REF NO : B76120

A Pair of Life Size Statuary Marble Dogs, On Pedestals


A Bullmastiff and Spanish Mastiff each on integral naturally carved base atop original solid bleu turquin marble pedestals. These rare and impressive...


Height: 173 cm (69 in)
Width: 45 cm (18 in)
Depth: 90 cm (36 in)
REF NO : B76120


A Bullmastiff and Spanish Mastiff each on integral naturally carved base atop original solid bleu turquin marble pedestals.

These rare and impressive statuary marble dogs are remarkable lifelike portraits of two of the most fearsome breeds of guard dog. They are conceived to guard a staircase or doorway inside a house, or outside on a portico or either side of a gate or driveway. They fulfil a symbolic role of welcoming guests or guarding against harmful visitors. Their placement atop solid ‘bleu turquin’ or Dove grey marble plinths, a costly and rare Tuscan marble mined since antiquity, is indicative of their being especially prized.

The Bullmastiff was developed as a guard dog in the nineteenth century by cross breeding an English Mastiff with an Old English Bulldog. The Spanish Mastiff was breed as a guard dog and specialised in protecting livestock from wolves. Both breeds are famed for their strength, size, and speed and yet in spite of their fearsome reputations as guard dogs par excellence, the sculptor renders them most sympathetically and with much character. Each with loving gaze, as if looking to their master for approval. Regarded since antiquity as the animal most loyal to man, the dog is an attribute of fidelity personified. The antecedent is ancient Roman, ‘The Jennings Dog’ or ‘The Dog of Alcibiades’ in the British Museum, of which a pair of similar mastiffs are in the Belvedere Court of the Vatican Museums. In the nineteenth century so popular was the Dog of Alcibiades that any estate of note was incomplete without a marble or Coade stone reproduction, often as a pair, and ‘Dogs of Alcibiades’ today grace the grounds of many princely collections including Petworth House, West Sussex and Blickling Hall, Norfolk.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, the fashion for keeping dogs as domestic pets meant that on occasion wealthy owners commissioned portraits to commemorate “Man’s best friend”. Most famous is the marble statue of Queen Victoria’s collie ‘Noble’ sculpted by Joseph Edgar Boehm and dated 1884 (Osborn House, RCIN 41058).

Another pair of statuary marble dogs of this same model can be found on the terrace at Peles Castle in Romania. A fairy-tale neo-Renaissance palace, Peles Castle in the Carpathian Mountains was built between 1875 and 1914 as a retreat by King Carol I of Romania (1839–1914). The Florentine sculptor Raffaello Romanelli (1856–1928) is recorded to have executed much of the statuary Peles Castle and the attribution is made accordingly. Studio Galleria Romanelli in Florence have been consulted on the attribution, and although much of the Romanelli documentation was destroyed in World War II, have commented that these dogs exhibit Raffaello Romanelli’s style. The attribution is strengthened because Raffaello Romanelli produced much of the sculpture at Peles Castle.

The Bullmastiff:
Height 92 cm | 36 ¼ in
Width 90 cm | 35 ½ in
Depth 40 cm | 15 ¾ in

The Spanish Mastiff:
Height 87 cm | 34 ¼ in
Width 95 cm | 37 ½ in
Depth 44 cm | 17 ¼ in

The pedestals:
Height 79.5 cm | 31 ¼ in
Width 90 cm | 35 ½ in
Depth 44.5 cm | 17 ½ in

Each dog weighs approximately 200 kg.
Each pedestal weights approximately 636 kg.
The pedestals dismantle into three pieces.

Italy, Circa 1900.


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