This bronze statuette has been identified as a portrait of the Italian historian Carlo Botta. For a full biographical account of Botta and his relations with the Marochetti family, see the entry for Carlo Marochetti's memorial to him, in his birthplace, S. Giorgio Canavese in Piedmont. The subject is shown in a casual attitude, seated in an armchair, legs crossed and with the pensively tilted head supported on one hand. This kind of intimate portrait statuette, sometimes featuring elegant modern costume, was beginning to be much practised in France from the mid-1830s. This is likely to be an early example of the "romantic" portrait statuette, executed just before, or just after the death of the subject in 1837.
At least one other cast of this statuette is known, in a private collection. The cast illustrated here, however, is especially interesting, for having belonged to William John Bankes M.P. of Kingston Lacy, who actively promoted Marochetti for the commission of sculpting Glasgow's equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington. Indeed it was probably one of the works which Bankes presented to the Glasgow committee, in order to persuade them of Marochetti's abilities. In the Art Union of May 1841 (p.83) one of these works was described as "a lackadaisical figure of an old gentleman seated in an armchair, which some of the members took for a statue of Mr Bankes......who, it appeared in the course of the proceedings, had been mainly instrumental in forcing the Baron Marochetti on the good people of Glasgow". This description lead the present author, in an article on the Glasgow Wellington statue (Burlington Magazine Dec. 1990) to assume this might indeed be a portrait of Bankes. However, its appearance as the frontispiece to a 19th century edition of the letters of Carlo Botta, made clear who the subject actually was.