You are on page 1of 1548

vi

s
i
ble

s
pi
ri
t

I
r
vi
ngLa
vi
n

Visible Spirit
The Art of
Gianlorenzo Bernini
Vol. I
Irving Lavin

The Pindar Press


London 2007

Published by The Pindar Press


40 Narcissus Road
London NW6 1TH UK

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data


A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 978-1-899828-39-5 (hb)


ISBN 978-1-904597-54-4 (pb)

Printed by
Estudios Grficos ZURE
48950 Erandio
Spain

This book is printed on acid-free paper

Contents
Foreword

Review of Rudolf Wittkower, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The


Sculptor of the Roman Baroque

II

Bernini and the Theater

15

III

Bozzetti and Modelli. Notes on sculptural Procedure


from the Early Renaissance through Bernini

33

IV

Bernini and the Crossing of Saint Peters

62

Five New Youthful Sculptures by Gianlorenzo Bernini


and a revised Chronology of his Early Works

186

VI

Berninis Death

287

VII

VIII

Afterthoughts on Berninis Death

354

Letter to the Editor on a review by Howard Hibbard of


Bernini and the Crossing of St. Peters

371

IX

Calculated Spontaneity. Bernini and the Terracotta


Sketch

376

On the Pedestal of Berninis Bust of the Savior

393

XI

High and Low before their Time: Bernini and


the Art of Social Satire

397

XII

Berninis Memorial Plaque for Carlo Barberini

469

XIII

Berninis Baldachin: Considering a Reconsideration

480

XIV

Berninis Bust of Cardinal Montalto

496

XV

Berninis Cosmic Eagle

509

XVI

Berninis Image of the Sun King

524

Lavin I. Revised:CHAPTER 24

13/8/07

05:55

Page 1

Review of Rudolf Wittkower, Gian Lorenzo


Bernini, The Sculptor of the Roman Baroque*

HE modern Bernini revival may be said to date from a great exhibition


of his work held in Rome at the turn of the present century. On that
occasion Stanislau Fraschetti, a Venturi disciple, produced the weighty
volume which has remained fundamental to Bernini research ever since.
The quantities of documentary and broadly historical data the work contains, however, do not disguise a pervasive flaw; Fraschetti rather
disapproved of Berninis art, or at least his perception of it was obscured by
the lingering theoretical prejudices of an earlier age. This was the objection
raised, and probably somewhat overstated, by the great Riegl, whose
lectures on Baldinuccis Vita, published posthumously, reflect a much
deeper and more sympathetic insight.
In the rich bibliography on Bernini which has accumulated since that
time, two contributions are outstanding. Years of meticulous labour in the
labyrinthine archives of Rome, actually only begun and never wholly published, resulted ultimately (1927, 1931) in the Kunstttigkeit unter Urban
VIII of Oskar Pollak. Devoted entirely to the documents of artistic production in Rome under Urban VIII, these two volumes provided the historian
of Roman Baroque art, and of Bernini in particular, with a foundation in
fact of paradigmatic breadth and reliability. The second major event was the
joint publication in 1931 by Professor Wittkower, who had participated in
the edition of Pollaks material, and Heinrich Brauer, of Berninis sizeable
*

Review of Rudolf Wittkower, Gian Lorenzo Bernini: The Sculptor of the Roman Baroque,
New York, Phaidon, 1955, pp. 255, 107, Figs., 122 Pls.

