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Inscribed rooster cantagalli mark

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Inscribed rooster cantagalli mark

Postby kenneth » February 7th, 2010, 10:20 pm

Mr. Del Pellegrino, I have acquired my second Cantagalli piece...a water font approximately 8 inches wide and 14 inches long. This time, the mark in inscribed rather than a "painted" mark on my first acquisition. The font includes the latin reference to Year of Jubilee 1925 (A * IVBILAEI * MCMXXV).

My question is, does the mark match the time period for 1925, or perhaps is this a later mark for a water font commerating the jubilee year 1925?

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Re: Inscribed rooster cantagalli mark

Postby wdel » February 8th, 2010, 10:22 am

I don't believe that your Acquasantiera (Holy Water Font) was made by the Cantagalli factory. I have two reason for thinking this. First I looked at the overall quality of the piece and although it is done in the Della Robbia style for which Cantagalli was renown it lacks the artistic quality and depth of luster and color that help make the Cantagalli name famous, even 24 years after his death. Secondly, The rooster mark is unlike any Cantagalli mark of the period and more importantly it is crudely done and facing the wrong direction. An impressed artistically styled Cantagalli mark was used in the early 1950's but it always faced left, encircled by an oval cartouche and impressed with the word "Firenze" (Florence}.

At first I thought it might be the mark of the Galvani company located in Pordenone but in 1925 the firm was concentrating on tableware. Of course, just because the piece is marked with the commemorative date of 1925 that the piece was produced in that year. Galvani used perhaps four or five dozen or more various logos over its 172 year history so your piece may be by Galvani. Another possibility is simply that the mark was used by a minor pottery. The rooster, in Italy, is considered an heroic animal that displays great courage and strength. Many potteries used a rooster mark.

In 1925, Pope Pius XI wanted to draw attention to the efforts of Christian missions around the world and the good works they had done. He decreed that 1925 would be a special Jubilee year.

The Pope had a missionary exhibition set up in twenty-four specially built pavilions in the Vatican Gardens. It was certainly the greatest exhibition of its kind (over 100,000 objects) that the history of the Church had ever known. All the Missionary Congregations participated by sending objects of the art and culture of the peoples belonging to all the geographical areas of the world, excluding Europe. The aim was to document the missionary activity of the Church and make everyone aware of what the Church was doing in this field. The exhibition was a great success, so much so that the Pope who had so firmly desired it was able, on its closure, to announce: "The Missionary Exhibition will be closed, but its precious exhibits .... will not be scattered, but will remain as a Missionary Museum, like a school, like a book that is always open ...". The idea became a reality in the Ethnological Missionary Museum of the Vatican. About half of the exhibits were returned to their homelands but more than 50,000 pieces of ethnic art still remain in the museum.

Your water font was probably purchased in the museum's gift shop but whether it was purchased in 1925 or much later is something I can't answer.

Walter Del Pellegrino
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Re: Inscribed rooster cantagalli mark

Postby kenneth » February 8th, 2010, 8:23 pm

Thank you, Mr. Del Pellegrino, for your fast and thorough response. I agree with your assessment completely. I had purchased this "Acquasantiera" water font at a flea market ($30) and it was quite dirty. After a thorough soaking and cleaning with a soft brush, I did notice that the quality was not the same as a genuine Cantagalli Della Robbia style piece I have. I assumed that perhaps being newer that the quality was just not the same. As a novice, I did not notice that the rooster was the wrong way. Still, I very much am happy with the font, and it is well worth the small investment and the ability to learn a little more about beautiful Italian pottery, especially Cantagalli. Even for an "off-brand" Robbia style pottery it is nicely done. Perhaps as a clue to age, it does have "L 1825" in pencil in three places, as shown in the picture. It may be the price in Lira around 1925. I have appreciated this style of Pottery, and have been in a couple of churches that display similar, larger pieces, and your help in indentifying my first acquisition (and the forum) helped gain this appreciation.

Thank you again for your consideration.

Ken
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Re: Inscribed rooster cantagalli mark

Postby pothead » February 14th, 2010, 4:07 pm

Hi Walter - I was looking thru my downloads of things I was interested in and never bought, and I came across this catalog. Maybe they reversed the cockerel mark when the sons took over??

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Re: Inscribed rooster cantagalli mark

Postby wdel » February 14th, 2010, 4:59 pm

I've seen replicas of the catalog being presented for sale before but I never noticed the reversed logo before. The photos you have here are, of course, of the original catalogue and I can't imagine its value. On the frontis page the rooster in reverse is clearly labeled as "Factory Mark" and I readily admit to not having an answer. I am, however, thrilled by the mystery it represents and gives me another project to investigate.
"Figi di Giuseppe Cantagalli Majoliche Artistiche" or "The Artistic Majolica of the Sons of Joseph Cantagalli" was the name given to the family owned factory when Ulisse and his brother, Romeo, inherited it after the death of their father, Giuseppe, in 1878.
The pieces shown on the pages are indicative of the delicate details and artistry of the Cantagalli workshop. I am still of the opinion that Kenneth's piece was not created by Cantagaali.

Walter
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Re: Inscribed rooster cantagalli mark

Postby kenneth » February 18th, 2010, 5:49 pm

Thank you, Mr. Del Pellegrino and Pothead, for the additional and interesting information. The Catalog pages from Cantagalli Album Della Robbia were wonderful to see. My genuine Cantagalli Della Robia is item 292 that is displayed on the front cover and there is no doubt that the quality and detail of that piece are superior to the Holy Water Font that I posted a few weeks ago. I hope that Mr. Del Pellegrino will find the answer to the question of the different orientations of the rooster mark. I am glad that my post was able to bring this question up. Regards, Ken
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Re: Inscribed rooster cantagalli mark

Postby wdel » February 18th, 2010, 7:45 pm

Ken.
You will enjoy reading this article from the December 20, 2009 edition of the Washington Post. The article speaks about your plaque (item 292) as seen in the photo of cover of the Cantagalli catalogue provided by Pothead. As you read the article you might note that some historical inaccuracies were provided by Gastone Menegatti but still the article is interesting.

