The exhibition offers the opportunity to directly compare one of Antico’s bronzes with its ancient Roman marble source for the first time. Unlike most of his statuettes, in which he greatly reduced the antique sources, or the reliefs, in which he enlarged them, here Antico followed his model closely in size and form. Every detail of the beautiful curls of the Young Man’s hair is reproduced, as are the noble proportion of the nude torso and the slightly turned position of the head. The head is bent forward in the bronze probably to accommodate its position in a niche up high; in addition the sideburns are somewhat different, and the mustache is more visible. The finely finished surface of the bronze, with the piercing gaze of the eyes highlighted by silvering, produces a different impression than the more restrained marble. The immediacy of the bronze is also directly linked to Antico’s skill in modeling the expressive wax medium, a feat especially evident in the hair curls.
The Roman marble represents an unknown private citizen. In Antico’s time, however, it may have been thought to portray an emperor, possibly Marcus Aurelius or Lucius Verus. Though it was reported to have been found in Spain in the early 20th century, Antico must have had access to this marble bust (or possibly a plaster cast of it), as no other replicas are known. Because it represents a private citizen it is less likely that ancient replicas would have existed.
The Young Man from the Getty Museum is unique among Antico’s busts for the absence of drapery. This relatively daring feature suggests that the bust was made toward the end of the sculptor’s career.
References: Fittschen 1990, 113–126; Allison 1993/1994, 257–260, cat. 39; Fogelman, Fusco, and Cambareri 2002, 16–23, cat. 3
A technique for applying a thin layer of silver to the surface of a bronze. Certain silvering techniques parallel those described for fire-gilding and oil-gilding. Silver can also be plated onto the surface of a bronze by using chemical solutions.
Venus Felix (detail), model possibly by 1496, cast c. 1510, bronze with gilding and silvering, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Kunstkammer