- Neptune and Amphitrite
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Francesco Bertos (Dolo, Venice, 1678-1741)
Neptune and Amphitrite

82 cm high

Comparative literature:
- C. Avery, The triumph of motion, Francesco Bertos (1678-1741) and the art of sculpture, Turin, 2008

Bertos is documented as working in Rome in 1693 and in Venice in 1710. Records of his activity cease after 1733, the year in which he received a commission for two candlesticks for the basilica of S. Antonio (il Santo) in Padua. Bertos produced distinctive, small-scale sculptural groups, usually in bronze, sometimes in marble, in which slim elongated twisting figures are represented in seemingly weightless poses. His virtuoso creations were purchased avidly by 18th-century collectors and grand-tourists, making their way into various collections in Europe and North America. Typical of his bronze groups is the Triumph of Chastity (London, Victoria and Albert Museum) with several allegorical figures arranged in a boldly dynamic pyramid. Bertos devised complicated compositions with technical brilliance and his small statues were unlike anything else in contemporary Venetian sculpture.

Bertos did on occasion sign his works but he never dated them therefore a chronology of his work is difficult to establish. The present group shows Neptune, the god of the sea, his foot placed on a dolphin, and clutching Amphitrite, a sea-nymph who became his wife. Comparatives are easy to find in Bertos’ oeuvre, in particular he represented both Neptune and Amphitrite within a larger group of figures in the marble group Water (private collection, see Avery, n. 57, p. 188). Neptune’s features are similar, including the forked beard and slim muscular body while Amphitrite recalls the female figure on the group representing Autumn (Turin, Palazzo Reale, see Avery, cat. 46, p. 182), in both her facial and body type.

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