19th Century KPM Portrait on Porcelain of Beatrice Cenci in Original William Schaus Brass
The porcelain has the original stamps from a New York dealer
on the back (see photos). The porcelain is impressed with a capital letter ‘E’ and the
number ‘45.' The original Schaus label on the back says: “W. Schaus, 749 Broadway, N.Y.” There is another smaller label under the dealer’s label
which simply has the handwritten number “14.”
W. (William) Schaus Sr. was a German immigrant (substantiating my firm belief that this is a KPM piece) art collector and
dealer, and proprietor of the Schaus Galleries in New York. Over the years from the mid-1800's on through the turn-of-the-century the Schaus Galleries had various locations.
William Schaus worked for a Paris-based print publisher and art dealer by the name of Groupil, Vibert & Company. In 1847, the firm sent him to New
York to open an American branch of their firm and to set up an International Art Union which
would compete with the American Art Union. William worked for the company for only a few years before he launched his own art printing, publishing, and art dealing business.
The frame is completely original and is signed by the maker “P Mignot N.Y.” (see photo).The portrait has unbelievable gilt stars and a design
painted on the gilt background behind the portrait. I have never seen such exquisite and intricate detail on a porcelain painting. This piece is in outstanding, original condition and is truly one-of-a-kind!
Unsigned by the artist and an unmarked KPM piece.
The porcelain portrait measures approximately 3 1/8” high by 2 ½” wide
The period brass frame measures 7 1/8” high by 5 1/8” wide
About Beatrice Cenci:
Beatrice Cenci (6 February 1577 – 11 September 1599) was an Italian noblewoman. She is famous as the protagonist in a lurid murder trial in Rome.
Beatrice was the daughter of Francesco Cenci, an aristocrat who, due
to his violent temper and immoral behaviour, had found himself in
trouble with papal justice more than once. They lived in Rome in the rione Regola in the Palazzo Cenci, built over the ruins of a medieval fortified palace at the edge of Rome's Jewish ghetto. Together with them lived also Beatrice's elder brother Giacomo,
Francesco's second wife, Lucrezia Petroni, and Bernardo, the young boy
born from Francesco's second marriage. Among their other possessions
there was a castle, La Rocca of Petrella Salto, a small village near Rieti, north of Rome.
According to the legend, Francesco Cenci abused his wife and his sons, and had reached the point of committing incest with Beatrice. He had been jailed for other crimes, but thanks to the
leniency with which the nobles were treated, he had been freed early.
Beatrice had tried to inform the authorities about the frequent
mistreatments, but nothing had happened, although everybody in Rome knew
what kind of person her father was. When he found out that his daughter
had reported against him, he sent Beatrice and Lucrezia away from Rome,
to live in the family's country castle. The four Cenci decided they had
no alternative but to try to get rid of Francesco, and all together
organised a plot. In 1598, during one of Francesco's stays at the
castle, two vassals (one of whom had become Beatrice's secret lover) helped them to drug
the man, but this failed to kill Francesco. Following this Beatrice, her
siblings and step mother bludgeoned Francesco to death with a hammer
and threw the body off a balcony to make it look like an accident.
However, no one believed the death to be accidental.
Somehow his absence was noticed, and the papal police tried to find
out what had happened. Beatrice's lover was tortured, and died without
revealing the truth. Meanwhile a family friend, who was aware of the
murder, ordered the killing of the second vassal, to avoid any risk. The
plot was discovered all the same and the four members of the Cenci
family were arrested, found guilty, and sentenced to death. The common
people of Rome, knowing the reasons for the murder, protested against
the tribunal's decision, obtaining a short postponement of the
execution. However, Pope Clement VIII,
fearing a spate of familial murders (the Countess of Santa Croce had
recently been murdered by her son for financial gain), showed no mercy
at all. On 11 September 1599, at dawn, they were taken to Sant'Angelo Bridge, where the scaffold was usually built.
In the cart to the scaffold, Giacomo was subjected to continual torture. On reaching the scaffold his head was smashed with a mallet. His corpse was then quartered. The public spectacle continued with the
executions of first Lucrezia and finally Beatrice; both took their turns
on the block, to be beheaded with a sword. Only the 12-year-old, Bernardino, was spared, yet he too
was led to the scaffold and forced to witness the execution of his
relatives, before returning to prison and having his properties
confiscated (to be given to the pope's own family). It had been decreed
that Bernadino should then become a galley slave for the remainder of
his life; however, he was released a year later.
Beatrice was buried in the church of San Pietro in Montorio. For the people of Rome she became a symbol of resistance against the
arrogant aristocracy and a legend arose: every year on the night before
her death, she came back to the bridge carrying her severed head.