The sternly reserved expression of this portrait bust may come as a surprise in a work of the great baroque sculptor and architect Bernini. The restrained treatment must owe something to the fact that the sculptor was working not from a living subject but from the painted portrait of a man who had died in 1600, when Bernini was two years old. Around 1623 Bernini's good friend Maffeo Barberini, the newly elected Pope Urban VIII, commissioned busts of his family, including this beloved uncle.
With the needs of his patron in mind, Bernini created a noble and dignified paternal presence in the ancient Roman tradition of ancestral portraiture. He chose a bust form that includes most of the chest, and curved the truncation to echo the arch of the spreading shoulders, producing an effect both of harmony and imposing physical bulk. Shadows play over Francesco's aged face, especially in the sunken temples, and beneath the bushy eyebrows. The sagging flesh of the cheeks appears soft and pliant. The sculptor's drill has pierced dark wells between the tufts of the silky beard. The mantle falls in broad folds that contrast with the crinkly pleats of the surplice below. These varied forms and textures show how successfully Bernini strove to compensate for marble's lack of color.
Marks and Labels
Cardinal Francesco Barberini [1597-1679], Rome; Palazzo Barberini alle Quatro Fontaine, Rome, by 1627; transferred 1635 to the Barberini's Palazzo alla Cancelleria, Rome; returned to Palazzo Barberini alle Quatro Fontane, Rome, until at least 1948; sold to (Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, Florence); sold July 1950 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1961 to NGA.
- The Art of Gianlorenzo Bernini: Selected Sculpture (Loan for display with permanent collection in conjunction with the exhibition Bernini Drawings from Leipzig), Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, 1982, no. 14, repro.
- Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Regista del Barocco, Palazzo Venezia, Rome, 1999, no. 48, repro.
- Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 2008-2009, no. 2.2, repro.
- Baldinucci, Filippo. Vita di Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Con l’inedita vita del Baldinucci, scritta dal figlio Francesco Saverio. Studio e note di Sergio Samek Ludovi. Milan, 1948: 176. (Originally published as Vita del Cavaliere Gio. Lorenzo Bernini. Florence, 1682)
- Wittkower, Rudolf. Gian Lorenzo Bernini: The Sculptor of the Roman Baroque. London, 1955:14, 189, cat. no. 24, repro.
- Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Colllection Acquired by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation 1951-56. Introduction by John Walker, text by William E. Suida and Fern Rusk Shapley. National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1956: 214, no. 85, repro., as Cardinal Francesco Barberini.
- Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 438, repro.
- Seymour, Charles. Art Treasures for America: An Anthology of Paintings & Sculpture in the Samuel H. Kress Collection. London, 1961: 153, fig. 143-144.
- Pope-Hennessy, John. An Introduction to Italian Sculpture. 3 vols. London and Greenwich, Connecticut, 1963: 3: Italian High Renaissance and Baroque Sculpture: part 1:122-123; part 2: pl. 144; part 3:123, 127.
- Hibbard, Howard. Bernini. Baltimore and Hammondsworth, 1965: 88-89, repro.
- Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 146.
- D'Onofrio, Cesare. Roma vista da Roma. Rome, 1967: 21, 168 fig. 83, 434 n.9.
- Fagiolo dell'Arco, Maurizio and Marcello. Bernini: una introduzione al gran teatro del barocco. Rome, 1967: repro. pl. 45.
- European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 130, repro.
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- Arnoldi, Francesco Negri. "Scultura Italiana al Victoria and Albert Museum." Commentari XXI (July-September 1970): 205.
- Middeldorf, Ulrich. "Bernini's Portrait of Francesco Barberini." The Burlington Magazine 113 (1971): 544.
- Lavin, Marilyn Aronberg. Seventeeth-Century Barberini Documents and Inventories of Art. New York, 1975: 78, no. 85.
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- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 639, no. 1000, repro.
- Harris, Ann Sutherland. "Bernini and Virginio Cesarini." The Burlington Magazine 131 (January 1989): 17-23, repro. fig. 22.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 298, repro.
- Martinelli, Valentino. Gian Lorenzo Bernni e la sua cerchia: Studie e contributi (1950-1990). Naples, 1994: 91, 92, 162, 164n, 168, 169, 281, 489, 496, repro.
- Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1994: 29, repro.
- Bacchi, Andrea and Susanna Zanuso, eds. Scultura del '600 a Roma. Milan, 1996: 141-142, repro., 780.
- Pope-Hennessy, John. An Introduction to Italian Sculpture. 4th edition. 3 vols. London, 1996: 3: Italian High Renaissance and Baroque Sculpture: 398-400, 407, 519, 523, repro. 398, pl. 375.
- Avery, Charles. Bernini: Genius of the Baroque. Boston, 1997: 84-85, repro.
- Dombrowski, Damian. Giuliano Finelli. Bildauer zwischen Neapel und Rom.. Frankfurt am Main and New York, 1997: 21, 38, 43.
- Wittkower, Rudolf. Gian Lorenzo Bernini: The Sculptor of the Roman Baroque. 4th ed. London, 1997:88, 246, cat. no. 24a, repro.
- National Gallery of Art Special Issue. Connaissance des Arts. Paris, 2000: 59, repro. 60, 61.
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- Bacchi, Andrea, Tomaso Montanari, Beatrice Paolozzi Strozzi and Dimitrios Zikos, eds. I marmi vivi. Bernini e la nascita del ritratto barocco. Exh. cat. Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, 2009: 13, 40, 93, 141, 173, 232, 238, 345 no. A.14, repro.
Work of Art
Work of Art
- Event Name
- March 1–June 1
- Mon, Tues, and Wed at 1:00
- March 5, 2012 at 2:00
March 7, 2012 at 4:00
- East Building, Auditorium
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- 60 minutes
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- Italian Collection