Italian, Florence, late 16th century
white marble, on a dark grey marble socle
bust: 60cm., 23 5/8 in.
socle: 18cm., 7 1/8 in.
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Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle (1748-1825) or possibly his
father Henry Howard, 4th Earl of Carlisle (1694-1758), Castle Howard, North
thence by descent


This superbly carved and rare portrait bust exhibits the serene classicism of late Mannerist sculpture created in Florence in the last decades of the 16th century. The all’antica presentation, with shoulders draped in a cloak with elegant, deeply undercut, folds, stands in the tradition of the classicising portrait busts which emerged in Florence in the second half of the 16th-century with the work of sculptors such as Giovanni Bandini (1540-1599) and, more particularly, Giovanni Battista Caccini (1556-1613).

The blank eyes are consistent with commemorative portraiture produced circa 1600, and also serve to enhance the all’antica effect of the bust. The decision to represent the sitter in this heroic guise indicates that he was an important individual, almost certainly a military general or ruler, whilst the forked beard, prominent moustache and brushed back hair would suggest that he was living circa 1570-1600. Of the numerous candidates, a plausible identification may be Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma, Piacenza and Castro, Governor of the Spanish Netherlands (1545-1592).

A Florentine Mannerist Bust

The all'antica presentation of the Castle Howard bust recalls the Mannerist portraiture pioneered by Florentine artists operating in the second half of the 16th century. The approach of representing rulers togate or draped in a cloak held together with a clasp was fully exploited in Florence by Giovanni Bandini, Baccio Bandinelli's leading pupil. The cloak arrangement in the present bust, and the sitter sporting a fashionable late 16th-century beard and moustache, compare with Bandini's Bust of Francesco I de' Medici in the Galleria degli Uffizi and his Bust of Francesco Maria I della Rovere in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello (Pratesi, 2003, op. cit., figs. 93 and 95). Moreover, the manner in which the thick moustache is overlaid onto the beard is reminiscent of Bandini's portraiture in general. His Redentore in the Convento di San Vicenzo, Prato, even has a forked beard, though more exaggerated than in the present bust (Pratesi, 2003, op. cit., fig. 100).

The Castle Howard marble finds its closest comparables in the work of Giovanni Battista Caccini, who initially trained in Rome under the sculptor Giovanni Antonio Dosio, famed for his brooding portrait busts. Caccini moved to Florence with his master in 1575, where he worked as an antiquities restorer for the Medici and later rivalled Pietro Francavilla (1548-1616) as the leading sculptor in Florence at the end of the 16th century. The broad pleats of drapes, some with up-turned edges, in the Castle Howard marble, recall several of Caccini's all'antica busts, notably his Carlo Magno in Santissimi Apostoli, Florence, whilst the increased verism, with lined skin and sinewy veins, compares with his Bust of Francesco Bertini in Sant'Agostino, Colle Val d'Elsa (Pratesi, 2003, op. cit., figs. 206 and 208). A particularly interesting comparison for the Castle Howard marble is found in Caccini’s Bust of Emperor Hadrian as a Young Man in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (inv. no. 2010.10), which exhibits similarly severe classicising drapery. Compare also with the reclining figure of S. Giovanni Gualberto in the Abbey of S. Michele, Passignano (Pratesi, 2003, op. cit., fig. 210). Note the similarly undercut drapery, the sharply delineated eyelids and the lines in the skin. It is this level of surface detail, together with the striking clarity of execution and the beautiful surface polish, which places the present bust within the circle of Caccini. Correspondences can also be seen with works by Caccini's disciple Gherardo Silvani (1579-1675). Compare for example, Silvani's Bust of Filippo di Bernardo Corsini in Santo Spirito, Florence, with textured hair and beard.

