Bust of a Gentleman in a Wig
18th century, Terracotta
This bust belongs to a grouping in the Franco Maria Ricci Collection that consists of a series of portraits of French provenance produced mainly around the second half of the 18th century. Unlike the others within this group, the work in question bears no signature. The anonymous artist proves to be a skilled practitioner of a genre that was extremely popular during the pre-revolutionary period, a type of portrait in which the need to clearly communicate the virtues underlying collective action is balanced with the celebration of the individual – so dear to Enlightenment culture – with all his or her qualities and aspirations. Slightly turned towards his right, this robust gentleman has a calm expression and a hint of a cordial smile: the measured attitude communicates both sensitivity and authority, according to a canon that was widely adopted for male portraits of the time. The slightly open shirt and the fur-trimmed jacket that falls casually over his shoulder suggest the private nature of the effigy.