Animal sculptures: realism and metaphor

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The displayed animals are mostly in terracotta but also in plaster and marble. These are unique and engaging pieces by Lorenzo Vela (1812-97), the fruit of original artistic experimentation,  made for private clients. Lorenzo was the director of the courses at the "Scuola di ornato" at the Accademia di Brera for thirty years (1860-91) and an esteemed professional. From as early as the 1830s he had established a position in Milanese society for himself, to which he introduced his brother Vincenzo, eight years younger than himself (1820-91), whom he made study. Animal subjects - often charming scenes that borderd on the grotesque - were ideal for his dynamic and anecdotal form of expression. He was highly skilled in modelling plumage, fur and the postures of his zoomorphic subjects, which he observed from life and represented not simply from a naturalistic standpoint, but to which he added a moralizing and visionary dimension.