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Romanelli, Pasquale (Florence, 1812-1887)
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Pasquale Romanelli was trained in Italy by Luigi Pampolini, who was an expert in carving fine Carrara marble. Romanelli was extremely talented, and soon began to enjoy the patronage of distinguished men, such as Lorenzo Bartolini, the sculptor and Professor of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Art in Florence. Romanelli was well-respected as a sculptor in his own lifetime, and was asked to exhibit his work in major galleries and museums. Towards the end of his career he was himself appointed as the Professor of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Art in Florence. Romanelli is best known for his carvings of allegorical, mythological and biblical women, as is the subject of this piece. His sculptural works can still be viewed today in important private collections, museums and public spaces.
This sculpture depicts Rebecca, the wife of Isaac. According to the bible story, Abraham, Isaac's father, sent his servant out to find a suitable wife for his son. When the servant came to a well in Abraham's birth town, he prayed to God that Isaac's future wife might reveal herself by coming to the well and drawing water for himself and his camels. Immediately after the servant had finished praying, Rebecca drew water from the well and offered it to the man. This act was said to demonstrate her generous and loving spirit. Later in the story, Rebecca sees Isaac praying and is so overwhelmed by his devotion to God that she responds by covering herself in a veil.
Romanelli's marble sculpture shows Rebecca with her body covered by a piece of drapery, with a water urn at her feet, referencing the biblical story of the well. She stands with her weight resting on her left leg and her right is bent at the knee. Her hands are crossed in front of her, her left held up to her chest, touching her heart. Rebecca's head is slightly tilted, and she looks down to the ground, modestly avoiding the viewer's gaze. She wears her hair in two plaits, which are partially covered by a head-scarf.
The figure of Rebecca is set on a circular plinth, which is signed and dated, 'P. Romanelli/ 1887 Florence'.
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