Zinc Figure of Diana
A rare zinc figure of Diana de Gabii, American or German, ca. 1880. 67 ins. high, 24 ins. overall width, 19 ins. overall depth; base 22 ins. x 19 ins. On associated carved marble pedestal with molded base and rim, comprised of three components, probably American, ca. 1930, 34 ins. high.
This model of Diana is one of many replicas derived from the original excavated by Gavin Hamilton in 1792 at the Borghese estate in Gabii, Italy. The figure was purchased by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1807 and by 1820 was displayed at the Louvre. Popularity of this masterpiece grew and by the late 19th century several copies in many mediums were conceived and displayed. Frohner’s entry in the catalog of the Louvre describes the Diana “as one of the pearls of the museum [and is] among the most admired masterpieces of Greek sculpture.” It is very rare to find a zinc model of Diana de Gabii. As zinc was a phenomenally popular medium for sculpture in 19th and early 20th century America, it would seem logical that this Diana was made by an American maker. However, it does not appear in catalogs of well-known American manufacturers. Furthermore, Diana de Gabii is not listed in Carol Grissom’s exhaustive tome Zinc Sculpture in America 1850-1950, which substantiates its rarity and suggests a foreign maker. After examining photographs of our statue, Carol Grissom felt that it was German and not American based on 1) the quality of the casting, and 2) the figure’s notched, molded plinth. This type of plinth was often used by German makers, especially by M. Geiss of Berlin, though the Diana de Gabii does not appear in any Geiss catalogs we’ve seen. Since speaking with Ms. Grissom, we have discovered that while American makers tended to use simple rectilinear plinths, there was at least one maker (J.L. Mott of New York) that used the fancier notched plinth on a few of its statues and Mott may well have been copying the German design. Thus, we cannot draw a definitive conclusion about the country of origin--only that the figure is likely to have come from either Germany or America.