Ambrogio Borghi was a pupil at the Accademia di Brera from 1861 to 1869. In 1871 he won the coveted Oggioni prize – a scholarship to study for three years in Rome. At the young age of 32, Borghi was given the chair of modelling at his alma mater and his pupils included Medardo Rosso. He was awarded a number of prestigious public commissions and won the competition to create the monument to Garibaldi in Milan, but died before he was able to complete it. He was only 38. In his own lifetime he was best-known for his public monuments and his skill at modelling in clay, for which he was awarded the teaching position at the Accademia di Brera. The Mascherina
was conceived before 1875 and versions were exhibited at the Brera in 1875 and at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition
in 1876. Given the date of the present marble it is possible that it is the one which was shown in Philadelphia, though it is photographed with a different base, which may indicate that it is another version. The present marble beautifully preserves Borghi's wonderful original surface, with its enthralling array of carefully finished textured details.
L'Esposizione Universale di Filadelfia del 1876 illustrata, Milan, 1876, pp. 98-99, ill. p. 100; M. G. Schinetti, 'Ambrogio Borghi. Un contributo per la storia della scultura a Milano nel secondo Ottocento', in Arte lombarda, 1995, 2-4, p. 140 (a version of the Mascherina is illustrated, possibly the present marble)