A marble putto head,  workshop of Francesco Bordoni (1580-1654)
A marble putto head,  workshop of Francesco Bordoni (1580-1654)

A marble putto head, workshop of Francesco Bordoni (1580-1654)

c. 1625 France

Offered by Herwig Simons

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This impressive marble shows the head of an unspecified young man. It is all that remains of a now lost over-life size marble statue that belonged to the marvelous collection of exquisite art of Cardinal de Richelieu at his château near Chinon. The head consists of a bland, ovoid face framed by copious wavy hair. It is slightly bent towards the left and clearly facing upwards. Although the eyes are left blank the slight slope of the eyebrows upward towards the nose and the particular shape of the upper and lower eyelids suggest the youth is looking towards the sky. The mouth carries an almost heavenly blissful smile bordering the ecstatic.

The statue was most probably made by the studio of Francesco Bordoni, son in law of Pietro Francavilla. Their distinctive style is often dubbed mannerist, a style fathered by Giambologna. The style grafts an instinctive appreciation of the formal aspect of Michelangelo’s sculpture on to a thorough reappraisal of Graeco-Roman statuary. It soon became popular all over Europe owing mainly to the export of Giambologna’s bronze statuettes but also thanks to his numerous students (like Francavilla) many of whom after having worked as an assistant to the master in his prolific studio, returned to their home countries or other parts of Europe often to become celebrated sculptors in their own right, never completely abandoning the distinct style of the revered Giambologna.
The head has an irrefutable mannerist appearance as do the vast majority of Francavilla’s/Bordoni’s statues who kept on using it in his statues in France because he had found a ready and profitable market for it.
Height 27.00 cm (10.63 inches)
Herwig Simons

Herwig Simons
Rue Watteeu 27
1000 Brussels

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