Bust of Pope Paul V

The Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini made two Busts of Pope Paul V, where the first one is located in the Borghese Gallery in Rome. It was created in 1618. The second bust was purchased by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The bust was created in 1621, shortly after the death of Paul V, and commissioned by his nephew, Cardinal Scipione Borghese. In addition, there is a bronze version of this sculpture in the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Analysis

The Pope’s slight frown forms two wrinkles near the arch of the eyebrows, creating a more natural expression on his face, along with his eyes, in which the pupils have not been engraved. The vestment worn by the Pope is embellished with figures of Saints Peter and Paul on the two bands; it is fastened with a massive clasp that has a “pietra dura” in its center.

There were few portraits of Paul V. Moreover, because of its dimensions, which are smaller than life-size, the present bust is a desk-top sculpture. Nevertheless, when the Pope died, it may be compared to the bronze version, commissioned by Scipione Borghese and executed by Sebastiano Sebastiani in 1621.

Second Bust

For a long time, the second bust was considered lost. The Borghese family sold it in 1893, and an art historian marked its existence in Vienna in 1916. Later, no one knew about the presence of the bust until it appeared in an auction in Slovakia in 2014. The sculpture was in the private collection of the Slovakian artist Ernest Zmetak. The resident of Bratislava, Clement Guenebeaud, purchased it and then sold the bust via Sotheby’s to the current holders, the Getty Museum.

Interesting Facts

  1. Bernini created two versions of the bust with three years of difference
  2. The bust is made of marble with 78 cm in height (30 11/16 in.)
  3. The second version of the bust was considered lost for a long time
  4. There is a bronze version of this sculpture in the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen, Denmark
  5. The second bust was created in 1621, shortly after the death of Paul V, and lately, it was purchased by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles
Borghese Gallery in Rome,

Author: Gian Lorenzo Bernini

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Gian Lorenzo Bernini, as architect and city planner, designed secular buildings, churches, chapels, and public squares, as well as massive works combining both architecture and sculpture, incredibly elaborate public fountains and funerary monuments, and a whole series of temporary structures (in stucco and wood) for funerals and festivals.