This sculpture is a demonstration of supreme virtuosity in 'thinking in terracotta', the method he had inherited from Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne.

It is a seriously classical subject, and although its brilliant naturalism and compressed energy hark back to baroque models, Caffieri's terracotta is a contained, closed composition in contrast to the loose expansiveness of Lemoyne's Oceanus. The vase, from which the river water flows, with its neat frieze of shells, is a crisp piece of neo-classical design. Caffieri seems simultaneously to be declaring himself a virtuoso in the French terracotta tradition he had inherited, and asserting his mastery of the new neo-classical mode, of which the Academie de France in Rome had been the seedbed.


Private Collection, France; Daniel Katz Ltd.

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