Lavin I. Revised:CHAPTER 24

13/8/07

05:55

Page 2

legacy of drawings. In addition to presenting much new material, both


visual and documentary, this was the first really comprehensive attempt to
understand Berninis art through the medium of his preparatory studies.
Professor Wittkowers new monograph on Berninis sculpture thus
appears against a somewhat lopsided historiographical setting. For while
considerable development was taking place on the Continent, Bernini had
hardly been introduced to the English-speaking public, scholarly or otherwise. One cause of this situation, and a formidable obstacle in the way of
its correction, was the traditional Anglo-Saxon penchant for reticence and
understatement in aesthetic matters; a laudable sentiment in some respects
perhaps, but profoundly unberninesque. To meet the challenge, a neat summary and sound exposition, in English, was very much in order. It required
however, an author possessing at least one very special characteristic
absolute mastery of the truly formidable body of available information.
Needless to say, such individuals are exceedingly rare; indeed, Wittkower
may well be the only living example. Publication of any work by Wittkower
has come to be recognized as an important event in the realm of art
history. All factors have combined to make this especially true on the
present occasion.
The books arrangement follows a pattern by now well-established in the
Phaidon monographs. There is a brief text, a more elaborate catalogue
raisonn, and a copious body of illustrations which includes large plates as
well as smaller supplementary figures.
The text is barely forty-three pages long; when we consider that it has to
interpret the sculptural production of an artist whose career covered two
generations, the extraordinary difficulties of the undertaking become apparent. The author has chosen to divide the material into typological
groups, such as religious imagery; tombs and chapels, etc., which are discussed in a total of seven chapters. The reader is thereby spared the flood of
monuments with which he would be faced in a purely chronological treatment; such a treatment would only mislead him in any case, since
simultaneous undertakings, often widely divergent in character, were the
rule rather than the exception in Berninis studio. But most important, the
typological plan illustrates the constancy of certain kinds of problems
throughout Berninis development. And since Wittkower conceives of
Bernini as the great revolutionary, the destroyer of barriers par excellence, he
can the more readily describe which barriers were destroyed in each category, and by what means. His formal analyses are confined mainly to the first

Lavin I. Revised:CHAPTER 24

13/8/07

05:55

Page 3

THE SCULPTURES OF GIAN LORENZO BERNINI

level of visual experience, dipping only when necessary into the infinite
subtleties that lie beneath. He is thus ever-cognizant of the uninitiated, for
whom he also defines with refreshing lucidity the peculiar visual and
ideological terms in which Berninis art must be understood.
The first chapter concerns Berninis juvenilia. Discussion of these works
is always crucial, since in them Bernini perpetrated his very first revolution;
namely, that of resurrecting, before he was twenty-five, the entire moribund
tradition of Roman sculpture. The need for a new general account of
Berninis youthful development has been rendered urgent in recent years by
the researches of Italo Faldi, in the Borghese collection of the Vaticans
Archivio Segreto; these findings have necessitated several conspicuous modifications in the canonical chronology of the Borghese figures. The most
notable change involves the David; instead of 1619, as had been thought
since Venturis day, it must actually have been made ca. 1623, and thus
comes after rather than before the Rape of Proserpine. The Apollo and
Daphne, moreover, is not several years after the David, but contemporary
with it, begun before and finished afterward. Once the point has been
made, it becomes difficult to see how the Pluto and Proserpine could ever
have been considered later than the David, so natural is the development in
the opposite direction. Indeed, the entire evolution represented by the
Borghese sculptures becomes much more meaningful, a fact which emerges
clearly from Professor Wittkowers account.
Bernini advanced during this period with prodigious rapidity. In the few
years that separate the Aeneas and Anchises from the Rape of Proserpine, he had
already fought and won a major engagement. Accurate realistic observation and
genuine classical influence subordinated to Annibales disciplined interpretation
of the antique that was the formula by which Bernini rid his style of the last
vestiges of Mannerism. A certain optimum is reached almost immediately thereafter in the David, where the thin but impenetrable veil of consciousness that had
separated representation from reality falls, and the two worlds freely intermingle.
This quality is less pronounced in the Apollo and Daphne, (initiated, be it
remembered, before the David ), but is replaced by a keener penetration of
psychophysical dynamics which contrasts with the classicizing abstraction of the
whole, and points unmistakably into the future. Wittkower summarizes Berninis
achievements in these early works in one splendid sentence which bespeaks the
essence of his own contributions during a lifetime of thought, as well as the
insights gained by a major segment of art-historical endeavour during the past
fifty years (p. 8).

