When reading good books, they immediately make us more aware of its themes on our daily lives. Two good friends recently made me read Bomarzo, a novel by Manuel Mujica-Lainez, which tells the story of the Renaissance prince Pier Francesco (Vicino) Orsini, Duke of Bomarzo, a mentally weak and corrupt hunchback that lived among the 16th century great.

His greatest legacy was, without a doubt, the garden of monster sculptures he created at Bomarzo Castle, still existing, and that, by the end of the book, finally appears as to frame this perturbed mind which lifetime goal was to find a way to live eternally.

UNIQUE “PIETRE DURE” FIGURE OF PAOLO GIORDANO ORSINI, DUKE OF BRACCIANO FLORENCE, GRAND-DUCAL WORKSHOPS, circa 1620-1625, Probably after a model by Orazio MOCHI (1571-1625), Black paragon marble, chalcedony, agate, bronze, J.Kugel Antiquaires, Paris.

While reading it, I had to do my stint at TEFAF in Maastricht last month. As every year, we always discuss among friends, which is our favourite piece at the fair. Of the many treasures there, this year I couldn’t resist saying it was Kugel’s small statuette of Paolo Giordano Orsini, Duke of Bracciano. I had seen it last year, but now it became even more special to my eyes.

A truly exquisite pietre dure piece, out of the Florentine Grand Ducal workshops, portrays him on a kneeling position, which the author of the catalogue entry mentions that it is “probably in the position of allegiance to the Emperor, as he received the title of Prince of the Holy Empire”. It almost seems that Mujica-Lainez knew this statuette when he narrates the imaginary knighthood granted to Vicino by Charles V at his coronation. Two different Orsini, but Vicino, always proud of his lineage and its main figures, would certainly include Paolo Giordano among the most illustrious editus orsae.


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