Lost Silver Cupids by Renowned Jeweller Castellani, to sell at Bonhams

AuctionPublicity.com – Two silver putti, crafted by the celebrated Roman jeweller Castellani, will be sold by Bonhams in the Fine Silver sale on 21 November at 101 New Bond Street, London. The statuettes, estimated at £50,000-70,000, were thought to have disappeared but have emerged to be sold at auction.

The inventories from the Castellani workshop dating back to 1844 make specific reference to “Two silver putti from the Borghese Gallery”. Nothing was known publicly about the location of the two cupids until the Art Historian Gabriella Bordenache Battaglia discovered them in a private collection.

Other than the two statuettes very few silver objects were ever produced by Castellani since the firm were first and foremost jewellers. The putti constitute the only notable examples of this type of Castellani’s workmanship and were given special mention in the catalogue for the recent Castellani exhibition in London and New York.

Pio Castellani opened his first workshop in Rome in 1814 and word of his exquisite craftsmanship soon spread. Wearing Castellani jewellery became a style statement- every fashion conscious lady, from local aristocracy to visiting celebrities such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, wanted a Castellani creation.

Castellani enjoyed a particularly good relationship with Rome’s most influential family, the Borgheses. Prince Camillo Borghese commissioned the firm to reset the family jewels which belonged to his wife, Paolina Bonaparte, Napoleon’s scandalous younger sister. The Borghese family owned one of the finest art collections in Europe although Napoleon bought a large part of it at a huge discount to display in the Louvre.

Castellani would have been intimate with the Borghese collection and it is no coincidence that one of the statuettes , Boy with a Bird is a copy of a marble sculpture that can still today be found in the Borghese Gallery.

Rupert Slingsby, Head of the Silver Department at Bonhams says, “Silverware by Castellani appears on the market extremely rarely. This is a unique opportunity for a museum or individual to purchase a exceptional work of art which was thought to have been lost”.