Location:St Boswells, Melrose, Borders,
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Item:173988448724Italian 18th Century Renaissance Papal Alms plate. Albani Family A stunning chopper bronze repousse and chased charger in the manner of a large alms dish with a central boss bearing the Albani family crest of three mountains surmounted with a star. This crest was part of the Papal arms of Pope Clement XI (Giovanni Francesco Albani b1649 Pope from1700-d1721) Note: Similar in form, but more elaborate than a 16th century dish made of copper in the V&A (Museum number: 4891-1858). My research suggests that this is may possibly have been a commission for the Villa Albani in Rome, which was constructed by Alessandro Albani between 1751 and 1763. The centre of this charger has four panels depicting allegorical battle scenes and the rim has three panels depicting siege scenes of fortified cities, complete with early cannon (First European use of Cannon is generally agreed to at the battle of Crecy 1346) . One of these panels depicts a burning city on a hill and a nearby battle scene of a fight on a bridge (possible reference to the Battle for Prague 1648 and the fight on Charles Bridge, or the battle of Turin 1704). The ‘War of the Spanish Succession’ (1701-1714) broke soon after Pope Clement XI accession in 1700 and the scenes may be a record of some of the battles in this conflict. Possible depictions are, Siege of Nijmegen 1702, Siege of Milan 1707 Siege of Barcelona 1714. The detail is very fine. There are stylistic similarities to the work of Jacques Gamelin (of Carcassonne) 1738-1803 renowned for his battle scenes (Painter to Pope Clement XIV (Pope 1769-1774) and there may also be some influence from the engravings of Jacques Callot (1592-1635) ‘The Life of Ferdinand I de Medici’ The whole charger is interspersed with numerous classical figures, cherubs, angels and masks all in the Renaissance manner. Many of the Cherubs and figures are stylistically similar to the work of Anton Raphael Mengs. In addition to the Albani family crest further clues to the origin of this plate rest within the four central panels depicting medieval crusade type battle scenes. The charger may also reference the War of the Austrian Succession 1740-48. Evidence of a reasonable attribution to the Albani Villa is the fact that ‘ALESAN’ and ‘DARIO’ appear on separate banners in the panel depicting a crusade battle scene. Other textural information which I cannot decipher is, ‘L. EMILIO’ on a rock at the base of one panel may be an artist or craftsman’s signature. (L’Emilio was the title of a famous book by J.J. Rousseau published in 1762) SPQR on banners (an initialism of a phrase in Latin: Senātus Populusque Rōmānus - “The Roman Senate and People", or more freely as "The Senate and People of Rome"). The initials ‘SE’ are found on one of the banners in a different panel and a cherub overlooking one of the panels is holding a bag bearing the word ‘ANI’. Alessandro Albani (15 October 1692 – 11 December 1779) was a prominent jurist and papal administrator, remembered best as a leading collector of antiquities and art patron in Rome. Alessandro’s father, Orazio, was the brother of Pope Clement XI (Pope 1700-1721). Alessandro Albani supported the art historian, Johann Joachim Winckelmann and commissioned paintings from Anton Raphael Mengs. Alessandro commissioned the construction of the prominent Villa Albani in Rome to house his collections of antiquities and ancient Roman sculpture. Dimensions: 51cm diameter x 4cm Weight: 2.6kgs (Large and bulky item to securely P+P) Condition: This is an old object. It has had hanging loops added on the back, one of which is broken. On the rear there are traces of the pitch used in repousse work and impressions of the hessian type material which the charger would have rested on whilst work was carried out on the front surface. There is a split about 12cms long running along the dish and rim edge. There is also a small radial rim split about 2cms long. This is an exceptional piece of work from a master craftsman.
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Italian 18th Century Renaissance Papal Alms plate dish. Albani Family