An important 18th century Lombardy ebony banded walnut and ivory inlaid twin pedestal desk, the top and sides inlaid with a scenes from Homer’s Iliad, after original drawings by John Flaxman RA (1755-1826), within moulded shaped ebony cartouches, fitted with three frieze drawers over hinged cupboards, inlaid with allegories representing Hope and Faith, on later castors.UK APHA Registration of an ivory item Submission reference: D99UXPKP width 118cm depth 61cm height 82.4cm LOT ESSAY BY DR. ARABELLA CIFANIThe scene is taken from a drawing that the English sculptor and draftsman, John Flaxman(1755–1826), made to illustrate the passages of Homer's Iliad, a commission proposed to him in 1791 by Georgiana Hare-Naylor while he was living in Rome. Here is represented a rare episode, with Polydamas, a character from Greek mythology soothsayer, adviser and valiant warrior, friend and lieutenant of Hector, who fought in the Trojan War and who, in the twelfth book of the Iliad, advises Hector not to cross a dangerous moat that was part of the defence at the Achaean port and also advises Hector not to continue the siege. Hector will not listen to him and will face death at the hands of Achilles (Homer Iliad 12.60).‘’Then verily Polydamus drew nigh to Hector, and spake, saying: “Hector, and ye other leaders of the Trojans and allies, it is but folly that we seek to drive across the trench our swift horses; hard in sooth is it to cross, for sharp stakes are set in it, and close anigh them is the wall of the Achaeans.’’ Homer - Iliad 12.60John Flaxman, sculptor and draftsman, a leading proponent of English neoclassicism, created 34 drawings for Homer's Iliad in Rome in 1793, which were engraved on copper for the first time in Rome by Tommaso Piroli in 1793 ("L'Iliade et the Odyssée d'Homère gravéepar Thomas Piroli d'après les desseins composés par John Flaxman. 94 gravures ", Francesco Romero publisher, Rome, 1793). The meeting Flaxman and Piroli was a happy union, sealed by a public success that also provoked real acts of editorial piracy. "The reprints followed one another in various original editions or copies of the branches in different European cities, attesting to the vast success achieved from Flaxman's inventions masterfully translated and propagated with the burin of Piroli. Two years later, the plates for "The Iliad" were republished in London. In 1805, publishers Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme printed new editions of both series, including eleven extra illustrations commissioned from Flaxman (five for "The Iliad" and six for "The Odyssey").The style of the ivory inlay perfectly reflects the spirit of Flaxman's engraving, the figures in fact retain their taste for graffiti, which was an absolute novelty at the time. Flaxman avoided the background landscape, setting and detail, focusing on figures rendered with pure outlines. It has long been known that Flaxman drew on and synthesized a wide variety of visual sources in the development of his outline illustrations, combining classical figuration from "Etruscan" reliefs, sculptures, engravings and vases with forms derived from medieval and early Renaissance sources, life studies and observational sketches of daily Italian scenes and characters. Flaxman's style of illustration has been discussed and celebrated by a multitude of critics across Europe and has had a demonstrable influence on artists such as Ingres, Goya and Blake.The cabinet is also enriched with other ivory inlays, representing divinities and allegories, including the allegory of Hope and Faith.GORRINGE’S are grateful to Dr. Cifani, for her identification of John Flaxman’s designs, used in the ivory inlays on this desk.***CONDITION REPORT***Overall a little evenly faded to a light walnut tone with old dents, small losses and splits throughout commensurate with age, ivory inlay looks to be mostly complete but some small losses notably to the right side of the top, the doors to the drawers are fitted with English locks but no escutcheons suggesting the later addition of the veneers, cupboard doors have Italian locks but no key, lower front right corner is broken with the foot now come loose, minor dents and scuffing elsewhere around the base.PLEASE NOTE:- Prospective buyers are strongly advised to examine personally any goods in which they are interested BEFORE the auction takes place. Whilst every care is taken in the accuracy of condition reports, Gorringes provide no other guarantee to the buyer other than in relation to forgeries. Many items are of an age or nature which precludes their being in perfect condition and some descriptions in the catalogue or given by way of condition report make reference to damage and/or restoration. We provide this information for guidance only and will not be held responsible for oversights concerning defects or restoration, nor does a reference to a particular defect imply the absence of any others. Prospective purchasers must accept these reports as genuine efforts by Gorringes or must take other steps to verify condition of lots. If you are unable to open the image file attached to this report, please let us know as soon as possible and we will re-send your images on a separate e-mail.
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