Lavin I. Revised:CHAPTER 24

13/8/07

05:55

Page 4

Berninis figures of religious subjects are considered in the following


chapter. His effort in this area involved primarily an adaptation of the
dynamic energy and external focus attained earlier to the problems of spiritual expressiveness. At first individually, as in the St. Bibiana and St.
Longinus, and then in complementary pairs, like Daniel and Habakkuk,
Mary Magdalene and St. Jerome, Bernini contrasts the varieties of religious
experience that were as categories inherent in the Baroque mentality.
Herein seems to lie the secret of Berninis spectacular success: it is through
emotional identification with the mood symbolized in a figure that the
faithful are led to submit to the ethos of the triumphant CounterReformation. In every case Wittkower explores the means whereby this effect of empathetical association is produced. He also demonstrates, in
discussing the Beata Lodovica Albertoni, the changes that took place with
Berninis late development. Whereas the mature works are constructed
primarily with diagonals, the dominating system here is one of verticals and
horizontals. This principle Wittkower considers to be essentially classical,
and he connects it with a general turn toward the austere and classical in
several of the major Baroque artists around 1660.
The chapter on Berninis portraits, together with the related entries in
the catalogue, may easily constitute the most enduring scholarly contribution in the book. Nowhere better than in his portraits did Bernini reveal
himself the archenemy of traditions injunctions. Yet, the subject has long
cried for adequate treatment. Wittkower discusses incisively the critical
development that occurs at the period of the Longinus, in the portraits of
Scipione Borghese and Costanze Bonarelli. Here Bernini formulates that
expansive, extroverted type which astounds by the immediacy of its contact,
and catches the entire age in a moment unawares. Once achieved, this uncanny spontaneity was never lost, animating the Baker and Orsini busts in
the teeth of studio assistance and a certain tendency to abstraction and
planar simplication. Even these were but an overture to the concerti grossi
Bernini fashioned in the portraits of Francesco I dEste and Louis XIV. Less
momentary perhaps, but more monumental and grandiose, they fully
realize Berninis unique conception of the general cause vested in a great
and powerful personality.
The basic problem arising in connection with Berninis work for St.
Peters, discussed in the next chapter, is the extent to which the ultimate results were the product of a unified preconceived plan. Probably there will
never be a precise answer to this question, since available evidence is con-

Lavin I. Revised:CHAPTER 24

13/8/07

05:55

Page 5

THE SCULPTURES OF GIAN LORENZO BERNINI

flicting. Two things are certain, however: that a complete transformation of


the whole complex was envisaged from the outset, and that Bernini
succeeded in harmonizing the disparate contributions of a host of enterprises which date back as far as the fifteenth century. To convey a sense of
this unity, Wittkower turns cicerone and takes the reader on a tour that
begins at the east side of the Tiber and ends before the vast, culminating
spectacle of the Cattedra Petri. He creates a series of images filled with
nostalgia for those who have been there, and envy for those who may have
tried to verbalize their impressions in a few short sentences. The Cattedra
Petri climaxes the whole, he emphasizes, through a complete fusion of
colours, materials, and levels of relief; this fusion serves one overwhelming
purpose, that of drawing the observer inexorably into a world which he
shares with saints and angels.
In his chapels, which are treated in the fifth chapter, Berninis primary
effort again was to eliminate arbitrary visual and spiritual impediments that
hinder the spectators participation in the event portrayed. In the Cornaro
chapel, for example, he establishes at least three realms of existence:
members of the Cornaro family who appear in loges at the chapels sides, a
very literal depiction of St. Theresas vision as she herself described it, and
the glory of angels above. Bernini then proceeds by every possible means,
including a concealed source of light, to interrelate these three realities so
that the worshiper can communicate directly with personages whose orders
of being are higher than his own. Naturally, the experience would be most
effective when all the attendant circumstances could be controlled. And
Wittkower points out that in each of the three churches which Bernini
designed in their entirety (S. Tommaso at Castelgandolfo, the Assumption
at Ariccia, and S. Andrea al Quirinale), the entire structure, including its
decoration, is subordinated to a single religio-dramatic event.
In another remarkable paragraph Wittkower definitively annihilates the
banal connotation of theatricalism which often accompanies the
traditional association of Berninis style with the Baroque stage. He explains
the community of means, the community of effects and above all, the
community of purpose that properly define a relationship to the theatre (in
which field Bernini was no less astonishing a creator than in sculpture).
With certain exceptions, the contributions of Mannerist principles are
most strongly felt in the fountains and monuments, which are the subject
of the following chapter. The naturalistic bizzarerie of sixteenth century garden sculpture supplied the essential freedom and even some of the motifs

