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Farnese bull

Farnese bull, Alcora

№ inv.: CE1/01181

This white ceramic sculpture group with a tin glaze depicts the mythological theme of the Farnese Bull (the Punishment of Dirce) and has a round base with mouldings. It is a copy of the original marble piece by Apollonius, which is held in the Archaeological Museum in Naples.

Numerous copies of the sculpture exist in different sizes and vary in their finishes. In fact, there are other copies on display in the Dormitorio (Bedroom) and in the Salón Rojo (Red Lounge) on the first floor.

The theme of the Farnese Bull was introduced in Alcora around 1789 when Cloostermans was the factory director and Joaquin Ferrer in charge of making the moulds. The Farnese Bull is one of the most well-known sculptures from Classical Antiquity. It appeared in the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. According to Pliny the Elder, the sculpture was created by Rhodian artists Apollonius of Tralles and his brother Tauriscus. The sculpture depicts the punishment which Dirce receives from Antiope’s sons in response to cruelty she had inflicted on their mother.

It was created during the 18th century to decorate the interiors of palaces. Kändler was the first to make this type of pieces for the Meissen factory and was a big success, leading to this new sculptural genre being rapidly copied by the rest of the European factories.

Porcelain was not yet manufactured in Alcora, so the sculptures were made of pipe clay or soft-paste porcelain and were nearly always covered with white enamel, trying to imitate the appearance of porcelain. This plate shows the effort made trying to find the secret of the Chinese porcelain and all the copies that it inspired.

On display in the Sala de Alcora (Alcora Room), first floor.

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