Andrea Bregno - Cardinal Raffaele Sansoni Riario, about 1478

Attributed to Andrea Bregno (Osteno, 1418 - 1503, Rome)

Cardinal Raffaele Sansoni Riario, about 1478

Marble, 57.2 x 48 x 20.3 cm (22 1/2 x 18 7/8 x 8 in.) with base


Object details

Accession number



Likely created after a prepatory terracotta model now housed in the Staatliche Museen, Berlin (inventory no. 4996) in about 1478.
Later reused as a bust of a saint, perhaps in San Lorenzo in Damaso, Rome, Cardinal Riario's (1461-1521) titular church from 1483 to 1517.
Collection of David Nathan, London before about 1906.
Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from the picture dealers Dowdeswell & Dowdeswell, London for £6,350 on 18 June 1907, through the Parisian picture dealer Maurice Rosenheim and the British collector and dealer Joseph Henry Fitzhenry (d. 1913). (as a work by the Italian artist Andrea del Verrocchio, 1435-1488)
Due to the high cost of import duties, this bust remained in Europe until 1908 in the care of Mrs. Thomas Lincoln Chadbourne (Emily R. Crane, 1871-1964).


Morris Carter. Isabella Stewart Gardner and Fenway Court (Boston, 1925; Reprint, Boston, 1972), p. 230. (as Bust of Raphael Riario)
Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 231. (as Bust of Raphael Riario, Cardinal Sansoni; "in the 15th century Florentine may be of the period")
Ulrich Middeldorf. Review of August Grisebach. Römische Porträtbusten der Gegenreformation. Art Bulletin (1936), pp. 115-16, fig. 4 (as Bust of a Deacon; as influenced by Andrea Sansovino, early 16th century)
Cornelius C. Vermeule III et al. Sculpture in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1977), pp. 120-21, no. 149. (as Raffaello Riario, Cardinal Sansoni; Roman, early 16th century)
Hilliard Goldfarb. Imaging the Self in Renaissance Italy. Exploring Treasures in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum III. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1992), pp. 16-18, ill. (as Bust of a Deacon; Roman, early 16th century)
Rollin van N. Hadley (ed.). The Letters of Bernard Berenson and Isabella Stewart Gardner 1887-1924 (Boston, 1987), pp. 390-91, 396, 426. (as by Verrocchio)
Francesco Caglioti in Keith Christiansen et al (eds.). The Renaissance Portrait: from Donatello to Bellini. Exh. cat. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011), pp. 297-300, no. 126. (as Cardinal Raffaele Sansoni Riario; as by Andrea Bregno, about 1478; as formerly partially gilded)

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With soft skin and no stubble, the adolescent Raffaele Riario gazes outward with a confidence that belies his tender age. No ordinary teenager, Riario was only seventeen in 1478, when he was elevated to the rank of cardinal by his uncle, Pope Sixtus IV. He probably commissioned this bust to commemorate the momentous occasion.