The British Museum's collections, £16.99
Height: 15.500 cm
Sir Hans Sloane collection
M&ME SL 168
Venus and Adonis, attributed to Francesco Fanelli
A cabinet piece for an English collector
When this small figure group was in the collection of Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), he described it as the work of 'Fiamengo', a north European sculptor working in Italy. In fact it was probably made by the Italian sculptor Francesco Fanelli (active 1605-1641), who worked in London for King Charles I (reigned 1625-49) between at least 1632 and 1641.
The group was probably made for display in a small cabinet room, perhaps on a high shelf. It is an excellent example of the small bronze sculptures for which Fanelli became famous among his English patrons. Other versions of the same group in brass survive, but Sloane's is the only example with the hillock cast in brass and the figures in silver. The ebony veneer base is almost certainly original.
composition depicts part of the story of the doomed love of the