Awe-inspiring in size and artistry, these incredible Venetian figural torchères pay homage to two of Italy’s most celebrated merchant explorers–Marco Polo and Amerigo Vespucci.
Standing over nine feet high, these impressive carved wood sculptures were crafted in the late Renaissance in the Lombardo manner and are masterpieces of the centuries-old tradition of Venetian woodcarving. Most works executed during this era were ecclesiastical or architectural in nature, such as the Archangel torchères found in the Palazzo Moncenigo in Venice (see image), a fact that makes these substantial secular figures an incredible rarity. Given their depiction of historical figures, these torchères would most likely have been specially commissioned by a wealthy Venetian merchant or public official to be displayed at the entrance of his palace. Outside of the similar pair housed in the Doge’s Palace in Venice, these figures are the only other secular pair known to exist anywhere in the world.
Displaying incredible attention to detail, the merchant explorers are rendered in exotic clothing inspired by their travels that forever changed the course of history. Retaining much of their original paint, a combination of gilt, polychrome and natural wood gives these imposing sculptures a dynamic and more life-like appearance. Known in Italy as androne torchère, these figures would have flanked the entrance hall stairwell making an unquestionably grand impression upon visitors.
Wooden sculptures of this immense quality and scale would be nearly impossible to survive in the condition of the present pair. The passage of nearly 400 years, combined with the regularity of floods throughout Venice’s history, make these figural torchères among the rarest works of Venetian art on the market today.
Venice, Early 17th Century
114” high x 44” wide x 30” deepClick here to view a video of this item.