The 1908 Monaco Motor Boat ‘Championnat de la Mer’ trophy by Domenico Mastroianni. This large, finely cast bronze group depicts two early racing motor boats in choppy seas. They are racing around the finishing mark which is almost lost in the froth of waves around the base and has two naked Nereids (sea nymphs) clinging to the top. One of them holds a winner’s laurel wreath aloft. Signed in the waves by the second boat ‘D Mastroianni‘ and on the reverse ‘Ervann Editeur, Paris’. All secured to an oval granite plinth.
Provenance: Presented to Chevalier Rene de Knyff
Le Championnat de la Mer (The Championship of The Sea) was a 200 km motor boat race held off the coast of Monaco annually between 1908 and 1912. It was awarded to the Panhard-Levassor team at the 1908 Monaco race meeting. Although it was open to all competitors, there were, in fact only four real contenders, two from France comprising Panhard-Levassor and Grand Trefle, the Italian team with a Fiat-Gallinari and the British team with a Wolseley-Siddeley which was tipped as the favourite. In the event, the Wolseley-Siddeley broke down, the Fiat-Gallinari caught fire and the second French team lost control ramming a photographer’s boat with the loss of one life in the process which left the Panhard-Levassor to complete the course in 3h 45m 2s. Nevertheless, this splendid art-nouveau sculpture was presented to the winning team and, because it’s understood to have been produced using the lost wax process, is considered unique.
Although Italian by birth Domenico Mastroianni (1876-1962) enjoyed most of his success in Paris. Evidently a talented sculptor Mastroianni is best known today for his sculptobromure or sculpture éphémère which involved modelling images on sheets of clay which were then photographed as postcards and advertising ephemera, the clay “plates” being destroyed immediately afterwards.