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In Love with Laura

In Love with Laura

A Mystery in Marble

This exhibition focusses on a central work of European sculpture: Francesco Laurana’s (c. 1430–1502) Female Bust at the Kunstkammer Wien. It is one of the few Renaissance marble busts with colouring. The work is one of the most significant creations of fifteenth century portrait sculpture. This small but prestigiously appointed exhibition is set to rekindle public interest in the exceptional importance of this object, which has somewhat fallen into oblivion in the last decades. The exhibition will be the first to showcase a thesis formulated some time ago that this is a portrait of the mysterious Laura who was so deeply (but unhappily) beloved by the Italian Renaissance poet Petrarch. Petrarch wrote over three hundred touching poems for Laura in the fourteenth century.

Next to masterpieces from the Kunsthistorisches Museum like Giorgione’s painting Laura, the exhibition will feature international loans from the Frick Collection in New York and the Biblioteca Laurenziana in Florence.



Between poetry and sculpture


Adopt a masterpiece

In Francesco Petrarch's 1549 collection of poems Canzoniere, unrequited love plays a central role. A famous quote reads, "Never did I desire thee more than the sun of thine eyes." The edition includes an elaborate frontispiece depicting Petrarch and his unattainable love, Laura.

Significantly, Petrarch Laura while she looks away, symbolizing their relationship and his unfulfilled Longing symbolizes. The frontispiece is a creative attempt to tell the Petrarch and Laura's story. What is striking is the similarity of this Laura image to the bust of Francesco Laurana in terms of headgear and facial expression. facial expression. There is "only" about three quarters of a century between sculpture and woodcut. The book object is shown together with the Bust in the exhibition In Love with Laura. A Secret in Marble at the KHM.

You would like to take over the art sponsorship for this object?

please click on this link for more information in german language


With an art sponsorship you contribute to preserving the treasures of art history for the future. As an art sponsor, your donation directly and sustainably supports the scientific documentation, research, restoration and presentation of the art holdings of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien.

With the kind support of

General Partner


20 June 2023
to 15 October 2023

Opening hours

Tue – Sun, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Thursday, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

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