29.5″ (74.9cm) high
Raffaello Monti studied sculpture with his father, Gaetano Monti of Ravenna, at the Imperial Academy. He made his debut early and won a Gold Medal for his group entitled Alexander Taming Bucephalus. He and other young sculptors soon became identified as belonging to the Scuola Lombarda, a group associated with a reaction against the severity of the neoclassicism that dominated Italian sculpture in the first half of the 19th century. After periods spent working successfully in Vienna and once again in Milan, he made his first visit to England in 1846, but returned to Italy in 1847 to join the Popular Party and became one of the chief officers of the National Guard. After the disastrous failure of the Risorgimento campaigns of 1848, he was forced to flee from Italy to England where he was to remain for the rest of his life .
His career in England was extremely successful and prolific. The Great Exhibition of 1851 occurred only a few years after his arrival, and his reputation was largely built on the works he exhibited. His Eve After the Fall, awarded a prize medal, was particularly well received, but two other sculptures in the exhibition, the Circassia Slave and a Vestal Virgin established features that were to become his trade mark: the delicate rendering in solid marble of figures swathed in transparent veils. A Vestal Virgin, commissioned in 1847 by the Duke of Devonshire before the exhibition, and the dramatic The Sleep of Sorrow and the Dream of Joy, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, are examples of such pieces, some of which became popular through reproduction in Parian ceramic.
This bust, though one of a type, is particularly finely composed and delicately carved. Although she does not wear a wreath of flowers, this young woman, with the modest tilt of her head and the veil with its elaborate lace border and scattered rose sprays almost drawn onto the material, suggests a bride rather than a Vestal Virgin. Often, the image of a veiled woman was intended to embody Italia, in the same manner in which Britannia symbolized England, Hibernia symbolized Ireland, and Lady Liberty symbolized the United States.Login to view price