A recently discovered and unpublished parcel-gilt and silvered equestrian bronze of King Carlos II of Spain and the two Sicilies by Giacomo Serpotta (1656-1732) is one of the most exciting pieces to be offered by Tomasso Brothers at TEFAF Maastricht, the world’s leading art and antiques fair, at the Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre (MECC) from 15 to 24 March 2013. Stand 165.
From 1679 to 1680 when he was only in his early 20s, Giacomo Serpotta worked on the model for an equestrian statue of Carlos II which was cast by Andrea and Gaspare Romano (active 1630-1680) and erected in the Piazza del Duomo, Messina, on 26 May 1684. He went on to become the leading Sicilian sculptor of his day and spent almost all his life on the island. He was one of the greatest of all virtuosi in his main medium of stucco and his work, some of which has been described as ‘amongst the finest expressions of the Rococco in Italian art’, is mainly found in the churches of his native Palermo.
Carlos II was the last Hapsburg to rule in Spain and his death caused the War of the Spanish Succession. The statue was destroyed by a revolutionary mob on 16 March 1848 and then melted down to make cannons ‘in defence of Liberty’. Until now, the only known surviving model was a small bronze version in the Museo Regionale, Trapani.
The emergence of this new bronze, with its bravura handling and interesting iconography, is an important addition to our knowledge of equestrian statues, a branch of official sculpture that is attracting increased recognition today. It will be offered by Tomasso Brothers Ltd at TEFAF for a price in the region of €250,000.