Sculpture, Portraits: British 19th C 14 Is J. Fazi the Italian sculptor Giovacchino Fazi?

WMR_RAOM_2012_166_001
Topic: Artist

It has been suggested that 'J. Fazi' stands for the Italian sculptor Giovacchino Fazi who was living in Plymouth between the 1860s and the 1880s.

Giovacchino Fazi was born in Italy c.1833. He married Rosina Clouter (b. 1841) in Plymouth Roman Catholic Cathedral, on the 23rd November 1865.

According to his death registration, Fazi died in Plymouth aged 49 on 3rd June 1882. Rosina died on the 16th April 1884, aged 42.

According to the 1871 UK Census, Giovacchino Fazi, a "Sculptor", aged 45, was living at 11, Sloke Hill, Plymouth, with his wife Rossini (sic), aged 29, and their two children, Venezia R., aged 4, and Rosina L., aged 2.

In the 1881 census, the family, living at 23, Wyndham Street, Plymouth, consisted of ‘Jivohino (sic) Fazi’, aged 50, a "Sculptor", born in Italy; his wife Rosina, aged 39, born in Plymouth; their daughter, Rosina, aged 12, born in Plymouth; and their son, Edwin, aged 9, born in Plymouth.

Can anyone find further information about the correct birth date of Giovacchino Fazi or provide evidence to suggest he is the artist?

Kieran Owens, Entry reviewed by Art UK

14 comments

Andrew Shore 01,

In the 1851 Census, Fazi appears to be living in Taunton, but mistranscribed as 'Govakina Fazi'. His occupation is listed as 'Modeller'. Perhaps this is significant as William Crotch lived in Taunton in his final years, dying there in his son's house in 1847 (more on Crotch on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Crotch)

Here's the text of the census transcription:

Name: Govakina Fazi
Age: 36
Estimated birth year: abt 1815
Relation: Head
Gender: Male
Where born: Italy
Civil Parish: Taunton St Mary Magdalen
Town: Taunton
County/Island: Somerset
Registration district: Taunton
Sub-registration district: Pitminster
ED, institution, or vessel: 4d
Household schedule number: 195
Piece: 1922
Folio: 563
Page Number: 46

Andrew Shore 01,

The inscription on the back isn't completely recorded in the Art UK info. You can see from the images though that the complete inscription says:

W. CROTCH MUS. DOC. OXON
AGED 72

MODELLED BY J. FAZI TAUNTON 1853

Jacinto Regalado,

Since this was a posthumous bust, it was presumably after some two-dimensional image of the sitter at a relatively young age, which may not have been a first-rate portrait. This could explain the rather basic, not to say primitive, quality of the face, though I expect Fazi was not a first-rate sculptor (though perhaps he later improved). For what it's worth, he is not listed in Artnet, and I can find nothing else by him. Here's a print of Crotch from 1822:

https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/54830/william-crotch-1775-1847-organist-and-composer

Jacinto Regalado,

Concerning the inscription of "aged 72," I assume that refers to the fact he died at that age, not that the bust shows him at the end of his life. If the latter is the intended meaning, then the basis for the bust might be something like this, from 1839:

https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw01630/William-Crotch?LinkID=mp01125&role=sit&rNo=0

However, the bust makes him look younger, albeit perhaps not deliberately, but rather due to the sculptor's incapacity.

Jacinto Regalado,

I suppose the name Giovacchino, which is relatively uncommon (it may also be a surname), could have been taken for an Italian form of John, perhaps by the sculptor himself, at least at some point of his career. That may explain the J. Fazi instead of G. Fazi, though it would help to have other work by him for comparison.

Kieran Owens,

Andrew, your 1851 Census information addresses the issue of Fazi's age directly. Extracting from each of the Census returns from 1851 up to 1881 (the year before his death) produces the following data and with the transcribed name as found on Ancestry.co.uk:

1851 - Age 36 therefore born in 1815 (Govakina Fazi)
1861 - Age 45 therefore born in 1816 (Gioohino Fazi)
1871 - Age 45 therefore born in 1826 (Giovahino Fazi)
1881 - Age 50 therefore born in 1831 (Jioshine Fazi)
1882 - Age 49 therefore born in 1833 (Giovacchino Fazi) (death record)

If one is to assume that the recorded Census age of 36 in 1851 is the most honest given, then Fazi would have been 38 when he modelled the Crotch bust in 1853, rather than 22, which he would have been if his age in 1881 was correct.

Fazi's age at death should have been recorded as 67, and not 49.

According to Richard Ormond's Early Victorian Portraits catalogue (NPG), there is a plaster bust of Crotch by J. Fazi at Christ Church, Oxford. This would seem to be another version of the bust under discussion, although it would be good to confirm that with an image. Only the paintings at Christ Church are on Art UK.

Jacinto Regalado,

No Fazi appears in Oxford Art Online, including Grove and Benezit.

Kieran Owens,

Jacinto, what does that tell you?

Jacinto Regalado,

It tells me he was too minor and/or obscure a sculptor to merit inclusion.

Kieran Owens,

Attached is an advertisement for Fazi's services as a modeller and sculptor, from the Taunton Courier & Western Advertiser of Wednesday 18th July 1855.

Other works by him include:

1855 - Small statuette of Mr. Eales White (as in ad above)
1856 - a group of Guardian Angels
1857 - a small Grecian "tazzi" executed in Minehead alabaster

In December 1860, as Giachomo Fazi, he was summoned in Taunton for inability to pay the local poor rate.

Almost nothing else appears in the newspapers about him.

An online reference to two of his daughters can be read here:

https://www.curiousfox.com/uk/mbprof2.lasso?eid=153543&-nothing

Osmund Bullock,

The version at Christ Church does seem to be the same. Though it's not illustrated, it can be found in the third volume of Rachael (Mrs Reginald) Poole's 'Catalogue of portraits in the possession of the University, Colleges, City & Co. of Oxford': https://bit.ly/2RypSph. (For future reference, all three vols of the work (1912-25), a useful resource, are on Archive.org.)

Though I'm a bit puzzled by the description's reference to a 'tucked shirt', every other detail including inscription is the same; and the height given is close, 18.5 inches against 19.3 for ours.

Fazi does not appear in Jacob Simon's NPG research project 'British bronze sculpture founders and plaster figure makers, 1800-1980' (and Jacob will certainly want to know about him), but his very interesting history of the many itinerant Italian plaster modellers who came to England in the 18th & 19th centuries is here: https://bit.ly/2qAhRoH. Most of them came seasonally, returning in due course to (mainly) Lucca with their earnings; but a few, like Fazi, chose to stay permanently. And in fact I've found an alien arrivals entry for a 'Francesco Fazi' who arrived at Dover (from Italy via France) in a group of seven 'figure makers' in June 1840, quite possibly a close relation - the profession was very much a family one, and I don't think it's a terribly common name.

Fazi also appears in Slater's Directory 1852 (Taunton - 'Govakino Fazi') & Kelly's for 1866 (Plymouth - 'Signor Fazi'). Attached.

Osmund, well done for bringing the Archive.org version of Lane Poole to the discussion. Also, just to note: I have in fact already contacted Jacob Simon.

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