Italian, probably Florence, late 19th century
Bust of the ‘Lady of Our Sorrows’ (Mater Dolorosa)
Alabaster, on a green serpentine socle
Height: 40 cm. / 15 ¾ inches , overall 50 cm. / 19 ½ inches
In the Renaissance and Baroque periods in Italy and Spain, busts of the Madonna or ‘Mater Dolorosa’ would often be placed on side-altars in churches, alongside devotional paintings or reliquary busts.
The present bust, which is carved in alabaster and was probably executed in an Italian (possibly Florentine) workshop in the late nineteenth-century, recalls such depictions of the Virgin, who is presented with a downcast, mournful gaze, her head fully covered with a hooded veil, which is decorated with a hem of repeating stars on a delicately punched ground.
Stylistically, it may be inspired by Michelangelo’s figure of Mary in his famous Pièta (St Peter’s Basilica, Rome), with the present bust wearing the same downcast gaze and exhibiting similarly soft modelling of the oval eyes and sharply pronounced Michelangelesque brows. In terms of the composition, it also relates to the work of the celebrated Neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1822), with the folds and arrangement of the veil being comparable to his bust of the Virgin Mary (formerly Collezione Patrizi, Rome, op. cit.).