Renaissance Revival Carrara Marble Planter
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About this piece
Of rectangular hollowed form, with carved relief friezes depicting scrolling acanthus leaves, flowers, over-flowing harvest vases and the heads of mythical beasts
English, circa 1850
Carved in the solid, this revivalist sculpture was executed by a sculptor well versed in the work of Andrea Sansovino (1467 - 1529). Sansovino's tomb of Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, located in the Maggiore Chapel of Santa Maria del Popolo, has a running frieze below the effigy of the Cardinal, which must form the influence for the offered work (see Bedford Lemere's photograph - image 3).
The exceptionally delicate carving depicts scrolling acanthus leaves, small 'bleeding heart' flowers ( an Oriental symbol of purity and innocence), over-flowing vases and the heads of mythical beasts known as Caquesseitão (see image 2). Part dragon, part bird, a Caquesseitão or 'ancestorOrient. Pinto describes his sighting of the caquesseitão on his journey from Malacca to Sumatra:
"We also saw here what was for us a very unusual and strange-looking animal that the natives call Caquesseitão, about the size of a big duck, deep black in colour, covered with scales, a row of spines running down the back for about the length of a quill pen, wings like a bat, the neck of a cobra, a horn on the head like a cockspur, and a very long, greenish-black tail, of the same colour as the large lizards that abound here. These creatures, which fly as though leaping through the air, live by hunting monkeys and other animals from the treetops."
His description of this mythical beast has many similarities to other creatures found in Oriental and Western Art from the 10th century onwards and is now thought to be a fruit bat commonly referred to as the 'flying fax.' Belonging to the megabat suborder, Megachiroptera, are the largest bats in the world and are commonly known as fruit bats or flying foxes among other colloquial names.
H 22cm x W 85.5cm x D 26.5cm
H 8¾" x W 33¾" x D 10½"
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