Male bust, Giovanni Antonio Emanuelli, 1838

Male bust in white marble, signed and dated "G. Emanueli F. / 1838".


The sculpture depicts a man with a voluminous ring-shaped tuft above his high forehead, while the abundant face, with its characteristic dimple on the chin, is framed by two thick favorites. The austere attitude and the stern gaze rigidly fixed on an unspecified point in the distance fall within the typology of the celebratory marble portrait, recalling the heroic atmosphere of the early 19th century.

The rich clothing, certainly aimed at the encomiastic depiction of the portrayed, reflects the fashion of the time: a shirt with a stand-up collar, on which a pin with a singular “8” Ouroboros shape is pinned at the height of the chest. Around his neck he wears a knotted tie, while on his shoulders, to wrap the figure, a luxurious cloak trimmed with fur; interesting is the drapery of the mantle which elegantly resolves the half-length cut of the sculpture.

Dimensions : 89 x 64 x 35 cm


Historical-stylistic analysis:

The character portrayed in the bust, originally owned by a family from Brescia, is believed to have been Pier Antonio Zobbio, who for many years was active as a surveyor for the Ospedale Maggiore in Brescia, who appointed his universal heir with the generous will of 1837. Despite the encomiastic character of the bust, the artist was nevertheless attentive to the physiognomic rendering of the portrayed, so much so as to make it possible to recognize it thanks to the comparison with the pictorial portrait of the same, made in memory of the testament in favor of the Brescia hospital and still today kept at the same facility. The painting by Luigi Campini is dated to 1854 and in fact the Zobbio shows the advancement of age compared to the bust in question, more than 15 years earlier.

Giovanni Antonio Emanuelli was born in Brescia in 1817 and since 1831 he attended the figure school at the Academy of Fine Arts in Milan, under the guidance of Antonio Durelli. Thanks to a subsidy from the Municipality of Brescia, from 1833 he also attended the courses held by Abbondio San Giorgio. In exchange for this help, the Municipality required the young artist to present his works annually at the exhibitions of the city university. Until 1842, when he settled in Milan, Emanuelli was active for various commissions in the city, and in this context the bust of Zobbio, his fellow citizen who became famous the previous year following the testamentary donation to the Spedale, must be seen. of Brescia. Among the most important orders he created the statues of Faith and Hope and the sepulcher of Bishop Ferrari for the new Cathedral of Brescia. He exhibited in London in 1851 at the Universal Exposition.


– Alfonso Panzetta, Nuovo Dizionario degli scultori italiani dell’Ottocento e del primo Novecento, 2 vv., Adarte, Torino 2003.

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