Naples. 18th Century

ORIENTAL MUSICIAN (Attr. Lorenzo Mosca)
HORSE (Attr. Nicola Vassallo)
Terracotta, wood and original clothes
76 x 25 x 56 cm

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The high technical quality of the animal and its rigorous proportions make it easily attributable to the master Nicola Vassallo (mid-eighteenth century). Who was the most famous artist making animals for the neapolitan Crèches.

The body is modeled in terracotta and the legs are made in wood (so it can be nailed at the wood base). We can’t forget the different ornaments arround the saddle: the gorgeus seat (made in velvet with applied silver embroidery and fringes), the horseshoes (made in iron) and the stirrups ( also in iron with a meticulous work of chiselling)

The great dynamism that the horse transmits is gotten by the animal’s position (trotting), to this naturalist effect also contributes the technical merit of the manes fluttering in the wind. This great naturalism is completed with the work of eyes with vitreous paste, which gives great realism.

About the exotic oriental musician, it’s remarkable the wondefurl modeling work in the head and the great carving of the hands.

This faithful naturalism is gotten by the expression: with the furrowed row and the inflated cheeks in (the act of blowing the trumpet). These features make this great “sonatore” attributable to the master Lorenzo Mosca. Even the particular long form of the ears is a Mosca’s indentity signs.

The inside of the figure is made with wire and tow, which allows to change the position of the musician.

The clothes, made with rich applied embroideries are also original.

These musicians from arabian origin were frequent in the Neapolitan Crèches forming part of the entourage of the Three Wise Men (with exotic animals in cages, pages, or court characerts as the Giorgiana and the Giorgano). Definitely this entourage helped to provide certain exoticism to the scene of the Nativity (according to the interest of travelling to exotic cultures developped in the Enlightenment).Moreover, the luxury that surrounded the entourage of the Three Wise Men, always made that the potential buyers of the crèches (nobles and rich bourgueoises) could feel more identified with this characters that were less popular.

In conclusion, here I present two figures of great quality which certainly can complete and dignify the most important collections.

Best Regards

Claudio Brandi