- Place of origin:
Florence (city) (made)
Sirigatti, Ridolfo, born 16 (made)
- Materials and Techniques:
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 62, The Foyle Foundation Gallery, case WN, shelf EXP
Ridolfo Sirigatti carved the portrait of his mother, Cassandra, dressed in rich materials. Though her fold-down collar is relatively simple for the time, her dress appears to be made of brocade in the pomegranate pattern popular in Florence. She wears a widow’s veil in commemoration of her husband. In his treatise Il Riposo the writer Raffaele Borghini described the veil as 'a wonderful thing, so delicately worked that one can see the light through it'.
This bust is a rare example of Ridolfo Sirigatti's activity as a sculptor (active ca. 1570-1600). Together with its companion piece, depicting Niccolò Sirigatti (A.12-1961), it shows high technical skill and an unusual and original style in comparison with Florentine contemporary sculpture. The peculiar disposition of the shoulders in both busts, with the right one pulled slightly back from the rest of the figure, and the left pushed slightly forward, shows the artist's intention to give an impression of movement. The bust of the artist's mother displays a finer and more mature rendering of the marble, which is likely related to its later dating (two years after the father's portrait). Specifically, the handling of the veil seems to anticipate Roman 17th century sculpture.
Bust of a woman, shown to the waist but without arms, on a circular dark pink moulded marble socle. The head is shown looking to one side and slightly down, the body clothed with a veil over her head.
Place of Origin
Florence (city) (made)
Sirigatti, Ridolfo, born 16 (made)
Materials and Techniques
Marks and inscriptions
'CASSANDRA GRILLA[N]DARIA . NICOLAO SIRIGATTIO NVPTA . M.D.L.XXVIII'
Inscription between bust and socle
Ridolfo, whom I bore, has carved this as a tribute of love
Inscription on back of bust
Height: 85 cm, Width: 65.7 cm, Depth: 35.5 cm, Weight: 111 kg, :, Width: 65 cm, Depth: 30 cm, Weight: 111 kg
Object history note
Bought together with A.12-1961, from A. & C. Canessa, Rome, for £1502.
Historical significance: This bust is a rare example of Ridolfo Sirigatti's activity as a sculptor. Together with its companion piece, depicting Niccolò Sirigatti (A.12-1961), it shows high technical skill and an unusual and original style in comparison with Florentine contemporary sculpture. The peculiar disposition of the shoulders in both busts, with the right one pulled slightly back from the rest of the figure, and the left pushed slightly forward, shows the artist's intention to give an impression of movement. The technical virtuosity, visible especially in the draping of the fabric, foreshadows the taste of seventeenth century Roman sculpture. These elements are visible in the portrait bust of Luisa Deti of 1604 in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. It is also possible to identify some elements that would appear in the sculptures of Pietro Bernini, who received his first artistic training from Ridolfo Sirigatti.
Historical context note
In his own day Ridolfo Sirigatti seems to have been regarded as a sculptor of considerable eminence. The son of a rich textile merchant and of Cassandra, daughter of the painter Ridolfo Ghirlandaio, Ridolfo continued his father's mercantile activity and brought fame to his family by becoming a Knight of Santo Stefano (the order instituted by Grand-Duke Cosimo I de Medici) in 1581.
He was also very interested in the arts and practised sculpture. Before the discovery of the present bust and its pendant in 1961, his only documented work was a bust of grand-duke Francesco I in a niche of the façade of the Palazzo dei Cavalieri di Santo Stefano in Pisa (Sirigatti only provided the model for the bust). He features as one of the four protagonists in Raffaele Borghini's art treatise Il Riposo (1584), as an art expert and collector. The bust can be identified with the marble head of "his (Sirigatti's) mother, which enables us to see her as though she were alive" mentioned in the dialogue between Ridolfo and the collector Bernardo Vecchietti. Borghini praised this bust not only for its likeness, but also for a detail which he noted with admiration: "A wonderful thing about it is a most delicate veil, which he has placed on her head. It falls down on her shoulders and is carved free of the neck the whole way round, and it is so diligently worked that one can see the light through it."
It is inscribed with the sitter's name and the date on the socle (CASSANDRA GRILLA[N]DARIA NICOLAO SIRIGATTIO NVPTA MDLXXVIII). On the back there is another inscription, a dedication in which presents the bust as a tribute from Sirigatti to his mother: QVEM GENVI RODVLPHVS ANIMI CAVSA CAELAVIT (Ridolfo, whom I bore, sculpted this as a tribute of love).
Bust, marble, of Cassandra Sirigatti by Ridolfo Sirigatti, Florence, Italy, dated 1578
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
Avery, C. Bernini: Genius of the Baroque London, 1997, p. 33
Pope-Hennessy, J. 'Portrait Sculpture by Ridolfo Sirigatti' in V&A Bulletin April 1965, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 33-36
Catalogue des Tableaux Modernes etc. Collection la Georges Petit, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris. 4th and 5th March 1921
Falciani, Carlo and Natali, Antonio, eds. The Cinquecento in Florence: 'Modern Manner' and Counter-Reformation, exh. cat., 2017, pp. 170-173.
Luchinat, C.A., et al, The Medici, Michelangelo, and the Art of Late Renaissance Florence, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2002, cat. 84
Labels and date
The portrait bust of the sculptor's mother, and its pendant, of his father (A.12-1961, exhibited nearby), are described in the Riposo of Raffaello Borghini (1584). Sirigatti himself is one of the participants in this imaginary dialogue, and was a friend of Giovanni Bologna and the master of Pietro Bernini (father of the famous Gian Lorenzo). The inscription reads: Ridolfo, whom I bore, has carved this as a tribute of love. [December 1995]