Inventory of Art Objects acquired in the Year 1867. Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol. 1. London : Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868., p. 2.
Maclagan, Eric and Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture. London, 1932. p. 107.
Raggio, Olge. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Art Bulletin. 1968, vol. L. p. 103.
Pope-Hennessy, John. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: HMSO, 1964. cat. no. 528. fig. 529.
Gramaccini, Norberto. Alfonso Lombardi. Frankfrut, 1980. p. 128.
Bust depicting a lady of the Lupari family, Terracotta, ca. 1515-25
Height: 69.5 cm, Width: 82.5 cm, Depth: 53 cm
Medieval and Renaissance, room 64
Collections of portraits and specifically portrait busts during 15th and 16th century Italy have been recognised as being influenced by humanist studies of classical literature containing descriptions of settings, exterior and interior, which were punctuated by busts of famous figures, usually men. The desire for portraits to embellish domestic spaces, frequently the library or studiolo of a house descends from these galleries of famous people but was also driven by the desire to be surrounded by one's loved ones, often presented in a manner which stressed their virtue, so that the image was in itself a moralising statement, and that both the sitter and the viewer aspired to exemplary status.
In 'When is a portrait not a portrait? Belle Donne on Maiolica and the Renaissance Praise of Local Beauties' in 'The Image of the Individual. Portraits in the Renaissance'
this type of portrait may also be seen to link, like the belle donne portraits found on maiolica, with Renaissance catalogues of uomini and donne illustri, a genre revived in the early Renaisssance by authors such as Petrarch and Boccaccio. By 1375 Boccaccio had compiled his De mulieribus claris, which listed famous woman of all time as models of behaviour for contemporary female readers. Other humanists continued this genre and included famous contemporary women in their lists, emphasising the conjugal virtues of chastity and beauty. From 1480 local famous women of different Italian towns featured in these catalogues testifying to the shift from ancient abstract literary settings to a contemporary local historical tradition. In 1514 Antonio Tolomei wrote his 'Laude de la donne bolognese' his catalogue of contemporary belle exclusively from Bologna and this local tradition continued throughout the sixteenth century. It may be that the current bust could be viewed within this context as an exemplar and model of female virtue. Her respectable figure-concealing clothes and foresquare expression speak to her fortitude and respectability. When compared with Lorenzo Lotto's 'Portrait of a Woman as Lucretia (1530-3), made at about the same time, we see physical characteristics common to the painted image and the current sculptured bust, (both represent large women, who cover their hair and are dressed similarly though the Lotto female reveals more flesh) which underline the concept of chastity within marriage.
JPH also links the terracotta portrait to the sitter's betrothal as a fitting work to commemorate that event. But when considered together with the inscription, perhaps this bust is a memorial to a widow - commemorating a woman of local standing who was perhaps the sole survivor of a particular branch of the Lupari family.
The object was acquired for £40 on 18 December 1867 (V&A SculptureRegister). A minute dated 28 January 1867 for the copying of a Gozzoli fresco in the Riccardi Palace, also mentions that "Mr Spence wishes the Fat [sic] Terra Cotta bust to be bought ... Mr Robinson ... would recommend its purchase at £60". This may refer to the current object. (V&A Registry Nominal File for W B Spence)
Conservation notes highlight the complete overhaul given to this object during 1980-82. It was noted that the thickness of the clay varied from 8" in depth at the front base to 1/2 " thickness of clay at the back base. This had resulted in considerable variations in shrinkage so that a series of vertical craces had appeared round the base of the bust. It was thought that the bust may possibly have cracked during the initial firing in the kiln and would imply that some of the repairs may have been of a contemporary nature, although evidence also exists for at least one later campaign of extensive repair. In 1982 the decision was taken to take the object apart, clean and consolidate each part separately in order to deal with the increase in cracking and flaking and to eradicate the presence of salts. A full description and analysis of the pigmentation is contained in the Conservation Report
One conservator argues for the bust having originally been polychromed while an examination of the surface coatings accepts that although the object may have been painted to disguise damage it is impossible to state categorically that the object was originally painted at all. (Object File).
