Known as Riccio (“hedgehog”) due to his curly hair, Andrea Briosco was one of the most reputed bronze sculptors of the Italian Renaissance. Born in Trent, he spent the majority of his career in Padua and the rest of the Veneto. He was part of the cultivated circles of the University of Padua, which greatly influenced his work in both subject and style. The small bronzes and reliefs that constitute much of his production were to satisfy an emerging group of collectors of art all’antica (in the style of antiquity). The Sacrifice of a Swine was among Riccio’s most popular works, as is indicated from the number of surviving casts.
Unfortunately, the precise subject of this plaquette has never been identified. It depicts the sacrifice of a pig in the columned interior of a classical temple. Two youths are shown preparing the offering for sacrifice; they are notable for their idealized, chiselled and carefully burnished chests and features. A bearded priest to the right presides over the ceremony and is surrounded by various noble men and women who are there to witness the event. The scene is completed by the presence of soldiers and two trumpeters. Riccio’s talent for working in bronze is evident in the suavity of the figure sculpting, the proportions of the figures and the coherence of the three-dimensional perspective.