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Getty Museum acquires sculpture attributed to Francesco Primaticcio

October 27, 2011 |  4:06 pm


The Getty Museum said Thursday it has acquired a 16th century bronze double-head sculpture believed to be the creation of artist Francesco Primaticcio. The work, which once belonged to fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, dates from around 1543 and may have been created in tribute to the mistress of the French monarch François I.

A spokeswoman for the Getty said the museum "very recently" acquired the work from Galerie J. Kugel, in Paris.

The Getty said the sculpture remained in private collections through the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1976, it became part of the collection of Pierre Bergé and Saint Laurent. After Laurent's death in 2008, items from the collection were sold off.

Galerie J. Kugel said on its website that during the 18th century, the piece was "mistakenly admired as a masterpiece from antiquity." The piece is believed to be closely related to the series of bronze casts that  François I commissioned from Primaticcio for the palace of Fontainebleau.

The sculpture, which stands about 22 inches tall, depicts conjoined heads facing in opposite directions. The museum said the double-sided composition of the piece suggests it was originally intended for display on top of a herm (a type of pillar) or a column.

The Getty said the sculpture may have been conceived as an homage to the Duchesse d'Etampes, François I's mistress, whose full name was Anne de Pisseleu d'Heilly. The sculpture is currently on display in the Italian Renaissance paintings gallery in the North Pavilion of the Getty Center.


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Photo: The Getty's recently acquired statue, believed to be by Primaticcio. Credit: Galerie J. Kugel