Three marble busts of women are grouped together here, on a floor devoted primarily to Italian and Spanish art. All three date to the 1470s and were carved in Italy. The two portraits on the left and at the center belong to the small group of surviving portraits by the Dalmatian-born Francesco Laurana, while the bust on the right is one of only two known female marble busts by Andrea del Verrocchio, who was the head of one of the most prosperous workshops in Renaissance Florence.
Stylistically, these female busts lie somewhere between the artists’ desire to represent individual sitters and the propensity to idealize female beauty according to the literary and visual canons of the time. The white and polished surface of these sculptures is deceptive because busts like these would have originally been extensively polychromed and gilded. It was in subsequent centuries that they would have been stripped of their color to comply with Neoclassical taste.
Two of the busts are shown with gilded wooden bases that were created for them either in the late nineteenth or the early twentieth century, when the two sculptures belonged first to Gustave Dreyfus in Paris and then to John D. Rockefeller Jr. in New York.