The J. Paul Getty Museum

Sketch for a Fireplace Overmantel

Object Details


Sketch for a Fireplace Overmantel


Francesco Antonio Franzoni (Italian, 1734 - 1818)




about 1789



Object Number:



53.5 × 42.5 cm (21 1/16 × 16 3/4 in.)

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Object Description

Elaborately decorated with emblems and symbols of the patron's family, this terracotta relief was made as a study for a large marble mirror frame. It would have been placed above the mantel in the second floor drawing room of the Braschi family's grand Italian palace in Rome. The artist, Francesco Antonio Franzoni, drew upon a classical vocabulary for the design, incorporating putti and Roman military objects around the frame. Military trophies adorn the relief, including a suit of armor, helmet, flags, shields, spears, axes, and the prow of a ship, referring to the family's illustrious political triumphs. The many religious emblems, such as a chalice, cross, crozier, stole, miter, papal tiara, and keys of office were appropriate to this fireplace design because, as a member of the Braschi family, Pope Pius VI called this palace home.

The loose handling of details apparent in the plumed helmet, the lion's face, and the military shields indicate that this was a preliminary sculptural sketch known as a bozzetto. A nineteenth-century photograph shows the now-lost fireplace as it was eventually built, with green-and-white marble and gilt bronze emblems of the Braschi family.


Workshop of Giuseppe Valadier, Italian, 1762 - 1839 (Rome, Italy), possibly acquired from the artist, presumably sold to the heirs of the Spagna family or one of the Roman families who financed the Spagna enterprise.

- early 1800s

Spagna Family (Rome, Italy), purportedly sold to a private German collector in the early nineteenth century.

early 1800s - 1990s

Private Collection (Germany), by descent within the family until the last decade of the twentieth century, sold to Artemis Fine Arts Ltd.

1990s -

Artemis Fine Arts Ltd. (London, England), sold to Trinity Fine Art Ltd.

- 1995

Trinity Fine Art Ltd (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995.


Carloni, Rosella. "Francesco Antonio Franzoni tra virtuosismo tecnico e restauro integrativo." Labyrinthos 19/20 (1991), pp. 190, 211.

Carloni, Rosella. "Francesco Antonio Franzoni: Il Camino Braschi." Antologia di Belle Arti: Il Neoclassico, n.s., nos. 43-47 (Turin, 1993), pp. 67-70, fig. 1.

"Acquisitions/1995." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 24 (1996), p. 139, no. 90, ill.

Bassett, Jane, and Peggy Fogelman. Looking at European Sculpture: A Guide to Technical Terms (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 95.

Fusco, Peter. Summary Catalogue of European Sculpture in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 25, ill.

Wilson, Gillian, and Catherine Hess. Summary Catalogue of European Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 190, no. 379.

Fogelman, Peggy, and Peter Fusco, with Marietta Cambareri. Italian and Spanish Sculpture: Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002), pp. 322-29, 359, no. 41, fig. 10, entry by Peggy Fogelman.