Lavin I. Revised:CHAPTER 24

13/8/07

05:55

Page 6

which Bernini monumentalized and placed on public view in the streets


and piazzas of Rome. The real achievement, however, Wittkower once more
finds in the reconciliation of elements normally incompatible. He shows
how the movement, even the sound, of water unites in an integral whole
with solid travertine and marble; and how, in the Four Rivers fountain, extremely naturalistic forms are used to represent a seemingly impossible
static situation, creating thereby an impression which has at once the reality and unreality of a dream.
The last chapter deals with three of the broader problems that help to
complete the outline of Berninis development. The story of Bernini and his
period is ultimately a simple one by and large he created the period in
his own image. Throughout his life, outside influences were more a matter
of convenience than of necessity. Even the brief fall from favour during the
early years of Innocent Xs reign brought, as Wittkower observes, many of
the purest expressions of Berninis personal artistic manifesto. Analysis of
the functional composition of Berninis studio reveals his administrative
genius and the extent of advanced preparation which he lavished on those
commissions that called for it. Nearly every member of the shop lent a hand
in the tomb of Alexander VII, for instance; yet it has all the cohesion of a
personally executed work. And unless he chose to relax his grip, Bernini was
able to maintain this homogeneity despite the diversity of talent he
employed. A separate study would be very useful here: as an aid in distinguishing the work of Berninis own hand from that of his assistants, as a
clarification of the channels through which Berninis style was transmitted
throughout Europe, and for an understanding of the progressive dissolution
of the unity which Bernini created into the basic tendencies that evolved in
the eighteenth century. Berninis theory, such as it is, generally shows him
steeped in the traditions of the Renaissance; yet elements of a more personal
view also appear here and there in the sources. Wittkower rightly stresses
that it is an error to consider the two attitudes incompatible. On the contrary, they complement one another, and both are indispensable in the
procedure that underlay the final product.
The catalogue raisonn, finally, gives a complete picture of Berninis work
in sculpture. Considering the wealth of material at hand, it is a model of
abridgement and clarity, and will provide an ideal point of reference for
those who wish to delve further into Berninis art. A great deal of new
information is included, as are several new monuments, while a number of
works receive more accurate dates than heretofore. The whole is supple-

Lavin I. Revised:CHAPTER 24

13/8/07

05:55

Page 7

THE SCULPTURES OF GIAN LORENZO BERNINI

mented by a chronological chart, which allows a most welcome birds-eye


view of the full range of Berninis production.
A publication of this sort must discharge two obligations before all
others. The brief text should be palatable to a very wide audience, while the
catalogue, although longer, must deal with the minutiae of the subject. The
region that lies between, which is the natural purview of interpretive art
history, suffers perforce from neglect. Certainly no space can be given over
to controversy or conjecture, which to many will seem little enough cause
for regret. Besides, the work already wears two hats; a third would hardly be
appropriate.
The condition is aggravated, however, by the very organization of the
text. The typological plan, although it has the important advantages we
noted above, inevitably sacrifices a sense of over-all developmental
continuity. The reader must build a synthesis from isolated remarks
dispersed here and there in the text. A summary does run through pp.
3739; but as it is very brief, the author regrettably was forced to stint on
several problems and to omit others altogether. Accordingly, the remarks
which follow are offered to orient those who are not fully acquainted with
the implications of some of Wittkowers views, and to recommend caution
at certain points where the line between simplification and oversimplification may seem perilously tenuous.
We suspect, for example, that Berninis art did not develop in quite so
complete a vacuum with respect to his contemporaries and immediate
predecessors as Wittkowers account might suggest. It is true that Mariani,
Maderna, even Mochi, and others, are of interest now only to specialists in
the field of Baroque sculpture; yet Bernini was certainly a specialist in the
field, if nothing else. We mention only artists who were active at one time
or another in Rome; those working in other centres may also have been
significant, as Longhi suggested long ago. In the past, Wittkower himself
has contributed much to our knowledge of these individuals, and he does
make generic references to Giovanni Bologna and Mannerism here; but the
maze of sixteenth and early seventeenth century traditions, in and out of
Rome, is still far from sufficiently explored to permit final conclusions. The
same is largely true of painting. Wittkower recognizes, along with
antiquity, the importance of Annibale Carracci, Guido Reni and
Caravaggio for the early work; on the other hand, Berninis continuing
relationship to the painting of his own and previous generations receives
little or no consideration. Such a relationship must have existed, although

