15.000 - 20.000
12 December 2018
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Sculpted in marble
Decorated with central cartouche framed by laurel wreaths under acanthus leaf, with a palm leaf and an olive tree branch on the sides
Top corners with with two cherubs
Bronze tap with Molded decoration, depicting dolphins
Palace of the Viscondes de Vila Nova de Cerveira, Mafra
The fountain fragment now offered for sale at Veritas is, after familiar tradition, originally from the palace of the Viscondes de Vila Nova de Cerveira, also known as palace of the Marqueses de Ponte de Lima. This piece was once part of a large renovation program of the old 17th century palace that the family owned at Mafra. The works were executed between the mid and late 18th century and mainly focused at the gardens and hydraulic work, after conclusion the palace was known for the magnificence of its gardens. The petulant William Beckford tells us that the “quinta” was “magnificent in the Italian style” with “superb ornate statues, and crystal clear fountains (...) squares, lakes, tanks, and chapels”. This intervention was executed in a special time once it was in that palace that the king D. João V stayed during his visits to the works of the palace/ convent of Mafra.
The refurbishment of the Vila Nova de Cerveira/ Ponte de Lima palace was concluded around 1783 when Joaquim Machado de Castro executed a statue of the Queen D. Maria I, later offered by the Marquis to the Real Biblioteca Pública da Corte for which he was appointed general-inspector.
It is important for the piece now offered for sale to know that in 1744, time when an inspection report was made after a visit in November 22 of that year, with the aim of evaluating the improvements carried out by D. Tomás de Lima e Vasconcelos, 12th Visconde de Vila Nova de Cerveira, extensive works were already done. For the task were appointed the masters António de Miranda e António Baptista Garvo “as mason and carpenter experts” that declared that “they were shown by the attorney of the Visconde a water fountain, made just over a year ago and asked to appraise the improvement, that was appraised in one thousand, four hundred and thirty reis” the precious document, rare in Portugal once few records of this type are known, was published by Sandra Costa Saldanha in her excellent doctoral thesis at Coimbra University.
The formal analysis of the piece enable us to frame it in the type of work executed by an Italian sculpture active in Portugal between 1725 and 1752, João António Bellini. This artist from Padua is known in Portugal for his large stone retables, among others the ones of Louriçal church, Santarém, the angels of the Mosteiro de São Vicente de For a retable in Lisbon, the retable of the Quinta de Santa Bárbara near Constância and the lost retable of the São Domingos church in Lisbon, for that recognized both as sculptor and architect, but also created isolated pieces similar to the fountain now on sale. The proximity between the known work of this sculptor and the fountain can be noticed in several coincident details in which the trephine is greatly used to create the movements of the curls of the angels and putti, the pierced pupils of the eyes of the boys, or the exquisite striation of the wings of the angels.
For its rarity and technic quality this is a piece that should captivate the Portuguese collectors and amateurs.