Boy with a Dragon

Object Details


Boy with a Dragon


Pietro Bernini (Italian, 1562 - 1629)

and Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Italian, 1598 - 1680)




about 1617




55.9 x 52 x 41.5 cm, 19.2325 kg (22 x 20 1/2 x 16 5/16 in., 42.4 lb.)

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Pietro Bernini and his gifted son Gian Lorenzo carved this marble boy with a dragon for the palace of Maffeo Barberini, later Pope Urban VIII. The infant Hercules, who demonstrated his divine strength even as an infant by slaying poisonous serpents, appears here as a mischievous boy who smiles, sits on the dragon, and breaks its jaw with his bare hands. Common in Hellenistic statuary, the theme of Hercules and the serpent was revived in sculpture of the early 1600s.

This work was presented as a diplomatic gift by Cardinal Carlo Barberini, grandnephew of Pope Urban VIII, to King Philip V of Spain when he entered Naples in 1702.

about 1617

Commissioned by Cardinal Maffeo Barberini, later Pope Urban VIII, 1568 - 1644 (Palazzo Barberini, via dei Giubbonari, Rome), given to his brother, Don Carlo Barberini.

before 1628 - 1644

Don Carlo Barberini, 1562 - 1630 (Palazzo Barberini, via dei Giubbonari, Rome), by descent to his grandnephew, Cardinal Carlo Barberini, 1628.

by 1628 - 1702

Cardinal Carlo Barberini, 1630 - 1704, given as gift to the Spanish King, Philip V, 1702.

after 1702

Philip V King of Spain, 1683 - 1746

- 1905

Unknown [sold Galerie Sempe, Nice 1905 to Baron Lazzaroni]

1905 - 1934

Baron Michele Lazzaroni, 1863 - 1934 (Paris), by descent to his heirs, 1934.

1934 - 1955

Heirs of Baron Michele Lazzaroni, 1863 - 1934, sold to Francesco Romano, 1955.

1955 - 1966

Francesco Romano (Florence), sold to Irving and Marilyn Lavin, 1966.

1966 - 1987

Dr. Irving Lavin (Princeton, New Jersey)

1966 - 1987

and Marilyn Lavin (Princeton, New Jersey), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1987.


Biandini, F. Descrizione della solenne legazione del Cardinale Carlo Barberini a Filippo V..., P.E. Visconti, ed. (1703; Rome, 1858), p. 81.

Bulifon, A. Giornale del viaggo d'Italia dell'invittisimo e gloriosissimo monarca Filippo V, Re delle Spagne e di Napoli, etc. (Naples, 1703), p. 171.

Pollak, O. Die Kunsttätigkeit unter Urban VIII (Vienna, 1928-31), vol. 1, p. 334, no. 960.

Nava Cellini, A. "Un'opera di Pietro Bernini." Arte antica e moderna 13 (January- March 1961), pp. 288-90, pls. 130A-B, 131A.

Fagiolo dell'Arco, M., and M. Fagiolo dell'Arco. Bernini: Una introduzione al gran teatro del barocco (Rome: Bulzoni, 1967), no. 3.

Schlegel, U. "Zum Oeuvre des jungen Gian Lorenzo Bernini." Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen 9 (1967), pp. 274-94, pls. 1, 4.

Unsigned article. Life Magazine, 20 January 1967, pp. 69, 74.

Lavin, I. "Five New Youthful Sculptures by Gianlorenzo Bernini, and a Revised Chronology of His Early Works." Art Bulletin 50 (September 1968), pp. 229-32, pls. 16-19.

Brandi, C. L'attività giovanile di Gianlorenzo Bernini (Rome: Università degli Studi di Roma, 1969), pp. 20-22.

Fagiolo dell'Arco, M. "Gian Lorenzo Bernini." Storia dell'arte 1-2 (1969), pp. 195-200.

Kauffman, H. Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini (Berlin, 1970), IIFF., p. 44.

Pope-Hennessy, John. Italian High Renaissance and Baroque Sculpture (London and New York, 1970), p. 425.

Lavin, Marilyn Aronberg. Seventeenth-Century Barberini Documents and Inventories of Art (New York: New York University Press, 1975), p. 79, no. 120, p. 118, no. 120, p. 134, no. 110, p. 445, no. 454.

Raggio, O. "A New Bacchic Group by Bernini." Apollo 108 (December 1978), pp. 406, 411, 413, pls. 3, 13, 16.

dell'Arco, M. Fagiolo, and A. Cipriani. Bernini (Florence, 1981), p. 44, pl. 2.

Wittkower, R. Gian Lorenzo Bernini: The Sculptor of the Roman Baroque, 3rd. ed. (Oxford: Phaidon, 1981), p. 268, no. 81, p. 277, no. 81.

Nava Cellini, A. La scultura del seicento (Turin, 1982), p. 30.

J. Paul Getty Museum Calendar (March 1988), unpaginated.

"Acquisitions/1987." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 16 (1988), pp. 184-85, no. 85.

Bacchi, Andrea, ed. Sculture dal XV al XIX secolo della collezione di Federico Zeri, exh. cat. (Milan: Museo Poldi Pezzoli; Bergamo: Accademia Carrera, 1989), p. 30.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991), p. 211.

Bacchi, Andrea, ed. Scultura del'600 a Roma (Milan, 1996), p. 777, pl. 86.

Avery, Charles. Bernini: Genius of the Baroque (London: Thames & Hudson, 1997), pp. 20-24.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 4th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 254, ill.

Fusco, Peter. Summary Catalogue of European Sculpture in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 4, ill.

Marder, T.A. Bernini and the Art of Architecture (New York, London, and Paris, 1998), pp. 84-85.

Bernardini, Maria Grazia, and Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco. Gian Lorenzo Bernini: Regista del barocco, exh. cat. (Rome: Palazzo Venezia, with Skira, 1999), pp. 67, 72 (entry by Andrea Bacchi).

Fagiolo dell'Arco, M. L'immagine al potere: Vita di Giovan Lorenzo Bernini (Rome: Ed. Laterza, 2001), pp. 28, 303, pl. 28.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 254, ill.

Pierguidi, Stefano. "Bellori e i putti nella scultura del Seicento." In Marburger Jahrbuch für Kunstwissenschaft 39 (2012), pp. 159-160, fig. 3.

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