Late 18th Century, Roma (c. 1780)
Luigi Valadier (1726 – 1785)
After the Antique: Capitoline Museum, Roma Inv. Scu. 743
H 24 x W 8 x D 6 cm
H 9,4 x W 3,1 x D 2,3 inch
"This statue became popular very quickly. In December 1744, within months of its discovery, Jean-François de Troy, director of the French Academy in Rome, wrote that it was 'undeniably one of the most beautiful draped figures in Rome' and he was asked by the Pope for a cast of it in addition to the one that he was encouraged to make for the Academy. Bottari also praised the drapery with enthusiasm and pointed out that the very fact that the Flora had been found at Hadrian's Villa suggested that it must be 'by some famous master’: it was, he claimed, as worthy of esteem as the Farnese Flora, long one of the best-known statues in Rome."
Today, the drapery of the Capitoline Flora, whose quality so charmed the 18th century, is the feature that causes greatest scepticism. "The Flora is catalogued in Helbig as being possibly an eighteenth-century pastiche of an antique statue, or, if not, one whose drapery has been so reworked in the Baroque period as to make a convincing attribution impossible." Haskell and Penny stop in their book just short of declaring that this statue (still on public display) was probably a complete 18th century creation, concocted to appeal to the booming 18th-century antiquities market. The Capitoline Flora has also been called Sabina and Polyhymnia.
High-quality small replicas of this and other famous statues and busts from antiquity were produced in bronze, terracotta and porcelain, in Rome and elsewhere. Massimiliano Soldani and the Doccia porcelain manufactory produced various replicas of ancient statues in Florence in the early eighteenth century. In Rome during the second half of the eighteenth century, four enterprising foundries were active – those of Francesco Righetti, Luigi and Giuseppe Valadier, Giuseppe Boschi and (the largest and most popular), the foundry of Giacomo and Giovanni Zoffoli.
Honour had published the 1795 inventory of all bronzes produced by Giovanni and Giacomo Zoffoli, which includes as no. 13: Flora di Campidoglio (cost) 16 Roman zecchins. The then current rate of exchange in London was 10 shillings, 6 pence to the Roman sequin, or approximately 9 pounds for the Flora Campidoglio at that time. Generally, several of these bronze reductions were acquired by wealthy foreign travelers on the Grand Tour to form a decorative garniture to place atop a mantle.
The base of the bronze indicates that it isn’t made by the Zoffoli workshop as shown in their inventory. Zoffoli has a base shaped with moulding. (cf Philadelphia bronze).
When looking at the Valadier bronzes, these do not have the moulding, but only a plain round base. The Flora by Valadier in the Royal Swedish Collection is one of the other rare versions of this model; commissioned by the King of Sweden.
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