Bust of a Classical Hero or Emperor

Bust of a Classical Hero or Emperor

early to mid 16th century

Girolamo della Robbia

(Italian, 1488-1566)

Glazed terracotta

Overall: 37.5 x 37.5 x 21 cm (14 3/4 x 14 3/4 x 8 1/4 in.)

Weight: 7.52 kg (16.58 lbs.)

John L. Severance Fund 2013.31

Did you know?

Head-and-shoulders portraits, known as busts, were popular from Roman times.


This bust most likely represents an emperor or condottiere from classical antiquity, and probably formed part of a series of classical heads. Such groups of worthies were featured as decorative schemes in the studioli and architectural projects of Renaissance statesmen. Attesting to the sophistication of their learned patrons, these busts also provided the opportunity for artists to explore the contemporary stylistic relevance of classical portraiture - a source of fascination and inspiration for Florentine sculptors of this period.

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