SALVATORE FLORENTI ALBANO
(Oppido Mamertina, Reggio Calabria 1839 – Florence 1893)
La Donna Velata
(The Veiled Woman)
Signed and dated 1878
22 x 18 x 11 in (56 x 46 x 28 cm), bust only
61 x 18 x 12 in (155 x 46 x 12 x 30.5 cm) overall, including pedestal
Provenance: Private Collection, Kansas City, Missouri
Salvatore Albano began his career as a wood carver in Calabria, creating figures for traditional crêche scenes. His evident precocity prompted the citizens of his home town to form a public subscription to further his artistic education, which resulted in his being sent to Naples at the age of nineteen to study at the Accademia di Belli Arti under Tito Angelini. He later worked with Giovanni Dupré in Florence and soon gained notice for his ambitious literary and religious compositions: Ugolino and his Sons, Moses Smashing the Tablets (1864, Naples, Museo di Capodimonte), Cain and The Resurrection of Lazarus (1867; both, Naples, Accademia di Belli Arti). He exhibited at the Salon in Paris, at the Royal Academy in London, and the Italian Exhibition at Earl’s Court in 1888.
By the late 1870s Albano had established his own studio in Florence, where he was regularly patronized by visitors from abroad. The whereabouts of his sculptures today attest to his international audience. These include the Monument to Sebastiano Lerdo de Tejada in Mexico City (1893); the Angel in Repose (1893) in the Radischev Art Museum, Saratov, Russia; Nymph Reclining in the Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal; and the Memorial to Sir Charles Metcalfe Macgregor, K.C.B. (1889) in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. Americans seem to have been among Albano’s greatest admirers. His Vanni Fucci (Thief from Dante’s Inferno) was an early accession (1877) to the the Metropolitan Museum in New York; The Secret (1888) is in the Wisconsin Historical Society; portrait busts of Edwin White (1873) and Frederick Layton (1889) are in the collections of the National Academy of Design, New York, and Milwaukee Art Museum, respectively; and what is likely to be the artist’s masterpiece, the spectacular Rebel Angels (1893), is proudly exhibited in the entry atrium of the Brooklyn Museum.
The present work is not a portrait of a specific individual; rather it is an idealized depiction of a woman seemingly lost in thought, her head wrapped in a veil that elegantly frames and encloses her beautiful features. While the current title is traditional, the sculpture may prove to be identifiable with one of Albano’s recorded, but unlocated works, Remembrance, a marble bust exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1881 (no. 1499).