By the middle of the 18th century a significant trade had been established reproducing Antique sculpture for an expanding audience of European Grand Tourist consumers and connoisseurs. In Rome a new development was inaugurated with the commercial publication of small bronze statuette reductions after the Antique produced at a price attractive to the ordinary gentleman traveller. Three rival manufacturers supplied these mantelpiece sized copies; Righetti, Boschi and Zoffoli. Righetti was probably the most successful and Giacomo Zoffoli (1731-1785) and his son Giovanni (1745-1805) were Righetti’s chief rivals. Both Zoffoli and Righetti set the same price on their bronze reduction of the Farnese Flora which retailed at 18 zecchini. The original ‘Farnese Flora’ is an overlife-size (3.42 metres) standing, draped female sculpture, which was discovered during the Renaissance (at least before 1536) which was thought unremarkable until the middle of the 18th century, when it was briefly attributed to the sculptor Praxitiles. It is now thought to be a Roman copy of a Greek statue of Aphrodite from the 4th century BC. Because of the size of the sculpture, relatively few copies of it exist. It was however extensively copied as a reduction. This reduction is probably a copy from the copy made in 1773 by the sculptor Vincenzo Pacetti.
Another statue produced by Zoffoli and Righetti was the Capitoline Antinous, with which Zoffoli undercut Righetti by 3 Zecchini. The ‘Capitoline Antinous’ was not discovered until 1733 when it was excavated from the site of Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli. The sculpture was bought by Pope Clement the XII, restored (given a left arm and leg) by the sculptor Pietro Bracci, and placed in the then newly established Capitoline Museum. The statue was extensively admired and copied, notably by Marchand and Jacques Saly for the Kind of France in 1741. The Zoffoli reduction is taken from a less accurate model than was usual.
REPRODUCTION AS PROMOTION
Historically, reproduction in sculpture has been used by artists and occasionally their clients as a form of promotion. In the case of portraiture the publicity for the subject is also beneficial to the sculptor, and occasionally vice versa. Portrait busts of monarchs and statesmen have often been reproduced and as diplomatic gifts or exchanges with other figureheads. When Gianlorenzo Bernini executed his marble portrait of Pope Gregory XV in bronze, two copies were ordered the same year, one of which went to Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, the Papal Nephew, the other to the Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the previous Papal Newphew and Bernini’s patron. In recognition, of his talent Bernini received the Cross of the Knights of Christ from Gregory XV which brought with it a substantial pension, and the same year (at the age of twenty-two) he was also elected Principe of the Academy of St Luke in Rome.
As the status of sculpture changed, artists also had copies made of their ideal and inspirational sculptures, usually as exercises in self promotion, or at very least to obtain maximum value from a given work.
As well as reproducing their own work, some contemporary sculptors found it advantageous to publish the work of others. Like Giacomo and Giovanni Zoffoli in 18th century Italy, John Cheere, a contemporary London-based sculptor, retailed a popular range of reductions after the Antique, including the ‘Farnese Hercules’ and the ‘Farnese Flora’ and a variety of Busts of Classical Philosophers from his premises at Hyde Park Corner. Unlike his Italian counterparts his preferred media were plaster and lead. These inexpensive materials were carefully disguised as patinated bronze with the judicious application of dark coloured paint. The fashion for decorating the upper shelves of Palladian country house libraries with inspirational busts of ancient and modern literary figures assured Cheere of a ready market. Two busts of Greek Philosophers from the Library of Temple Newsam House are a testament to this. Unlike Zoffoli whose range of products was derived exclusively from the Antique, Cheere sold an extensive range of works by contemporary British artists like Michael Rysbrack, Louis Francois Roubilliac and Peter Scheemakers.