Bust of Maria Cerri Capranica
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Attributed to Alessandro Algardi
Italian, about 1640
35 7/16 x 24 1/8 x 11 1/2 in.

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Befitting a young noblewoman, Maria Cerri Capranica is dressed in a velvet gown with an elaborate lace collar. Her elegant outfit is complemented by an array of jewelry--a long strand of pearls, a necklace set with precious stones, a pendant with a small relief of the Holy Family, and pearl drop earrings. The sitter was clearly a woman of status and affluence, and the sculptor depicted her with a powerful and distinctive psychological presence.

The fine details of the sitter's costume, jewelry, and hairstyle display a true mastery of marble carving. Maria Cerri's intricate coiffure--a mass of curls ornamented with loops of satiny ribbon--falls gracefully around her face. Algardi sculpted the delicate lace mantle in low relief with subtle contours that reveal how the garment fell around the sitter's shoulders. The strand of pearls, which weaves across the sitter's chest and around her sash, is carved entirely in the round. The attention given to her lace and jewelry makes this as much a portrait of her accessories as of the subject herself.

Married in 1637, Maria Cerri and Bartolomeo Capranica were from prominent Roman families. A coat of arms identifying both families appears at the base of the sculpture. Maria Cerri died at the age of twenty-five in 1643.