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Style Other / Ref.5323

Italian mantelpiece in Carrara marble decorated with putti playing with goats

Width: 78'' ⅜  199cm
Height: 49'' ⅝  126cm
Depth: 21'' ⅝  55cm
Inner width: 39'' ⅜  100cm
Inner height: 32'' ¼  82cm


Good condition.

This mantelpiece with rich sculptural ornamentation was made of Carrara marble around the mid-19th century.

The broken lines of its cornice surmount a frieze of inverted triangles connecting to the lintel. The center of the lintel is adorned with two intertwined cherubs under a canopy, representing the arts: one, seen from the back, rests a hand on a lyre and evokes music, while the other holds a book and symbolizes literature. In the spandrels, two bronze low-reliefs depict monkeys playing in tree branches. The jambs form niches, each housing a high-relief in patinated bronze: on the left, a cherub and a goat frolic in a vineyard; on the right, another one feeds grapes to a goat rearing up on its hind legs.

The cherubs frolicking amidst the vines are a popular subject in Italian iconography of the 19th century. The origin of these childlike figures can be found in the Renaissance Bacchanals of children (such as those by Michelangelo), which were already revisited in the classical era (by François Duquesnoy, Jacques Sarrazin or Clodion, among others). These artists sometimes replaced the satyrs and maenads with children running amidst vine tendrils and playing with goats, as seen on our mantelpiece.

A mantelpiece with similar decorative execution was located in the Belosselski-Belozerski Palace, in the reception room of its last owner, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (1864-1918), the elder sister of Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt, the last Tsarina of Russia. This neoclassical palace in Saint Petersburg was originally built in the 1750s, then renovated in the Rococo style in the 1840s. The white Carrara marble fireplace there also features a scene with cherubs in a leafy setting. Those on the left are trying to reach a bird that has escaped from its nest hidden among the leaves, while on the right, the children are attempting to catch a mouse. This fireplace is signed and dated "Vinzo Bonanni di Carrara fece 1843."

This fireplace is sold without any fireplace insert nor marble floor but could be made to order (please ask for marble availability).