Completed Sculpture 31 Which foundry made this bronze ‘Cupid and Dolphin’, reproduced from an original at Pompeii? Is it late-19th C Neapolitan?

Topic: Subject or sitter

The original of this bronze copy was discovered during an excavation at Pompeii, in Italy, as reported in ‘The Graphic’ of the 5th November 1881:

The original must date from before 79AD, the year that the city was buried under the ash from the eruption of Vesuvius.

The American Architect & Architecture magazine (Volume 9, 1881) described the bronze figure: ‘Four bronze statuettes, which have recently been found at Pompeii, are now to be seen in Naples. One is a magnificent work about two feet high, representing a cupid holding a dolphin on his right shoulder…’

Giving an overview of the few previous years' results from the excavations at Pompeii, the ‘Marin Journal’, of the 18th January 1883, referenced the original of this discussion's bronze, the relevant extract from which is here:

Thus, this statuette is likely to have been fabricated in Naples, from a cast from the original bronze, sometime between 1881, the year of the original's discovery, and 1898, the year that it was purchased in Naples. With a contact to the right antique art experts in Naples, it probably would not be too difficult to discover which late-19th century foundry in Naples was producing these copies.

Kieran Owens, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The questions about the artist and the date have been answered. 'Cupid with Dolphin' was cast by Sabatino de Angelis & Son, Naples, which obtained permission to manufacture casts from the collections of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples in 1888. The source is a two foot high bronze fountain figure from the House of the Large Fountain, excavated at Pompeii in 1880. It can be dated 1888–1898.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.


Martin Hopkinson,

The main foundry in Naples producing bronze copies like these was that of Gennaro Chiurazzi.. It is likely that is quite an amount published on his work and on that of his contemporaries, as well as in much more recent publications as this sort of bronze frequently appears in auction rooms and elsewhere on the art market

Martin Hopkinson,

A Chiurazzi Museum was being planned in Naples in 2012 - but I do not know how far this project has got
The business was bought by an Arizona firm in 2011 and a large number of its casts saved from destruction

Martin Hopkinson,

A short history of the foundry can be found on the website of The Ringling Museum docents which leads you to the scholars Paula Freitag and Dr Carmela Iaccarino
and to,html
The Getty acquired copies of all the surviving casts and probably can answer many questions on these bronzes

Martin Hopkinson,

There is a full history by L Fucito, Fonderia Artistica Chiurazzi: La
Forma d'Arte, Naples, 2001

Michael Hurman,

I would tend to agree with Martin Hopkinson and all his points above. Though another possibility was the Sabatino De Angelis & Fils foundry, Naples, also active at the time mentioned. From what I can see, they used a small oval plaque with their name on which is situated on the sand cast base. The photographs shown do not seem to indicate a small plaque. So Gennaro Chiurazzi is probably the best contender.

Jacinto Regalado,

The most important issue is that the Art UK listing indicate that this is after a Roman original from Pompeii. I had already submitted a proposal to that effect two months ago. This piece is after a bronze fountain ornament found in the House of the Large Fountain. The original is no doubt in the Museo Nazionale in Naples (where this copy was purchased), and a copy has been placed at the original site (which can be seen in multiple photos at the link below by scrolling down): 08 22 p3.htm

Jacinto Regalado,

If you copy and paste into your browser, the link will work.

Jacinto Regalado,

I had also notified Art UK to the effect that the same collection has a copy of a comparable bronze fountain ornament, Cupid and Goose, found in Pompeii in the House of the Small Fountain:

The original is in the Museo Nazionale in Naples (where the copy was purchased); the copy is bound to be from the same foundry as the Cupid and Dolphin. See link below:

Jacinto Regalado,

What is in the central roundel at the base between Cupid's feet?

Martin Hopkinson,

The Getty has not yet part this part of its collection on line - nor has the British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum , as far ad I can see

Martin Hopkinson,

The small images on pinterest of Chiurazzi Amore con Delfino seem to show casts that might be of higher quality

I do not have access to the sculpture images taken for Art UK and was unable to read the tiny label from the photographs provided for Art UK.

I would like to thank the Assistant Collections Officer at Clifton Park Museum for photographing this sculpture with her mobile phone. The image is attached and her reply is copied here:

'The transcription I can make out is:
Line 1 – Fonderia Artis[????]
Line 2 – Sabatino De Angelis & Fils
Line 3 – Napoli

I have looked at our records and it says this figure was purchased from ‘Sabatinus de Angelis et Fils’.