A LADY OF THE LUPARI FAMILY
Possibly by Alfonso Lombardi (about 1497-1537)
The painted inscription on the base refers to the Lupari family of Bologna, and suggests that the unidentified, middle-aged woman was born in 1461. Portrait busts of this type were developed in nearby Florence in the 15th century. Prominent families would display them in their homes as a sign of their dynastic heritage.
Inscribed in Latin around the base, 'Do not erase the Lupari [who] are well deserving of memory 1461'
Museum no. 320-1867 
The vertical surface of the base immediately below the portrait figure carries a painted inscription in Latin 'NON DELEnDA LVPARI BeNeMERITAE memoriA, MCCCCLXI' Freely: The meritorious memory of the Lupari family should not be extinguished.
This bust is a lady of the Lupari family who is represented to the waist in a frontal pose, her head turned slightly to her right. Textile Conservation staff at the V&A conjectured that she is wearing a low-cut bodice of patterned (embossed) velvet (the modelling indicates a stiff material) with full pleated sleeves of silk or satin. A girdle is tied in a bow at the centre and the upper part of her gathered skirt is visible. The bodice and sleeves surmount a chemise of fine, gathered white linen. Textile conservators also suggest that the snood over her hair may have been made of silk, At the centre front of the snood is an impression of a circular ornament (a brooch or a medal) containing a seven pointed star
The back of the bust has two large circular holes, which may have served double duty as vent holes during firing and locators for fixings when the bust was displayed. The bust sits on a terracotta plinth, stepped in three stages. The upper stage carries an inscription.
John Pope-Hennessy ('Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum', H.M.S.O., London, 1964, III vols, no. 528, Pl.529) rejects G. F. Hill's identification (see 'A Corpus of Italian Medals before Cellini', 1930, i, given as no. 581 in JPH but actually no. 587, p.149) of the sitter as Angela Brenzoni, wife of a Venetian Senator, based on a comparison of this bust and a medal, dated 1524, by Giovanni Maria Pomedelli. Pope-Hennessy cites the resemblance as merely generic rather than specific. '...a stylistic point of reference for the present bust is supplied by the terracotta bust of Nicola Sanuti in Berlin (formerly Kaiser-Friedrich Museum), which is related by F, Schottmuller to the work of Alfonso Lombardi. (see 'Buildwerk des Kaiser-Friederich-Museums, Die Italienschen und Spanischen Bildwerks der Renaissance und des Barock. Erster Band: Die Bildwerke in Stein, Holz, Ton und Wachs. Zweite Auflage. Bearbeitet von F. Schottmuller, Berlin & Leipzig, 1933, p.200). In the absence of authenticated terracotta busts by Alfonso Lombardi, the ascription of both busts must remain conjectural, but it is likely that they have a common provenance in Emilia and the strong grasp of character evident in both seems to derive from the terracotta sculpture of Guido Mazzoni. The treatment of the sleeves and doublet in Alfonso Lombardi's effigy of Ercole Bottrigari (S.Francesco, Bologna) presents similarities to that in the present bust. The bust is datable about 1515-25. Dolfi ('Cronologia delle famiglie nobili di Bologna', Bologna, 1670, pp 482-3) records that several members of the Lupari family held positions of importance in Bologna at the end of the fifteenth and in the first decades of the sixteenth. The male line becomes extinct in 1668 on the death of Bartolomeo Lupari ... and the inheritance was divided, the palace passing to Isolani and the rest of the property to Magnani. It is possible that the bust was at one time in either the Palazzo Isolani-Lupari or the Palazzo Magnani-Lupari (later Malovezzi-Lupari) in Bologna. A number of female portrait busts in Bologna seem to have been ascribed traditionally to Alfonso Lombardi; copies of these are listed among the works of art contained in the Palazzo Fibbia ... ' JPH cites references to 12 busts of famous Bolognese women (Guida per la citta di Bologna, Bologna, 1835, p.11), none of which remain in the Palazzo Fibbia. JPH also rejects Hill's view that the inscription on the current bust is a forgery. (See Hill, 'Notes on Italian Medals XI', Burlington Magazine, xix, 1911, pp. 143-4). and the anonymous note dismissing the entire bust as forgery (published in L'Arte, xiv, 1911, p. 320).
Reason For Production: Commemorative
The inscription on this imposing bust reminds the viewer not to forget the Lupari family, who held important positions in Bologna at the time. The date 1461 probably refers to the date of birth of the sitter.