Adolfo Wildt's Vergine
was exhibited at the third Roman Biennale in 1925. Displayed in the section for sacred art, the relief captured both critical and commercial attention with Wildt selling three versions within the next two years. Following the Rome Biennale, the model was also shown at New York in the exhibition of Italian Modern Art in 1926. A bronze version is preserved at the Museo Revoltella, Brescia. Vergine
, also known as Testina di Maria
, recalls one of Wildt's earliest marbles – his Vedova
of 1892. That marble portrait of a woman with a scarf encircling her face was based on the features of the artist's wife, Dina Boschi. That he chose to depict her as a widow is entirely in keeping with the artist's melancholic temperament. In its turn Vedova
was inspired by Antonio Canova's marble bust of a Vestal Virgin in the Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Milan. The calm serenity of the Vestal's face is framed by the sweeping folds of scarf pulled under her chin and over her head, just revealing the hairline.
In his Vergine
Wildt has simplified both prototypes to focus on the fragment of the face. As Elena Pontiggia has noted, in her introspective reverie Wildt represents the Virgin 'pondering these things in her heart.' The model is remarkable as it eschews Wildt's characteristic sharp lines and angles in favour of soft forms and evocative shadows.
The present version was owned by Pia Scheiwiller, sister of the well-known publisher and intellectual Giovanni Scheiwiller, who was married to Artemia, the eldest daughter of Adolfo Wildt. It is likely that the marble was a gift from Giovanni and Artemia Scheiwiller - if not from Wildt himself - to the 'aunt in Rome', as Pia was known by the family living in Milan.
V. Sgarbi ed., Wildt a Forlì: La scultura dell'anima, ex. cat. Palazzo Alberini, Forli, 2000, nos. 11-13, pp. 93-95; Adolfo Wildt e I suoi allievi, ex. cat. Palazzo Martinengo, Brescia, 2000, nos. 1 & 35, pp. 40-1 & 94-5
This lot is sold with an expertise by Paola Mola.