An Egyptian Porphyry bust of Cavour

Dario Del Bufalo, Porphyry. Red Imperial Porphyry, Power and Religion. Turin, Allemandi & Co. 2012

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Rome. An Egyptian Imperial Red Porphyry bust portraying Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour is conserved in the Blue Room in the Palazzo Senatorio on Capitoline Hill. This portrait is circa 82 cm high and depicts a fairly young Cavour, about 45 years old and certainly after 1856, the year in which he received the medal that he wears around his neck, the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation. The motto ‘RTFE’ on the chain is reversed compared to the more canonical version ‘FERT’, introduced by Amadeus VIII in 1409.

The bust is skilfully executed, not only in technical terms of the marble carving, but also for the expression that Cavour wears that has never before been seen: a small, almost mocking smile and with a tuft of hair that seems rather ‘hard rock’… The base, in Greek Green Porphyry or Serpentine, is also cut with perfect precision. The sculptor is Serafino Granchielli and the bust was purchased by the City Council in 1884 from the Barracco Museum.


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