Artibus et Historiae no. 66 (XXXIII)

2012, ISSN 0391-9064

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ALISON LUCHS - Verrocchio and the Bust of Albiera degli Albizzi: Portraits, Poetry and Commemoration (pp. 75–98)

When fifteen-year-old Albiera degli Albizzi died in Florence in 1473, her grieving fiance Sigismondo Della Stufa sought to preserve her memory through a marble bust and a series of elegies by leading poets of his time. The bust and its sculptor, Morandus, have proved elusive. This essay seeks his identity in the circle of Verrocchio, a favorite sculptor of Sigismondo’s close friend Lorenzo de’ Medici. Two busts of women attributed to Verrocchio, in the Frick Collection and the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, are considered with reference to the bust of Albiera, and to possible messages in their costumes and compositions. The elegies for Albiera included a narrative poem by Poliziano which has been called a forerunner to his masterpiece, the Stanze per la Giostra, celebrating another famous Florentine beauty who died young, Simonetta Vespucci (1453–1476). Given the recent precedent of Albiera, it may be that a bust as well as poems commemorated Simonetta. A candidate is proposed and connected with a related Botticelli portrait. Speculating on the appearance and fate of the bust of Albiera, this study invites further reflection on the character of posthumous ideal portraiture in Quattrocento Florentine painting and sculpture.

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