The Head of Ilaria del Carretto, from the Tomb Sculpture by Jacopo della Quercia, Lucca Cathedral, ItalyArtist:
William Gershom Collingwood
, British, 1854 - 1932
Material and Medium: watercolour and bodycolour on paper
Dimensions: Support: 172 x 251mm
Mount: 452 x 610mm
Accession Number: CGSG00294
Collingwood made this drawing whilst on tour with Ruskin, who attributed della Quercia's effigy as the source of his interest in Italian art. Over the years, Ruskin wrote several descriptions of the sculpture which show he found it a sensual mix of lifelike portrait and symbolic craftsmanship.
After periods of mental illness, Ruskin also seemed to find comfort in Ilaria's effigy. In 1882, for example he wrote to a friend from Lucca, 'I have my Ilaria here, and her Pug-dog and am rather happy.' The sculpture had a similar effect on Collingwood. When he painted the effigy, he wrote home to his fiancée that she should be jealous: he had fallen in love with Ilaria.
Ilaria del Carretto (1379-1403) was the second wife of Paulo Guingini, an aristocrat, trader, politician, patron of the arts and the Signore (Lord) of Lucca. After her death during childbirth, Guingini ordered this sarcophagus for Lucca’s cathedral, though he actually buried her in his family chapel.