Lavin I. Revised:CHAPTER 24

13/8/07

05:55

Page 8

here again it might be premature to attempt a conclusive definition. Great


things were going on in this sphere throughout Berninis lifetime. It would
be misleading to imply that he was unaware of them as regards his technique, his decorative schemes, and even certain of his individual figures.
Caravaggio poses a further problem. His influence evidently goes much beyond the early physiognomical studies. While the two artists of course
achieve very different results, the intense realism directed toward inducing
an immediate emotional rapport between the spectator and the subject
represented is common to them both. Moreover, the extremely suggestive
religious associations which Walter Friedlaender has recently found in
Caravaggios art may indicate that considerable refinement is possible in our
understanding of Berninis response to the fervent mysticism of Loyola and
the Jesuits.
In any case it is certain that Berninis development was exceedingly complex. And the addition to his earliest oeuvre of the St. Sebastian in Lugano
and the St. Lawrence in Florence occasions a curious situation which
Wittkower does not discuss. In certain important respects these works contain fewer Mannerist or Maniera features than do the Aeneas and Anchises
or even the Pluto and Proserpine which come later in Wittkowers chronology. The question has at least enough substance for one recent critic to
postulate, indeed, that Bernini fell under his fathers influence in the Aeneas
and Anchises, after he had already broken away from it in the St. Sebastian
and St. Lawrence; 1 not an impossible arrangement, but rather uncomfortable and in need of elucidation. Although elimination or even redating of
the works may not be justified, we should wish to have Wittkowers views
on the topic.
A kindred difficulty occurs with the decidedly classical trend in
Berninis development during the 1630s, witnessed by such monuments as
that of Countess Matilda and the early stage of the Pasce Oves Meas. Bernini
may indeed have been making certain concessions to a prevailing taste for
classicism (p. 37), but whether this alone suffices as an explanation of the
phenomenon appears open to debate. In the first place there is the indubitable fact that classical (antique) art never ceased to be an inspiration.
Moreover, it will be recalled that a work of such another stamp as the
Bonarelli bust was executed during precisely the same period. Evidently, the

Faldi, Galleria Borghese, Le sculture dal secolo XVI al XIX, Rome, 1954, p. 28.

Lavin I. Revised:CHAPTER 24

13/8/07

05:55

Page 9

THE SCULPTURES OF GIAN LORENZO BERNINI

interpretation of Berninis entire development is involved, rather than


merely a single phase having political implications. Perhaps it is only a
matter of degree; in which case, however, it would seem all the more important to evaluate other hypotheses, such as those suggested by Berninis
conception of the appropriateness of form to content (to which the sources
testify andWittkower himself alludes when analysing the St. Bibiana, p. 9).
Arguments could be found, for example, for an alternative of styles, or even
a kind of stylistic continuum different aspects of which could be
emphasized for different purposes. Probably the subject cannot be resolved
apart from a consideration of Berninis architecture, in itself and as it relates
to his sculpture; but here we begin to detect a vicious circle.
Discussion seems warranted by Wittkowers designation of Berninis late
style, i.e. after 1660, as classical and related to a similar development in the
production of other artists of the period. To begin with, we fear that some
confusion may arise from using the same word to describe a work like the
Beata Lodovica Albertoni, as the Countess Matilda monument, for example.
Superficially at least, quite dissimilar styles are represented. There is of
course a common ground; and it is sufficiently evident to reveal
Wittkowers meaning to a trained art historian, whether or not he agrees
that one name is applicable in both contexts. But we must sympathize with
the consternation of the general reader, who may not share with us the
benefits of an imprecise vocabulary.
Vocabulary aside, however, the author aptly stresses the basic differences between mature works and late works such as the busts of
Francesco I and Louis XIV, the St. Theresa and the Beata Lodovica; he
has utterly absolved them from the taint of repetitiousness with which
they have too often been slandered. And doubtless a tendency toward
horizontals and verticals is among the more important distinctions. Yet
it seems intended to provide a stabilizing element beneath other
changes in the treatment of form itself which are possibly more important, and surely less susceptible to the term classical. For the increased
geometry of the underlying system was the necessary complement in
the late style to a more radical dissolution of mass, wherein the marble
is valued less for its volume than as the creator of patterns of light and
dark. The question becomes one of determining which constituent of
the style merits greater emphasis, and the decision we make is of some
consequence. Pevsner also has found a marked turn around the same
period in Italian painting, akin to this dissolution of form, however,

