135 IMPORTANT IRISH & INTERNATIONAL ART MONDAY 22 MARCH 2021 AT 6PM 100 Rory Breslin (b.1963) THE THAMES MASK bronze; (no. 1 from an edition of 3) 28.75 by 17 by 11.50in. (73 by 43.2 by 29.2cm) Excellent condition. The Thames Mask is an evocation of the River-God keystone on the North Wing of Somerset House on the Strand in London. The countenance apparently pensive though his slightly furrowed brow also gives a slightly quizzical look to his visage, which is emphasised further by the asymmetrical curls emanating from the traditional leather watchman’s cap. Either side of his brow and cap are adorned the fruits, flowers and staples of the Thames’ river banks. Barley, apples, wild flowers and the English rose express the fecundity and abundance of the river’s hinterland. Framing the floral luxuriance and bringing the eye back in to the centre of the mask are two mute swans, perhaps a reference to one of Elizabeth II’s lesser-known titles; the Seigneur of the Swans, a holdover from an era centuries ago when the regal avians denoted class, wealth and status. The strange and ancient relationship between the swan and the British crown manifests itself to this day in a tradition known as the “Swan Upping”. The lower portion of the sculpture from the ringlets either side of the eyes to the tips at the base of the beard evoke the meandering bends of the Thames, with its gentle whirls and eddies. Somerset House was designed by Sir William Chambers in 1776. The keystone heads were originally carved by either Joseph Wilton or Agostino Carlini, founding members of the Royal Academy; according to Joseph Baretti in his Guide through the Royal Academy (1780), “the whole of the carvings in the various fronts of Somerset Place - excepting Bacon’s bronze figures - were carved from finished drawings made by [Giovanni Battista] Cipriani.” €4,000-€6,000 (£3,450-£5,170 approx.) Click here for more images and to bid on this lot100