Reclining female figure

Italian, probably Rome

Not on view

The generically Michelangelesque figure wears a turbanlike helmet with short flaps at the back of the neck, a leathern peplum belted and gathered under the breasts and over the abdomen, a long skirt gathered at the knees, and midcalf boots. An old hole for affixing is under the right foot, and a modern drill hole passes through the middle of the underside. Wilhelm von Bode thought the model reflected an intervention by Teodoro della Porta on the marble allegorical figure of Justice (or Equanimity, or Fidelity) by his father Guglielmo della Porta on the tomb of Paul III in Saint Peter’s Basilica.[1] In 1594–95, Cardinal Odoardo Farnese had Teodoro fashion a camicia di metallo—a blouse or nightgown of metal—to mute the figure’s sexuality.[2] Guglielmo’s own drawing for the marble shows that he intended a tumbling coiffure and a drapery not all that revealing except for light indications of nipples.[3] The bronze figure is oriented in the opposite direction; there are no indications of the marble’s attributes, a flame and consular fasces; the costume is not suggestive of any particular allegory; and there is nothing of the quirky elegance of Guglielmo. Teodoro’s style is less easy to judge, but Bode’s idea has to be jettisoned.

(For key to shortened references see bibliography in Allen, Italian Renaissance and Baroque Bronzes in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. NY: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2022.)

1. Bode 1910, vol. 2, p. 4, no. 119.
2. Cadier 1889, p. 80. Teodoro calls the figure Justice; its pair on the tomb is Prudence.
3. Gramberg 1964, vol. 1, pl. 196.

Reclining female figure, Bronze, on a later wood base, Italian, probably Rome

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