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ID number:  BIRBI-43.2
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Artist / Maker:  Briosco ('Riccio'), Andrea (1470-1532)
Title / Object name:  African Boy Riding upon a Billy-Goat
Object type:  Sculpture
Place made:  Padua
Culture:  Italian
Date made:  Model and Cast: early 1500s
Materials:  Bronze, marble and gilt bronze
Measurements:  21.7 x 22.1 cm excluding base
Provenance:  Known to have been in the collection of John McCann of Simonscourt by 1937 and until 1943 (L. Planiscig in 'Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorisches Sammlungen im Wien', XIII, 1944, p.249 and 'The Connoisseur', vol. CXXIV, 1949, p.24)Purchased from J. McCann, March 1943
BIRBI-43.2.jpg

The boy holds a shell, cast from an actual specimen of a common Mediterranean mollusc, and probably intended to hold ink. Therefore, this is ostensibly a functional object, likely for a scholar's desk. In the Renaissance goats were common Bacchic symbols representative of unbridled procreative instincts, and shells were often a symbol for female sexuality, associated with Venus. The textured surface of the goat’s body resembles the extensive hammering that features on most autograph bronzes by Riccio, the leading Paduan sculptor of his day. Scholars have long debated this attribution and raised suspicions that the work is a 19th-century pastiche. Indeed, some aspects (such as the modelling of the hair) do not seem characteristic of Riccio’s style. However, technical study and new research into its provenance have confirmed that it dates to the 16th century. The bronze is traceable to the collection of Jacques-Laure Le Tonnelier, the bailli de Breteuil (1723-85), ambassador of the Order of Malta in Rome (1758-77). The elaborate 18th-century base is attributed to Luigi Valadier (1726-85), the most esteemed goldsmith in Rome, whose clients included the Pope and the bailli de Breteuil himself.

Notes:  Model and Cast: probably Padua, early 1500s.
The base was made by Luigi Valadier.

Exhibited: 'The Arts of the Italian Renaissance', Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, USA, 1958-1959; 'Italian Renaissance Bronzes', Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK, 26 July 1961 - 01 October 1961; 'Italian Renaissance Bronzes', Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 28 October 1961 - 14 January 1962; 'Italian Renaissance Bronzes', Florence, Italy, 08 February 1962 - 31 March 1962; 'Nature and Antique in the Renaissance', Stratische Galerie, Frankfurt, Germany, 04 December 1985 - 02 March 1986; 'Of Exceptional and Outstanding Merit: Treasures from the Barber Institute of Fine Arts', 22 May 2013 - 01 September 2013

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