Bust of a Woman

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Italian School
approximately 1436-approximately 1504
21 1/4 x 16 7/8 x 8 1/4 inches (540 x 430 x 210 mm); stand: approx. 5 5/8 x 20 1/8 x 10 5/8 inches (142 x 510 x 270 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan in 1908.

Morgan acquired this bust from Jacques Seligmann, who sold it as the work of Mino da Fiesole (ca. 1429-1484), although it had been published by Wilhelm Bode in 1889 as by Desiderio da Settignano (ca. 1428-1464). Given that the bust came from the Strozzi family collection, Bode posited that it depicts Marietta Strozzi (1448-after 1490), a member of the powerful Florentine banking family. The sitter, however, cannot be identified with any certainty and is unlikely to be Marietta.
Recently, it has been argued that the bust is the work of the Florentine sculptor Gregorio di Lorenzo, whose oeuvre until recently had been attributed to the Master of the Marble Madonnas. New attributions and archival research has revealed that Gregorio and the Master were one and the same. While Gregorio produced a large number of small scale busts and reliefs, scholars have not found this attribution entirely convincing given the curious quality of the carving. Certain aspects of the bust are unusual, including the coarse treatment of the sleeves, the thinness of body in profile, and the square apertures at the side of the head.

Piero Strozzi (1855-1907), Villa del Boschetto, Florence; Jacques Seligmann (1858-1923), Paris; from whom acquired by J. Pierpont Morgan in 1908 (as Mino da Fiesole).