Bust of a Woman with an Elaborate Coiffure

Artist: Rosso Fiorentino (Italian, Florence 1494–1540 Fontainebleau)

Date: ca. 1530

Medium: Black chalk; some contours reinforced in pen and brown ink, and background tinted in brown wash (by another hand)

Dimensions: 9 5/16 x 6 15/16 in. (23.6 x 17.7 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1952

Accession Number: 52.124.2


Although a later collector identified this bust as a portrait of Giulia Gonzaga, duchess of Mantua, Rosso intended this drawing as an ideal representation of a beautiful young woman. Conceived in the spirit of Michelangelo's teste divine (divine heads) of the 1520s, this mannered figure is dominated by her fantastic coiffure, with numerous braids curled about a pair of horns; her elaborate clothing, with complex patterns of drapery held in place by a brooch; and her alluring gaze. Although certain details were touched with ink and the figure was silhouetted with wash at a later time, the characteristic clarity and precision of the original drawing in chalk are visible. The highly decorative mount was made by the British collector John Talmann.