Bust of a Nobleman, ca. 1695–1700
C. Lacroix (Burgundian, active Genoa, late 17th–early 18th century)
France or Italy
Elephant ivory; H. 5 5/8 in. (14.3 cm)
Purchase, Friends of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Gifts, Edward J. Gallagher Jr. Bequest, in memory of his father, Edward Joseph Gallagher, his mother, Ann Hay Gallagher, and his son, Edward Gallagher III, and The Isak and Rose Weinman Foundation Inc. Gift, 2005 (2005.243)
Few ivory portraits show the extraordinary detail of this bravura carving, which displays qualities usually found in the much larger bronze or marble busts of the era. Echoing the drapery-swathed and bewigged grandiosity of those images, the little-known sculptor who signed this piece paid meticulous attention to rendering his sitter's costume. The luxuriant cascade of curls, modish lace jabot topped off with an elaborate two-ribbon tie, and brocade patterning of the parade armor contrast strikingly with the naturalistic delineation of the face. His pockmarked skin and the distinctively truculent set of his chin may someday provide clues to the gentleman's identity.