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Bust of Vibia Sabina

Francesco Marchissi (active in Florence between c.1748 and 1792)

Pencil on paper
38.5 cm x 27.8 cm
GDSU 110063 D

The drawing is part of the series of 113 depictions of imperial portraits in the Uffizi Gallery collections commissioned by then director Giuseppe Bencivenni Pelli to Francesco Marchissi to complement the 1784 Gallery Inventory.

The bust represented here is of Vibia Sabina, wife of Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD) , who is portrayed looking straight ahead in the center of the paper and in a sharp chiaroscuro that highlights the drapery of the bust, while in the bottom corner, on the left, the artist has reproduced the detail of the head from a lateral perspective, a choice that has allowed him to render the hairstyle of the empress in great detail. Her hair, divided into two sections by a central parting viewed from the front, is held in place on the sides by a cercine (a band of cloth gathered in the form of a circle) and has been pulled up to form a bun on top of her head, only visible from the sides.

Marchissi’s focus on the hairstyles in his reproductions of female busts in the Gallery is particularly noteworthy, and further evidence of this - as we can also see here - is visible if we compare his drawing and the original piece. This proves that he perceived this aspect as a fundamental feature for the presentation of women in the imperial age

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