This unusual bronze bust was purchased by the Berlin museums in 1888 from an antiquarian and collector Charles Sedelmeyer(1837-1925) in Paris. This object has a remarkable history. It remained in France from the beginning of the XIX century: after being moved from Italy during the Napoleonic campaigns, the bust ended up in the collection of Baron Dominique-Vivant Denon (1747-1825), the first director of the Louvre, where it was mistakenly considered a portrait of Petrarch. In reality, the portrait depicts Giovanni Battista Spagnoli (1448-1516), the general of the Carmelite order and popular court poet of the Mantuan dukes. Similarly to the bronze bust of the city's chief painter, Andrea Mantegna, which still adorns the chapel in the basilica of Sant'Andrea in Mantua, the portrait of Cavalli was equipped with a massive decorative frame consisting of a porphyry disk and a relief frieze. Both busts, with some conventionality, are considered works of the Mantuan sculptor Gian Marco Cavalli, and can be traced back to the designs of Mantegna himself. The work is distinguished by a fine detailing of the facial features and its high quality.
The metal composition was determined. The surface was cleaned and consolidated.