Cozzi Manufactury, Triumph of Neptune, 1780-85

Cozzi Manufactory, Italian, <em>Triumph of Neptune</em>, a pair, 1780–85, hard-paste porcelain, 10.5 x 7.3 inches. Acquired with funds provided by the Virginia A. Marten Endowment for Decorative Arts, 2015.030.a-bCozzi Manufactory, Italian, Triumph of Neptune, a pair, 1780–85, hard-paste porcelain, 10.5 x 7.3 inches. Acquired with funds provided by the Virginia A. Marten Endowment for Decorative Arts, 2015.030.a-b

This pair of white porcelain figure groups represents the first example at the Snite Museum of wares from the Venetian Cozzi Manufactory. They were part of a surtout de table, an ensemble of figures used to decorate a table at a formal event usually during the dessert course. Two similar figurines that were probably part of the same ensemble are at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Scuole Grande di San Rocco, Venice. Table decorations, such as these, derive from the tradition of sugar sculpture and were likely displayed on large mirrors among flickering candlelight to create a dramatic and elegant effect.

Neptune, an apt subject for Venice given its reputation as a formidable force in maritime trade, sits atop a throne carried by four hippocampi with dolphins and trumpeting Sirens.  Geminiano Cozzi (1764–1812), a Modenese banker, founded the porcelain manufactory in 1764. Although he did not know much about porcelain, Cozzi was an innovative entrepreneur, and he recruited skilled designers and craftsmen from other nearby factories to supply his customers with fashionable table decorations and dishes used in the service of coffee, tea, and cocoa—new commodities introduced into Europe from overseas. 

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