Portrait medallion of Pope Alexander VIII (1610 - 1691; reigned 1689 - 1691)

Object Details


Portrait medallion of Pope Alexander VIII (1610 - 1691; reigned 1689 - 1691)


Lorenzo Ottoni (Italian, 1648 - 1726)




Italy (Place created)




White marble medallion mounted on a bigio antico marble base


88.9 x 44.5 x 34.3 x 34.3 cm (35 x 17 1/2 x 13 1/2 x 13 1/2 in.)

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Projecting from a white marble medallion, the face of the popular octogenarian Pope Alexander III looks out with informal candor. The medallion format, usually reserved for tomb monuments, here was chosen to represent a still-living figure. The pope wears a non-liturgical cap and cape usually worn for informal audiences. His smooth clothing contrasts with his sagging, aging flesh. This un-idealized, casual image is very rare in papal portraiture of the 1600s.

Both the base and the double-headed eagle, symbol of the Pope's Ottoboni family, were carved from a single piece of bigio antico marble. The sculptor skillfully manipulated the color of the stone so that the white-and-gray veined portion comprised the base while the darker, black-and-gray part of the stone was used for the eagle.

The sculpture was a gift from Cardinal Francesco Barberini, whom Alexander had made a cardinal in 1690.


"Acquisitions/1995." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 24 (1996), p. 138, no. 88.

Fusco, Peter. Summary Catalogue of European Sculpture in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 38, ill.