A Superb Late 18th / Early 19th Century Statuary Marble Chimneypiece Carved in High Relief
A neoclassical fireplace produced in Italy most probably for the English Market, in the manner of Lorenzo Bartolini (1777–1850). The gracious and elegant composition is typical of Bartolini’s style, merging Greek and Roman decorative elements together with the inventiveness of the Florentine Quattrocento. The frieze is decorated by a central anthemion flanked by stylised scrolling acanthus, held by two putti and continuing with wreaths of fruiting laurel and vine. The cornerblocks, carved with palmettes, rest on Ionic capitals supported by two caryatids.
Lorenzo Bartolini left Florence when very young to travel to Paris and study art. In the French capital, he became a loyal supporter of Napoleon and when the emperor was exiled to Elba, the sculptor accompanied him. However, when Napoleon escaped in 1815, Bartolini returned to Florence opening a studio in Via della Scala and started to produce more commercial work: vases, tazze and chimneypieces. Bartolini was much admired and patronised by British tourists to Florence, including the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth, who ordered an even larger copy of the Medici Vase (1819) and a marble bath all’antica (1822).
The chimneypieces by Bartolini in the drawing room of Tyninghame House, Dunbar, East Lothian show a very similar frieze.