Homer and Poetry

Filippo Collino

Torino, 1737 - 1800

Material: White marble

Size: 65 cm heigh

review by prof. sandro bellesi

The work, which is in an excellent state of preservation and still with its original patina, depicts two figures: an elderly man and a woman in the prime of life. The two figures are identifiable, according to accurate iconographic interpretations, with Homer and Poetry. Homer, the great poet of classical Greece, author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, is carved in marble with his most typical physical characteristics handed down from ancient to modern times. Depicted as a man of advanced age and with noble features, he is almost without hair but with flowing moustaches and a beard. Homer has an absent look, in order to allude to his blindness, considered through some myths, a divine punishment for having defamed Helen, wife of Menelaus, loved by Paris. As in many works dedicated to Homer, also in this case the great composer is depicted as an aoidos and as such is accompanied by a stringed musical instrument, or a lyre. Together with the poet, as mentioned, a young woman is depicted with some twigs of trees and laurel, who alludes to Calliope, the muse of epic poetry.

According to the artist’s initials, the date and the style, it is possible to assign the statue to the catalog of Filippo Collino, who, together with the older brother Ignazio (Turin, 1724-1793), is considered a prominent figure in the Piedmontese art scene of the second half of the Eighteenth century.  

To follow the biographical and professional events of Collino, we must necessarily also consider the brother Ignazio, as the two siblings almost always worked together and it is often not easy to distinguish the making of these masters in the realisation of their works.

After learning the first artistic techniques in Turin, initially in the school of Claudio Francesco Beaumont and then in the school of Francesco Ladatte, Ignazio Collino, the oldest of the two brothers, moved to Rome in 1748, where thanks to the protection of Carlo Emanuele III di Savoia, was introduced in the atelier of Giovan Battista Maini. Over the course of a few years, Ignazio studied with particular attention the antique works, making some copies which were subsequently sent home. Along with the study of Greek-Roman statues, the artist was very interested in the seventeenth-century classicist works and in the novelties of the French art world. In 1758, together with his brother Filippo, who arrived in Rome in 1754, Ignazio started a strong activity characterised by important works, such as the allegorical-mythological marbles made for the Beaumont Gallery in the Royal Armoury in Turin. The return of the Collino brothers to Piedmont in 1767, was marked by numerous public and private commissions, mostly linked to the House of Savoy, among which we highlight essentially, the spectacular funeral monuments which were intended for important Piedmontese religious buildings. Authors also of a large number of models or small terracotta statues which are now preserved mostly at the Accademia Albertina in Turin, the Collino family left an important example to follow in the Piedmontese sculpture, as we can see in some statues by Giovan Battista Bernero, one of the most fascinating artists of the early neoclassicism of Turin (for a biographical track on the Collinos see P. San Martino, Collino, Ignazio and Filippo in Saur. Allgemeines Künstler -Lexikon. Die Bildenden Künstler aller Zeiten und Völker, 20 , München-Leipzig, 1998, p. 324; with previous bibliography). 

As last artistic documentation of Filippo, the work is of extreme importance as it constitutes a real rarity in the artist’s personal catalogue, since he was well-known for sculptures carried out exclusively together with his brother Ignazio, who died in 1793.

The specimen is characterised by an elegant late Baroque style that carries the first germ of neoclassical culture. The work, certainly created for elegant furnishings, finds ideal comparisons with various statues carved by the two brothers over the years, starting from the 1860s.

Among the most pertinent comparisons with this specimen we can cite, above all, the statues Fortezza and Affabilità in the Gallery of the Beaumont in the Royal Palace of Turin and Atalanta in the Palazzina of Stupinigi (for further information see A. Tellucin Ignazio and Filippo Collino and the Sculpture in Piedmont in the 18th Century in “Bollettino d’Arte”, Year II, Series II, 1922-1923, pp. 203, 205 and 213). 

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