Lavin I. Revised:CHAPTER 24

13/8/07

05:55

Page 10

10

rather than Wittkowers change in structure, and moving in a very different direction from that of classicism.2
In the catalogue, as we have noted, the detailed entries on portraits are
particularly valuable. The multitude of objects of this type blessed with
Berninis name in museums and collections throughout the world make
for a perplexing state of affairs, which Wittkower has done much to
clarify. Indeed, a number of recent efforts to connect existing monuments
with statements in the sources have yielded gratifying results. We should
maintain only a few reservations as to the extent of the masters participation. For example, the animated countenance of the early bust of Urban
VIII in the Barberini collection (cat. no. 19, I, Pl. 32) indicates that
Bernini was in the vicinity; but the expression itself has a trace of fatuousness, hardly compatible with his later conception of that magnificent
Pope. Moreover, the somewhat textureless skin and vapid eyes recall the
portrait of Urban without cap in S. Lorenzo in Fonte (cat. no. 19, 1a, Fig.
16), where Wittkower recognizes the hand of Giulio Finelli. The bust of
Francesco Barberini now in Washington (cat. no. 24a, Fig. 27), while it
has a finely structured head, is uneven technically and somehow lacks the
expressive imaginativeness of works entirely by Bernini. The Doria
portrait of Innocent X (cat. no., 51, 2, Pl. 79) employs one of Berninis
devices for vitalizing the lower portions of his busts. He may therefore
have been responsible for the basic design, and perhaps certain areas of
the surface as well. Otherwise, the effect seems too bland, especially for a
product of the later 1640s. Works such as these, despite unusual qualities
and excellent references, cannot be equated with Berninis best portrayals.
It must be said in general, however, that a liberal policy in this realm is
probably much the wisest until more extensive studies have been made of
the individual members of Berninis studio.
A later bust of Urban VIII in the Barberini collection (cat. no. 19, 2a,
Pl. 35, Fig. 17), on the other hand, is an extremely moving characterization,
though here exception may be taken to Wittkowers suggested dating (about
1630). One of the two related bronze casts (in Camerino) is documented
1643; and since the execution, the mood and age of the sitter are all closely linked to the bust of Urban in Spoleto (16401642), there is no

Wiener Jahrbuch fr Kunstgeschichte, VIII, 1932, pp. 69 ff.

Lavin I. Revised:CHAPTER 24

13/8/07

05:55

Page 11

THE SCULPTURES OF GIAN LORENZO BERNINI

11

compelling reason to assume that the marble original and the other bronze
(Vatican Library) were produced more than a decade before.3
Concerning the composition of Time discovering Truth, of which only
the figure of Truth was executed, it is often overlooked that the two descriptions we have of Berninis intentions directly contradict each other. The
earlier, and evidently the correct version, is contained in a letter of
November 30, 1652, from Gemignano Poggi to Francesco I of Modena,
where it is reported that Time was to be flying above to unveil Truth, who
lay upon a rock (Fraschetti, p. 172). Years later, on the other hand, Bernini
himself told Louis XIV that Time was to carry Truth up to the heavens
(Chantelou, ed. Lalanne, p. 116). The former situation is found, roughly,
in a sketch in Leipzig (Brauer-Wittkower, Pl. 20) and is implied in the work
that has come down to us, though that particular drawing may not
actually be a study for it. The arrangement Bernini describes, however, reverts essentially to the way in which the subject had been represented by
painters in the first half of the century. In this fashion, for example,
Domenichino had depicted Time unveiling Truth on the Apollo ceiling of
the Palazzo Costaguti (ca. 1615, cf. L. Serra, Domenichino, Fig. 43). Also
interesting is the canvas for a ceiling in Richelieus palace executed by
Poussin shortly before he left Paris in 1642 (cf. Grautoff, Poussin, II, Pl.
106). Presumably Bernini knew of the composition, and it may well have
influenced the false and rather fantastic account of his own work that he
gave to the French king.
Wittkowers interpretation of the documents pertaining to the Ponte
SantAngelo is ingenious. The problem centres upon four statues, two now
in S. Andrea delle Fratte by Bernini himself, and two copies which stand
on the bridge. Wittkower makes a virtue of necessity in reconciling the usually reliable sources (Baldinucci and Domenico Bernini) which report that
Bernini was surreptitiously responsible for a second version of the Angel
with the Inscription, with the preserved payment to Giulio Cartari for that
figure. We must assume that on two occasions artists were paid the full
complement of 700 scudi (which the other sculptors received for their figures entire) for merely preparing the marble, which Bernini then finished.
Yet this hypothesis does less violence than most to a perverse group of facts
for which no consistent theory seems able to give a fully satisfying
Cf. V. Martintelli, Studi romani, III, I, 1955, p. 46; further to Bernini portraiture, idem,
I busti berniniani di Paolo V, Gregorio XV e Clemente X, III, 6, 1955, pp. 647666.
3

