Impressive Bronze Group of the Capitoline Wolf
Impressive Bronze Group of the Capitoline Wolf
Impressive Bronze Group of the Capitoline Wolf
Impressive Bronze Group of the Capitoline Wolf
Impressive Bronze Group of the Capitoline Wolf
Impressive Bronze Group of the Capitoline Wolf
Impressive Bronze Group of the Capitoline Wolf

FONDERIA CHIURAZZI (founded 1870)

Impressive Bronze Group of the Capitoline Wolf

c. 1920 Italy

Offered by Arthistorical Ltd.

£5,000 gbp
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The Capitoline She-Wolf with Romulus And Remus
After the Antique
Fonderia Chiurazzi, Naples, first half 20th century
Bronze, dark-brown patina, on a serpentine marble base
Chiurazzi stamp on the reverse and numbered ‘5/299’
Dimensions (the group): 69cm. / 27 in. long by 41 cm. / 16 in. high by 12 in. / 31 cm. wide
Dimensions incl. base: 74 cm. / 29 in. long by 47 cm. / 18 in. high by 14 in. / 36 cm. wide

This large and impressive bronze figural group of the Capitoline Wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome, is a fine After the Antique copy of the famous original at the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the Capitoline Hill, Rome. It was cast and finished by the Chiurazzi foundry of Naples, established in 1870 by the Neapolitan engraver Gennaro Chiurazzi (1840-1906). The Chiurazzi foundry enjoyed a lucrative period in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries making high-quality reproductions of ancient sculptures, particularly those excavated nearby at Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as other famous statues from Naples, Rome and elsewhere in Italy. Their works have been acquired for the decoration of many fine properties, including the courtyard of the Getty Villa, California. The excellent quality of the present group is evident in the crisp modelling of the Wolf’s curling bands of hair, its sharply defined facial features, as well as in the lustrous dark brown patina.

A bronze wolf was first mentioned in the Papal collections at the end of the 10th century as being present at the Lateran Palace. By the late 12th or early 13th century a bronze wolf was again recorded in the portico at the entrance to the Palace, where it was placed alongside a ram (as if stalking it), with its heavy teats apparently serving as a fountain. The Wolf remained at the Lateran until 1471, when Pope Sixtus IV donated it to the city of Rome (along with several other ancient bronzes) and moved it to the Capitoline. The motif of the she-wolf suckling the young twins is found on several ancient sarcophagi and was adopted both by Rome and the Commune of Siena (which boasted of its Roman origins), as symbols of their ancient past.

Renaissance antiquarians, therefore, identified the Capitoline Wolf (which at that time was without the twins) with an ancient original mentioned in Cicero’s In Catilinam III, 8, 19, which refers to a bronze group of a wolf with twins on the Capitoline Hill, which was struck by lightning in 65 B.C.. Apparent traces of fire damage on the hind legs of the Capitoline Wolf, which were taken as a sign of lightning damage, gave further reason for Renaissance scholars to think that this Wolf was the same one mentioned by Cicero. Thus the twins representing Romulus and Remus were added in the late fifteenth century, possibly by Antonio Pollaiuolo (c.1429-1498), who was a skilled bronze modeler and goldsmith, as well as a painter. 

The restored Wolf was brought inside the Palazzo in 1544 and installed in the newly-built Sala della Luppa. In the eighteenth-century, the German antiquarian Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768) argued that the Wolf was of archaic, possibly Etruscan origin. More recent scholarship and research into the casting technique, however, suggests that the Wolf is in fact most likely an 11-12th century medieval work, perhaps commissioned to copy an ancient original previously recorded at the Lateran, which may have been damaged or lost at some point in the Middle Ages.

In Roman mythology Romulus and Remus were the twin sons of the vestal virgin Rhea Silver. As recorded by Livy in The History of Rome (Book I), the twins were direct descendants of the Greek hero Aeneas through their mother’s father, Numitor, king of the ancient Latin city of Alba Longa. The infant twins were left abandoned beside the Tiber by the Usurper Amulius, Numitor’s younger brother, who had killed his older brother and wished to end his male line by killing the sons of Rhea Silver. The twins were saved, however, when a she-wolf came down to the river and allowed them to suckle.

The brothers were later found and adopted by a local shepherd named Faustulus, who raised them as lowly shepherds, but in later life their natural leadership skills gave them a large group of local supporters, which made Amulius suspicious of them. Remus was captured and imprisoned by Amulius, so Romulus led a band to free his brother and overthrow the Usurper, after which they restored their grandfather Numitor to the throne of Alba. Following a dispute about where to found a new city for their victorious supporters, however, Romulus had his younger brother killed and went on to found Rome, his eponymous new city, on the Palatine Hill.
RELATED LITERATURE:
Bober, Phyllis, and Rubinstein, Ruth 'Renaissance Artists and Antique Sculpture' (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), pp.218-9
Haskell, Francis and Penny, Nicholas 'Taste and the Antique' (New Haven, Yale, 1982), pp.335-7
Mattusch, Carol 'The Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum: Life and Afterlife of a Sculpture Collection' (Los Angeles, Getty Publications, 2005), pp.342-44
La Regina, Adriana "Roma, l'inganno della Lupa è "nata" nel Medioevo”. La Repubblica, 17 November 2006
Dimensions
Height 41.00 cm (16.14 inches)
Width 69.00 cm (27.17 inches)
Depth 31.00 cm (12.20 inches)
External Height 47.00 cm (18.50 inches)
External Width 74.00 cm (29.13 inches)
External Depth 36.00 cm (14.17 inches)
Arthistorical Ltd.

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