Santo Varni: Allegory of the Sea: Moretti Monaco

12 - 16 July 2022

This growing marble depicts a young and alluring woman, probably a Nymph, characterized by a provocative and impudent physicality, by a hairdo weaved with sea shells, and draped in a wet shirt that coming down from the left shoulder, sensually uncovers the breast. The sculpture is dominated by a pastoral and sylvan sense of nature: the Nymph seems as sprouted from the shells and corals at the base of the sculpture, giving the sensation of a creation in a constant metamorphosis. An inscription on the back, that ascribes the work to Santo Varni, sculptor and scholar, a leader of the cultural scene in Genoa of the XIX century.
The 1860 sculpture by the Ligurian artist, named ‘Nymph’ is an apparent inclination of the 15-16th century Portuguese ‘Manueline’ technique. This technique was the fruit of the recent land discoveries in Africa and Brazil, which inspired an artistic style rich in both classic and mystical sea elements, influenced by the fascination for the unknown.
In June 1862 the sculpture was exhibited in Palace Tursi, raising enthusiastic reactions in the press. In the ‘’Corriere Mercantile’’ (XXXVIII,n.146, 21 March 1862, at ALBA) is affirmed ‘’The physiognomy of the sea deity has a magnificent own expression [....] the thin linens still humid with the water, from which this Nereides has risen, drape the figure all around [...] the shells, the corals and the hundred sea urchins that surround the sculpture are incomparable for finesse and realism’’.

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July 12th-16th