Monday, 22 August 2016


The Torrie Ecorché.
A Bronze, Equestrian Statuette.

Attributed to Giambologna (1529 - 1608), 1585.
but perhaps a cast by Valadier (1762 - 1839) or Righetti
This version with the University of Edinburgh since 1836.
90.2 x 87.3 x 23 cm. plinth: 81.1 x 41.6 x 7 cm.
For an interesting article in French see -
Le cheval en images. Art et société - Anatomie, esthétique et didactique
The Torrie horse bears a close relationship to several drawings by da Vinci related to this project in the collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor. Other artists, too, knew and learned from da Vinci’s study of the horse, but none came so close as Giovanni da Bologna to his vision of the beauty of the animal celebrated by art and science together.
This ecorche bronze horse of Giovanni da Bologna is in the Museum of Fine Arts at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. The Edinburgh horse was acquired by Sir James Erskine of Torrie from the Villa Mattei in Rome, probably in 1803. He bequeathed it to the University of Edinburgh with the rest of his collection of old master paintings and bronzes, and it came into the possession of the University in 1836.
The date of its purchase and size would suggest that it is not an original but a copy of the Mattei Horse (see below).
Illustration from Carlo Ruini (1530 - 1598), Anatomia del Cavallo, Venetia: Fioravante Prati, 1618.

Figure 2
The Bronze Equestrian Ecorche
From the Villa Mattei, now in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.
Christophe. © Degueurce, Christophe, mars 2014.
Bronze Equestrian Ecorche cast after the Mattei Horse.
Christie's King St. London 4 July 2013, Lot 10.

90.5 x 87.2 x 30.5 cm.)

Christie's attributed this bronze to Giusseppi Valladier
Reduced copy of the Mattei Bronze Ecorche
cast by Francesco Righetti
23.3 x 20.4 cms (1749 - 1819)
This bronze with the estimable dealers Tomasso Brothers in August 2016.
Tomasso Brothers state that it was at one time considered to be a study by Giambologna (1529-1608) for the equestrian statue of Cosimo I de’ Medici. Whilst evidence to support such a theory has not to this day come to light, the pose of the Écorché certainly recalls the Flemish master’s famed Pacing Horse, and an engraving in Carlo Ruini’s treaty Anatomia del Cavallo features an Écorché closely comparable to the present model.
These considerations strongly point towards a 16th century prime composition, possibly to be identified with the so-called Mattei Horse now in Palazzo Vecchio, Florence (92.5 cm high), documented in the Mattei collection in Rome from 1703 and subsequently in the possession of Cardinal Fesch (1763-1839), until sold in his estate’s 1814 sale. 
It was already famous at the beginning of the 18th century, when Pope Clement XIV had forbidden its sale, at the end of the century the Mattei Horse was cast in bronze by Luigi and Giuseppe Valadier. The former was Righetti’s master, which explains the sculptor’s familiarity with this composition and its presence in the catalogue of works offered by Righetti’s studio published in 1794.
see - F. Righetti, Aux Amateurs de l’Antiquite et des Beaux Arts, Rome, 1794, p. 3, as ‘Chéval ecorchè de Mattei’


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