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A rare impressive figure of Theseus and the Centaur by Keys and Mountford from the marble by Canova. Keys and Mountford were only active from 1850-1857 and specialised in Parian wares. The group is marked “Canova fecit Theseus Keys and Mountford.” Height & width both approx: 44cm (17¼“).
Antonio Canova (1757 – 1822) was a prominent Italian Neoclassical sculptor. The original marble (1804–1819) was commissioned by Napoleon for Milan, but eventually purchased by Franz I, Emperor of Austria. It stands in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. The powerful figure shows Theseus with raised club, about to administer the fatal blow to the wounded centaur Eurytus.
Theseus is perhaps best known from the legend of the Minotaur on Crete, where King Minos’s daughter Ariadne helped Theseus escape the labyrinth after Theseus had killed the Minotaur. Subsequently Theseus became King of Athens. Following the wedding of his friend Pirithous, prince of the Lapiths, and Hippodamia, when the centaurs drunkenly attempted to have their way with the women, Theseus was involved in a battle with the centaurs where he killed the mighty Eurytus.
Condition: This rare piece is in good condition. The end of the club and a chip to the rear base have been professionally restored. There are a few further flat chips under the base edge and some flaking to the edge. There is a firing line around the centaur’s left wrist and a factory repair to a firing fault to the top of his arm. This would have been a difficult item to manufacture, and such small firing faults are almost inevitable in a piece of this complexity.