David Anthony

Antique Wood Sculpture of Spanish Conquistador by Antonio Salviati

Antique Wood Sculpture of Spanish Conquistador by Antonio Salviati


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Directory: Fine Art: Sculpture: Wood: Pre 1900: Item # 1489943
David Anthony
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Atlanta, Georgia 30009
404-805-3301

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The panache, verve, and energy of this striking wood carving of a Spanish conquistador is remarkable for its dynamism and expressiveness. The figure is hand enameled in traditional conquistador costume, wearing buccaneer shoes, pantaloons, coat, and plumed helmet, and dagger on his belt. The figure is in action stance, but it is clear that he is missing his original instruments of perhaps sword and shield. His penetrating gaze shows focus on his adversary.

While the sculpture is interesting on its own right, there are other details which make it more intriguing one of which is the silver plate which reads "Antonio Salviati Laboratorio Venezia, 1880."

I cannot offer proof of my interpretation, but it is this. Antonio Salviati was a renowned 19th century lawyer turned businessman who revitalized Murano glass making when it reached its nadir. He and his company established an international reputation for reviving and restoring the sophisticated Byzantine art in churches and numerous public buildings using the lost methods of the Byzantine era which were frequently mosaics.

He often referred to his glass works as a laboratory because his glassmakers were constantly testing new techniques to advance the state of the art and its recovery from ancient and medieval times. It is my theory that this manque or model was a prototype for a mosaic he was commissioned to produce. What is even more interesting is that the sculpture is signed on the rear base A Salviati which suggests to me that perhaps Salviati created this piece.

The company to this day is still renowned for its superb glass and its storied history for reviving the glass making fortunes of Venice.

Condition in general is good but there paint losses and a couple of smallish chips. It shows rugged wear.

Dimensions
height: 22 inches