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Portrait Medallion of Pope Alexander VIII
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This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

Lorenzo Ottoni
Italian, 1690s
White marble medallion mounted on a bigio antico marble base
H: 35 x W: 17 1/2 x D: 13 1/2 x Diam.: 13 1/2 in.
95.SA.9

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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.

Detail Views

Double-headed eagle
Double-headed eagle


Other Views

Side view
Side view