Skip to Main Content


The order to portray a subject who had died decades earlier did not faze Bernini. Working from a painting, the soon-to-be famous baroque artist summoned up the beloved uncle of his friend Matteo Barberini, newly elected Pope Urban VIII. Bernini chose a massive but harmonious bust form, with the truncation below echoing the arc of the slightly turning shoulders. Shadows play over Francesco's aged face, especially in the sunken temples and beneath the bushy eyebrows. The sculptor's drill has pierced dark wells in the beard. Through movement, varied textures, and manipulation of light, Bernini contrived to animate the image of a man he had never seen in life.


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

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 Collection 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.
Walker, John, Guy Emerson, and Charles Seymour. 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.
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).
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 130, repro.
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.
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.
Middeldorf, Ulrich. Sculptures from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools, XIV-XIX Century. London, 1976: 80.
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.
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.
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.
Montagu, Jennifer. "Busts and their Bases." Sculpture Journal 20.2 (2011): 155-161, esp. 157, repro. 190.
Ostrow, Steven F. “Giovanni Angelo Frumenti and his tomb in S. Maria Maggiore: a proposed new work by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.” The Burlington Magazine 158 (July 2016): 518-528, esp. 526.
Dickerson III, C.D. "The Sculpture Collection: Shaping a Vision, Expanding a Legacy." National Gallery of Art Bulletin 56 (Spring 2017): 15-16, repro.

Related Content

  • Sort by:
  • Results layout:
Show  results per page
The image compare list is empty.