The present bust may represent a classicising portrait of a contemporary lady, or it may once have formed part of a series of idealised busts of emperors and empresses which adorned a grand architectural ensemble. The hairstyle of the sitter - centrally parted, crimped and drawn up to the crown on the head - is, for example, comparable to hairstyles made popular by the Empress Faustina the Elder in the second century AD. Certainly, the stylistic debt to antique sculpture is very pronounced, particularly in the arrangement of the flattened folds of drapery across the shoulders.
The dark patination and rough nature of the cast indicate an origin in one of the many foundries of the Veneto. The unrepaired casting flaws to the reverse would also support the theory that the bust was meant to be placed high in a room, probably in an architectural niche.