“Singularly bold, somewhat imperious, and active of mind.” This is how the radical philosopher William Godwin described his daughter, the Romantic novelist Mary Shelley, who achieved fame and infamy for her groundbreaking Gothic fiction Frankenstein (1818), written at the remarkable age of twenty-one. Here, the Italian neoclassicist Camillo Pistrucci uses the imposing genre of the white marble portrait bust (1843) to present Shelley in the grand manner of a virtuoso. Balancing the rhythmic forms of the face and drapery with the dazzling details of her sweeping Victorian hairstyle, Pistrucci achieves a precision and finesse that betrays the influence of his father, Benedetto Pistrucci, the unrivaled cameo carver. The artist carved the bust in Rome in the year of Shelley’s Italian sojourn.
Photographed in the British Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
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