Male Bust with Wig
Vittorio Barbieri (c. 1674-1755)
1730, White marble
This work, carried out with both sculptural sensitivity and interpretative licence, shows the bust of a male figure of high lineage in great detail, although his identity remains unknown. His face, framed by an eccentric, bifurcated wig that flows down onto his shoulders and chest in soft ringlets, is characterised by proud, expressive intensity, masterfully accentuated by the harshness of the gaze and contracted mouth, that appears to be on the point of issuing strict orders or severe warnings. A fine suit of armour adorned with a soft fringed cloth and an elaborate collar with the cross of a knightly order emphasise the high rank of the person depicted. Barbieri studied fine arts in Florence under Carlo Marcellini - from whom he inherited the propensity for ironic and unusual human types - and began an independent practice between the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century. He created several marble busts destined for the collections of Palazzo Corsini as well as stucco works for the churches of Santa Maria degli Angeli and Santissima Annunziata in Florence.