Giovanni Maria Benzoni (1809-1873) was a pupil of Giuseppe Fabris at the Academy of Saint Luc in Rome. Equally renowned for his classical subjects and religious work, Benzoni was a favoured sculptor of Pope Pius IX, and received commissions from many Russian aristocratic families. He also executed architectural sculptures for the Imperial Theatre, St Petersburg, exhibited at the Great Exhibitions and represented the Vatican at the Antwerp International Exhibition.
The present lot can almost certainly be identified in this photograph from a contemporary album of works by Benzoni which shares similarities in marbling such as the small grey mark to the left of the socle base-rim. An inscription beneath the photograph ascribes the piece to Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess Maria of Prussia. It is intriguing to speculate that this might have meant to refer to the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia (1786-1859) the third daughter of the notorious Emperor Paul I of Russia.