An Exceptional Monumental Neo-Classical Style Marmo Rosso Urn after the Warwick Model
Italian, Circa 1820.
Height: 59 cm / 23 inches
Width: 83 cm / 33 inches
Depth: 63 cm / 25 inches
Signed 'B. Boschetti Roma' for the important nineteenth century Italian sculptor Benedetto Boschetti.
This incredible and technically complex Marmo Rosso model of the Warwick Vase, is over 60 cm high but unusually carved from just a single block of marble on a scale rarely found, and created with unrivalled intricacy.
The only other known marble reduction of the Warwick Vase by this artist, now resides in the collection of the Toledo Museum, Ohio - for many years it was believed the Toledo vase was the only example carved on this scale by Boschetti.
The vase is modelled after the antique vase found at the Roman Emperor Hadrian's villa (Villa Adriana) in 1770 and subsequently in the collection of the Earl of Warwick. Perhaps the most famous object of antiquity on display in the nineteenth century, its fame became universal, not just in Britain, but across Europe, with even the Emperor Napoleon coveting it: 'Had the Emperor Bonaparte been successful in conquering England…the first note in his pocket-book was to possess himself of the marble vase at Warwick' (Baron Denon).
The vase was found in 1770 in fragments and was reconstructed by Sir William Hamilton at great expense. The credit for the reconstruction of the vase is usually given to the celebrated architect Giovanni Battista Piranesi. The likelihood however is that it was a collaborative process involving the antiquities dealer James Byre and the sculptor Bartolomeo Cavaceppi. Around the circumference of the vase are carved heads representing satyrs, except one, which is that of a female traditionally said to have been substituted for a missing head never recovered from Lake Tivoli. The female mask was designed by Piranesi after one of his own designs for a pair of candelabra. A legend has grown up that this mask was carved in the likeness of Lady Hamilton and that as a result of a quarrel with the carver, the female mask was given a fawn's ear.
After the restoration was completed George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick, purchased the Vase and displayed it at Warwick Castle. Due to its popularity the Earl banned the full scale reproductions of the vase in 1813, and only four full-size examples were made. The vase however had already come to embody the ideal of classical art, and Piranesi's etchings were employed to make smaller reductions. Very few reductions however were made of the quality and scale of the present example by Boschetti.
This reduction of the vase, carved from a single block of marble uniquely captures the cultural importance of The Grand Tour, the obsession of the period with antiquity and classical sources, and is revealed in the incredible skill and ambition of the marble carvers' art.
Meyer, Jonathan (2006), Great Exhibitions - London, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, 1851-1900, Antique Collectors' Club, Woodbridge; p. 41.
Alvar Gonzales-Palacios (1986), Il Tempo del Gusto, Milan; p.120 and fig. 5-7.