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Two Exceptional Male Nudes at Christie’s – SFW

January 18, 2015
Lot 52. A BRONZE FIGURE OF HERCULES POMARIUS (Detail) BY WILLEM DANIELSZ. VAN TETRODE (C. 1525-1580), THIRD QUARTER 16TH CENTURY On a later spreading ebonized wood plinth 15¼ in. (39 cm.) high; 21¼ in. (54 cm.) high, overall. Estimate: $1.5-2.5 million.

Lot 52. A BRONZE FIGURE OF HERCULES POMARIUS (Detail)
BY WILLEM DANIELSZ. VAN TETRODE (C. 1525-1580), THIRD QUARTER 16TH CENTURY
On a later spreading ebonized wood plinth
15¼ in. (39 cm.) high; 21¼ in. (54 cm.) high, overall.
Estimate: $1.5-2.5 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $1.7 million ($2,045,000 with the buyer’s premium).

Two works by the great Netherlandish sculptor Willem Danielsz. van Tetrode from the Abbott Guggenheim Collection are up for auction at Christie’s on January 27, 2015. The artist, subject of a landmark monographic exhibition at the Frick in 2003, worked, according to the museum’s press release of the time, in Italy for some two decades where he “studied and restored antique marble sculpture and worked for such celebrated artists as Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571). From these experiences, he created expressive small bronzes showing the muscular male nude in poised or violent motion.” The sale catalogue notes, “He would later move to Rome and Vasari tells us that he worked for Guglielmo della Porta, although no known work from this period survives. In circa 1558 he executed what was perhaps his first independent commission, an architectural cabinet adorned with numerous bronzes after antique subjects for Gianfrancesco Orsini, Count of Pitigliano. Known as the Pitigliano Cabinet, it was eventually presented as a gift to Cosimo I de’ Medici. The bronzes – which were separated from the cabinet but survive (apart from one) in the Bargello, Florence – serve as the touchstone for much of Tetrode’s early work.”  Upon his return to Delft, Tetrode initiated a passion for collecting small bronzes in the North and inspired the muscular classicism in the work of younger artists, such as Hendrick Goltzius.”

The Hercules Pomarius and Écorché of a Man are two remarkable examinations of the male nude – the one heroic and defiant, the other tortured.  According to the sale catalogue, “[t]here are four versions ofHercules Pomarius: one in the Rijksmuseum, one in the Robert H. Smith Collection (promised to the National Gallery, Washington), one owned by the Hearn Family Trust, New York and the Abbott Guggenheim model.”

Lot 52. A BRONZE FIGURE OF HERCULES POMARIUS BY WILLEM DANIELSZ. VAN TETRODE (C. 1525-1580), THIRD QUARTER 16TH CENTURY On a later spreading ebonized wood plinth 15¼ in. (39 cm.) high; 21¼ in. (54 cm.) high, overall. Estimate: $1.5-2.5 million. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 52. A BRONZE FIGURE OF HERCULES POMARIUS BY WILLEM DANIELSZ. VAN TETRODE (C. 1525-1580), THIRD QUARTER 16TH CENTURY
On a later spreading ebonized wood plinth
15¼ in. (39 cm.) high; 21¼ in. (54 cm.) high, overall.
Estimate: $1.5-2.5 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $1.7 million ($2,045,000 with the buyer’s premium).
Click on image to enlarge.

About the Hercules, the Frick release states:

In Rome, exciting discoveries of monumental antique marbles, like the Farnese Hercules in 1545, placed renewed emphasis on the dramatic muscular force of Hellenistic sculpture. Tetrode’s response to this powerful strain of Hellenistic classicism was both immediate and long lasting. One of his first documented small bronzes, finished in 1559, is a much-reduced reproduction of the giant marble hero at rest. About five years later Tetrode would inventively energize this subject in one of his mature compositions, the Hercules Pomarius. Although as heavily muscled as his classical forebear, Tetrode’s Hercules is, instead, poised for action. Edgily balanced on the balls of his feet, Hercules gazes sharply to the right and wields his heavy club as lightly as if it were a Roman short sword.

Lot 52. A BRONZE FIGURE OF HERCULES POMARIUS BY WILLEM DANIELSZ. VAN TETRODE (C. 1525-1580), THIRD QUARTER 16TH CENTURY On a later spreading ebonized wood plinth 15¼ in. (39 cm.) high; 21¼ in. (54 cm.) high, overall. Estimate: $1.5-2.5 million.

Lot 52. A BRONZE FIGURE OF HERCULES POMARIUS
BY WILLEM DANIELSZ. VAN TETRODE (C. 1525-1580), THIRD QUARTER 16TH CENTURY
On a later spreading ebonized wood plinth
15¼ in. (39 cm.) high; 21¼ in. (54 cm.) high, overall.
Estimate: $1.5-2.5 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $1.7 million ($2,045,000 with the buyer’s premium).

According to the sale catalogue, “[t]he present bronze écorché is known in one other closely similar bronze example (private collection, New York), a variant bronze example (with bronze support; Palazzo Venezia, Rome, inv. no. PV 10822) and a variant lead example (formerly Castiglione Collection, now Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, inv. no. KK. 10141).”

Lot 71. A BRONZE FIGURE OF AN ECORCHE MAN BY WILLEM DANIELSZ. VAN TETRODE (C. 1525-1580), CIRCA 1562-67 On a later rectangular oak plinth 17 1/8 in. (43.5 cm.) high; 19 in. (48.2 cm.) high, overall. Estimate: $1.5-2.5 million.

Lot 71. A BRONZE FIGURE OF AN ECORCHE MAN BY WILLEM DANIELSZ. VAN TETRODE (C. 1525-1580), CIRCA 1562-67
On a later rectangular oak plinth
17 1/8 in. (43.5 cm.) high; 19 in. (48.2 cm.) high, overall.
Estimate: $1.5-2.5 million. This lot failed to sell.

The Frick release adds:

Tetrode returned to his native Delft in 1567, bringing with him the models he had produced after almost twenty years in Italy. To Netherlandish artists, collectors, and humanists, it was as if Italy’s glorious classical and modern artistic achievements had been presented to them, in breathtaking combination, by a single hand. Tetrode’s work inspired the great interest in small bronzes in the Italian manner that was to last for well over a century in the Netherlands. His aggressively muscular nudes helped inspire the younger Hendrick Goltzius’s powerful brand of classicism. In all his sculptures, Tetrode memorably expressed the emotional power of the human figure as it was captured in muscular motion. But this ability is, perhaps, most movingly evinced in a late bronze that was intended as an anatomical model for his fellow artists. The Écorché unforgettably depicts a flayed man rearing back on his heels, each revealed muscle poised in tension, as he is almost miraculously suspended by the motion of his upswept arm.

Lot 71. A BRONZE FIGURE OF AN ECORCHE MAN BY WILLEM DANIELSZ. VAN TETRODE (C. 1525-1580), CIRCA 1562-67 On a later rectangular oak plinth 17 1/8 in. (43.5 cm.) high; 19 in. (48.2 cm.) high, overall. Estimate: $1.5-2.5 million. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 71. A BRONZE FIGURE OF AN ECORCHE MAN BY WILLEM DANIELSZ. VAN TETRODE (C. 1525-1580), CIRCA 1562-67
On a later rectangular oak plinth
17 1/8 in. (43.5 cm.) high; 19 in. (48.2 cm.) high, overall.
Estimate: $1.5-2.5 million. This lot failed to sell.
Click on image to enlarge.

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