Artist Unknown, 19th Century
White marble; 61cm high
As yet, we do not know very much about this charming white marble bust of a lady. She is young, likely in her twenties or thirties, and wearing both her hair and her clothing in a fashionable manner associated with the Regency period of c.1811-1820, so called when King George III was alive but considered unfit to rule, his son The Prince of Wales acting as proxy until made King George IV in 1820.
This lady, with her hair perfectly pulled into a Grecian Knot and formed into ringlets and her dress simple and elegant, is certainly a member of the higher classes. The sculptor was likely commissioned to create this artwork, at considerable cost to the patron. She is situated away from the other six male busts standing in the Entrance Hall at Fota, on her own, looking out from the house onto the fields beyond.
Although no signatures or dates have been discovered, it was likely by quite a competent sculptor. The skin is smooth and clear, the hair well carved and the cloth around her torso well draped. The marble may have come from Carrara in Tuscany – a massive quarry and source of much white and grey marbles from ancient times, where extraction continues today.
The bust forms part of what we call the Richard Wood Collection – once part of the Cork businessman’s collection and on display at Fota during the 1980s, then purchased by another business family, the McCarthys of Cork city, and donated to the Trust in 2008.