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figure of a man wearing a Satyr's mask
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Netherlandish, late 16th/ early 17th century, figure of a man wearing a Satyr's mask\nBronze\n89.5 by 32cm., 35¼ by 12½in.
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notes

This exceptional bronze figure of a man wearing a satyr's mask is an exciting new discovery.  It appears to be a unique model and is a masterpiece from a time when Northern Mannerist bronze casting was at its height.  Justly, this extraordinary epoch of sculpture in northern Europe has received considerable scholarly attention in recent years.  The exhibitions on Adrien de Vries (1998-2000) and Willem van Tetrode (2003) curated by Dr. Frits Scholten and the monograph on Hubert Gerhard by Dr. Dorothea Diemer (2004) have significantly increased our knowledge of the most important sculptors of this generation.

The attribution of the present bronze is integrally related to the work of these three great sculptors. Several aspects of the bronze recall the work of Adrien de Vries (1545-1626), especially in his similar large figures, such as his Juggling Man, which was sold in these rooms on 7 December 1989, lot 65. However while this comparison is one of the starting points in discovering the identity of the sculptor, there are decisive stylistic elements, which point elsewhere. The body type and resolute pose is closely related to works by Willem van Tetrode (c. 1525-c. 1588). Moreover, the taste for the grotesque features in the mask coincides with Tetrode's interest in grimacing faces, as is evident in his Flagellator (Residenzmuseum, Munich), which is also similar to the present bronze in its proportions. While Tetrode's famous model of the Hercules Pomarius has a much more exaggerated musculature than that of the present bronze, his Mars Gradivus (also known as Striding Warrior) has a very similar anatomy. Furthermore, the strands of flying hair recall the man wearing a satyr's mask's long, curling beard which emerges from the leaves of the mask. Autograph casts of the Mars Gradivus also feature similar plastically articulated veins on the arms, and the geometrically shaped, rectangular toe and fingernails. After many years in Florence and Rome, Tetrode returned to his native Delft by 1567, and in 1575 he was working in Cologne, where his Venus, Jupiter and Mercury were recorded in an engraving. Tetrode's career could potentially dove-tail seamlessly with the bronze's provenance from Lieser in the Mosel region of Germany.

Dr. Frits Scholten, curator of sculpture at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, confirms the importance of this bronze and points towards interesting similarities within the oeuvre of Hubert Gerhard (c. 1545 – before 1621), who like Tetrode and  De Vries spent a formative period of years in Italy, before he returned north of the Alps. Gerhard was the court sculptor for the Dukes of Bavaria, but also worked for high-ranking patrons in Augsburg, including the City Council and the patrician Fugger family, who controlled the largest sector of banking and financial services in 16th and 17th century Germany. A hybrid mask and a lion's mask, which survive from a fountain created by Gerhard for Hans Fugger's castle at Kirchheim an der Mindel (1590-94; now Munich, Bayerisches Nationalmuseum), may be compared to the man's mask in their furrowed foreheads and eyebrows.

This powerful and large bronze figure of a man wearing a satyr's mask celebrates wine in a highly unusual fashion. Bacchus himself had become a popular subject of sculpture again in the High Renaissance with Michelangelo's and Sansovino's marble statues. At the same time, a plethora of the wine god's followers – hybrid beings such as satyrs, fauns, and Silenus – sprang from the workshops of bronze casters in Padua in a much smaller format. But in this large bronze we neither encounter a god nor half an animal, but a human being, a man wearing a mask. His masquerade recalls Dionysus' other role second to his patronage of  wine, that is, the birth of tragedy, which originated from the dithyrambs that were sung and performed in his honour. The bronze's grimacing mask in fact not only features the flat nose of a silen devoted to the pleasures of  wine, but it also sports a mouth with down turned corners - a reference to tragedy, which is superimposed with reminiscences of Michelangelo's physiognomic studies for the New Sacristy of San Lorenzo, with Buontalenti's facial metamorphoses and with the fanciful pathognomonical deconstructions of contemporary doorknockers, which the certainly Northern artist may have seen during his peregrinations in Italy. Round holes are drilled in both corners of the mouth, and it is easy to imagine that the bronze was originally fitted as a fountain figure, with the water rising up inside the standing leg.

The present figure's free leg is raised nonchalantly onto the vat's rim, as though ready to crush the grapes into wine. Its multiple allusions to winemaking may be of a particular significance, since the bronze figure was discovered in a Schloss in Lieser, in the heart of one of German's foremost wine regions.  It was housed in a niche in a loggia decorated with Italian frescoes in the Schloss which is the current home of the Schorlemer family.  The Schloss is one of the most arresting buildings in the village of Lieser in the Mosel Valley, where wineries have existed since Roman times. As the building was substantially altered in the late 19th century it is not clear where the statue was housed prior to this time. By repute the statue was acquired by the present owner's great-grandfather during the period of the Schloss's restorations, but whether he acquired it in Lieser or elsewhere is unknown.

The village of Lieser is in the borough of Trier, on the banks of the Mosel River, one of the oldest cities in Germany and the oldest seat of a Christian bishop north of the Alps.  The archbishop of Trier was one of the seven electors of the Holy Roman Emperor.  Rudolph II appointed Lothar von Metternich as Elector of Trier in 1599.  A great patron of the arts, Lothar was well travelled, fluent in Italian and commissioned two recorded sculptures from Hans Rupprecht Hoffman the Elder the year after he was elected. The current Schloss Lieser was built on the grounds of the former Elector's property. Notably, in the 16th and 17th century Lieser was the location of a station on the postal route, which connected the Netherlands with Augsburg and Italy.

The Schorlemer family, who acquired Schloss Lieser in the 19th century by descent, hails from the oldest Westfalian aristocracy, with the earliest recorded ancestor dating back to the early 13th century.  Their illustrious family members include Burghard Freiherr von Schorlemer-Alst, the Westfalian Bauernkönig.  The former owners of the bronze, Clemens Freiherr von Schorlemer-Lieser and his wife, Maria Puricelli, moved into the Schloss in the early 20th century.  His son August was widely travelled and added many important works of art to grace the collection.  Although the intricacies of authorship of the bronze and whether or not it was commissioned in the very region where it was discovered remains to be determined, there is no question of the figure's rarity and importance.

RELATED LITERATURE

F. Scholten, ed., Adriaen de Vries, 1556 – 1626: imperial sculptor, exh. cat., Amsterdam, Stockholm and Los Angeles, California,1998; F. Scholten, ed., Willem van Tetrode, sculptor (c. 1525 – 1580). Guglielmo Fiammingo scultore, exh. cat., Amsterdam & New York, 2003; D. Diemer, Hubert Gerhard und Carlo di Cesare del Palagio, 2 vols., Berlin 2004

medium

Bronze

dimensions

89.5 by 32cm., 35¼ by 12½in.

provenance

purportedly acquired by August Freiherr von Schorlemer-Lieser, Schloss Lieser, thence by descent


*Beachten Sie, dass der Preis nicht auf den aktuellen Wert umgerechnet wird, sondern sich auf den tatsächlichen Endpreis zum Zeitpunkt des Verkaufs des Objekts bezieht.

*Beachten Sie, dass der Preis nicht auf den aktuellen Wert umgerechnet wird, sondern sich auf den tatsächlichen Endpreis zum Zeitpunkt des Verkaufs des Objekts bezieht.


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