Private collection, Italy
B. Jestaz, ‘Desiderio da Firenze. Bronzier à Padoue au XVIe siècle, ou le faussaire de Riccio’ in Fondation Eugène Piot: Monuments et Mémoires, Vol. 84 (2005), pp. 99–171
This superb small bronze faun, with a rich dark brown patina, stands on a triangular base holding a cornucopia in both hands, tight curls of fur covering his upper legs, his cloven feet apart, the rear hoof balanced on a small rock. Mouth open, with curled horns, split goatee beard and tiny upright tail, his wide eyes look upwards. The sides of the base are framed and decorated with plant motifs, each of the three feet adorned with grotesque masks.
The present scuplture is attributed to the workshop of a talented artist and close associate of the greatest Paduan master of the small bronze, Andrea Riccio (1470-1532) – Desiderio da Firenze. A mysterious figure about whom very little is known, Desiderio is documented in Padua between 1532, the year of Riccio’s death, and 1545. Nothing is known of his origins, although his name and some aspects of his style indicate that he was Tuscan. He could possibly be identifiable with a Desiderio, the grandson of the sculptor Desiderio da Settignano, who was born in Florence in 1486. In 1532 and 1533, Desiderio da Firenze is documented undertaking the modelling and casting of a bronze Voting Urn commissioned by the city council of Padua, now in the Museo Civico in Padua. He is next mentioned in 1537, when the humanist collector Pietro Bembo recommended him for a bronze font cover for the Baptistery of San Marco in Venice, describing him as a ‘good master of his art and an extremely agreeable person’. He subsequently contracted for the font cover commission in April 1545, together with the Paduan sculptor Tiziano Minio.
This work is accompanied by an expert report from Prof. Ulrich Middeldorf, Former Director, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, dated 27 December 1978.