On March 27, 1997, Lady Valerie Solti visited the Rosenthal Archives. During her visit, she noticed we had a bust of Sir Georg prominently displayed in the reading room. We mentioned that we really didn’t know the provenance of the sculpture, and she was more than happy to tell us its story. One of my colleagues wrote down her comments, paraphrased below:
“One of the neighbors along the beach in Italy was a painter called Ernesto Galeffi. He lived in a little white house with his girlfriend, and often we would see them on the beach and walk together. They once invited us to go for supper in his house, which was also his studio right on the beach. During one of our many conversations, Galeffi said to Solti, ‘I am going to sculpt you.’
“At regular intervals as we sat sunning ourselves on the beach, Galeffi would appear with his camera and take photographs of Solti from every possible angle. When we left at the end of the summer, we moved back into civilian life again and forgot all about Galeffi and the sculpture. But a few months later, a large wooden box arrived in London and in it was the bust!
“We donated it to one of the early CSO fundraisers. I don’t know who bought it, but it wound up in [CSO General Manager] John Edwards‘s office. And once the archives was started, it obviously came to you. The plinth, also crafted by Galeffi, is actually a piece of driftwood from the beach in Italy.”
There are not many online references to Ernesto Galeffi (1917–1986), but there is a collection of his works at a small museum in Montevarchi, Italy.