Satyr with a kid on its shoulders Isidoro Franchi

Isidoro Franchi

Carrara – Italy, 1660 – Florence – Italy, 1720

Material: White marble

Size: Height cm 132

Critical review by prof. Sandro Bellesi

In 1676, on the occasion of some excavations carried out near Santa Maria alla Vallicella in Rome, otherwise known as the New Church, a “torso of a statue representing an armless little satire without a foot was brought to light, as accurately transcribed in a memorial written by the Oratorian monks, which was sold to her majesty the Queen of Sweden “(AM Corbo, Opening of a Road to the New Church in 1673: Archaeological Findings and Controversies in” Commentaries “, 1972, pp. 181, 184).

The work, depicting more precisely a satire with a kid on its shoulders, was immediately delivered, after the purchase by Queen Cristina of Sweden, who had long lived in the city, to Ercole Ferrata, a former pupil and collaborator of Gianlorenzo Bernini and Alessandro Algardi,  author of valuable works of his invention, as well as a skilled restorer of ancient marbles.Ferrata, as an expert restorer, was able, in a short time, to realize a more than worthy of note work, also appreciated for the wise integration of the original pieces perfectly harmonized with the ancient fragment.

After various changes of ownership, the statue was added in 1724 to the royal collections of Charles V of Spain in Madrid, and after its restoration carried out by Ferrata, was then examined in Rome by various sculptors working at that time, some of whom were authors of more or less faithful copies, among which we remember, as the first one, a sculpted version between 1685 and 1686 by Anselme Flamen for the palace of Versailles (Correspondance des directeurs de l’Académie de France à Rome avec les Surintendants des Bâtiments, to edited by A. de Montaiglon, 18 vols., Paris, 1887-1912, VII, p. 59).

Together with faithful copies of the original, smaller versions of marble were produced in Florence, more or less at the end of the same century, and appreciated bronze derivations, or else a marble one made by Isidoro Franchi for Chatsworth in Derbyshire (F. Haskell – N. Penny, The ancient in the history of taste: the seduction of classical sculpture 1500-1900, Italian ed., Turin, 1984, p. 293); some metal reductions cast by Giuseppe Piamontini are to be added to the ones above cited, one of which was made for the Grand Prince Ferdinando de ‘Medici, now preserved in the National Museum of Bargello (S. Bellesi in Plasmato dal fuoco. The bronze sculpture in the Florence of the last Medici, exhibition catalog by E. Schmidt, S. Bellesi and R. Gennaioli, Florence, Livorno, 2019, pp. 326-327, with previous bibliography).

The proximity to the marble version of Chatsworth, more or less similar also in size, enables us to assign the work in question to the same sculptor: Isidoro Franchi. (for the photographic reproduction of this specimen we refer to M. Visonà, Giovanni Battista Foggini and other artists in Villa Corsini in Castello – “Rivista d’Arte “, Year XLII, 1990, p. 177, fig. 25). Originally from Carrara, where he was probably born between 1660 and 1665, the artist moved to Florence at an early age, where he was traced for the first time in 1683.

A pupil of Giovan Battista Foggini, who was a renovator of Tuscan sculpture in a Baroque sense, Isidoro Franchi certainly started an independent activity beginning in 1684, the year in which he enrolled at the Accademia del Disegno.Shortly after the return of Anton Francesco Andreozzi to Tuscany in 1686, Isidoro Franchi shared an artistic partnership with him for some years, witnessed above all by some statues made within 1693,  under the aegis of Foggini in the Feroni Chapel at the Santissima Annunziata in Florence.

After the collaborative parenthesis with Andreozzi, going on at various stages at least until the early years of the eighteenth century, Isidoro, who was also the author of well-known statues of his own made for some Florentine patrician families, had to continue his activity with alacrity; it is difficult today,  unfortunately, to certify it due to the small documentary information.The strict adherence to the typological Fogginian models, combined with the knowledge of the new Florentine sculptural languages ​​in the late Baroque age, characterizes the style of Franchi, known above all for pleasing figured statues, destined in large part for the furnishing of elegant gardens.

There is little information on the sculptor after the first years of the eighteenth century and the last information referable to him today dates back to 1720, a time in which his name is mentioned for the last time in the registers of the Accademia del Disegno (for Franchi  look mainly in the Repertory of the Florentine Sculpture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, edited by G. Pratesi with the scientific advice of U. Schlegel and S. Bellesi, 3 vols., Turin, 1993, I, pp. 47-48, 83 and II, figs 279-281, M. Visonà, Franchi, heading in Biographical Dictionary of Italians, L, Rome, 1998, pp. 76-77, S. Bellesi, Studies on painting and sculpture of the 17th-18th century in Florence, Florence, 2013, pp. 125-127).

In addition to the affinities with the often mentioned Satyr with kid on its shoulders of Chatsworth, this work, datable between the last years of the seventeenth century and the first years of the following century, appears to be assignable to Isidoro Franchi for some morphological characteristics of the figure and for the definition of the animal’s fleece led to small wavy locks.

These data are found in fact in various works of the artist, among which we recall, for greater syntactic and lexical relevance, the Apollo in the garden of the Casino Corsini sul Prato in Florence (M. Visonà, Giovanni Battista Foggini, op. Cit. , pp. 176 fig. 24) and the Meleagro in the Galleria Gallori Turchi in Florence (S. Bellesi, Studi, op. cit., p. 127 fig. 2).

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