(b. 1427, Settignano, d. 1479, Firenze)

Giovanni Chellini

Marble, height 51 cm
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

In the 15th century the preparation of death-masks was related to the portrait bust, and was modified by mid-century to include the life-mask, expressly tailored to the preparation of busts. When Donatello's physician Giovanni Chellini died in 1465, his tomb contained an effigy based on a death-mask. Chellini is the only quattrocento subject whose features are also recorded in a portrait bust made from a life-mask. Indeed, this portrait by Antonio Rossellino is one of the finest examples of age. It is certainly from a life mask not only because the features are rendered in fine detail, but also because the ears are pressed back against the head. Rossellino captured the sagacity of this renowned man of healing, a thoughtful character study surpassing most Roman busts.