Probably Rome. Circa 1804/1813.


Width: 20" (51cm)
Depth: 11" (28cm)
Height: 15 1/4" (39cm)

A statuary marble sculpture of a cockerel with two intertwined snakes. The cockerel is holding one snake in its beak while the other is pinned down with its left foot. A sculpted bee sits on the comb of the cockerel. The oval base is resting on its original pedestal of giallo antico marble, of the same shape, with molded edges and protruding borders. The object is whole and in excellent condition excepting the beak of the bird and part of one of the snakes where there are traces of old damage which has been restored. Along the edges of the giallo antico marble pedestal there are some minor scratches and a more visible scratch on the upper border.

Daniel Katz Gallery, London,  1994

The cockerel is rendered with striking naturalism and elaborate attention to detail. Its feathers are highly refined and arranged in sections at intervals with subtly worked spaces in between, which gives the subject a strong sense of movement. The tension of the arched body, with its feathers seeming to have been inflated from within, conveys the excitement of the bird, who has just subdued its cunning prey. Even the various surface textures, such as the calloused feet, the flaccid comb and wattle, the scaly skin of the snakes and the covering of grass on the base, are intricately worked. The extraordinary technical skill of the sculptor is evidenced by the use of a single block of marble, a considerable achievement, particularly where the subtleties like the feathers, the complexly coiling bodies of the snakes, and the positioning of the feet of the bird are concerned.

The composition takes its inspiration from the late Baroque period and is closely related to the oeuvre of the sculptor, Francesco Antonio Franzoni (Carrara 1734-Rome 1818), whose work is characterized by his profound understanding of archaeology, the striking naturalism of the animals he created, and his painstaking attention to detail and ornament. In fact, he was considered the undisputed master of the animal genre. In a portrait by Domenico De Angelis (Ponzano 1735-Roma 1804) Franzoni is depicted working on a sculpture of an eagle (figure 1) (Fine Arts Academy, Carrara), while Oreste Raggi recalled that his animals “were wrought with much artful labor and expressiveness,” an observation that tallies perfectly with the present work.1

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.