(b. 1777, Savignano, d. 1850, Firenze)

The Demidov Table

Marble, 164 x 126 x 130 cm (with pedestal)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This unusual marble group was commissioned from the artist by one of the great patrons of his day, Prince Anatole Demidov. Heir to an immensely wealthy Russian family, Demidov filled his magnificent palace outside Florence, the Villa San Donato, with contemporary as well as older art.

Bartolini's decision to show figures seated or lying on a table-like platform was unusual in the 1840s, however, he was not alone in using this format, Clésinger presented his Woman Bitten by a Snake similarly.

The group consists of three children whose heads rest at different levels: one child lies directly on the table, the head of the second is propped upon the back of the first, the third child sits upright, leaning on an elbow. Their forms pile into a loose pyramid, obscuring one another so that the whole group can be understood only by walking around it.

The group has an allegorical meaning, the figures can be identified as Bacchus sleeping in the arms of Divine Love, while Unhappy Virtue (or Correct Behaviour) lies at the bottom of the pile.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.