Carlton Hobbs: The Sculptures of Francesco Antonio Franzoni

An antiques dealer, Carlton Hobbs purchases, researches, and preserves objects originating from as many as 400 years ago in continental Europe and Britain. Through his company, Carlton Hobbs, LLC, he has built a strong international reputation with his rigorous academic approach. His deep knowledge in a variety of specialists fields permits him to acquire historically significant items. The company is headquartered in New York.

One item of particular note in the company’s collection is a sculpture attributed to Francesco Antonio Franzoni. Born in Carrara, Italy, in 1734, Franzoni worked as a highly influential sculptor in Rome. His pieces reveal a deep knowledge of archeology and often feature strikingly rendered animals.

The sculptor is most famous for his animal work, perhaps best represented by the Room of the Animals, which includes two beautiful pieces featuring a mastiff attacking a goat in one and a deer in another. The room, located in the Pio-Clementino Museum at the Vatican.

The piece in the Carlton Hobbs collection depicts a cockerel with one snake in its beak and another subdued under its foot. The cockerel likely represents a French subject, and in particular the flamboyant Joachim-Napoléon Murat, Grand Admiral of France. The snakes are assumed to symbolize the Two Kingdoms of Sicily, which had recently been defeated at the battle of Austerlitz in December 1805. The bee on the crown of the cockerel’s head is the key to the interpretation of this piece: it stands for Murat’s wife, Napoleon’s youngest sister Caroline.

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