Raffaello Monti studied sculpture with his father, Gaetano Monti of Ravenna, at the Imperial Academy. He made his debut early and won a Gold Medal for his group entitled Alexander Taming Bucephalus. He and other young sculptors soon became identified as belonging to the Scuola Lombarda, a group associated with a reaction against the severity of the neo-classicism that dominated Italian sculpture in the first half of the 19th century. After periods spent working successfully in Vienna and once again in Milan, he made his first visit to England in 1846, but returned to Italy in 1847 to join the Popular Party and became one of the chief officers of the National Guard. After the disastrous failure of the Risorgimento campaigns of 1848, he fled from Italy to England where he was to remain for the rest of his life.
Monti's political position forced him to flee his country in 1848 and he returned to England where he was to remain for the rest of his life. His career in England was extremely successful and prolific. The Great Exhibition of 1851 occurred only a few years after his arrival, and his reputation was largely built on the works he exhibited. His Eve After the Fall, awarded a prize medal, was particularly well received, but two other sculptures in the exhibition, the Circassian Slave and a Vestal Virgin established features that were to become his trade mark: the delicate rendering in solid marble of figures swathed in transparent veils. A Vestal Virgin, commissioned in 1847 by the Duke of Devonshire before the exhibition, and the dramatic The Sleelp of Sorrow and the Dream of Joy, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, are examples of such pieces, some of which became popular through reproduction in Parian ceramic.
The present bust, though one of a type, is particularly finely composed and delicately carved. Although she does not wear a wreath of flowers, this young woman, with the modest tilt of her head and the veil with its elaborate lace border and scattered rose sprays almost drawn onto the material, suggests a bride rather than a Vestal Virgin.
Although known principally as a sculptor, Monti was also responsible for the interior design of the famous Great Hall at Mentmore, built for Baron Meyer de Rothschild in the 1850s. The bust however is not obviously associated with Baron Meyer's taste. Nevertheless, a link with Mentmore does seem to be apparent since the bust was at one time owned by Lord Rosebery, son of the 5th Earl of Rosebery, Prime Minister, and of Baron Meyer's only daughter and heir, Hannah. The 6th Earl of Rosebery gave the bust to the remarkable artist Gluck, a notable figure in London circles in the middle decades of the 20th century. She was Hannah Gluckstein, a member of the J. Lyons family and catering empire. But, a woman of eccentric personality, she wished to disassociate herself from her family - while benefiting handsomely from it in financial terms - and adopted the androgynous name of Gluck. A talented artist, she was known in the best circles for her male attire and affairs with Society women, including Constance Spry. The companion of her final years, from 1945 to her death in 1978, was Edith Shakelton Heald; it was to her second cousin, the photographer Raoul Casares, that Gluck gave the Monti bust in return for some photographic work that he had undertaken for her.