Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Portrait of Pope Innocent X

White Carrara marble

The vaguely heroic expression of the Pope’s face shows a very different portrayal to the celebrated Velázquez painting in the same room, though the two pieces are almost contemporary. The comparison gives us a clear idea of positions that were stylistically very distant. This is the second version of the bust and was probably undertaken to replace the first, which is on display at the intersection of the first and fourth wings of the gallery. The first bust was marred by the appearance of a flaw in the stone, at the height of the beard, during carving. This incident also leads us to consider the exceptional speed with which Bernini produced his pieces, which were in constant demand at that time. A rapid execution was one of the artist’s criteria for judging a piece, and played a not insignificant role in the lyricism of his style.

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