Wilhelm von Bode and Leo Planiscig attributed a statuette of Minerva on a firedog in the former J. Pierpont Morgan collection, and similar to the Lehman Minerva, to Alessandro Vittoria.(1) Moreover, an almost identical bronze in Budapest was ascribed to Aspetti by Planiscig.(2) Compared to Vittoria’s signed bronze Minerva in the former collection of Robert H. Smith and now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.,(3) the Lehman Minerva with its quiet classicism and Mannerist proportions, does not uphold the attribution to Vittoria. Although probably inspired by a Vittoria model,(4) seen especially in the all’antica treatment of the armor, the Lehman Minerva displays a much more Baroque sense of movement. Minerva’s face and her waving draperies closely relate to a Mercury in Berlin, which recently has been ascribed to Girolamo Campagna (1549 – after 1617).(5) Other stylistic parallels are found in Campagna’s terracotta Virgin with Christ, Saint John the Baptist, and two angels in Los Angeles,(6) as well as in the face of his signed bronze Saint Agnes (Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice).(7) The all’antica shoes decorated with lion’s masks are almost identical to those on a seated Minerva in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, which also has been rightly given to Campagna.(8) Finally, Mariacher attributed a Minerva of identical model as the Lehman bronze (Museo Civico, Padua) to Campagna.(9) It has been suggested that the pose of Minerva was inspired by a composition by Giuseppe Salviati, known today only through a drawing.(10) The Lehman figure’s right arm was broken during or shortly after casting and was repaired. The underside of the base bears an incised, V-shaped location mark (see detail ill.). The Minerva was matched with a Mars, and both were, at a later date, mounted on two andirons from the workshop of Roccatagliata (1975.1.1387b, 1975.1.1388b) to form an allegory of War and Peace. Their different bases and variations in style indicate, however, that they were not originally conceived as a pair.
The andiron (1975.1.1388b), with its open base of volutes and backward-leaning putti is stylistically reminiscent of the work of Roccatagliata. A pair of andirons in Munich, attributed to this Venetian sculptor, provides a variant of this type of base and has an almost identical mask adorning the baluster above.(11) Until about 1995 this andiron was surmounted by a statuette of Minerva (1975.1.1388a).
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. 56-58.
1. Bode, Wilhelm von. Bronzes of the Renaissance and Subsequent Periods: Collection of J. Pierpont Morgan. 2 vols. Paris, 1910, vol. 2, no. 193, pl. cxxxiii; Planiscig, 1921, fig. 521.
2. Planiscig, Leo . Venezianische Bildhauer der Renaissance. Vienna, 1921, fig. 622.
3. Radcliffe, Anthony, and Nicholas Penny. Art of the Renaissance Bronze, 1500 – 1650: The Robert H. Smith Collection. With contributions by Marietta Camberari and Fabio Barry and an essay on technique by Shelley Sturman. London, 2004, no. 15.
4. See Planiscig, figs. 518, 519.
5. Bronzetti Veneziani: Die Venezianischen Kleinbronzen der Renaissance aus dem Bode-Museum Berlin. Exhibition, Georg-Kolbe-Museum, 26 October 2003 – 11 January 2004; Kunsthistorisches Museum; Ca’ d’Oro. Catalogue by Volker Krahn. Berlin and Cologne, 2003, no. 37.
6. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 85.sc.59 ("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, no. 90).
7. Trent 1999, no. 94.
8. From Vulcan’s Forge: Bronzes from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1450 – 1800. Exhibition, Daniel Katz, 15 November – 16 December 2005; Liechtenstein Museum, Autumn 2006. Catalogue by Frits Scholten and Monique Verber. London, 2005, no. 17.
9. Mariacher, Giovanni. Bronzetti veneti del Rinascimento. Vicenza, 1971, p. 40 and fig. 168.
11. Weihrauch, Hans R. Europäische Bronzestatuetten, 15. – 18. Jahrhundert. Braunschweig, 1967, fig. 202.