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Laura, are you really?

Laura, are you really?

A new exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum tells the story of Petrarch’s poetic love for Laura, and centers around an anonymous marble bust of a woman. Small technical crime.

This pale young woman is used to being stared at staringly – and has been for more than 500 years. Just looking back has been denied her for so long. One notices how hard it is to keep her eyes down, covered with lids as if half asleep. just who is she? Who was the model for this meticulously crafted colored marble statue, lauded as “unquestionably the most beautiful sculptural work in the imperial collection”. Above all, who should you portray? Is this you what the Italian Renaissance poet Petrarch sang about in 366 poems in a lifelong frenzy of love for rejection?

We’re taking note of the Glass in the Dark display from the new Vienna Kunstkammer special exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum. The figure of this wax-like woman appears in her as Snow White’s coffin erect. Mystery surrounds this beauty. On its own, one feels that it wouldn’t reveal anything. Generations of art historians have pondered the interpretation of this sculpture. An Aragonese princess was about to be discussed. Or Bianca Maria Sforza, poor second wife of Emperor Maximilian I, who probably died of starvation out of grief. Uncanny resemblance. It was an art historian who proposed an entirely new interpretation of the enigmatic Renaissance statue in the early 1990s, but this – even now on exhibition – remains unanswered. This Britta von Götz-Mohr caught an uncanny resemblance: between the bust and a famous portrait miniature at the beginning of an edition of Petrarch’s love poems, “Canzoneri,” from the Bibliotheca Laurenziana in Florence.

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