Oeuvre

THE ROCKINGHAM ROMAN MARBLE SILENUS RIDING A GOAT


ROME, 1st century A.D.

WITH RESTORATIONS BY BARTOLOMEO CAVACEPPI
ROME, circa 1760

Height: 50.8 cm (20 in.)
Length: 42.5 cm (16 ¾ in.)
Width: 20.2 cm (8 in.)

Provenance : - Bartolomeo Cavaceppi (1716-1799), Rome.
- Charles Watson-Wentworth, Marquess of Rockingham (1730-1782), bought £ 50 in December 1764 through James “Athenian” Stuart (1713-1788)
Displayed in Wentworth Woodhouse’s gallery, Yorkshire
- by inheritance, his nephew, William Earl Fitzwilliam (1748-1833), Wentworth Woodhouse
- by descent, Peter Earl Fitzwilliam (1910-1948), Wentworth Woodhouse
- his after-death sale, auctioned by Henry Spencer and Sons, 4-9 July 1949, lot 433
- Sir Albert E. Richardson (1880-1964), bought in August 1951.

Literature: - Cavaceppi (Bartolomeo), Raccolta D'antiche Statue […], Rome, 1768, vol. I, pl. 39.
- Clarac (Frédéric de), Musée de Sculpture antique et moderne, vol. IV, Paris, 1850, p. 279, pl. 731, no. 1759.
- Reinach (Salomon), Répertoire de la Statuaire Grecque et Romaine, vol. I, Paris, 1906, p. 420, fig. 2.
-« Wentworth Woodhouse, Yorkshire », in Country Life, 31 March 1906, pp. 450-461, ill.
- Howard (Seymour), Bartolomeo Cavaceppi, Eighteenth Century Restorer, 1958 Doctorate thesis, published New York, 1982, p. 246, no. 7.
- Mayor (Edward R.), The sculpture collection of the second Marquis of Rockingham at Wentworth Woodhouse, thesis submitted in 1987, p. 84; p. 121, inv. n° 8
- Penny (Nicholas), « Lord Rockingham’s Sculpture Collection […] », in The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, vol. 19, 1991, p. 11.

Archives: - Vouchers for Works of Art, Rockingham: n°97 « Dec 28th 1764. James Stuart. To an antique Marble representing Silenus riding on a goat … £ 50 […]
To freight from Rome to Leghorn (Livorno), & Leghorn to London … £ 25 […] ». Wentworth Woodhouse Muniments, Sheffield City Library.
- Inventory of the Contents of Wentworth Woodhouse and no. 4, Grosvenor Square, September 1782, p. 18: in the gallery, « […] a marble Figure of Silenus upon a goat 1- 8 ½ high […] ».


The goat, on a rectangular base, is striding forward with left foreleg raised, with a shaggy coat and upturned tail with curls, its head turned to the right and mouth open. Silenus is sitting atop, his right arm raised above his head holding several bunches of grapes, a phiale held in his left hand, wearing a goat skin tied around his neck.
The base, the trunk under the goat, the four legs, the head of the goat and the tail as well as the noses, the arm holding the grapes and the cup were restored in the 18th century.


This well documented antique group was restored in Rome by the celebrated sculptor Bartolomeo Cavaceppi who published, from 1768 to 1772, etchings of his works in the three volumes Raccolta d'antiche statue busti bassirilievi ed altre sculture restaurate da Bartolomeo Cavaceppi scultore romano. The group was bought by James “Athenian” Stuart on behalf of the Marquess of Rockingham in 1764 and sent from Rome to his palace, Wentworth Woodhouse, Yorkshire, where it remained until 1949.

Opportunities for purchasing marbles abounded at this time as some of the great Roman collections were dispersed, like for example the Barberini, Giustiniani or Ludovisi’s; speculative excavations were also still undertaken which yielded vast quantities of treasures. The market was largely controlled by Britons residing in Rome who acted as agents between Italians and the predominantly English clientele. These agents employed Italian restorers and worked with notable sculptors of the day, such as Bartolomeo Cavaceppi, Piranesi and Joseph Nollekens, and also undertook their own excavations. The most notable of these British agents were the painter Gavin Hamilton (1723-1798) and Thomas Jenkins (1722-1798). The architect and painter James “Athenian” Stuart must have met the Earl of Malton, later Marquess of Rockingham, during their stay in Rome, between 1748 and 1750 and Rockingham used him later as an agent for his Italian purchases in order to complete his collection at Wentworth Woodhouse.

Bartolomeo Cavaceppi (1716-1799) was the leading restorer of ancient sculpture in Rome at the time, and at the height of his career ran a workshop which employed over fifty sculptors and assistants, producing thousands of pieces. The British were undoubtedly his biggest patrons and collections where his work was found included Newby, Townley, Holkham, Lansdowne, Nostel Priory, Ince Bludell and Marbury Hall.
In 1768 he published the first of his three-volume Raccolta d'antiche statue. Each book contained sixty large carefully etched and engraved plates of antiquities restored in Cavaceppi’s studio. In Cavaceppi’s essay at the beginning of the first volume, he recounted why it was essential that fragmentary ancient sculpture be restored. He went on to relay his restoration scheme: the restorer should have a thorough knowledge of ancient history and mythology; the marble used should match exactly and copy the style of the ancient work completely; the restored parts must fit perfectly and be finished whilst attached; and the joins between ancient and modern should be casual and irregular, with dowels rather than cement to ensure permanence. This statue was illustrated on plate 39 as already being “in Inghilterra” along with another 34 sculptures.

Twice Prime Minister of Great Britain, Charles Watson-Wentworth 2nd Marquess of Rockingham was a connoisseur-collector for much of his life. As a young man on his Grand Tour (1748-1750), he was, in 1749, asked by his father to buy statues in Rome for the Grand Hall at Wentworth Woodhouse. The young man, then known as Earl of Malton, ordered eight statues, copies after the Antique, from the best sculptors in Rome and Florence. At the same time, in Florence, he bought the great Samson group by Vicenzo Foggini, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Grand Tour was cut short in 1750 by the death of his father and he returned to England and his great inheritance. Wentworth Woodhouse seems to have been complete by 1771 and the Grand Hall was described as “beyond all comparison the finest room in England”. The Silenus astride a goat was in the Gallery at Wentworth, according to the 1782 inventory, along with only one other sculpture, a plaster bust of Clytie. However, certainly by 1906, when it was photographed in Country Life Magazine, the piece was located in the Grand Hall along with the majority of the sculptures.