The Renaissance saw an explosion in the development of portraiture, part of a larger cultural phenomenon during which the arena for individual accomplishment expanded dramatically. The value of portraiture had been promoted through Leon Battista Alberti’s influential text on the treatise on painting. In Florence, the desire of powerful individuals to preserve their features for posterity, exemplified itself most readily in the sculpted portrait bust and Benedetto da Maiano became one of the city's most technically accomplished sculptors.
The high realism of Benedetto’s portrait busts was a relatively recent phenomenon in Florentine art, and betrays the influence of his contemporary Antonio Rossellino. The present bust can be affiliated stylistically to Benedetto’s busts of both Fillippo Strozzi and Pietro Mellini (L. Dussler, Benedetto da Maiano: Ein Florentiner Bildhauer des späten Quattrocento, Munich, 1924, plates 28-29), and other known portrait busts emanating from his workshop (V&A, London, inv. no. 974-1875). Our bust is typical of Benedetto’s focus on the highly realistic human features of his sitters, using the malleable clay to emphasise the effects of time on the skin. The slightly drawn brow, rolls of the neck, and receding hairline of the present bust are very similar to the humanism of Benedetto’s known works (D. Carl, Benedetto da Maiano: ein Florentiner Bildhauer an der Schwelle zur Hochrenaissance, 2006, vol. 2, plates 5, 13, 70-80, 190). The artificial truncation of the bust, which ends on an integral narrow plinth, is not typical of Benedetto’s autograph works, and may indicate a slightly later hand, heavily influenced by the master, possibly originating from his workshop.