Bust of Pope Paul V

Object Details

Title:

Bust of Pope Paul V

Artist/Maker:

Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Italian, 1598 - 1680)

Culture:

Italian

Place:

Italy, Europe (Place created)

Date:

1621

Medium:

Marble

Dimensions:

78 cm (30 11/16 in.)

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Gian Lorenzo Bernini was just twenty-three years old when he received one of his first commissions to make a full-sized bust of Pope Paul V, the recently deceased uncle of his most important patron, Cardinal Scipione Borghese.

In this two-and-a-half foot marble portrait, Bernini depicts the pope almost bareheaded, his hair styled in the "tonsure of St. Peter," a practice that signified the renunciation of worldly fashion, and dressed in traditional pontifical vestments. The thick cope covering his shoulders is richly decorated with embroidery of the patron saints of Rome, the Apostles Peter (holding his keys and a book) and Paul (holding the sword of his martyrdom and a book).

While he is robed in the garments of the papacy, Pope Paul V gazes at the viewer with a natural expression, his face individualized by the slight turn of his head, the delicate contours of his forehead and the tiny wrinkles carved around his eyes.

At this time, Bernini is already making the dynamic sculptures for which he will become famous, yet here his subject requires restraint. The artist's subdued dynamism can best be seen in the folds of drapery at the sitter's left shoulder, suggesting his body moves underneath.

This bust was kept in the Village Borghese in Rome until 1893 and then sold. Its whereabouts have been unknown until its rediscovery in late 2014.

Art + Ideas Podcast: In the Galleries: Borghese-Windsor Cabinet and Bust of Pope Paul V

Provenance
1621 - 1633

Cardinal Scipione Borghese, Italian, 1577 - 1633 (Villa Borghese, Rome, Italy), commissioned from the artist, 1621; by inheritance within the Borghese family.
Source: Faldi, 1953, published the payments to Bernini, dated from June and September 1621.

1633 - 1893

Borghese Family, Italian [sold, premises of Vincenzo Capobianchi, auction organized by art dealer Giacomini, Rome, Mar. 13-24, 1893, lot 640, to private collector in Vienna, Austria]
Source: In the 1893 auction catalogue, the bust is described as a bust of Paul V by Alessandro Algardi.

1893 - still in 1916

Private Collection (Vienna, Austria)
Source: Information provided by Faldi, 1953, who did not know the location of the bust at that date.

1960s - 2004

Ernest Zmetàk, Slovakian, 1919 - 2004, by inheritance to his heirs.

2004 - 2014

Heirs of Ernest Zmetàk, Slovakian, 1919 - 2004 [unsold, Soga auction 114, Bratislava, Dec. 3, 2013, lot. 144; unsold, Soga auction 118, Bratislava, Sept. 23, 2014, lot. 200; sold through Soga, Bratislava, to private collector (Slovakia), 2014]
Source: In both the Soga auction catalogues the bust is described as "Bust of Pope, after Gian Lorenzo Bernini, about 1880."

2014 - 2015

Private Collection, on consignment to Sotheby's (London), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum by private treaty sale, 2015.

Bibliography

Giacomo Manilli, Villa Borghese Fuori di Porta Pinciana, Rome 1650, p. 73.

Domenico Montelatici, Villa Borghese Fuori di Porta Pinciana, Rome 1700, p. 231 (pl. between pp. 232 and 233).

Vincenzo Capobianchi, Catalogue des marbres antiques et des objects d'art formant le Pavillon de l'Horloge à la Villa Borghèse (place de Sienne) à Rome, provenant de l'héritage des princes Borghèse…, Rome, 1893, lot 640, p. 99, pl. X.

Antonio Muñoz. "Studi sul Bernini." in L'Arte, XIX (1916), pp. 99-103, fig. 3.

Italo Faldi, "Note sulle sculture borghesiane del Bernini", in Bollettino d'Arte, XXXVIII, 1953, pp. 143, 146.

Italo Faldi, "Nuove note sul Bernini", in Bollettino d'Arte, XXXVIII, 1953, pp. 311-312, 314, fig. 1.

Italo Faldi, Galleria Borghese. Le sculture dal secolo XVI al XIX, Rome 1954, p. 26.

Valentino Martinelli, "I busti berniniani di Paolo V, Gregorio XV e Clemente X", in Studi Romani, III, 6, 1955, republished in V. Martinelli, Gian Lorenzo Bernini e la sua cerchia. Studi e contributi (1950-1990), Perugia 1994, pp. 123-124, pl. LXXX.

Rudolph Wittkower, Gian Lorenzo Bernini the sculptor of the roman baroque, Oxford 1955, p. 177, n. 6 (2).

Valentino Martinelli, I ritratti di pontefici di Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Istituto di Studi Romani, Rome 1956, pp. 13-14, pl. II.

Valentino Martinelli, "Gian Lorenzo Bernini", in Enciclopedia Universale dell'Arte, II, ed. Sansoni, Florence 1959, edition 1994, p. 281.

Fagiolo dell'Arco, M., and M. Fagiolo dell'Arco. Bernini: Una introduzione al gran teatro del barocco (Rome: Bulzoni, 1967), no. 16.

Cesare D'Onofrio, Roma vista da Roma, Rome 1967, pp. 277-278, 281-282.

Maria Teresa De Lotto, in Bernini in Vaticano, exhibition catalogue, Città del Vaticano, Braccio di Carlo Magno, May-July 1981, Rome 1981, pp. 99-100.

Charles Avery, Bernini: Genius of the Baroque, London 1997, p. 39.

Damian Dombrowski, Giuliano Finelli. Bildhauer zwischen Neapel und Rom, Frankfurt am Main-New York 1997, p. 21, 291.

Coliva, Anna, and Sebastian Schütze, eds. Bernini scultore: La nascita del barocco in Casa Borghese, exh. cat. (Rome: Villa Borghese, with Edizioni De Luca, 1998), pp. 107, 108, entry by Anna Coliva.

Philipp Zitzlsperger, Gianlorenzo Bernini: Die Papst-und Herrschrporträts; Zum Verhältnis von Bildnis und Macht, Munich 2002, p. 163, fig. 24.

Bacchi, Andrea, Catherine Hess, and Jennifer Montagu, eds., with the assistance of Anne-Lise Desmas, Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008), pp. 93, 94, fig.1.3.1, 103, entry by Andrea Bacchi.

Andrea Bacchi, A.-L. Desmas, "Checklist of Bernini's portrait busts", in Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture, exhibition catalogue, eds. A. Bacchi, C. Hess, J. Montagu, (Los Angeles, The J. P. Getty Museum, 5 Aug.-26 Oct. 2008; Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, 28 Nov. 2008-6 Mar. 2009), Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Trust, 2008, p. 284, no. A5a, ill.

Andrea Bacchi, A.-L. Desmas, "Busti-ritratto di Bernini / Repertorio", in I marmi vivi. Bernini e la nascita del ritratto barocco, exhibition catalogue, eds. A. Bacchi, T. Montanari, B. Paolozzi Strozzi, D. Zikos (Florence, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, 3 Apr.-12 Jul. 2009), Florence: Giunti, 2009, p. 343, no. A5a, ill.