White Carrara marble. An important, almost life-sized sculpture of a female allegory. She is depicted striding and drawing a starry veil over her head. Her hair is decorated with a garland of poppy flowers and she holds two poppy seed capsules in her hand. A small owl perches at her feet. Signed to the right edge of the base: AEM.WOLFF ROMAE FECIT. The bird's beak slightly defective. H of sculpture ca. 152, W ca. 68, D ca. 45 cm; Base 86 cm x 74 cm x 57 cm. Total height ca. 240 cm.
Emil Wolff, Rome, circa 1830.
Emil Wolff, nephew of Johann Gottfried Schadow, was born in Berlin on 2nd March 1802. His talent was recognised early in life, and he began his studies at the Berlin Art Academy in 1815. He exhibited there for the first time in 1818 at age 16. After working for his uncle for some time, he took over the studio of Christian Daniel Rauch and Ridolfo Schadow in Rome in 1822, and there quickly advanced to one of the most sought-after sculptors of his time.
The Nationalgalerie Berlin houses three works by Emil Wolff: A Nereid with a trident, a fragmentary marble bust of Circe, and a plaster bust of the archaeologist August Emil Braun. Bernhard Maatz researched several further commissions in the catalogue of these works. For example, Wolff was asked to make the gable relief of the German Archaeological Institute in Rome in 1836; a bridge sculpture for a palace in Berlin in 1842; and he worked in polychrome sculptures as of 1853.
This impressive, life-sized work was not without predecessors. A sculpture of Ceres in the Classical collections of the Vatican Museum holds a single poppy stalk in a similar gesture (Lippolt: Die Skulpturen des vatikanischen Museums, III/2, Berlin 1956, p. 410, no. 5), and the scheme of drapery, proportions of the torso, and the position of this figure's legs also appear to be inspired by the Vatican piece.