Italy, Art Deco, 1920s - 1930s
Iron – height (including base): 37.5cm
Signed: Petrilli, E.
The present iron sculpture depicts a nude woman standing upright on a petanque ball holding a fox. The figure is cast solid from iron; the ball onto which the woman is standing and the fox, which sits loose in the woman’s arms, are cast separately. The manner in which the woman’s hands wrap around the animal is dynamic and contrasts beautifully with her vertical stance. The statuette is set on a marble base, which is contemporary to the figure. The dark brown patina is faintly pitted and adds to the sleek and modern aesthetic of the statuette. The sculpture bears a signature on the woman’s left hip and reads ‘Petrilli E’ - a name that is prevalent in Italy, suggesting an Italian origin.
This iron artwork shows Art Deco elements, including the composition of the figure, incorporation of the ball, and marble base. However, the style of the sculpture also resonates with Italian Modernism, a style that thrived during the fascist regime of Mussolini in Italy in the first half of the 20th century. This was a time of radical transformation of national identity and artistic language, merging the archaic with novel provocative shapes. Mussolini stimulated modernist architecture and art until at least the 1930s. Whilst it was a time of political, social and economic chaos, it was also an opportunity for modernist sculptors to flourish, including Fausto Melotti, Arturo Martini, and many more.The present figurine stylistically fits within this art evolution in Italy; demonstrated by the linear approach to physical form; the geometrised yet fluid volume and sleek details. The spirit of the war is strongly felt, evoked by the formal stylistic lines.
This sculpture is a unique example of Art Deco sculpture. The peculiar iconography and delicate linear quality suggest an artist with great creativity and skill crafted the present sculpture. In addition, iron is a tricky material to work with, and the fact that the artist completed such a delicate work, only stresses their sculptural talent, conveying purity and elegance from a material that is so resilient.
Private collection, Belgium
Penelope Curtis, Sculpture 1900-1945: After Rodin, (Oxford University Press, 1999)
 Penelope Curtis, Sculpture 1900-1945: After Rodin, (Oxford University Press, 1999), p.56
France, Theodore Géricault (1791-1824)
plaster - height: 26cm, width: 25cm