Domenico Cardelli, Sculptor of King Stanislaus Augustus Cover Image

Domenico Cardelli – rzeźbiarz króla Stanisława Augusta
Domenico Cardelli, Sculptor of King Stanislaus Augustus

Author(s): Katarzyna Mikocka-Rachubowa
Subject(s): Fine Arts / Performing Arts, Visual Arts, History of Art
Published by: Instytut Sztuki Polskiej Akademii Nauk
Keywords: Sculptor Domenico Cardelli (1767-1797); King Stanislaus Augustus patronage; neo-classical sculpture;

Summary/Abstract: Domenico Cardelli, Sculptor of King Stanislaus Augustus In August 1797, the Roman artist Domenico Cardelli, one of the most outstanding sculptors of the last quarter of the 18th century, died aged merely thirty. His artistic activity, lasting not much over a decade, was in high esteem by his contemporary. Closely associated with such personalities as the archaeologist Ennio Quirino Visconti, the diplomat and collector Cardinal Stefano Borgia, or the Danish archaeologist and numismatist Georg (Jørgen) Zoëga, Cardelli was a pivotal figure in the sculpture of the time, precursor of purism, and the major rival of Antonio CanovaDomenico Cardelli was a descendent of the family of well-known Rome’s sculptors. His father Lorenzo Cardelli (ca 1733-94), was a sculptor decorator (intagliatore di marmi), restorer, and dealer of antique sculptures. Four sons of Lorenzo were sculptors, too: Domenico, Pietro, Giuseppe (also called architetto), and Eusebio (also intagliatore); the fifth, Salvatore, was an engraver, while his daughter Maria married the sculptor Pietro Marchetti of Carrara, the latter, in his turn, being Pietro Tenerani’s nephew. The Cardelli family lived in Rome in via del Babuino (formerly Strada Paolina), in the Parish of San Lorenzo in Lucina; it was there that Lorenzo had his studio, renowned mainly for the production of sculpture-ornamented fireplaces and copies of antique sculptures. In 1785, Lorenzo Cardelli executed several works for the residence of King Stanislaus Augustus in Warsaw, among others, two fire places in white marble, green porphyry, and gilded bronze, meant for the Throne Hall of the Royal Castle, for which he received 460 scudos. The fireplaces were standing in Cardelli’s studio in the autumn of 1785, awaiting being dispatched to Warsaw together with other sculptures for the Polish court. It was there that on 25 November 1785 Katarzyna Plater née Sosnowski saw them; when visiting Rome, she also visited Cardelli’s studio, and recorded the fact in her diary. Apart from other marble sculptures, as well as those in alabaster and porphyry, she saw there a Medusa head in white marble for King Stanislaus Augustus. Additionally, Lorenzo Cardelli executed for King Stanislaus Augustus a marble copy of an antique vase from Villa Medici, and yet another fireplace with rich sculpture decoration. Born in Rome on 1 March 1767, Domenico Cardelli began studying literature. As it turned out, however, he had a talent for drawing, and soon became disciple of Giuseppe Cades, a painter and sculptor; furthermore, he studied archaeology under E.Q. Visconti, G. Zoëg, and Cardinal Borgia. In the 1783 Concorso Clementino at the Academia di San Luca he won the first prize in the third painting category for a drawing showing the Capitoline statue of Antinous, while in 1789, he won ex aequo with Michele Van Lintem the first sculpture category for the terracotta relief The Feast of Belshazzar, King of Babylon. In 1789, Cardelli executed two sculpture works: a marble bust of Prudenza Capizucchi for her tomb in the Rome Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, and the tomb statue of John Smith, lieutenant of the British Navy, for the London Church of St Mary Aldermanbury. In 1794, he completed the tomb of Countess Chiara Rosa Maria Spinucci, the wife of Franz Xaver Albert August von Wettin, Prince of Saxony, who passed away in 1792; the tomb placed in the Fermo Cathedral. Several years before, he had most likely executed a marble bust of Prince Xaver von Wettin. There are also some other busts that date back to the 1790s: in 1793, Cardelli sculpted a bust of an anonymous man; in 1796, a bust of Sophia Magdalene Knuth as Diana; of the writer Friederike Brun; and Cardinal Stefano Borgia. His work was also the model for the bust of the Danish Consul Edmund Bourke, hewn in marble by Thorvaldsen, as well as the marble bust of Duke Raffaele Riario Sforza from the Naples Museo Civico Gaetano Filangieri. In late July 1797, Cardelli set off for Naples in relation to executing the tomb of the Dukes of Riario-Sforza. On the way, when crossing the Pontine Marshes, he took seriously ill with da febbre perniciosa, and died in August, possibly outside Rome. Some of Cardelli’s works are known only from mentions in archives and literature, like the