Ideal Head of Beatrice
Portrait of Juliette Récamier as Beatrice
The marble shown here is a vibrant and life-like Beatrice’s head, at first conceived as an idealized portrait of Juliette Récamier (1777–1849), of whom Antonio Canova had made a plaster model. One of the outstanding activities of Lorenzo Bartolini’s studio was the execution of exact copies from some of Canova’s most admired works.
This portrait, dedicated to Dante’s muse, shows the sculptor’s intention to represent a new ideal of beauty, abandoning the classical canon of antiquity and adapting to modern taste in what he named Italian beauty. This pure, idealized version of Beatrice’s head testifies to the origin of Bartolini’s naturalism as a turning point in Italian sculpture. An extraordinary quality of execution remained true to Canova’s impeccable technique and exquisite finish surface and to the luminous, vibrant and life-like transparency of the marble stone.