In terms of the quality of the carving, the Castle Howard bust finds a further parallel in a Bust of Virginia Pucci-Ridolfi (d. 1568) in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello (see Conway library negative number: A83/1552). This bust represents an important comparison because the sitter has the same eyebrows, which are clearly delineated and executed in a stippled manner; an unusual and particular characteristic of both marbles. The sitter also exhibits comparable hair, brushed away from the hairline in wave-like strands. Unfortunately it is unknown who carved this bust, though it has previously been associated with Domenico Poggini (1520-1590) (Pratesi, 2003, op. cit., fig. 664). It was almost certainly carved in Florence or Rome in the last third of the 16th century. Interestingly, there is another Bust of Virginia Pucci-Ridolfi in S. Maria sopra Minerva in Rome, which has many of the same characteristics as the Bargello bust and, like the Castle Howard marble has drapery, which is bordered with a single thin line and is composed of rippled folds.

Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma (1545-1592): A Possible Identification

The subject of the present bust wears a beard, moustache and hairstyle which would have been fashionable in the second half of the 16th century; Philip II of Spain (1527-1598), for example, wore very similar facial hair. In terms of both physiognomy and beard and moustache type a likeness for the present bust is found in Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma, Piacenza and Castro, potentially suggesting an identity for the sitter. Compare, for example, with the Italian, late 16th-century, painted Portrait of Alessandro Farnese in the Royal Armories, Leeds (inv. no. WYL.I.980) in which we see the same prominent moustache and beard, recessive hairline, and thin eyebrows. The large domed forehead, triangular jaw shape, large fleshy nose and brushed back hair can be seen in a 16th-century drawing by Pierre Bellange (1594-1638) in the Grand Palais, Paris (inv. no. P., whilst a painting by Antoon Claeissens (circa 1536-1613) in the National Museum Warsaw (inv. no. 131912) shows Farnese with a forked beard.

Alessandro Farnese was one of the greatest military tacticians of the 16th century. The son of Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Parma, his mother, Margaret, was the illegitimate daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. He is famed for his tenure as Governor of the Netherlands, during which time he successfully reclaimed Flanders and Wallonia, and eventually recaptured Antwerp. Having defeated English forces sent by Queen Elizabeth I to support the Dutch, Farnese planned to lead a force to invade England, but was halted by Philip II, who launched the Spanish Armada. Following the defeat of the Armada, Farnese was forced to abandon all hopes for an invasion of England. Dedicating his life towards the service of Spain, he never visited Parma, instead proclaiming his son Ranuccio as regent in 1586.

Alessandro Farnese was lauded as a hero in Italy for his role in defeating the forces of Protestantism and so it is unsurprising that a leading family may have commissioned a commemorative bust of him. In 1590, the City of Rome ordered Ippolito Buzio to restore a classical Roman torso as a monumental statue of Farnese for the Sala dei Capitani in the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the Capitoline (Leuschner, 2006, op. cit., p. 5). Following Farnese's death, a monumental group of The apotheosis of the Duke of Parma was executed by Simone Moschino, (now at Reggia di Caserta; see Leuschner, op. cit., 1999, pp. 145-146), representing the Governor in a classical military cuirass, being crowned by Victory. Perhaps most famously, Francesco Mochi produced an equestrian bronze statue of Farnese for the Piazza Cavalli, Piacenza (Francesco Mochi, op. cit., no. 13). The decision to portray Farnese in classical dress in the present bust, if the identification is correct, was consequently wholly in line with other representations of the general, whilst fitting into a tradition which had been substantially developed in Florence in the 16th century for the Medici and other notables.

Mannerist and Baroque Sculpture at Castle Howard

Henry Howard, 4th Earl of Carlisle, amassed one of the greatest collections of sculpture in Britain during the 18th century, primarily through agents based in Italy, notably Francesco de’Ficoroni, himself a celebrated archaeologist. Sculpture was said to be the ‘principal ornament’ of Castle Howard (Guilding, op. cit., p. 78). The majority of the sculptures collected by the 4th Earl were, however, ancient marbles, whilst his son, Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle, acquired sculpture from different historical periods during his lifetime, including contemporary busts, as is illustrated by John Jackson’s painting of The Long Gallery, Castle Howard, which features the 5th Earl and his son Lord Morpeth standing alongside portrait busts by Joseph Nollekens of both Lord Carlisle and his long-time friend and colleague Charles James Fox (1749-1806) (Guilding, op. cit., p. 127). Like his father he also added to the collection of antiquities, acquiring ancient marbles in both Sir William Hamilton’s 1801 Christie’s sale and at the sale of the collection of William Ponsonby, 2nd Earl of Bessborough, also in 1801 (Guilding, op. cit., p. 126).

