Sculptor Francesco Fanelli was born on 17 December 1577 in Florence where he was apprenticed to the Giovanni Bandini. By August 1605, Fanelli and his family were living in Genoa. During his twenty-five-year residence there, he collaborated with many of the city’s local and foreign sculptors, painters, and silversmiths. His presence is recorded at the London court of Charles I in March 1632. In England, Fanelli is principally remembered for small table bronzes and reliefs of animalier, mythological, and biblical subjects.
They were instrumental in establishing the vogue for Baroque sculpture in Caroline England. From Abraham van der Doort’s 1639 inventory of the Royal Collection, it is evident that Charles I purchased at least five of Fanelli’s statuettes. Horseman William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle, possessed a number of Fanelli’s equestrian statuettes. In addition to his work as a sculptor, it is possible that Fanelli was involved, from 1639, in the ambitious Italianate garden complex planned for Queen Henrietta Maria’s new palace at Wimbledon. Attributed to him is the tomb monument to John Bridgeman and his wife in Ludlow church. His only signed sculpture is a 1640 portrait bust of young Charles II as Prince of Wales, at Welbeck Abbey. He left England in 1642 and died in 1653. His workshop was re-established in London in 1663 when his son, Giovanni Battista, found employment with Charles II.