San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
“This is the compelling story of a Veronese dynasty of 16th century Italian-Jewish artisan-sculptors who worked in the luxury material of bronze.
The subject is important in the history of Renaissance-Mannerist sculpture and from the perspective of the Jewish Diaspora in Italy, as testified by Joseph de Levis’ pieces that featured in Gardens and Ghettoes, The Art of Jewish Life in Italy, an exhibition in 1989 at The Jewish Museum, New York. Bronzes by the de Levis are now dispersed among distinguished museums in Europe, the USA and Israel, as well as Old Master collections, such as the late Robert H. Smith’s, promised as a gift to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC: his foundation purchased in 2002 an eye-catching Ewer sold from the Salomon de Rothschild Foundation in Paris for over one quarter of a million pounds – a world record for the artist.
Joseph de Levis signed (between 1576 and 1605) some 45 – literally - fantastic bronze artefacts, which gives a unique cross-section of the production of a hard-working and resilient renaissance foundry: they include almost every type of article in use at the time: church-bells [some still ringing in campanili that I have had to climb during the course of my research, and others in the Museo del Castlevecchio in Verona]; hand-bells, with intricate friezes of ornament and occasional coats-of-arms, to silence meetings or summon servants; fire-dogs [in the V&A Museum]; door-knockers; candlesticks and inkstands. He also produced handsome mortars for domestic or pharmaceutical use, while his sons and nephews, continuing the business into the seventeenth century, produced two fine ones that are cast with Hebrew characters and the distinctive ornament of the seven-branched candlestick [the menorah].”
Charles Avery has just published the first ever comprehensive book on this important and well-documented dynasty of artists in bronze, with a complete catalogue of their variegated products.
Until recently a Trustee of the British-Italian Society, Charles Avery is a specialist in European - particularly Italian - sculpture. A graduate in Classics from Cambridge University, he obtained a Diploma in the History of Art at the Courtauld Institute and a doctorate for published work from Cambridge. After being Deputy Keeper of Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum for a dozen years (1966-79), and a Director of Christie's for a decade, since 1990 he has been an independent historian, consultant, writer and lecturer.
His books include the classic introductory paperbacks, Florentine Renaissance Sculpture (1970) and Donatello: an Introduction (1994); as well as the major monographs Giambologna, the Complete Sculpture (1987), Bernini, Genius of the Baroque (1997 - paperback, 2006), and The Triumph of Motion: Francesco Bertos (1678-1741) and the Art of Sculpture (2008).
Commissioned by Thames & Hudson to celebrate the 60th anniversary of their foundation and the theme of their logo, A School of Dolphins, followed in 2009.
Just published is his new book, “JOSEPH DE LEVIS & COMPANY, RENAISSANCE BRONZE-FOUNDERS IN VERONA”, for which the index was generously paid for by the BIS. Ideal as a Christmas-present for an art-loving friend, it will beavailable this evening at a discount to members.
Wine and canapés will be offered after the talk
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The British-Italian Society
THE BRITISH-ITALIAN SOCIETY - aims to increase the understanding in Great Britain of Italy and Italian civilisation and to encourage friendship between the two countries through regular lecture meetings (in English) on topics covering a wide range of subjects, visits to Italian cultural exhibitions, theatre outings, social events and the award of scholastic prizes.
Tel: 020 8208 2288