life-size figures and groups: Jason and Medea, Mercury, Venus and Cupid, Cupid and Psyche (hewn in marble after a plaster model already following his death), as well as the relief Castor and Pollux, executed for the Lord of Bristol. Two plaster busts made by Cardelli were purchased in August 1797 by Bertel Thorvaldsen, this in an auction held following the artist’s death. A significant amount of information related to Domenico Cardelli and the artistic production of the family studio he headed after his father’s death, is included in the licences to export art works outside the Papal State issued by Cardinal Chamberlains, and kept at the Archivio di Stato di Roma (Camerale II, Antichità e Belle Arti, busta 14, filza 298 i 299).It is the contacts with the court of King Stanislaus Augustus that were of major importance for the research into Cardelli’s artistic output. It was by individuals from the surroundings of the King that first commissions were made from the young artist; these had an essential impact on his career. For the King, his family, and individuals from the royal court, as well as for many representatives of Polish aristocracy, Domenico Cardelli sculpted quite a substantial number of portrait busts in white marble as well as several other works; and one of the sculpture groups considered to be the most accomplished in his oeuvre was purchased for the Polish collections several years following the artist’s death. In 1784, two ladies, emotionally bonded with King Stanislaus Augustus, set off for Italy regardless of each other: the King’s mistress Baroness Maria de Cumano Schütter and Elżbieta Grabowska née Szydłowski, a supposed morganatic spouse of the King, who was in Italy in 1784-85 accompanied by her daughter Aleksandra, her brother, and her cousin Miss Sobolewska. Both maidens accompanying Grabowska, namely Aleksandra Grabowska and Sobolewska, were portrayed in February 1785 by Angelica Kauffman. In the course of that trip, Mrs Grabowska purchased in Rome valuable antiques meant for King Stanislaus Augustus. Both ladies, namely Baroness Schütter and Mrs Grabowska, visited the studio of Lorenzo Cardelli. On the occasion, Maria de Cumano Schütter commissioned from the eldest son of Lorenzo, Domenico, her bust portrait in white marble, which, signed and dated 1785, may have been the artist’s debut. It is his earliest known sculpture, and the signature marks that he executed it aged 18 (the sculpture at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Palazzo Barberini in Rome, its unsigned replica at the Royal Łazienki Museum in Warsaw, Fig.1). Elżbieta Grabowska, in her turn, commissioned two marble busts there: of her own and her 14-year-old daughter Aleksandra (both known merely from archival mentions). The busts of Mrs Grabowska and Baroness Schütter were viewed in the Cardellis’ studio in the spring of 1785 by Count Bernardino Campello, who wrote in his diary: ‘Cardelli. Si viddero lavorare i ritratti di due Signore Polacche’. This mention must have been related to Domenico Cardelli who signed the bust of Baroness Schütter, while the other of the ladies was most likely Mrs Grabowska (her daughter would have been referred to as signorina). The busts of Mrs Grabowska and her daughter Aleksandra in the autumn of 1785 were in the studio of the Roman engraver, printmaker, and architect Carlo Antonini, bearing the title of the Architetto di Sua Maestà il Re di Polonia. Both sculptures, kept there before being dispatched to Poland next to the vases and bas-reliefs for the King, were seen on 4 November 1785 by Katarzyna Plater née Sosnowski, who wrote in her diary: ‘[4 novembre – Roma] Après diné j’ai été chez Antonini où j’ai vue de superbes vases en marbre blanc, des bas reliefs, tout cela doit être envoi au Roi, le buste de la Grabowska et de sa fille est parfaitement bien fait’. The fact that the bust of Aleksandra Grabowska, similarly as that of her mother, was executed by Domenico Cardelli, seems to be confirmed by the mention that at the Łazienki there was the bust belonging to Mrs Grabowska: ‘le buste de M[a]d[ame] La C[omtesse] Cracinska par Cardelli’ (as of 1787 Aleksandra Grabowska was the wife of Franciszek Salezy Krasicki) that was given to Aleksandra’s brother-in-law in early 1796.Maybe the marble statue showing Aleksandra Grabowska as a vestal was a work by Domenico Cardelli or by his father Lorenzo. That statue was seen in the Cardellis’ studio by Katarzyna Plater on 25 November 1785, who wrote down in her diary that ‘la statue de la petite Grabowska en vestale est bien fait’. It is also known that King Stanislaus Augustus presented Aleksandra Grabowska’s brother-in-law with the sculpture Vestale d’après l’antique, evaluated at 400 ducats, and donated together with the ‘Buste