MARGARET FOLEY (1827–1877)
Marble, oval bas-relief, 11 x 10 in.
Signed, dated, and inscribed (along figural truncation, at lower right): M. F. FOLEY. ROMA. 1864
EX COLL.: private collection, until the present
While Foley regularly inscribed her work with her name and a date, with her idealized compositions, she did not commonly include the title of the piece. The present bas-relief, dated 1864, would have been one of the early works that Foley carved in Rome. It is the first known version of a subject that is mentioned in nearly all general descriptions of Foley’s work: the Roman model Pascuccia. Versions of Foley’s Pascuccia, somewhat larger than this one and with slightly different hair, headscarf arrangement, and with earrings, are in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The model Pascuccia was enough of a local celebrity to merit a description printed in two American Journals: The American Art Journal 5 (June 7, 1866), and The Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art, new series, 3 (1866). The writer describes Pascuccia as “a capricious, handsome girl from the Kingdom of Naples.” Foley biographer Margaret Howitt describes her as “a dark, self-satisfied beauty,” the reference to complexion acknowledging Pascuccia’s southern Italian origin. Pascuccia (variously spelled) was clearly a favorite object of her creator. The bas-relief (presumably in different versions) is frequently cited in examples of Foley’s best-known work and appears as well as in numerous exhibition checklists.