of ruins by Ghizzolfa (i.e. Ghisolfi), a Madonna and Child by Guernico, scenes of the life of Queen Esther by Pietro da Cortona, representations of the Liberal Arts by Trevisani, and a series of overdoors with ruins by Viviano (i.e. Codazzi) and a perspective view of the buildings of Rome by an anonymous artist. To finish up, on 30 May 1739, Captain Pullam petitioned the Duke to be reimbursed for financial losses which he had incurred during the shipping of the Cabinet when he had not only been forced 'not to take in any Ballast that should damage the cabinet' but had also had to buy a large quantity of cork to ensure its safety and this last he had resold in London much under cost (document 20). STYLISTIC ANALYSIS The research carried out, over the years, by the present author in the immense archives where the documents relating to the last Medicis and their financial administration are stored, has failed to yield any information about this cabinet, mainly because it is difficult to determine with any accuracy in which of the many departments of the Grand Ducal Administration documents about its commission and execution would have been recorded. It must be remembered that our Cabinet was paid directly by the Duke of Beaufort, a very rare occurance at the Galleria where everything was made for the Grand Duke, even if they were intended as gifts. Although it was not the habit of the Grand Ducal Workshops to accept work from private individuals, the Duke of Beaufort's exalted social position and the close political contacts which his family, known for its Jacobite sympathies, cultivated with highly placed personages, such as the Papal Secretary of State, Cardinal Lercari, undoubtedly influenced the negociations leading to the commission. If, on the one hand, contemporary Galleria documents are of little help in establishing the background of this Cabinet, its figurative language, on the other, gives clear indications about its artistic origins. To begin with, simple stylistic analysis is all that is needed to identify the sculptor who executed the models for the statuettes of The Four Seasons, placed at the angles of the upper corners. He is called Girolamo Ticciati (died in Florence in 1744), and the waxes and their corresponding moulds figure in an inventory of models acquired by Carlo Ginori for the Porcelain Manufactory at Doccia, founded in 1743. The waxes have since disappeared but the moulds are still to be found in the Doccia Museum (fig. 1) and are listed in a well known document (K. Lankheit, Die Modellsammlung de Porzelanmanufaktur Doccia, Munich, 1982, p. 130). The unusual facial type of the Four Seasons on the Beaufort Cabinet is that found on Ticciati's only known bronze, the signed Christ and the Samari tan, executed in 1724 for the Electress Palatine and now in the Royal Palace, Madrid (J. Montagu, Gli ultimi Medici, exh. cat. Florence, 1974, no. 98 bis). It is certainly relevant to this argument that Ticciati's contemporary biographer, F. M. N. Gabburi, noted that the sculptor had prepared four busts of The Seasons which he had sent to England (K. Lankheit, Florentinische Barockplastik, Munich, 1 962, p. 230). TICCIATI AND GALLERIA PRACTISE Ticciati was a pupil of Giovanni Battista Foggini, who was Director, until his death in 1725, of the Galleria dei lavori, or Grand Ducal Workshops. The Beaufort Cabinet bears, moreover, all the hallmarks of that sumptuous style created by Foggini during the twilight years of the Medici dynasty: every one of the decorative motifs continues and, at the same time, develops the great artist's favourite forms, thus bringing the maximum splendour to the characteristic juxtaposition of ebony, gilt-bronze and hardstone of Florentine Court furniture. It should be borne in mind, when looking for the work of individual hands in such a piece, that during the years needed to construct this edifice destined for a room, no less than thirty craftsmen would have been involved. 152 in. (386 cm.) high; 91½ in. (232.5 cm.) wide; 37 in. (94 cm.) deep

  • GBRGrande Bretagne
  • 2004-12-09
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