N/A - "Putto playing a drum" Italian 17th cent. coral sculpture

Putto corallo.JPG
Putto corallo b.JPG
Putto corallo.JPG
Putto corallo b.JPG
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N/A - "Putto playing a drum" Italian 17th cent. coral sculpture

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Rare hand carved coral sculpure representing a putto playing drums.

Sicily, city of Trapani, 17th cent.

Height cm 8

Very good condition commensurate to age

TRAPANI'S CORAL HISTORY

Of mythological origin, born from the blood of the cut off head of Medusa, of which it would have kept the same power, the coral praises a very old history, where a bunch of legends glorifies its supposed therapeutic and propitiatory properties that are found in both the oriental and western civilization. For its apotropaic value, it will be paradoxically the Christianity to make the coral an integrate part of its symbology: paternoster's grains, crucifixes, monstrance, baptismal bars and ornaments for the Saint will become privileged objects in which the red sea-twig will take on a definitive consecration as symbol of Christ's Blood.
In Trapani (Italy), where the coral reefs were giving raw material in abundance, the art of workmanship of coral became methodic craft beginning from the XVth sec. when basically, in the "History of Trapani of 1591" it is spoken of the activity of "Corallini e Corallari Trapanesi", because this "good craftsmanship" it was already affirmed by half century as an expression of art, having already outdated the first phase of simple production, of grains and small spheres for the rosary crowns.
It's the severe school of the "bottega" that the apprentices will become gradually expert craftsmen, which after the discovery of the new coral reefs in Tabarca (Italy), around the 1530, will renew their enthusiasm with more competence and creative ability.
Unparalleled sacred and profane objects come out form caring and delicate hands: Virgin Mary statuettes, saints, crucifixes, dancers, jewel boxes, goblets, shrines, trays, lamps, caskets, jewels, frontals, stoups, monstrance, bolsters, frames, Nativity sets, in which the precious coral is mingled with gold, silver, copper, enamels, mother of pearls, lapislazuli, pearls, agates. They represent an endless series of masterpieces of fantasy and technical skill, in which the taste for the fantastic and grotesque, reminiscences of the Gothic culture present in the late local miniature, and in some aspects of the sculptural decoration of the "botteghe gaginesche" it renews and becomes actual and vibrant thanks also, to the indisputable influence of the already proved experience of the goldsmith from Palermo and Messina which manner contributed to refine and influence Trapani's craftsmen.
Already at the end of '500 and in the next two centuries, manufactures of exquisite make were created for high rank customers, because they were giving these presents to kings, princes, cardinals and popes. Memorable is the making of the "Coral Mountain", bought in the 1570 in Trapani, for a very high price, commissioned by Don Francesco Ferdinando Avalos de Aquino, Sicily's viceroy and sent to Philippe II of Spain, or the one donated in the 1631, by the Palermo's Senate to Pope Urban VIII. This appreciation of the aristocrat and ecclesiastic classes allowed to create a network of prestigious orders in the whole Europe, with the consequent demand of richer and more elaborated objects. So, it's not only a case if the majority of these masterpieces are outside Sicily in collections like the one of the Doria's, the Counts of Schoenborn a Pommersfelden, the Princes of Ligne, the King of Spain and, more recently of the Whitaker.

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