A Fine 18th century lead figure of the Dancing Faun by John Cheere 1709–1787
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An important English lead sculpture of the Dancing Faun, circa 1760, attributed to John Cheere. The figure alone stands 60 inches tall and with its accompanying pedestal, it's an imposing 100 inches tall. This sculpture is an 18th century copy of the famous Medici Faun displayed in the Tribuna room of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence since the 17th century.
Well cast, there is fine detailing to the hair and facial features. He holds cymbals in each hand and under his right foot is a scabellum or foot clapper. The associated pedestal is of a later date and adorned with lead grape medallions on upper corners of the pedestal and a nicely detailed lead plaque of a Satyr with grape clusters crowning his head on the front panel.
It is worth mentioning that, as with all period lead figures, the iron core used in production often caused damage through rusting to sculptures and so was the case with this figure. The Faun has been finely conserved including a full replacement of the original iron armature with a bronze armature.
John Davis, author of “Antique Garden Ornaments,” states:
“I have no doubt that the piece dates to the 18th century and can be attributed to the workshop of the eminent lead figure maker, John Cheere (1709-1787). There are several reasons for the attribution but the most important is the great quality of the hair, face, feet, scabellum, and the cymbals all of which are executed to a standard I have only seen in Georgian lead figures.”
There are three other known copies located at Castle Hill in Devon, Castle Howard, and Rousham in Oxfordshire.
From the workshops of John Cheere 1709–1787 John Cheere was the 18th century’s foremost maker of lead statues in England. Cheere’s Hyde Park Corner workshop in London flourished from 1737 until his death in 1787. During the mid 18th century his sales were numerous with commissions for the great gardens of England – examples of which can still be seen in the gardens of Stourhead, Stowe, Kew, and Rousham to name but a few.
More on the Faun The Faun is a mythical creature and the Roman companion to the Greek’s Satyr. They are both woodland creatures known to be affiliated with Bacchus (or the Greek’s Dionysus); although the faun is typically considered to be more handsome than the Satyr who is often depicted with large horns and grotesque features accompanied by lewd behavior. Both are known for wine, music, dancing and merriment, which is why our Faun is depicted dancing and playing musical instruments.
Auction Estimate $20 - $30,000;
Davis' report is available upon request.
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