Bust of a woman

Bust of a woman

Purchased for in 1869 for £12, further details of acquisition are not recorded

Original:

Bust of a woman
Unidentified Ravello sculptor
13th century
Marble
Museo del Duomo di Ravello, Ravello, Italy

Until 1973, this bust was on the parapet of a staircase leading up to the pulpit signed by Nicola di Bartolomeo da Foggia, dated 1272, in the Cathedral at Ravello. An inscription records that the pulpit was commissioned by a wealthy merchant of Ravello, Nicolo Rufolo and his wife, Sigligaita. The head is recorded on the pulpit from 1540, and was thought at that time to represent the Virgin. More recently, attempts have been made to identify this regal head with Sigligaita herself, or to see it as a personification of the Church. In support of the latter interpretation its function has been likened to that of allegorical heads on the triumphal gate of Frederick II at Capua and a parallel has been drawn between this and a female bust formerly in Berlin (destroyed 1945), which is known to have been placed upon a pulpit at Scala, near Ravello. There is, however, no secure evidence to confirm that the bust in the Museo del Duomo was originally designed to sit upon Nicolo di Bartolomeo da Foggia's pulpit, so that some doubt remains concerning the above interpretations.