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Large marble figure by Romanelli - 'The Son of Willaim Tell'


A magnificent 19th century Italian carved marble figure of the son of William Tell kneeling under a tree trunk with a punched apple above his head.
By Pasquale Romanelli (1812-1887) 
This model is recorded as the first sculpture exhibited by Pasquale Romanelli, it met with such success that it was subsequently given a prize at the New York Exhibition of 1854 and also at the 1861 first Great Italian exhibition which followed the Unification of Italy in 1860. The statue was bought by Italian king S.M. Vittorio Emanuele II.

Signed: Romanelli
Circa 1860


Height with pedestal: 70.5"  (179 cm)
Diameter with pedestal: 24"  (61 cm)

Height of sculpture: 41.5"  (105 cm) 
Diameter of sculpture: 22"  (55 cm)

Pasquale Romanelli was born in Florence on May 28 1812. When he was 15 years old he entered the studio runned by Master Sculptor Luigi Pampaloni and later moved to Lorenzo Bartolini’s studio in Borgo San Frediano. Lorenzo Bartolini was a teacher at Accademia in 1837 and suggested the young pupil to attend a proper sculpture training at the Accademia of Belle Arti. Soon he learned to sculpt in marble at such a high level that Bartolini himself did not need to finish his pieces if they have been carved by Pasquale.
In 1840 he got his studio at the San Barnaba Monastry (nearby San Lorenzo church), and in this years he already took part in the political life, sure enough his subjects were connected to his political idea of freedom and independence of Italy. In 1850 Lorenzo Bartolini died: his heirs had to deal with several sculptures uncompleted and sort out how to finish them without distorting either the original project and the Master’s style. As Bartolini was very jealous of his “last touch”, the heirs chose Pasquale Romanelli to complete most of his works, as he was the only assistant that could match the ability of the master. Just to mention some of this works, according to the tradition, the famous sculpture ”La fiducia in Dio” now housed at Hermitage Museum was sculpted by Pasquale Romanelli from an original model by Bartolini, as well as the “Monumento Demidoff” placed in Piazza Demidoff in Florence. Till the end of his life he worked on several commissions, either public monuments as the sculpture Francesco Ferrucci (Portico degli Uffizi) and private ones, mostly sold abroad. He was a renown portraitist and according to the tradition, luxury carriage used to stand for a long time in front of the studio, waiting for their owners (noblemen and rich people from Italy and from Europe) posing for a portrait. He was also appointed to make the bust of Lorenzo Bartolini (1858), housed at Santa Croce Church in Florence. In 1868 he, too, was appointed Professor of Sculpture of the Academy of Fine Art of Florence. Among his works we remember The sons of Mrs Whyte, the bust of King Vittorio Emanuele II, the portrait of Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria. The monument to Vittorio Fossombroni for the Piazza di S. Francesco in Arezzo (1863) and the monument of Count Alessandro Masi for the Certosa of Ferrara (1864). For the Romantic genre produced Paul and Francesca (1860), Ophelia, Joan of Arc, Ruth, Napoleon child (presented at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1867), Benjamin Franklin child and The boy Washington (bought by Principe Amedeo of Savoy), Bianca Cappello and Pietro Bonaventuri. He also made the portrait of Bartolini on his sepulcher in the church of Santa Croce. He worked almost until his death on 11 February 1887. His funeral monument in the Cemetery of the Porte Sante was the work of his son Raffaello.

William Tell was a farmer and Swiss folk hero. He literally stands as a symbol of political freedom; there is a bronze statue of him in Uri, a mountain village that is the birthplace of modern Switzerland. As the country's founding father, Tell is both legend and legendary. As the story goes, in 1307, an agent of the Hapsburg duke of Austria placed a Hapsburg hat on a pole and ordered passersby to remove their caps. Tell refused and was then ordered to shoot an apple off his son's head with an arrow at 120 paces or he and his son would both be killed. Tell obliged and succeeded in hitting the apple off his son's head in a single shot.
What happened next kicked off a revolution among the poor, medieval inhabitants and led to an overthrow of capricious foreign rule. The agent asked Tell why he had a second arrow in his jacket, to which Tell replied, "If the first arrow had killed my son, I would have shot the second at you, and I would not have missed."