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Antonio Frilli: Marble bust of a young woman, circa 1905.


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Antonio Frilli (1880-1920) was an important sculptor in marble whose Florence workshops produced fine quality carvings during the late 19th and early 20th century. The style of Frilli workshop pieces is extremely decorative. Typical subjects are modest and beautiful young women or athletic young men, rendered in a style that is a cross between the classical and the, then contemporary, Art Nouveau. The Frilli workshops also produced meticulous copies of classical and Renaissance sculpture. Life size pieces by Antonio Frilli have, in recent years, commanded prices in the hundreds of thousands of pounds. A gallery bearing the name Frilli still operates in Florence, specialising in reproduction and exclusive commissioned work.

This lovely bust of a young woman is carved in white marble. At least I’m pretty sure it is marble rather than alabaster but of course, people much better qualified than I have difficulty telling the difference between the two. In the end, it doesn’t really matter since both are beautiful, traditional, fine quality materials.

The bust dates from the early years of the 20th century and is signed “A. Frilli, Firenze [Florence]” just above the base at the back. The young woman has a bun in her hair, which makes her look contemporary with the period in which she was carved although she wears a stylised classical robe. A diagonal spray of flowers decorates the front of the sculpture where the human figure merges into the base. The condition of the piece is really very good with just the absloutely tiniest of chips here and there. The edge of the base is slightly bumped at the back but I think this is probably just the natural surface of the stone which has been allowed to remain by the carver.

The marble has natural striations in places and varies in colour across the piece from creamy white (the great majority of the surface) to a very pale buff colour. Held against the light, the tip of the nose, where the marble is thinnest, can be seen as slightly translucent. The face of the woman is very beautiful and recalls a Renaissance Madonna although the bust is, I’m sure, not intended to be a religious piece. The bust is a very good size (see dimensions below), certainly big enough to make a feature of, especially if you sourced a decorative plinth for it. Some Frilli pieces are rather smaller than this - I guess to make it easier for tourists to transport them home. It is very heavy, weighing in at 13 lbs (7 kg).

Dimensions: Height from base to top of head = 11½ inches (29 cms approx). Width at widest point = 9 inches (23 cms approx).

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Item number 345

Price 550.00 GBP
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