The J. Paul Getty Museum

Bust of Maria Cerri Capranica

Object Details


Bust of Maria Cerri Capranica


Attributed to Alessandro Algardi (Italian, 1598 - 1654)




Italy (Place Created)


about 1640



Object Number:



90 × 61.3 × 29.2 cm, 114.76 kg (35 7/16 × 24 1/8 × 11 1/2 in., 253 lb.)

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Object Description

Maria Cerri Capranica is dressed in a velvet gown with an elaborate lace collar, clothing befitting a young noblewoman. Her elegant outfit is complemented by an array of jewelry--a long strand of pearls, a necklace set with precious stones, a pendant with a small relief of the Holy Family, and pearl drop earrings. The sitter was clearly a woman of status and affluence, and the sculptor depicted her with a powerful and distinctive psychological presence.

The fine details of the sitter's costume, jewelry, and hairstyle display a true mastery of marble carving. Cerri's intricate coiffure--a mass of curls ornamented with loops of satiny ribbon--falls gracefully around her face. Algardi sculpted the delicate lace mantle in low relief with subtle contours that reveal how the garment fell around the sitter's shoulders. The strand of pearls, which weaves across the sitter's chest and around her sash, is carved entirely in the round. The attention given to her lace and jewelry makes this as much a portrait of her accessories as of the subject herself.

Married in 1637, Maria Cerri and Bartolomeo Capranica were from prominent Roman families. A coat of arms identifying both families appears at the base of the sculpture. Cerri died at the age of twenty-five in 1643.


Possibly Lewis & Simmons (Paris, 622 Place Vendôme, France)
Source: inscription on the back of a photo of the bust kept in the Zeri archives

- 1936

Sir Robert Henry Edward Abdy, 5th Bart., English, 1896 - 1976 (Newton Ferrers, Callington Cornwall, England) [sold, Sotheby's, London, May 28, 1936, lot 34, to William Permain.]

1936 -

Mr. William Permain, English, (London, England), sold to William Randolph Hearst.

before 1939

William Randolph Hearst, American, 1863 - 1951 (Saint Donats Castle, Wales)

by 1952 - 1953

Mary Bellis, English, (Charnham Close, Hungerford, Berkshire (England)), sold to Leggatt Brothers, London, England, 1953.
Source: Advertisment on the Connoisseur dated November 1952

- 1953

Leggatt Brothers (London, England)

by 1964 -
- 1999

Carlos de Bestegui (Château de Groussay, France) [sold, Sotheby's, Château de Groussay, June 3, 1999, lot 460, to Daniel Katz, Ltd.]

1999 - 2000

Daniel Katz Ltd. (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2000.

Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture (August 5 to March 8, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), August 5 to October 26, 2008
  • National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), November 28, 2008 to March 8, 2009

Sotheby's London. Catalogue of Important Pictures and Works of Art, The Property of Sir Robert Abdy, Bt. May 28, 1936, p. 10, lot 34, ill.

Granville Fell, H. "Some topics of the moment." Connoisseur 103, no. 451 (March 1939), p. 165, ill. [as "marble bust, possibly of Isabella Celsi, Italian mid-seventeenth century, collection of W.R. Hearts, Esq."].

Mary Bellis advertisement. Connoisseur 130, no. 528 (November 1952), p. XXXVII, ill. [as Italian marble bust of a lady, possibly Isabella Celsi, early 17th century].

Lockhead, Stuart, ed. Daniel Katz: European Sculpture, exh. cat. (London: Daniel Katz Ltd., 2000), no. 32, entry by Johannes Auersperg [as "Giuliano Finelli, portrait of a young noblewoman, Isabella Celsi de Capranica].

Fogelman, Peggy, and Peter Fusco, with Marietta Cambareri. Italian and Spanish Sculpture: Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002), pp. 208-16, no. 26, entry by Marietta Cambareri [as "Bust of a Noblewoman," Giuliano Finelli, 1630s].

Fagiolo dell'Arco, M. Berniniana. Novità sul regista del Barocco (Milan: Skira, 2002), p. 59, fig. 24 [as "Isabelli Celsi di Capranica" by Giuliano Finelli, ca. 1627].

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), pp. 204-5, ill. [as Giuliano Finelli, and dated 1637-ca. 1643].

Levkoff, M. L. "The little-known American provenance of some well-known European sculptures." In La sculpture en Occident. Etudes offertes à Jean-René Gaborit. Geneviève Bresc-Bautier ed. (Dijon: Faton, 2007), pp. 295, 303, fig. 1 [as bust of an aristocratic lady, attributed to Giuliano Finelli].

Levkoff, Mary L. Hearst, the Collector, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with Abrams, 2008), pp. 99, 104, fig. 5.8 [as "Portrait of a Lady, possibly Maria Cerri Capranica, attributed to Giuliano Finelli, c. 1637-43"].

Bacchi, Andrea, Catherine Hess, Anne-Lise Desmas, and Jennifer Montagu, eds. Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008), pp. 222-25, no. 5.7, entry by Andrea Bacchi and Catherine Hess [as "Portrait of Maria Cerri Capranica, attributed to Giuliano Finelli, ca. 1640"].

Bacchi, Andrea, Catherine Hess, and Jennifer Montagu, eds., with the assistance of Anne-Lise Desmas. Bernini et la naissance du portrait sculpté de style baroque, exh. cat. (Ottawa: Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada, with J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008), pp. 222-25, no. 5.7, entry by Andrea Bacchi and Catherine Hess [as "Portrait of Maria Cerri Capranica, attributed to Giuliano Finelli, ca. 1640"].

Bacchi, Andrea, and Catherine Hess. "A Proposed Attribution to Alessandro Algardi: Maria Cerri Capranica at the J. Paul Getty Museum." Sculpture Journal 20, no. 2 (2011), pp. 117-17, fig. 1, 4 [as ca. 1640].

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 8th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015), p. 253, ill.