(b. ca. 1450, Modena, d. 1518, Modena)

Alfonso II of Aragon

Bronze with a dark patina and traces of gilding, height 42 cm
Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples

Alfonso of Calabria (1444-1495) was the son and heir of Ferrante I of Aragon (c. 1424-1494), king of Naples. He reigned in 1494-95 as Alfonso II. Mazzoni, who had made his reputation as the creator of lifesize terracotta groups in northern Italy, was in the service of both the king and his son from 1489. By 1492 Mazzoni had completed the Lamentation group for the chapel of the Holy Tomb (Santo Sepolcro) in the church of Santa Maria di Monteoliveto, known as Sant'Anna dei Lombardi, which was paid for by Alfonso of Calabria.

The present bust of enormous individuality and artistry was installed in the same chapel as the Lamentation group. The sitter's head, complete with heavy jowls and baggy eyes, sits stolidly over the broad shoulders, which are covered with a luxurious brocade jacket decorated with an elaborate pomegranate design. A tight-fitting cap presses down on meticulously described hair, done in a style recognizable from other portraits of the 1490s. Although until the nineteenth century the bust was identified as a portrait of Ferrante I of Aragon, it is now thought that it represents Alfonso II instead.

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