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In the Museum du Louvre, Paris, this sculpture attributed to Valerio Cioli is part of the Department of Decorative Arts. The description says: “A naked dwarf straddles a snail. The juxtaposition of a deformed figure and a monstrous snail is somewhat audacious and bears witness to the sixteenth-century taste for bizarre and unbalanced forms. The dwarf is reminiscent of garden sculptures made for villas; indeed, the Villa Careggi has a sculpture of the same subject. In the past this work has been attributed to many different artists, but it is now generally agreed that this bronze is a revealing work of Florentine mannerism. This dwarf on his snail was cast in bronze by the lost-wax method, and the hair and the body have been gone over with a graver after casting. The statuette is covered in a black patina that is now crazed; this was probably the ‘oil patina’ Vasari describes in his writings, the oil having been coloured with smoke black to give it this dark hue. The bronze-maker’s workmanship is very sensitive, playing with light/dark effects and accentuating the roundness of certain forms as well as movement. This work can be seen as part of the developing trend towards naturalism in small bronzes of the mannerist period, because of the imbalance in the composition and the strong modelling of the gastropod and the dwarf.” [1].

MLP_OA 8252_1

MLP_OA 8252_2

The snail is clearly a Helix-like dextral specimen, with all four tentacles shown.

[1] MLP, inv. OA 8252. http://bit.ly/1wbFECS.