Giovanni Marchiori (Belluno, 1696 - Treviso, 1778).
Bust of Flora.
Wooden 18th century base with rocaille decoration.
Venice, circa 1750.

H. 53 cm.

This bust of Flora or Venus gives a beautiful interpretation of the subject. The head of the goddess mixes an already neoclassical style and a sensibility still impregnated with the 18th century. Indeed, elements of the late baroque like the base made by the artist are combined with the delicate, slightly drooping shoulders and a rounded chin line, a nose in the extension of the forehead and large almond-shaped eyes in the antique style. The hair is treated with an unfinished look, the curls sketched in places.

Two other examples of this bust of Flora by Marchiori are known today. The first, in marble, comes from the collection of the Marquis of Sugana and is now kept at the Museo Civico in Treviso. The second, in terracotta, came from the Sangiorgi collection, is now in private hands and was loaned to the exhibition Dazzling Venice, the Arts and Europe in the 18th Century, at the Petit Palais of Paris in 2018, by the dealer Walter Padovani.

The three versions rest on a rococo wooden base, carved by the artist himself, which contrasts with the formal, almost neoclassical purity of the bust. This contrast is an expression of the artistic turn that Giovanni Marchiori took in the years 1740-1750, moving towards a more and more pure and antique style during his career.

In fact, the artist began his activity as a sculptor in Venice in 1708, carving on wood in a style that was still very baroque. His career was truly launched around 1725 when he established himself alone and carried out his first important commissions for the city of Venice with an angel for the bell tower of San Giorgio Maggiore in 1727, then the decoration of two boats for the transport of the Doge in 1733. It is from 1740 onwards that he experienced a real period of splendor, he realized both sculptures and decorations in wood and large compositions in stone for numerous clients. His style began to assert itself towards a more pronounced formal purity under the influence of Antiquity. Thus, in the years 1745, he realized two large marble statues for the church of Saint Roch in Venice, a Saint Cecilia and a David, then a Saint Maurelius and a Saint George for the cathedral of Ferrara. These prestigious commissions opened the world of foreign patrons to him, such as Joseph Smith, for whom he produced a Pomona, certainly close to our model, now lost but of which a drawing in private hand survives.

Even if it is rather the religious subjects that have survived, because of their location in churches, traces of numerous and important commissions of mythological subjects remain. Notably, the commission of Francesco Algarotti, a central figure of the Enlightenment and a great patron of the arts, for his garden of Carpenedo, populated with allegorical and mythological figures.

Finally, in his maturity, the artist, settled in Treviso, even received commissions from the Russian court, such as the one for the residence of Oranienbaum and his success continued after his death in 1778 since the very severe Cicognara as well as the critic Federici were rather complimentary about him.

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