The Art Detective thread also mentions our Cupid and Goose which also has a plaque with the same wording. Michael Hurman seems to have correctly identified the foundry on the thread.

Let me know if I can help with anything else.'

1 attachment
Martin Hopkinson,

This foundry was closed down in 1915 see National Trust entry on Hatchlands' Pan with the infant Dionysus after the antique
It gives 1840-1915 for Sabatino de Angellis

Jacinto Regalado,

The word after "Fonderia" is bound to be "Artistica." The Chiurazzi firm was also known as "Fonderia Artistica Chiurazzi."

Jacinto Regalado,

The year of birth for Sabatino de Angelis given online is 1838. A book by Carol Mattusch (link below) states that a number of foundries opened in Naples immediately after its Muzeo Nationale became a public institution in 1860 and began to dispense permits to mold and copy antiquities in the collection. Thus, I expect our foundry did not begin operations before the 1860s.

Kieran Owens,

Page 51 of the illustrated sales catalogue for the French edition of the Sabatino de Angelis & Fils foundry clearly illustrates this discussion's bronze, as does page 50 for the Cupid and goose. In this case the piece is entitled "Amour avec dauphin pour fontaine" ("Cupid with dolphin for a fountain") and is recorded as having been found at Pompeii in November 1880.

This catalogue might be worth bookmarking for other bronzes that appear in UK and Irish collections at the end of the 19th century.

The catalogue details the reference number of the original in the Naples Museum, after which these casts were made. It also gives the dimensions of the original and the choice of modern cast sizes and thee finishes that can be ordered, each at a different price.

In conclusion, I would suggest that the title be retained as is, as Cupid with Dolphin", and the artist line states that the work is copy of a bronze from Pompeii as cast by the foundry of Sabatino de Angelis & Fils of Naples.

Kieran Owens,

The above-referenced catalogue also states that the Sabatino de Angelis foundry was established in 1840, so the sons of the founder (the Fils in the names) must have continued the business beyond his death and up to and after 1900.

Jacinto Regalado,

Obviously, both the Art UK entry for Cupid with Dolphin and the one for Cupid and Goose (same collection) should be amended.

Jacinto Regalado,

Since these bronzes were fairly exact copies of Pompeiian originals, I should think identifying them as such will make them of greater interest to those who visit the collection.

Jacinto Regalado,

In addition to the two Cupid figures already under discussion, purchased in Naples in 1898, the same collection has 4 other bronzes also purchased in Naples in 1898. All 4 appear in the French catalogue for the de Angelis firm linked above by Kieran, and two of them show (in the Art UK photos) an oval manufacturer’s stamp on the base which is bound to be the same one present on the Cupid figures. I fully expect all 4 were made in and purchased from the same foundry. They are as follows:

“Silenus” (identified as Dionysos/Plato in page 2 of catalogue and other sources; original found in Herculanum in 1759):

“Narcissus” (page 43 of catalogue; found in Pompeii in 1862; stamp on base behind right foot, Art UK images 3-4):

“The Angler” (page 47 of catalogue; found in Pompeii; the Clifton Park specimen is missing a basket in figure’s left hand and a fishing rod in the right hand):

“Alexander on Horseback” (page 57 of catalogue; found in 1745 in Herculanum; stamp on base behind horse’s right hindfoot, Art UK images 1-2):

Jacinto Regalado,

According to the source linked below, the identity of the bust remains unclear, and it may be either Plato (which I would favor) or Dionysos, though I suppose a case could be made for an unusually dignified depiction of Silenus:

Jacinto Regalado,

Perhaps I'm disoriented after all this time, but it would appear that this discussion has been or can be successfully concluded, though no doubt Kieran can address the matter, since he initiated it.

Katharine Eustace, Sculpture,

Cupid with a Dolphin
Sabatino de Angelis & Son, Naples
Bronze, height: 66cm.
Applied stamp marked: Fonderia Artistica / Sabatino de Angelis & Fils / Napoli
Provenance: purchased Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples, 1898.
Clifton Park Museum, Rotherham Heritage Services (ROTMG:S.1989.70)

This cast after the Antique was proposed as a subject of enquiry by Kieran Owens, who also provided a number of press links and the main link to the essential catalogue (at MOM_TP_141144_0001.pdf), for which many thanks. In the discussion that followed a number of things were neatly clarified.