A Mother and Child Return to a Leesburg church

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In 1936, Edith Morton Eustis, who lived at the Oatlands estate in Loudoun County and in the District, donated a rare Italian terra-cotta bas-relief, "The Adoration of the Child," to her church, St. John the Apostle Roman Catholic, in Leesburg. Some 35 years later, her gift vanished.
Andrea della Robbia, a Florentine sculptor and ceramicist, created the design for "The Adoration" in the 15th century. It features Mary looking down at the infant Jesus, who reaches up to her. Above, the hands of God reach down to place a crown on Mary's head as two angels watch the scene. Lilies, symbolizing purity, grow in the background.
Eustis's gift, 32 inches tall and 28 inches wide, was in storage in the choir loft by the mid-1970s. What happened to it after that is anyone's guess.
With dogged perseverance during the past three years, St. John's parishioner James P. Lucier located the Florence studio that fabricated the Adoration. This month, he gave a new Madonna and Child, an exact duplicate of the old, to the church.
Lucier's search of hundreds of Adorations in databases found only two featuring the divine imposition of the crown: Eustis's and one at the National Gallery of Art.
Eustis had donated "The Adoration" in memory of her youngest daughter, Edith Celestine, who at 24 had died of tuberculosis on Easter Sunday 1936. "Babs," as her daughter was called, buoyed the small St. John's choir with her lilting soprano and served the needy during the Depression.
(Eustis's two other daughters, Anne Emmet and Margaret Finley, donated Oatlands and its grounds, a premier Virginia historic property, to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1963. Her fourth child, Morton, died in combat during World War II.)
Lucier, whose PhD from the University of Michigan is in Renaissance English literature, has studied painting and design at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Corcoran. He had admired "The Adoration" at St. John's, but in a generation, memories had dimmed. Was it a copy? An original? In the 1978 parish history, Lucier found mention of Eustis's financing of the church's 1936 remodeling in Babs's memory. A small photograph in the history showed "The Adoration" where Lucier remembered seeing it. But the history did not mention "The Adoration."

At the archives of Thomas Balch Library in Leesburg, Lucier found a similar photo by Leesburg photographer Winslow Williams. When enlarged, though, the image became too grainy and fuzzy to determine whether it was a true della Robbia.
Lucier's research found ample reason for Eustis's decision to memorialize Babs in the church. The Oatlands archives holds letters between mother and daughter from when both were ill and quarantined in their Washington residence. In her letters, Babs frequently expresses her faith in Jesus as her savior.
Knowing that David Edward Finley, Edith Eustis's son-in-law, was the first director of the National Gallery, Lucier beavered through correspondence in the gallery's archives and found a family connection. It was a letter from Finley, acting on Eustis's behalf, to the Cantagalli workshop in Florence. The Cantagalli family owned the della Robbia studio. The missive noted that Finley and Eustis had selected an Andrea della Robbia "Adoration of the Child," molded by the Cantagalli studio, to be made and shipped to St. John's Church. Upon arrival in Leesburg, "The Adoration" became part of Eustis's remodeling of the plain 1878 church into a replica of a 13th-century French country chapel.
(Eustis spent much of her childhood in France. Her father, Levi Morton, vice president of the United States under Benjamin Harrison, had been ambassador to France. Eustis's husband, William Corcoran Eustis, grandson and heir of William Corcoran, founder of the Corcoran Gallery, was born in France. His father, George Eustis, a former Louisiana governor, had been the Confederacy's emissary to France.)

Lucier then found a Web site for the Cantagalli studio. It mentioned that in 1878, the year St. John's was built, Ulisse Cantagalli began researching the techniques Luca della Robbia had perfected centuries before and created a mold.
Luca della Robbia, a sculptor of marble from Florence, in the 1440s developed a process of casting designs in terra cotta, which could be reproduced easily and at a cost far less than marble. His nephew Andrea della Robbia, initially an apprentice, followed suit, developing the "Adoration" design.
Lucier's e-mails to the Cantagalli studio went unanswered, and Italian friends of his found that the studio had gone out of business early last year. But its owner, Gastone Menegatti, wanted to take on special projects. He informed Lucier in a letter, "I like to GO ON."
In September 2008, Lucier decided to bolster his knowledge of Florentine art and literature in Florence, and he met Menegatti. Lucier showed him photos of the St. John's "Adoration of the Child," and Menegatti immediately recognized it as the work of his father, Amerigo Menegatti. He had worked for the Cantagalli studio and bought the firm in 1924.
After Lucier told Gastone Menegatti the story of the St. John's "Adoration," "he was very eager to make one for us as a contribution to his father's legacy," Lucier told me. Within a few months, the duplicate of the 1936 "Adoration" was on its way home.
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Re: Inscribed rooster cantagalli mark

Postby kenneth » February 19th, 2010, 4:46 pm

Mr. Del Pellegrino--thank you for sharing the Washington Post article. What a wonderful story.

Ken
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Re: Inscribed rooster cantagalli mark

Postby wdel » August 7th, 2010, 10:31 pm

Ken, It has taken me seven months to finally respond to you with a definitive answer. I am sorry for the long delay. My original assessment was wrong. The mark shown on your piece was, without a doubt, created by the Cantigalli factory in 1925.

Walter
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