A spectacular bronze figure of the Farnese Bull (The Punishment of Dirce) is one of the major pieces of sculpture to be shown by Tomasso Brothers Fine Art at TEFAF Maastricht at the Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre (MECC) from 16 to 25 March 2012. This will be the first time that Tomasso Brothers Fine Art, the internationally-renowned dealers in European sculpture, has exhibited at TEFAF which celebrates its Silver Jubilee in 2012. Stand 165.
The bronze figure by Giovanni Francesco Susini is a tour-de-force and is priced in the region of €750,000. Susini was a Florentine sculptor who trained in the workshop of Giambologna, one of the most important Mannerist sculptors in Italy, where his uncle Antonio Susini was the principal bronze-caster. Visiting Rome in 1624-26, he gained experience of classical antique statuary including, presumably, the colossal marble group of the Farnese Bull.
The largest single sculpture ever recovered from antiquity, the Farnese Bull, probably a Roman copy of a Greek original, was carved from a single block of white marble and is attributed to two artists from Rhodes, Apollonius of Tralles and his brother Tauriscus. Found in 1546 in the Baths of Caracalla in Rome and acquired soon after for the Farnese collection, it is now in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples. Zethus and Amphion, the twin builders of Thebes, are shown tying their stepmother Dirce to the horns of a wild bull to punish her for tormenting their mother, Antiope, a subject taken from Greek mythology.
Antonio Susini was sent to Rome by Giambologna to make copies of the finest statues and is known to have made several bronze statuettes of the Farnese Bull with every detail of the original meticulously executed, one of which is now in the Galleria Borghese, Rome, and another in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. The model being offered at TEFAF was cast by his nephew Gianfrancesco, and is probably taken from the same set of beautifully sculpted piece moulds made by Antonio when he made the casts that he signed and dated 1613, as the design is virtually identical. The spectacular bronze group is expertly cast, in several components invisibly joined together, and chased, and will be a major highlight at the 2012 TEFAF Maastricht.