(Italian fl. 1851-1894)
Height: 22 inches / 56 cm
Width: 12 inches / 30.5 cm
Depth: 13 inches / 33 cm
Stock number: 856870/0121
An antique carved marble sculpture study of a pensive semi-nude classical maiden kneeling and holding a lyre. Signed M. Motelli, Milano and dated 1867 to the reverse.
There is a circular oak plinth base that is available should you wish to have it.
Like many of his contemporaries, Metello Motelli is today a rather elusive figure, though he clearly enjoyed considerable success in his lifetime. Referred to as a Milanese sculptor, Motelli’s activity seems to have taken place primarily in Lombardy. Among his most important works is the memorial plaque in stone and bronze to Giuseppe Garibaldi, which he executed for the Lombard town of Saronno in 1883. Earlier in his career Motelli focused on genre sculpture, exhibiting widely both in Italy and abroad. Panzetta (op. cit.) lists charming-sounding subjects such as Un nido d’amore, shown in Florence in 1861, alongside more poignant themes, like the Eva (…) dopo la caduta which he presented at the Promotrice di Belle Arti di Torino in 1880. As well as showing works in Milan and Rome, Motelli is recorded as having exhibited in London in 1851, and again in 1882. The sculptor’s success transported him as far as America, where he presented the teasingly entitled An Awkward Surprise at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876.
Works by Metello Motelli rarely appear on the art market. Three of his marbles survive in the Raccolte d’Arte dell’Ospedale Maggiore in Milan. While showcasing the sculptor’s skilled handling of marble and interest in beauty of form, they represent rather sombre subjects: A Seated Girl gazing down at flowers in her hands, a Sleeping Angel in classical garb, and a haunting relief of a woman lying down, as if in a sarcophagus.
Like Ambrogio Borghi, Metello Motelli belonged to a school of sculptors based in and around Milan that flourished in the 1860s and 1870s. The sculptors’ ambition was to achieve a both sensuous and spectacular representation of the female nude,