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Indepth Arts News:

"Medieval and Renaissance Sculpture, 1100-1520"
2008-06-13 until 2008-07-11
Sam Fogg
London, , UK United Kingdom

Sam Fogg’s annual sculpture exhibition Medieval and Renaissance Sculpture, 1100-1520 will be held at 15d Clifford Street, London W1, from Friday 13 June to Friday 11 July 2008. The exhibition will include sculptural works from the Romanesque, Medieval and Renaissance periods, providing collectors and curators with a visual feast. There will be sculptures in marble, stone, wood, bronze, alabaster, ivory and terracotta, varying in scale from large monumental carvings to smaller cabinet pieces. The exhibition will coincide with the fifth staging of London Sculpture Week, 13 to 20 June 2008, when nine London dealers bring this aspect of the arts to the fore.

The collecting of Medieval art is enjoying something of a renaissance. The past five years have seen a series of highly acclaimed exhibitions including most recently, Medieval Ivories from the Thomson Collection at the Courtauld Institute of Art, and Cranach at the Royal Academy of Arts, as well as a number of auctions of great private collections such as the Dormeuil collection at Sotheby’s in November 2007 and the Gillot sale at Christie’s in March 2008, both in Paris. These two auctions saw Medieval works of art fetching considerable sums, underlining the growing appreciation of medieval art and the seriousness with which it is treated by both private collectors and museums.

Sam Fogg is one of a very select few who deal in Romanesque sculpture – sculpture of the early Medieval period, the 11th and 12th centuries – and has seen a growing number of collectors in this area since his first exhibition in 2003. Romanesque sculpture was largely monumental – created for, or as part of, the architectural structure of buildings. Fogg will show a number of architectural elements such as corbels (a projection jutting out from a wall to support a superincumbent weight, such as a column or a vault) and capitals (the crowning member of a column) with carved figurative decoration. Of great interest in the exhibition will be two 12th century corbels discovered making up part of a wall in Mold, Cheshire, which are reused elements from a now destroyed Norman church in Mold (fig. 1). These form a group with two other corbels found in the same place one dating to the 14th and the other to the 15th century. This group embodies the playful and constantly inventive character of Romanesque (and later) subsidiary carving, each one carved with a different subject: a bull, a lion, a king and a man. There will also be a pair of 12th century lions from Italy, carved with muscular bodies and long shaggy manes. Both have circular mouldings on their backs which would have formed the base of a column and indicate that these lions would once have flanked a door or window. The exhibition will also include a range of carved capitals and relief carvings decorated with figures, birds and flowers. 

Another highlight of the Romanesque works on show will be a stone column representing the extraordinary figure of Belial, a naked, bearded man consumed by snakes (fig. 2). Belial, who is the embodiment of evil, was carved by one of the artists who worked on the pulpit in Salerno Cathedral dating from the late 12th century. 

Among the cabinet pieces on view will be a large and very impressive lion aquamanile with double-headed serpent spout from Germany, Lower Saxony, c. 1400 (fig. 3).  This Medieval vessel belongs to a group of heraldic aquamanilae.  Its basic form, with broad head, thick legs and paws and robust body, resembles earlier Romanesque examples with the addition of a shield suspended from the lion’s neck. The majestic power of the lion, the ‘king of the beasts’ according to the Medieval Bestiary, accounts for the special development of this special type of aquamanile. Originally, the liturgical aquamanilae expressed the symbolic significance of the ritual washing of the hands before the consecration of the Eucharist and after Mass. In the later Middle Ages, they were used at banquets as well as inns and in private homes. 

Of particular note is a marble relief of Ottaviano Augusto, an ancient Roman Emperor, set in profile, crowned and with wild, flowing hair (fig. 4). Carved by Mino da Fiesole (c. 1429-1484), the relief was once in the Peruzzi palace in Florence. The Peruzzi family was one of Florence’s most celebrated lineages while Mino da Fiesole was one of the leading early Renaissance sculptors working in Florence. The relief portrait is therefore an important and high status commission, clearly intended to endorse the importance of that family by presenting ancestral links to Ancient Roman rulers.

The show will include an English alabaster relief panel carved with the Resurrection (fig. 5). English alabaster pieces such as this were hugely popular throughout the 15th century and were made for export to Medieval Europe and Scandinavia, often of varying quality because the workshops were working to feed a large market. However, the Resurrection panel presented by Sam Fogg is a fine example, being relatively large and retaining much of its original polychrome, which is not always the case as these pieces were often stripped during the 19th century. This panel was probably designed as part of a large altarpiece showing the Passion of Christ. Few of these altarpieces remain intact, though many of their panels can be found in museum collections all over the world. 

Sam Fogg is a specialist in European Medieval art with departments also focusing on Islamic and Indian art. The company was founded 25 years ago and has long established expertise in the fields of Medieval sculpture, stained glass, illuminated manuscripts, Ethiopian and Armenian art, Islamic calligraphy and Indian paintings through highly acclaimed exhibitions and well researched publications. Fogg’s clients include numerous private collectors as well as some of the world’s major institutions. 

Circle of Rodrigo
AlemánSpain, Toledo
(?)c. 1500
Each 22 x 30.5 x 10.5 cm

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