Two Pietro Cipriani bronzes acquired by the Getty Museum


3/11/08 – Acquisitions – Los Angeles, Getty Museum –Two bronze statues cast by Pietro Cipriani in Florence in 1724 were temporarily banned for export from the United Kingdom last July. As there was no British purchaser, the authorization was finally granted and the two works have just been acquired by the Getty Museum from the London sculpture dealer Daniel Katz.

1. Pietro Cipriani (vers 1680-1745)
Medici Venus, 1722-1724
Bronze - H. 155.3 cm
Los Angeles, Getty Museum
Photo : Getty Museum

2. Pietro Cipriani (c. 1680-1745)
Dancing Faun, 1722-1724
Bronze - H. 143.5 cm
Los Angeles, Getty Museum
Photo : Getty Museum


These are casts (ill. 1 and 2) executed after the famous antiques in the Medici collection, the Medici Venus and the Dancing Faun (Florence, Uffizi). These life-size bronze copies had been commissioned in 1722, during his Grand Tour, by Lord Macclesfield for his sculpture gallery in Shirburn Castle. Cipriani was a student of Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi. The latter had produced the same models in bronze for the Prince of Lichtenstein twenty-five years earlier (they are currently being exhibited at the Kugel Gallery in Paris, see news item of 14/9/08).

Objects from the collections at Shirburn Castle are banned for export on a regular basis by the British government, with mixed results : the Macclesfield Psalter, sought after by the Getty Museum, had finally entered the Fitzwilliam Museum collections (see news item of 24/1/05 in French, on La Tribune de l’Art), whereas the Marsyas bronze, after Pierre II Legros, was acquired by the Liechtenstein Museum (see news item of 28/10/07). Two other bronzes by Cipriani, busts of Geta and Plautilla (Fulvia Plautilla) with the same Macclesfield provenance had been banned for export in 2007 unsuccessfully.
Given the fact that most of the works temporarily banned for export from the United Kingdom end up abroad, one might question the effectiveness of these measures. There have been the recent examples of a Virgin of the Annunciation in marble by Domenico Guidi (bought by the Liechtenstein Museum, new item to come) ; a Pietà by Domenichino, acquired finally by the Met (see news item of 24/6/08) ; the Lake of Lucerne by Turner-see news item of 1/6/06, in French, on La Tribune de l’Art) ; the Portrait of Wills Hill, the Earl of Hillsborough by Pompeo Batoni ; Meleager and Atalanta by Rubens as well as numerous other art objects or archival pieces.

3. Joseph Nollekens (1737-1823)
Bust of Charles Towneley, 1807
Marble - H. 45.6 cm
London, Art market



A bust of Charles Towneley by Joseph Nollekens (ill. 3) remains under a ban for export until 3 December 2008. The Towneley Hall Art Gallery and Museum, in Burley, Lancashire, where the bust had been on loan since 1926 is trying to purchase it. Otherwise, it will be sold to the Yale Center for British Art.

Version française


Didier Rykner, lundi 3 novembre 2008



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