'The Secret', large Italian marble sculpture by Frilli

By Frilli, Antonio (Italian, died 1902)


This masterful sculptural group, which portrays a flirtatious moment between an amorous couple, is by the renowned Florentine sculptor Antonio Frilli.


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This remarkable marble sculpture is by Antonio Frilli, a Florentine sculptor active during the latter 19th Century and one of the city’s leading practitioners of the craft.

The sculptural group depicts two figures, one male and one female. The male figure is nonchalantly seated on a fountain, his legs lightly crossed and hanging casually over the edge. He holds in his left hand a long staff tied at the top with a bow. Beside him, leaning against the fountain, stands a female figure, her left elbow lowered, resting close to the lap of the male figure, which has thrown her body into an expressive contrapposto. Her right hand is coyly raised to her face, as if to hide her nervousness as she hears his whispers in her ear.

The subject is clear: a young woman is approached by a would-be suitor as she attends to her daily tasks. The fountain itself makes the subject still more clear: the young woman has let her water jug overflow and tip over, thus is the extent of her distraction at the hands of her suitor.

The quality of the carving throughout is superb: Frilli has rendered a variety of textures and done so deftly, whether the hair of both figures, the wrinkled and crinkling fabric of her dress, or the overflowing torrent of water.

The piece is a superb example of Florentine sculpture, situated firmly within the traditions of that city. The sculpture is subtly classicising—the river god mask adorning the front of the fountain, for instance, or the Greek key pattern that hems her dress. The piece is also timeless, the subject potentially occurring in antiquity or in late 19th Century Florence.

It is signed to the base ‘Antonio Frilli / Firenze’.


Artist / Maker
By Frilli, Antonio (Italian, died 1902)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
Late 19th Century
Late 19th Century
Classical, Figurative Art, Neoclassical


130 cm / 51.2 inches
68 cm / 26.8 inches
46 cm / 18.1 inches


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