The foundry has been identified as that of Sabatino de Angelis and Son, Naples. Founded in 1840, it acquired the necessary permits and authority to manufacture casts from the collections of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples, in 1888. The company merged with its Neapolitan rival the Fonderia Chiurazzi (founded 1870), first as the Fonderie Artistiche Riunite, for which a joint catalogue was produced in 1910, and then it was finally submerged in 1915 in Chiurazzi Internazionale, which continued to flourish until 2011. The Fonderia Chiurazzi was proposed early on as a possible manufacturer of ‘Boy with a Dolphin’ by Martin Hopkinson.

The source is a 2 foot bronze fountain figure from the House of the Large Fountain, excavated at Pompei in 1880 (‘Catalogue illustré de Sab. De Angelis & fils’, Naples 1900, p. 51).

Four other examples in the Clifton Park Museum are likely to have the same provenance and facture:

• ‘Cupid with a Goose’ (from the House with the Small Fountain; ‘Catalogue illustré de Sab. De Angelis & fils’, Naples 1900, p. 50) – the identification of the fowl in the title with a goose is traditional, though it appears the small boy’s pet is more gosling than goose.
• a bronze head said to be a ‘Silenus’ type; Jacinto Regalado is right to note that this is a misidentification. It is in fact after a very fine bronze Dionysus type, dating from 49-25 BC, found in the Villa of the Papyri, Herculaneum in 1759 (Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples (Inv. No. 5618); ‘Catalogue illustré de Sab. De Angelis & fils’, Naples 1900, p. 2).
• ‘Alexander on Horseback’ from Herculaneum could also be described as an equestrian soldier (‘Catalogue illustré de Sab. De Angelis & fils’, Naples 1900, p. 57 &77;).
• ‘Narcissus’, discovered at Pompei in 1862 (‘Catalogue illustré de Sab. De Angelis & fils’, Naples 1900, p. 43). Probably late Hellenic, and late in discovery, it nevertheless gained a status similar to those in the pantheon of famous architypes of classical sculpture, and was one of the most saleable of bronze casts (see Haskell, F., and Penny, N., ‘Taste and the Antique, the Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500-1900’, New Haven and London, Yale University Press 1981, cat no. 64.).
• The ‘Angler’ (‘Catalogue illustré de Sab. De Angelis & fils’, Naples 1900, p. 47). This too is probably late Hellenic, both in subject and in its realistic treatment. Perhaps the curator of the day in Rotherham liked fishing.

I am grateful to Jacinto Regalado for flagging up the page numbers in the De Angelis catalogue, which saved much scrolling up and down of it. Thank you too to those detectives who provided a helpful bibliography, which I append:

Fucito, Luisa, ‘Fonderia artistica Chiurazzi: la forma dell'arte’, Naples, Altrastampa 2001.
Mattusch, Carol, ‘The Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum: Life and Afterlife of a Sculpture Collection’, Los Angeles, Getty Trust Publications 2005.
Anon., ‘Catalogue illustré de Sab. De Angelis & fils’, Naples, 1900. Royal Collection Trust (RCIN 1044844)

The acquisition of so many of these bronze casts after the Antique by early curators at the Castle Park Museum (what a perk! To be able to go to Naples and buy directly for the collections …), is evidence of what might be described as a mania for bronze statuettes, the desiderata of interior decorating among the industrial bourgeoisie, reinforcing as it did the classical ideals of nineteenth century education, whether as here, after the antique, and acquired on late nineteenth century equivalents of the Grand Tour, or as in innovative and inventive new work described by Edmund Gosse as the ‘New Sculpture’, itself heavily dependent on classical ideals. Interestingly, these were bought for Rotherham in 1898 on the cusp of an aesthetic change which would see the reaction already referred to away from replication of the classical, from bronze as a medium, to be replaced by radical new influences.

The link between foundries and museums is interesting and important. Casts after objects in public collections are problematic: the taking of casts can damage the original, while the casts themselves can be mistaken for or even passed off as the original. Further, as the moulds age, so the casts lose precision and integrity. This aesthetic debasement of the original was a contributory factor in the demotion and relegation of casts as objects of art, and indeed in the case of plasters, their destruction, in the twentieth century. The British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in their time both had departments devoted to the business of taking casts, while here the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples clearly had some form of contractual agreement with Sabatino de Angelis & Fils.

Finally, we were all treated to the delightful sight of the group functioning as intended in images posted by Mark DeCamp. Thank you all.

Louis Musgrove,

As to copies of statues- these days one justs needs to do a laser scan-NDT- and put the data online, and anyone around the world with the right equipment can 3D print it off at whatever size they want.No need for museums anymore :-( .