A striking marble bust of the Russian industrialist and philanthropist Count Nikolai Demidov will be the highlight of the Tomasso Brothers stand at Masterpiece London, Royal Hospital Chelsea, from 26 June to 2 July 2014. Stand C2.

Adamo Tadolini (1788-1868)
Italian, c. 1827
A Bust of Count Nikolai Demidov,
Russian Industrialist and Philanthropist (1773-1828)
Marble; height: 60 cm
Price: in the region of £150,000

Nikolai Demidov (1773-1828), one of the richest men in Russia in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, combined being a successful industrialist and ambassador to Florence with astonishing acts of charity and philanthropy.  Nikolai and his family made their fortune excavating minerals and mining raw materials.  His father Nikita’s famed art collection was one of the greatest private collections in Europe, and rivalled that of the Sommariva family.  In 1824, Nikolai Demidov was ambassador to the court of the Grand Duke of Tuscany in Florence and bought a villa formerly owned by the Medici family in Pratolino.  In the nearby town of San Nicola, he embarked on great projects of social improvement, building a school, a hospital and an orphanage for the local people.  As a result of these generous acts, the people of Florence dedicated the ‘Piazza Demidov’ to him in gratitude.

It is thought that Demidov met Adamo Tadolini (1788-1686) in 1823, while staying at the Palazzo Ruspoli in Rome.  This bust was probably carved a few years later, around 1827, when Demidov was nearing the age of 30.  Tadolini trained under Giacomo de Maria at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, where he made his name making fine versions of famous Greco-Roman sculptures.  In 1814 he travelled to Rome and made such an impression on the great Venetian sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1822) that he was invited to work in the master’s studio.  After completing his training here, Tadolini opened his own workshop in Rome, working in his signature neoclassical style, no doubt inspired by Canova’s masterpieces in marble.  His works included a wonderful figure of St Peter in the Vatican’s St Peter’s Basilica, a statue of St Paul in the Piazza San Pietro, and the Monument to the immaculate conception in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna.  In 1825 his talents were recognised with an award from Rome’s prestigious Academy of Saint Luke and, in 1830, he was offered the position of Professor of Sculpture at the Academy of Bologna where he first began his studies.



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