Portraying the young daughter of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius and wife of Marcus Aurelius, this marble bust of Faustina the Young- er is a fine Neoclassical version of the famed sculpture carved in Roman times.
The Roman bust of Faustina Minor, donated in 1748 by Pope Benedict XV to the Capitoline Museums, rapidly became the most popular art- work in the museums’ collection, admired for its excellent condition and unusual hairstyle. The bust was so notorious that George Legge, Vis- count Lewisham, asked Pompeo Batoni to portray him next to a plaster version of it – a symbol of his knowledge of Rome and the Capitoline Museums.
In the neoclassical era, the bust of Faustina the Younger was reproduced, with slight alternations, and few versions of it are known of today. Among them, an extremely fine work has recently appeared on the London art market by the workshop of Bartolomeo Cavaceppi.
Other versions of the bust, extremely similar to the one presented here, are those carved by the British artist Francis Harwood (1726 – 1783). After establishing himself in Florence, Harwood became one of the major providers of sculptures for English aristocrats on the Grand Tour, most of which were unsigned copies after the antique original. This bust, perhaps by the hand of the British sculptor, is set on a later pedestal and shows a charming patina consistent with its age.
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