The most significant Baroque sculpture in the Castle Howard collection was Gianlorenzo Bernini’s masterful Bust of Carlo Antonio del Pozzo, which is today housed in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh (inv. no. NG 2436). The bust of Pozzo, Archbishop of Pisa and Special Counsellor to Cardinal Ferdinando de’Medici (later Grand Duke Ferdinando I), was commissioned by his nephew, the famous scholar and antiquarian Cassiano del Pozzo (1588-1657), who was a close friend of Nicolas Poussin and Galileo, and, in addition to Bernini, patronised artists including Alessandro Algardi and Caravaggio. The bust is recorded in the inventories of Pozzo’s heirs taken between 1689-1695 as being in his medal room; the collection was dispersed gradually in the first decades of the 18th century (Sparti, op. cit., p. 564).

The Bernini bust has long been presumed to have been acquired by the 4th Earl, primarily due to the extensive marble collection he built up and the fact that the Pozzo heirs were selling the collection at the beginning of the 18th century. However, the 4th Earl's principal interest appears to have been in acquiring antiquities, whilst his son, the 5th Earl, certainly collected later marbles, as is clear from John Jackson's painting discussed above. Indeed, a Bust of Commodus in the J. Paul Getty Museum (inv.no. 92.SA.48), formerly at Castle Howard (sold by this house on 11-13 November 1991, lot 49), may have been collected by the 5th Earl. The Getty bust, which is thought to be Italian, 16th-century, and – coincidentally - has been attributed to Caccini in the past, was copied by Gilles Lambert Godecharle either in London or in Rome circa 1778 (prior to its arrival at Castle Howard), potentially indicating that the 5th Earl was buying sculpture through agents subsequent to his Grand Tour, from which he had returned in 1769 (Fogelman and Fusco, op. cit., p. 136). Interestingly, another 16th-century bust, which remains at Castle Howard, the Bust of Antoninus Pius, has been attributed to the same hand, and may therefore also have been acquired at the same time (Fogelman and Fusco, op. cit., p. 135). It is therefore equally possible that the 5th Earl acquired many of the Renaissance and Baroque marbles in the collection, potentially including the Bernini. Indeed, the same may be true for the present marble.

Francesco Mochi 1580-1654, Florence, 1981, pp. 59-64, nos. 12-13;  S. Pressouyre, Nicolas Cordier recherches sur la sculpture à Rome autour de 1600, Rome, 1984, figs. 236-238; D.L. Sparti, ‘The dal Pozzo collection again: the inventories of 1689 and 1695 and the family archive’, in The Burlington Magazine, CXXXII, 1990, p. 564; E. Leuschner, ‘Francesco Villamena’s ‘Apotheosis of Alessandro Farnese’ and Engraved Reproductions of Contemporary Sculpture around 1600’, Simiolus, vol. 27, no. 3 (1999), pp.145-167; P. Fogelman and P. Fusco, Italian and Spanish Sculpture. Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum Collection, Los Angeles, 2002, p. 136; G. Pratesi, Repertorio della scultura Fiorentina del cinquecento, Turin, 2003, figs. 88-102, 205-208, 210, 664; E. Leuschner, ‘Roman Virtue, Dynastic Succession and the Re-Use of Images: Constructing Authority in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Portraiture’, Originalveröffentlichung in: Studia Rudolphina, 6 (2006), pp. 5-25; P. Stephan, ‘Rom unter Sixtus V. Stadtplanung als Verräumlichung von Heilsgeschichte’, Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, 72, H.2 (2009), pp. 165-214; R. Guilding, Owning the Past. Why the English Collected Antique Sculpture, 1640-1840, New Haven and London, 2014, pp. 78-81, 93, 126-127, 182-183, 350