834

A PAIR OF PAINTED STUCCO GROTESQUE PEDESTALS POSSIBLY FROM THE VILLA DI VIGNAMAGGIO

Probably Tuscan. 17th Century.

Measurements

Height: 56 1/2” (144cm); Width: 19” (48cm); Depth: 13” (33cm)
Including stand: Width: 21 1/2" (54.5cm); Depth: 16" (42.5cm); Height: 66 1/2" (169cm)

Research

Of painted stucco.  Each bowfronted top with moulded edge, the massive scrolled supports with gaping grotesque masks with tongue and dart headdresses and plaited beards flanked by festoons of fruit above tapering guilloches and an acanthus leaf on an integral stepped concave-sided plinth.

The present pedestals are composed of massive scrolled supports with gaping grotesque masks, a device that falls in line with the work of Baroque sculptors Gianlorenzo Bernini and Alessandro Algardi, who also used grimacing faces as decorative devices in their own drawings and sculpture. They are executed in stucco,  a malleable material “obedient to the pressure of the hurrying hand, [which] lent itself admirably to the inventive caprice of the artist and to the leafy richness of the decorative style” and whose “volutes, scrolls, leaves, cartouches, and figures both grotesque and naturalistic were lavished”1 in both indoor and outdoor decorative schemes.

A related early 17th century pedestal is illustrated in Odom’s History of Italian Furniture, Volume II (figure 1)2. The downward tapering shaft of this wooden example, like the present pedestals, is of a form that was introduced in the early 16th century. The decoration derives from the Renaissance, though the grotesque head “gives the whole a later character.”3 The grotesque form of decoration first became popular during the Renaissance, and in the following centuries the eccentric interpretations of human and mythical forms were used to adorn villas and loggie of a similarly impressive nature.

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.