A fine North Italian patinated bronze model of a seated nymph, 17th century, after the Antique and in the manner of examples by Giovanni Fonduli da Crema and Pier Jacopo Alari Bonacorsi, called l'Antico, the maiden portrayed partially draped and seated on a loosely modelled tree stump, mounted to a flecked black marble base, 21.5cm high, the base 14cm wide
The present bronze is an interpretation of a known and much admired Roman type, such as the marble group currently in the Uffizi, formerly the Caffarelli Collection and known to have been excavated during the late 15th or 16th century, and the nymph at the Museo Archeologico in Naples (Pompeiian Collection, inv. no. 6365).
The seated nymph reaching for her outstretched foot inspired several Italian sculptors revisiting the Antique, as early as the latter part of the 15th century. The best-known example is the graceful seated nymph by Antico, who was primarily active in the North-Italian court of Mantua, under the patronage of Isabella d'Este. A rare circa 1503 cast of his seated nymph, remarkably similar in composition, was sold at Sotheby's, 8 December 2009.
That statuette may have been created to accompany Antico's statuette of the Spinario , which depicts a male youth in a similar pose, cradling his foot.
The seated marble nymph this bronze may have been derived from was sometimes also referred to as the 'ninfa alla spina', further drawing attention to the thematic affinity between the two Ancient groups in the eyes of a Renaissance admirer.
While similarities with the Antico model are certainly striking, the arm extending all the way down to the foot instead of resting on the calf as well as the handling of the facial features and hair can also be compared to the statuette of the seated nymph by Giovanni da Fonduli in the Wallace Collection.
Like the examples by Fonduli and Antico, the present bronze also retains traces of gilding to the hair and drapery.
See Wilhelm Bode, The Italian Bronze Statuettes of the Renaissance, M.A.S. De Reinis, New York, Vol 2, plates XCI-XCII for the Wallace Collection model and other, similar versions of the nymph.
See also W. Terni de Gregory, 'Giovanni da Crema and his Seated Goddess', in The Burlington Magazine , Vol. 92, No. 567 (Jun., 1950), pp. 158-161 for further background on the Fonduli statuette and its connection to the ancient marble prototype