The famous lion sculptures at Chatsworth were originally made for the Rezzonico Monument in St. Peters, Rome. In 1823 the sixth Duke of Devonshire commissioned the same lions for Chatsworth House. The the sleeping lion, above, was made by Rinaldo Rinaldi. The Crouching Lion was made by Francesco Benaglia.
In 1839 the 6th Duke of Devonshire acquired this colossal marble foot, and he recorded its provenance: “The great ancient Greek foot was sold to me by Carlo Finelli, the sculptor in Rome: it belonged to the Quirigi family at Lucca and was long in their palace.”
The foot is wearing an ancient form of a flip-flop and research has shown that this sandal is indicative of fashion in the 5th Century BC and was almost certainly worn by women. It is assumed therefore, that the feet were part of a colossal statue of a Greek goddess which may have stood approximately 11m high.
In May 1819 the 6th Duke of Devonshire, on his first trip to Rome, paid a visit to the studio of the most celebrated sculptor of the time, Antonio Canova. He marvelled at what he saw and commissioned a marble statue from Canova, leaving both its size and subject to the sculptor to decide, and paying a deposit in advance. The marble was roughed out by 1822, when Canova asked for a further £1,500. It was completed before his death later that year. It arrived in London the following year and caused a stir when first displayed at Devonshire House. The 6th Duke, who regarded it as his greatest sculptural treasure, also commissioned a large bronze copy of it from the sculptor Francis Chantrey, which can be seen on the South Lawn.
This colossal bust of the conqueror of Europe remained in Canova’s bedroom in his Rome house until his death in 1822. Afterwards it was purchased by the 6th Duke of Devonshire’s friend, Anne, Marchioness of Abercorn (d. 1827), who left it in her will to the Duke.
The Duke considered that this bust was the only authentic one of Napoleon carved by Canova himself. It was made from his model for the colossal full-length nude statue of Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker (1803 – 1806) commissioned, but later rejected, by Napoleon. The statue is now in Apsley House, the London home of the Duke of Wellington. The 6th Duke placed this bust in the centre of the Sculpture Gallery at Chatsworth, facing a bust of the great conqueror from Antiquity, Alexander the Great.
The 6th Duke of Devonshire visited sculptor Raffaelle Monti’s studio in Milan, Italy, on 12th October 1846 on his way to Naples. He ordered the marble sculpture on 18th October, placing a £60 deposit on the following day. The sculpture was ready to be dispatched to England in April 1847, and the Duke appears to have displayed it in Chiswick House, west of London. It first came to Chatsworth in 1999 and was shown in the Sculpture Gallery where it appeared in the 2005 film ‘Pride and Prejudice’, starring Kiera Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen.
And spotted in the Chatsworth gift shop . . . . .
We will be seeing the Marbles above when we spend two days at Chatsworth House as part of Number One London Tours 2017 Country House Tour.