Overview

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.

Inscription

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Marks and Labels

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Provenance

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;[1] sold to (Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, Florence); sold July 1950 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;[2] gift 1961 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1982
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.
1999
Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Regista del Barocco, Palazzo Venezia, Rome, 1999, no. 48, repro.
2008
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.

Bibliography

1948
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)
1955
Wittkower, Rudolf. Gian Lorenzo Bernini: The Sculptor of the Roman Baroque. London, 1955:14, 189, cat. no. 24, repro.
1956
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.
1959
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 438, repro.
1961
Seymour, Charles. Art Treasures for America: An Anthology of Paintings & Sculpture in the Samuel H. Kress Collection. London, 1961: 153, fig. 143-144.
1963
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.
1965
Hibbard, Howard. Bernini. Baltimore and Hammondsworth, 1965: 88-89, repro.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 146.
1967
D'Onofrio, Cesare. Roma vista da Roma. Rome, 1967: 21, 168 fig. 83, 434 n.9.
1967
Fagiolo dell'Arco, Maurizio and Marcello. Bernini: una introduzione al gran teatro del barocco. Rome, 1967: repro. pl. 45.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 130, repro.
1968
Lavin, Irving. "Five New Youthful Sculptures by Gianlorenzo Bernini and a Revised Chronology of his Early Works." The Art Bulletin 50, no. 3 (September 1968): 223-248, repro. pl. 52-53. (Reprinted in Irving Lavin. Visible Spirit: the art of Gianlorenzo Bernini. 2 vols., London, 2007: 1: 186-286, esp. 264-267, repro 253 (figs. 52-53).
1968
Raggio, Olga. "Review of J. Pope-Hennessey Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 1964." The Art Bulletin 50, no. 1 (March 1968): 98-105.
1970
Arnoldi, Francesco Negri. "Scultura Italiana al Victoria and Albert Museum." Commentari XXI (July-September 1970): 205.
1971
Middeldorf, Ulrich. "Bernini's Portrait of Francesco Barberini." The Burlington Magazine 113 (1971): 544.
1975
Lavin, Marilyn Aronberg. Seventeeth-Century Barberini Documents and Inventories of Art. New York, 1975: 78, no. 85.
1976
Middeldorf, Ulrich. Sculptures from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools, XIV-XIX Century. London, 1976: 80.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 639, no. 1000, repro.
1989
Harris, Ann Sutherland. "Bernini and Virginio Cesarini." The Burlington Magazine 131 (January 1989): 17-23, repro. fig. 22.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 298, repro.
1994
Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1994: 29, repro.
1994
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.
1996
Bacchi, Andrea and Susanna Zanuso, eds. Scultura del '600 a Roma. Milan, 1996: 141-142, repro., 780.
1996
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.
1997
Avery, Charles. Bernini: Genius of the Baroque. Boston, 1997: 84-85, repro.
1997
Dombrowski, Damian. Giuliano Finelli. Bildauer zwischen Neapel und Rom.. Frankfurt am Main and New York, 1997: 21, 38, 43.
1997
Wittkower, Rudolf. Gian Lorenzo Bernini: The Sculptor of the Roman Baroque. 4th ed. London, 1997:88, 246, cat. no. 24a, repro.
2000
National Gallery of Art Special Issue. Connaissance des Arts. Paris, 2000: 59, repro. 60, 61.
2008
Penny, Nicholas. "The Evolution of the Plinth, Pedestal, and Socle." In Collecting Sculpture in Early Modern Europe. Nicholas Penny and Eike D. Schmidt, eds. Studies in the History of Art 70, Symposium Papers 47 (2008): 468, 479 n. 47.
2009
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.

Conservation Notes

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