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Bev Stower says “I love the cherubs holding the torchères aloft, especially the ones at the bottom who appear to be grimacing as they support the weight of the ones above. But my special love for these pieces is the fact that if you look carefully you will notice that one of the cherubs is very different to the others. I like to think that perhaps the artist decided to carve one cherub in the likeness of his own child”.

This pair of torchères is carved with the name of  Valentino Panciera Besarel (1829-1902). Born in Zoldo, Italy, Besarel established himself in the 1860’s in Venice where he opened his atelier and shop. He was soon recognised as a creator of exquisite sculpture and furniture for wealthy private patrons and the royal courts. In 1861 his trade card listed amongst his clients Edward, Prince of Wales, the British Consul, Layard, and the King of Italy. He exhibited at the 1878 Paris Universelle Exposition, and won a Gold Medal. The strong sculptural theme of his furniture was directly influenced by the work of the seventeenth century master Andrea Brustolon (1662 – 1732) whose work he had been frequently exposed to in Venice.

Can you spot the cherub who is different to the others, as Bev describes? We don’t know why just one is unique – maybe you have your own ideas about why this is!

Williamson Art Gallery & Museum