Factory: Cozzi manufactory (Italian, 1764–1812)
Date: ca. 1770–80
Culture: Italian, Venice
Medium: Hard-paste porcelain
Dimensions: 11 9/16 × 6 7/8 in. (29.4 × 17.5 cm)
Credit Line: Bequest of R. Thornton Wilson, in memory of his wife, Florence Ellsworth Wilson, 1977
Accession Number: 1977.216.37
It is likely that this tall figure group was intended to serve as the centerpiece of an elaborate, multipiece table decoration, most probably used during the dessert course. It depicts Neptune blowing a conch shell, with four hippocampi—seahorses whose bodies end in the tail of a dolphin or fish—at his feet. The marine theme is reinforced by the large scallop shells that decorate the pedestal supporting Neptune.
The centerpiece was made at the Cozzi factory, which was established in Venice in 1764. Founded by Geminiano Cozzi (1764–1812), the factory made hard-paste porcelain that is often grayish in color, with a highly glossy glaze. Much of the sculpture produced by Cozzi was left undecorated, as in the present example. The factory closed in 1812, the year of Cozzi's death.