Portrait of Pope Innocent X Pamphilj

White Carrara marble

Created around 1650 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the vaguely heroic expression of the Pope’s face shows a very different portrayal to the celebrated Velázquez painting in the same room, although the two pieces are almost contemporary. The great artist, while idealizing Innocent X’s character, maintained a liveliness and expressiveness in the Pontiff’s face. Bernini’s mastery of technique is revealed in the folds of the mozzetta (the short cape-like garment) and in the movement of the buttons. This is the second version of the bust and was probably undertaken to replace the first, which is on display in the First Wing of the Gallery. The first bust was marred by the appearance of a flaw in the stone, at the level 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 criteria for an artist’s evaluation, and played a significant role in the lyricism of his style.