Portrait Head of a Man
Attributed to Benedetto da Maiano, Italian (active Florence), 1442 - 1497
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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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