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silla was born out of a passion for beautiful objects: special pieces with aesthetic and historical significance. In 2009, after years of collecting, Andrew Silla and his wife Grace began to work privately with clients from their residence in Southern Maryland. Quickly outgrowing the space, the business was moved from Maryland to Pennsylvania in 2012 and after several warehouse location changes it was firmly settled in the present brick-and-mortar location in downtown Shippensburg.

The 9000 square foot brick-and-mortar gallery is home to a large collection of works of art and estate jewelry. We specialize in sculpture circa 1860 through 1930 with a particular emphasis on the Animaliers and as such the gallery always has a very large collection of exceptional European and American sculpture available on display.

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"Narcissus" | after Antiquity, cast by Michele Amodio


Regular Price: $6,200.00
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catalog text

Italy, late 19th century


Patinated bronze | cast by the Michele Amodio foundry of Naples, signed to base | cast third quarter of 19th century

Item # 406SKN07W 

An exceedingly fine cast after the Greco-Roman statue of Antiquity discovered in a non-descript house in Pompeii in 1862, the sculpture has been widely discussed as an image of Narcissus, while scholars have argued it is instead a depiction of Dionysus and more recently as a cast of Bacchus waving his finger with grapes dangling from it before an unseen panther. It was the last antique statue in Italy to be showered with such considerable worldwide renown and perhaps this is the reason for its popularity.

The sculpture depicts a young man standing entirely devoid of clothing other than a goatskin nebrid thrown over his shoulder, his full head of hair chaotic and unkempt as he stares down at something unseen on the ground before him.

It is this hollow stare and the pensive raised finger that led early scholars to attribute the image to Narcissus, the young man of great beauty loved by all who met him, but he was unwilling to return the same love to anyone. Because he treated those who loved him so poorly, the gods deemed Narcissus would never have anything he loved. One day, when Narcissus was hunting he stumbled across a stream and when he looked into its still waters he saw his own reflection and fell deeply in love with the image. He reached out to grab the figure, but could not grasp it. He stayed beside the stream without sleep or food, sharing every moment with this image, this singular being who captured his heart. And there he wasted away until he died beside the waters and transformed into a flower.

The philisophical statements of the myth underpin the very word Narcisism and make it a particularly compelling image to have at hand - a reminder of the perils of self-delusion.

Unlike most sculptures of antiquity, the present example seems to have almost always been copied both in the same size and in the same medium as the original example with only a few deviations from this norm. Haskell & Penny note that Giuseppe Fiorelli, the director of the Museo Nazionale in Naples from 1863 through 1875 reaffirmed the opinion of the scholars before him in noting the representation as being quite positively Narcissus, but towards the end of the same century opinions shifted and scholars began to interpret the presence of his crown of ivy and the nebrid as being suitable only for Dionysius [see Taste and the Antique, Haskell & Penny, p. 271-272 for discussion].

The present example was cast during the third quarter of the 19th century by the Michele Amodio foundry in Naples, Italy. It is signed in beautiful script along the plane of the circular base. The surface is finished in an even very dark brown patination and exhibits a silky translucency throughout. Note the exceedingly well chiseled surface with exquisite hand-hammering to the hair throughout his head, very fine articulation of the fingernails and toenails and jeweler-grade casting and finishing to the intricate detail of his thongs.

It is rare that we actually find an example of Narcissus that is compelling enough to purchase for the gallery. This, however, is an exceedingly good cast and a fine treasure. Note the tiny hole below his abdomen that would have allowed the owner to install a grape leaf for modesty of the figure during the 19th century.

Measurements: 24 1/4" H x 9 1/4" W x 9 1/4" D

Condition Report: Minor handling wear and discoloration to the patina, mostly contained to the hair on his head; minor discolorations to the buttocks; would have had a removable grape-leaf originally, this now absent; sealed in conservator-grade wax, a very fine presentation ready to place.