de Mad. la Comtesse Krasicka’.The most exquisite of Demonico Cardelli’s sculptures, whose creation was related to that stay in Rome of the ladies from the closest surroundings of the Polish King, was a marble bust of Stanislaus Augustus (Fig. 2) The sculpture may have been executed on a personal instruction from the King, following his portrait painted by Giovanni Battista Lampi. It had been brought to Rome by Baroness Schütter, who also surveyed the completion of the sculpture, giving the artist information as for the similarity to the model. The bust of Stanislaus Augustus was shown by Raffaele Morghen in a copperplate engraving executed in 1786 under the supervision of Giovanni Volpato, featuring an inscription that it was sculpted in Rome by Domenico Cardelli (Fig. 3). On 19 August 1786, Lorenzo Cardelli applied for a permit to export the marble bust of the Polish monarch, and executed by his son Domenico, to Warsaw; the sculpture was evaluated at 300 scudos, and the licence was issued on 21 August. On that very day the bust was viewed in the Cardellis’ studio by another Roman sculptor and antique dealer Vincenzo Pacetti, who liked the sculpture, and wrote down in his diary: ‘Adi 21. [Agosto 1786] Sono stato a vedere il ritratto del Re di Polonia fatto in marmo dal figlio di Cardelli Domenico, e mi è piaciuto’. An extensive mention of the bust of Stanislaus Augustus was published in August 1786 by Rome’s ‘Giornale delle Belle Arti’, while in September 1786, an enthusiastic article on the sculpture was published in ‘Memorie per le Belle Arti’. The bust of the King brought to Poland was put in the Łazienki Palace’s Dining Room, where it is placed today, too.Baroness Schütter passed away in 1793. Among the objects she bequeathed to the King was her portrait bust by Cardelli, the copperplate plate made after the sculpture by Morghen, and the King’s portrait by Lampi that had served as model for the sculptor; the reception of all those items was signed off by the King’s court painter Marcello Bacciarelli on 30 April 1793. The sculpture donated to the King by Baroness Schütter may have most likely been a replica of the sculpture that had for several years been in the Łazienki Palace. Similarly as in the case of the bust of Baroness Schütter, apart from the King’s bust dispatched from Rome to Warsaw in 1786, Cardelli may have also made its replica. Since the sculpture in the Łazienki Palace is not signed, it should be assumed that neither its replica did bear the artist’s signature. In 1787, for the sculpture portraits executed for King Stanislaus Augustus and his family, Domenico Cardelli was awarded the title of the ‘Scultore di Sua Maestà il Re di Polonia’, which may account for the gift of 50 ducats sent to him by the King on 24 September 1787. Cardelli, in his turn, sent a letter to Gaetano Ghigiotti, Royal Secretary to deal with Italian Matters, dated 25 October 1787, in which he was expressing his deep gratitude to the King; in his letter of 25 November 1787, he was thanking Ghigiotti for having recommended him to Marquis Tommas Antici, Polish representative in the Papal State. Ghigiotti responded to these letters on 26 December 1787, addressing Cardelli: ‘Sig. Domenico Cardelli Scultore di S[ua] M[aestà] il Re di Polonia’. Among the Polish King’s collections there was also a drawing by Cardelli of the antique statue of Fortune from the Museo Pio Clementino (Fig.4).In the early 1790s, King Stanislaus Augustus’ niece Konstancja Tyszkiewicz née Poniatowski (1759-1830) left for Italy. During her stay in Rome from January to May 1792, she had a portrait painted by Angelica Kauffman, a marble bust made by Demonico Cardelli (Fig. 5). The sculpture remained family property for many years, while in 1830 it was placed in the family mausoleum, in the Holy Trinity Chapel at the Kraków Cathedral. In 1793, Domenico Cardelli made three more marble busts of Poles, all of them signed and dated. The bust of Marcelina Worcell née Bielski (1773-1849), which had reached the National Ossoliński Institute in Lwów by 1828 (Fig. 6), was presented in the 1830 lithograph (Fig. 7). The bust of Antoni Józef Lanckoroński (1761-1830) remained in the hands of the Lanckoroński family in Vienna until WW II, while in Lancokoroński’s tomb in Wodzisław its copy from the mid-19th century may have been placed. The bust of an unidentified youth, showing possibly Maurycy Tomasz Łoś (Fig. 8) may come from the Łoś family palace in Narol. Interestingly, Domenico Cardelli executed the tomb of Aleksandra Krasicka née Grabowski, King Stanislaus Augustus’ natural daughter, who died on 12 May 1789 aged 18. The statue is known from the description of Georg Zoëga in his letter from Rome dated 8 September 1789, and addressed to Frederik Arveprins