These four candlesticks are each shaped as a putto, nude except for strands of drapery around the middle, who supports an urn-shaped candleholder. Although seemingly a set of four, the pieces were originally two separate pairs with disparate provenances. Three are cast from the same models for the base and putti, differing only in the chased details. One putto has a distinct stance of the legs, no cache-sex, and a more frontally directed head, but is in every other aspect similar to the other three. Apart from Valentiner’s unconvincing attribution to Jacopo Sansovino (1486 – 1570),(1) putti of this type are generally associated with Alessandro Vittoria (1525 – 1608) or his workshop. The putti are close relatives of the young boys on the large candelabrum in San Stefano, Venice, dated 1577 and attributed to Andrea de Alessandri, called Il Bresciano.(2) The model of that candlestick has been tentatively attributed by Planiscig to Alessandro Vittoria.(3) A copy was cast in 1617, at which time separate models of the putti may have been taken for various purposes. The Lehman candlesticks thus seem to reflect a sixteenth-century prototype from a workshop operating under the influence of Vittoria or his circle, but were possibly reissued after 1617. On the basis of their coarse casting, the addition of a cache-sexe, and the illogical combination of these putti with hippocampi, a late, possibly nineteenth-century manufacturing date of the Lehman candlesticks should be taken into consideration. Similar candlesticks were in the former collection of Eduard Simon in Berlin.(4) The Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin, possesses a pair of putti of the type without cache-sexes.(5) Two of the present candlesticks — both with cache-sexes — were among the objects removed from the apartment of Mrs. Albert E. Goodhart, Robert Lehman’s aunt, by Duveen Brothers after her death in 1952.(6) The other two are documented as works of art that Philip Lehman acquired from Duveen Brothers.(7)
Catalogue entry from: Frits Scholten. The Robert Lehman Collection. European Sculpture and Metalwork, Vol. XII. Frits Scholten, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Princeton University Press, 2011, pp. 202-203.
1. Valentiner, Wilhelm R. The Rita Lydig Collection. New York, 1913, no. 36.
2. Planiscig, Leo. Venezianische Bildhauer der Renaissance. Vienna, 1921, fig. 557; "La bellissima maniera": Alessandro Vittoria e la scultura veneta del Cinquecento. Exhibition, Castello del Buonconsiglio, 25 June – 26 September 1999. Catalogue edited by Andrea Bacchi, Lia Camerlengo, and Manfred Leithe-Jasper. Trent, 1999, p. 383.
3. Planiscig, p. 514 and fig. 557.
4. Sale, Paul Cassirer and Hugo Helbing, Berlin, 10 – 11 October 1929, part I, lots 82, 83.
5. Pechstein, Klaus. Bronzen und Plaketten vom ausgehenden 15. Jahrhundert bis zur Mitte des 17. Jahrhunderts. Kataloge des Kunstgewerbemuseums Berlin 3. Berlin, 1968, nos. 105, 106.
6. See Duveen Brothers Records, 1876 –1981, Getty Research Institute, series ii.1, Papers Regarding Major Art Collectors, box 478 (microfilm, reel 333, Thomas J. Watson Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art).
7. Duveen Brothers invoice dated 18 December 1920: “A Pair of Old Italian Bronze Candlesticks. By Jacopo Sansovino (1486 – 1570). Ex Lydig Sale” (Robert Lehman Papers). See also Duveen Brothers Records, 1876 – 1981, Department of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Client Summary Book (microfilm, reel 421, Thomas J. Watson Library).