Villa studied at the Accademia di Brera and lived in Rome from 1840 onwards, receiving a stipend for sculpting from the Viceroy of Lombardy-Veneto until 1849. His Hero, first executed in his final year in Rome on commission by Marquisa Maria Luigia Serbelloni, was copied several times in different dimensions. A version of the marble is currently in the collection of Hughenden House, National Trust (inv. no. NT 429100) - it was acquired by Benjamin Disraeli at the Great London Exposition in 1862. Ignazio Villa set up a palace-studio in Florence, open to the public, where he showed his marbles and plasters as samples, to be replicated. However, due to the dating and the location on the present marble, this is most likely the original version commissioned by Marquise Serbelloni.
E. Marconi and B. Matucci, 'Ignazio Villa: un eclettico dell'800 da riscoprire attraverso alcune inedite sculture tra Palazzo Pitti e la sua Palazzina-studio a Firenze', MDCCC 1800, vol. 5, July 2016, pp. 25-43
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