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Portrait Head of a Man

Attributed to Benedetto da Maiano, Italian (active Florence), 1442 - 1497

Made in Italy, Europe

c. 1475


10 5/8 x 7 1/2 x 8 3/4 inches (27 x 19.1 x 22.2 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

* Gallery 351, European Art 1500-1850, third floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Annenberg Fund for Major Acquisitions and with the partial gift of Julie and Lawrence Salander and Claire and Andrew Butterfield, and other generous donors in honor of Dean Walker, 2005

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In fifteenth-century Italy, interest in ancient sculpture, physiognomy, and the commemoration of worthy individuals led to the revival of sculpted portraits as an artistic genre. Florence was at the center of this development, where half-length busts of famous citizens and venerable family members were produced in marble and terracotta and placed over doorways or fireplaces. This portrayal of an unknown gentleman is notable for its expressive quality and detailed treatment of the facial features, comparable to that seen in documented works by the important Florentine sculptor Benedetto da Maiano. A fastidious artist, Benedetto often produced terracotta studies for his sculptures in marble; it is possible that this head once served as a model for a marble bust that no longer survives.

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