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France
1532
Limestone
H. 60; W. 56.5; D. 24.5 cm
Exchanged with the Vienne Museum in 1907
 
Masterpieces
Bust of a Woman in a Medallion
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She is elegantly coifed with a small plumed hat, and her curly hair, with a strand knotted on her forehead, is held in a net. The jeweled headband provides another touch of preciosity and refinement. The rounded shoulders, the oval face and full cheeks, the long neck, the tilted head and the movement of the curved plumes are softly shaped and echo the curve of the medallion from which the woman seems to emerge. The nude bust is decorated with a large-linked chain from which a cartouche dated 1532 hangs. This sculpture perhaps adorned the façade of a house on Rue du Collège or the coffered ceiling of a house on Rue des Orfèvres in Vienne (Isère, France). This type of bust, which was inserted in a tondo, was very much in style during the Renaissance and was found on dwellings in many French regions, in particular in the Rhone Valley. Although the motif has Italian origins, the restraint and grace of the sculpture are typically French and are more closely related to the Touraine style. Medallions were usually located at a certain height, as confirmed here by the modulation of the relief, which was designed to be seen from below. Is this a portrait or an allegory of feminine beauty? This motif is found above the entrance door of the Saint Pierre Palace, welcoming visitors with its soft sensuality.