in Copenhagen, published in the Copenhagen-issued spring 1799 edition of the magazine ‘Ny Minerva et Maanedsfkrivt’. From Zoëg’s description it can be deduced that the statue ‘for en Grevinde Grabowska i Polen’ was made up of a three-sided base in the form of a candelabra on which the bust of the deceased was placed; the base was decorated with a relief showing the personification of Grief leaning over a sarcophagus in a cypress grove, with the Genius of Death leaning against a torch placed upside down. The tomb was thus executed by Cardelli at least in its model. The story of the commission and the sculpture’s history thus remain unexplained, while its destination unknown. Archival records, in turn, show that on the initiative of Stanislaus Augustus André Le Brun, ‘the first sculptor’ at the Royal Court’, in 1792 executed a marble bas-relief for the tomb of Aleksandra Krasicka, while the sculptures he authored meant for the statue (the woman’s figure in the relief, medallion with Krasicka’s portrait, the portrait of her mother Elżbieta Grabowska, and an unidentified head), were mentioned in the catalogue of the royal collection of sculptures from 1795. The monument remains unfinished, and its final destination unknown. The tomb of Countess Krasicka as described by Zoëga in certain element compositions reveals some analogies with the tomb of Chiara Rosa Maria Spinucci, Cardelli’s work placed in the Fermo Cathedral in 1794. There, the Genius of Death, standing with an extinguished torch, is leaning against an urn on a high plinth on which the medallion portrait of the deceased is placed. The artist presents here, almost simultaneously with Canova, the figure of the Genius of Death, a motif of antique provenance, applied commonly in the Neo-Classicist sculpture. It seems, however, that the figure of a seated Genius of Death leaning against a reversed torch, as we know it from Canova’s tomb of Clement XIII, unveiled in the Basilica of St Peter in Rome in April 1792, had been applied earlier by Cardelli in the tomb of Aleksandra Krasicka. It is therefore highly likely that the monument of Countess Krasicka should be attributed the breakthrough importance in the history of sepulchral sculpture of the period. The tomb in the Fermo Cathedral features a representation of the White Eagle, Poland’s emblem, since a predecessor of the father of Countess Spinucci together with all his offspring was made a Count by King John III Sobieski in 1676, acquiring the right to include the Polish emblem in his coat of arms. Chiara Rosa Maria’s father Giuseppe Spinucci, on 10 July 1765 made a loyalty oath to King Stanislaus Augustus before the Archbishop of Fermo. Both tombs, i.e. that of Aleksandra Krasicka and Chiara Maria Rosa Spinucci thus commemorated individuals bonded with King Stanislaus Augustus. There were close connections between the Polish court and the husband of Countess Spinucci, Prince Franz Xaver Albert August von Wettin of Saxony, since he was the son of King Augustus III von Wettin of Poland. It is hard to judge whether these relations could have somehow influenced the contacts of the Prince of Saxony with Cardelli, whom he most likely met in Rome where he moved in 1789. It was then that the artist executed a marble bust of the Prince and his wife’s tomb, and several years later a marble bust of Prince Raffaele Riario-Sforza, whom Beatrice Marin, daughter of Franz Xaver von Wettin and Chiara Rosa Maria Spinucci married in 1794, following which he also made the tomb of the Princes of Riario Sforza, his last work. In the above-mentioned letter from Rome, among the works of Domenico Cardelli, Georg Zoëga mentioned the Cupid and Psyche group that was at the time a clay model, which was regarded to be one of the most beautiful sculptures created in Rome. Following the death of the Artist, the group was hewn in marble by his brother-in-law Pietro Marchetti of Carrara. The whereabouts of the clay model of the sculpture are unknown; also until recently the marble sculpture had been regarded as lost. The recent research, however, allowed to find the sculpture, and to present its history. Count Jan Feliks Tarnowski and his wife Waleria née Stroynowski, accompanied by Waleria’s father Walerian Stroynowski, were travelling across Italy in 1803-4. They visited artists’ studios in Rome, Florence, and Naples, purchasing art works. From the correspondence from the trip and other notes it turns out that Walerian Stroynowski purchased then a marble Cupid and Psyche group in Rome; its model had been executed by the prematurely dead sculptor Cardelli, and it had been hewn in marble by his brother-in-law Marchetti. He bought this sculpture from the ‘sculptor Cardelli’. This must have been Giuseppe Cardelli, Domenico’s