Hard–paste porcelain; W. 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm), L. 12 in. (30.5 cm)
Purchase, Gift of Irwin Untermyer, by exchange, 1997 (1997.377)
One of the great achievements of the Doccia factory was the production of ambitious, relatively large-scale porcelain sculpture. In 1737, the factory hired the sculptor Gaspero Bruschi (ca. 17011780), who became head of the modelers' workshop in 1742. Bruschi produced his own original models and oversaw the production of porcelain versions of well-known Florentine bronzes of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Wax models were made from bronze sculptures, and molds were produced from the wax models; the porcelain sculptures were then cast from these molds. Ginori, the owner of the factory, had acquired a large collection of Florentine bronzes specifically with the aim of reproducing them in porcelain.
This group depicting the Rape of Proserpina is derived from a bronze by Giovanni Battista Foggini (16521725). Pluto is posed as if caught in mid-stride, and Proserpina is shown with outflung arms; the two figures, supported only by Pluto's foot resting on a bed of flames, appear about to fly into space. Foggini's composition has been translated brilliantly into porcelain, and the aesthetic effect of the white ceramic medium is completely different from that of the original bronze, creating an entirely new work of art.