Important discoveries at Tefaf part 1: Thomas Hope
2 March 2016
We are getting ready for our annual visit to Maastricht and this year we are delighted to be taking some important recent acquisitions and a major discovery.
At the heart of our stand this year will be an extremely important, recently rediscovered colossal bust of Roma, made for the great collector and connoisseur Thomas Hope. The bust has recently re-emerged from over a century of obscurity and our recent research has now identified it as the work of Vincenzo Pacetti. It will be seen in Maastricht for the first time since its sale from the Hope collection in 1917. Based upon an antique bust originally in the Borghese collection and now in the Louvre, this major neo-classical sculpture occupied a central position in the picture gallery in Hope’s London house at Duchess Street and latterly in the sculpture gallery at the Deepdene in Surrey where it is seen in contemporary views of these innovative and influential interiors. Almost certainly produced in Rome by the influential sculptor and restorer Vincenzo Pacetti sometime before 1808, the bust is a highly refined and remarkably preserved example of Italian neo-classicism. The stark design of the bust, with its severe attic profile and highly polished surface, offers a remarkable distillation of Hope's interest in the classical world: an interest that had enormous and wide-ranging impact upon contemporary European design.
Vincenzo Pacetti was an important sculptor, restorer and dealer, he sold and renovated ancient marbles for the British dealers in Rome and their Grand Tour patrons as well as for wealthy Roman families. Unlike some of the other sculptor-restorers of the period, such as Carlo Albacini, he was a respected modeller and carver who occupied important positions within the Roman art establishment becoming Principi of the Accademia di San Luca. Pacetti worked consistently for Prince Marcantonio V Borghese and this gave him access to the Borghese Roma, which he copied for Hope. Pacetti’s diary reveals that Hope and his brothers were frequent visitors to his studio in Via Gregoriana.
The Hopes purchased numerous antiquities from Pacetti in the mid-1790s including the large sculpture of Dionysius now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The extant export documentation mentions many antiquities along with numerous 'marmi moderni' underlining the fact that the Hopes also acquired contemporary sculptures and modern copies after the antique in great profusion. The Hope Roma was probably acquired by Hope at that time but, due to the European conflict, not shipped to London until 1803. Thomas Hope's sculpture collection has been the subject of a great deal of recent scholarship but the loss of his personal papers has made identifying the precise circumstances of his purchases and commissions difficult to reconstruct. The Roma is recorded in a view of the picture gallery at Duchess Street in 1824 and shortly afterwards shown prominently in a watercolour of Hope’s sculpture gallery at his Surrey house, the Deepdene. The Hope Roma remained at the Deepdene throughout the nineteenth century, although it moved from the sculpture gallery to the entrance hall, where it is shown in an engraving published in 1848.
The Deepdene was let in 1893 to Lily, Duchess of Marlborough who disliked the classical art in the house and she appears to have consigned the statuary to an icehouse and caves on the estate where they were found when the 1917 sale was being prepared. Roma was incorrectly identified at that time and has remained in obscurity until now.
Maastricht Exhibition & Congress Centre (MECC)
6229 GV Maastricht
+44 (0)20 7734 8686
11 - 20 March 2016
Daily 11am - 7pm
Sunday 20 March 11am - 6pm