An 18thC Italian Carved Wood Mannequin Bust of a Lady

Origin: Italian
Period: Mid/Late 18thC
Provenance: Formerly of the Collection Pietro Vitali, Foligno
Date: c.1750-1800
Height: 17”
Width: 9.5”
Depth: 9.5”

The beautiful polychromed and lacquered modelled head, now wonderfully worn with age, showing a female in bust length, carved in two sections, with one remaining original glass eye, and showing the remains of the polychrome decoration, to a semi elliptical base, and surviving from the last half of eighteenth century Italy as an alter piece or Santos.

Condition wise the piece has one eye missing and some fissures to the surface as photographed. There are three holes to the head where other parts were attached and she probably had arms as well originally.

Mannequins have fascinated mankind for centuries. Indeed, these glorified coat hangars have a genealogy that goes back to ancient times. When Howard Carter opened King Tut’s tomb in 1923, he discovered an armless, legless, wooden torso, made exactly to the pharaoh’s measurements, standing next to the chest that held the ruler’s clothing. Dating from 1350 B.C., it may have been the world’s first dress form.

This piece is possibly a Santos or a depiction of a Saint; the glass eye is of very good quality.

The former owner of these pictures, Pietro Vitali, had a long experience in the world of antiques and founded the company Tenuta Rocca di Fabbri in 1984 , where he mixed the works with the landscape and food and wine traditions of the territory. He identified in the area of Montefalco, the ancient cradle of vine cultivation and vinification, practices introduced by the French Benedictines, but then lost after the middle of the 16th century and re-planted vines with particular methods of cultivation, in order to produce wines that had the fragrance of the scents of this land and the elegance of Gozzoli's paintings. The interior of the Rocca, a 14th-century fortification, was restored to create a suggestive cellar, and the buildings within the walls were restored.

An early example and a highly atmospheric and evocative piece with a thrilling surface.