brother, who on 27 March 1804 applied for a licence to export from Rome a substantial number of sculptures evaluated at 4,000 piastres, which included the group in question. He was granted the necessary permit on 29 March. Upon its arrival in Poland, the sculpture was placed in Stroynowski’s palace in Horochow in Volhynia; also there the famous statue of Antonio Canova Perseus with the Head of Medusa purchased on the same occasion by Waleria Tarnowska was put. When years later Stroynowski moved to St Petersburg, he took a big portion of his collections with him, including the Cupid and Psyche group in 1827. The further vicissitudes of the sculpture were unknown. Some dozen years ago Domenico Cardelli’s sculpture was identified in one of the exhibits for years on display at the Hermitage. It was later ascertained that the group, having been brought to St Petersburg, remained the property of Stroynowski until his death in 1834, while in 1847, it was sold by his widow to the Hermitage. Apart from this group Walerian Stroynowski and his son-in-law Jan Feliks Tarnowski bought many other sculptures from the Cardellis’ workshop. The studio, run after Lorenzo’s death by his eldest son Domenico, was taken over by his brothers: Giuseppe (1769-1822) and Eusebio (1771-1837), defined in documents as the ‘fratelli Cardelli’ with whom their brother-in-law Pietro Marchetti cooperated. They transformed the family studio into an efficient business offering varied services, whose products: sculptures and other marble products such as vases, fireplaces, candelabras, obelisks, tops, statuettes, and altars, were exported far beyond the borders of the Papal State. In the Archivio di Stato di Roma there are some dozen supplications from 1802-5 in which ‘Giuseppe e Fratelli Cardelli’ apply for the licence to export their products. In December 1803, Tarnowski commissioned a life-size statue in white marble presenting his ancestor Grand Crown Hetman Jan Amor Tarnowski. Stroynowski commissioned from the sculptor 12 undefined busts and four statues presenting: Jan Zamoyski, Stefan Czarniecki, Nicolaus Copernicus, and Stanisław Żółkiewski, as well as a copy of the statue Hebe by Antonio Canova. On that occasion Stroynowski bought from Pietro Marchetti many sculptures, mainly copies of Antique statutes. Both Stroynowski and the Tarnowskis commissioned works from many other Roman sculptors, and the works purchased in Italy would be reaching the Polish soil from early 1805 throughout whole 1806. There are mentions of the sculptor Cardelli working for the Tarnowskis in 1805 and 1806 in relation to payments for the executed sculptures. Payments made to Cardelli for the works for Jan Feliks Tarnowski are also recorded in 1816 and 1817, whereas an undated letter asking for the payment for the works for Tarnowski and Stroynowski is signed: ‘Giuseppe e Fratelli Cardelli’. It is thanks to the works executed for Poles, and recorded in archival documents, that Giuseppe Cardelli, a figure previously quite enigmatic, appears to be an artist of substantial renown and important accomplishments. The studio of the Cardelli family was one of the most renowned sculpture workshops that operated in Rome in the last three decades of the 18th century. The works created there, purchased mainly by foreigners, and dispatched far beyond the frontiers of the Papal State, reached many European countries, also Poland. Both Lorenzo Cardelli and all his sons worked for Poles, and the activity of their studio was bonded with Poland from the 1780s until the second decade of the next century. Domenico Cardelli, one of the most outstanding sculptors of the decline of the 18th century, and the leading individuality in the artistic circles in Rome of the time, executed almost half of his output on the commission of Poles, while the relations with the Polish court and work for the individuals from the closest circles of King Stanislaus Augustus caused that he received the title of the ‘Scultore di Sua Maestà il Re di Polonia’. Ten works are known that the artist executed for Polish clients, of which at least two had replicas made. The sculpture group purchased for Polish collections already following his death, and considered to be one of the most beautiful sculptures in Rome of the time, is related to those works. The collections of King Stanislaus Augustus also featured Cardelli’s drawing showing an antique sculpture from the Museo Pio Clementino. The activity connected with Poland and Poles must have undoubtedly been an important part of his accomplishments, and constitutes a vital aspect of the research into the oeuvre of this illustrious artist.

  • Issue Year: 80/2018
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 259-301
  • Page Count: 43
  • Language: Polish