Adèle d'AFFRY dite MARCELLO ( 1836 )
BIANCA CAPPELLO (c. 1863)
Salon S.A.F.(marble,1863), E.U.(marble, 1867; bronze,1873)
Bronze, silvered, gilt, brown patina
H : 85 cm, L : 58,5 cm, D : 31,5 cm
Lifetime cast signed "A.Marcello", titled "Bianca Cappello", old edition by "F.Barbedienne Fondeur" (Mark), ink inscriptions inside "87944/slae?/1600f."
Founded in 1986, the Univers du Bronze Gallery mainly exhibits bronzes by major sculptors of the last two centuries, 19th and 20th. The artists exhibited include Barye, Bugatti, Carpeaux, Degas, Giacometti, Laurens, Lipchitz, Maillol, Pompon, Rodin … The pieces are exhibited to the public during International Fine Art Fairs, like BRAFA, Masterpiece London, Fine Arts Paris or Antica Namur. Michel Poletti and Alain Richarme, its founders, have published several catalogues raisonné on Barye, Carpeaux…
Among the works that the Gallery presents this year, there is a bust that pays particular tribute to the high Hours of Sculpture during the Renaissance.
This is at the Salon in 1863 that Adèle d'Affry, Duchess of Castiglione, made a first appearance noticed under the name of Marcello, by presenting 3 sculptures: Bianca Cappello, marble bust; the Portrait of Count Gaston of Nicolaï, marble bust; as well as the bust of the Duchess of San Césario, in wax. The bust of Bianca Cappello is a sensation, and the name of Marcello is soon on everyone’s lips. This bust was inspired by a woman she had observed at a wedding in Italy, who had impressed her, “The proud air, the beak of a hunter bird and the gaze both dominating and full of promise…”
It was therefore not a true portrait, nor was it a historical representation, since Marcello gave him his title when the bust was almost complete.
Bianca Cappello, grand duchess of Tuscany, heroine of the Renaissance, wishing to get rid of her brother-in-law, the cardinal of Medici, who hindered his plans, decided to poison him by preparing a dish, which he appreciated; but her husband having tasted it by mistake, and being poisoned, she decided to die with him. Thus, one understands better the haughty, determined, almost manly look of the young woman. For the realization of her bust, she was also inspired by a drawing by Michelangelo of which she is an unconditional admirer; thus, the dress and the hairstyle are almost made from a drawing by Michelangelo kept in the Uffizi Museum.
Théophile Gauthier wrote about him:
“We would take this bust for the work of one of the masters of the Renaissance. It possesses the proud slender, haughty elegance of the sculptures of this era. The head, with its strange hair, has a cruel grace, an imperious beauty, a dangerous attraction…”
Merchant and collector A. Beurdeley rushed to Marcello’s studio to acquire it while the piece was still on display at the Salon. The Emperor, in turn, seduced, ordered an enlargement intended for the Castle of Fontainebleau. The criticism was almost unanimous in recognizing the qualities of the piece and many were astonished when, at the end of the Salon, no reward was awarded to its author. In the meantime, the true name of the sculptor had been revealed and the jury did not want to give a prize to a self-taught woman whose art was considered rather an occupation : Carpeaux, to console her, wrote him a letter in which he acknowledged his great talent and encouraged him to continue :
“The press has grown to you by a thousand cubits. To you the future, to you the glory: for you possess the power, science and genius of the arts”
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