Guilio Tadolini was a member of the famous family who for four generations, spanning some 150 years, occupied the same studio on the Via del Babuino, Rome. Giulio, of the third generation, took over the studio on the death of his father Scipione in 1892. Having studied at the Academy of Art in Rome, Tadolini went on to become a pupil of Cesare Fracassini and Mariano Fortuny. His works include religious compositions, allegorical groups and numerous funerary monuments, including, memorials to Victor Emmanuel at Perugia and Pope Leo XIII in the Church of St John Lateran.
The present pair of busts was created in 1880, a time when increased travel by artists to exotic destinations in North Africa and the Middle East stimulated a fashion for Orientalist subjects in art. Tadolini's work follows the style of sculptors such as Charles Cordier (see lot 41) and Pietró Calvi, whose combinations of gilt, silvered or patinated bronze with marble, onyx and semi-precious stones, highlighted the visual richness of their subject-matter.
Both busts bear the stamp of the Roman foundry Nelli who, during the last two decades of the 19th century, edited works in bronze for many leading sculptors of the day, including Alfred Gilbert and Anton Van Wouw.