Lavin I. Revised:CHAPTER 24

13/8/07

05:55

Page 12

12

explanation. Moreover, the main conclusion of Wittkowers argument, that


the Angel with the Inscription now on the bridge is ultimately a separate
creation of Bernini himself, is undoubtedly true. However, the basic
chronology presents a problem which should be considered.
I would find it hard to believe that the Angel with the Inscription on the
bridge is actually a later conception than the one in S. Andrea. The
similarity to its partner in disposition of both drapery and legs is inimical
to the fundamental principles of differentiation that Bernini arrived at in
the S. Andrea figures only after much experimentation. The design seems
rather to be an offshoot from an earlier stage in the development, analogous
to the composition which Bernini had provided for Lazzaro Morellis Angel
with the Scourge. It may be questioned whether any light can be shed on this
paradoxical relation between first and second versions. The essential data
are as follows:
1. November 11, 1667. Funds are set aside for redecoration of the
bridge.
2. July, 28, 1668. The Pope inspects the angels in Berninis studio.
3. July 12, 1669. Paolo Naldini is paid for his copy of the Angel with the
Crown.
4. September 11, 1669. Bernini is paid for one of his angels (Fraschetti,
p. 370, no. 11, a document not mentioned by Wittkower).
5. November 13, 1669. Giulio Cartari is paid for his copy of the Angel
with the Inscription (Wittkower considers that he only prepared the
marble).
6. December 1, 1669. Paolo Bernini is referred to as having executed
one of the original angels now in S. Andrea.
7. September 11, 1670, Paolo Bernini is paid, presumably for the same
angel as in no. 6 (also preparation of the marble in Wittkowers
view).
8. October 28, 1671. Bernini is reported as having finally resolved to
finish his angel.
Perhaps the most puzzling document is no. 7, which, granting
Wittkowers assumptions, would suggest that Paolo Bernini prepared the
marble for an original angel as one of the latest steps in the operations. If,
as seems most likely for a number of reasons, this payment refers to the
original Angel with the Inscription, it would follow that the preparation of

Lavin I. Revised:CHAPTER 24

13/8/07

05:55

Page 13

THE SCULPTURES OF GIAN LORENZO BERNINI

13

that figure was completed only after both the copy (doc. no. 3) and the original (doc. no, 4) of the Angel with the Crown had been finished, and even
after Cartari had prepared the second version of Angel with the Inscription
(doc. no. 5). This would make it entirely understandable, chronologically
speaking, that the Cartari-Bernini substitute should include features which
are antecedent to Berninis final solution for the pair. In any case, it appears
that both substitutes were begun before their respective originals were finished. Indeed one begins to wonder how seriously it was ever intended to
mount Berninis angels on the bridge, at least in their present form. They
are so highly finished, much more so than the other figures on the bridge,
as to raise a priori the doubt that Bernini would have gone so far at a time
when he was still expecting them to be placed in the open.
The book is practically free of minor errors or omissions, as far as this
reviewer can judge. Worth mentioning perhaps are only the fact that the
fragmentary terracotta head in a Roman private collection (cat. no. 18, p.
184), originally published as being for the Daphne (Colasanti, Bollettino
darte, III, 1923/4, pp. 416 ff.), is actually related to the head of Proserpine
(indicated by the tears, ibid., Fig. p. 418, printed in reverse; E. Zocca, Arti
figurative, 1, 1945, p. 158); and that Berninis designs for the fountains at
Sassuolo, carried out by Raggi in part, are rather precisely datable, August
1652 (cat. no. 8o, 6, p. 243; cf. Fraschetti, p. 229, n. 2 and 3).
A word must be said concerning the illustrations. With 122 full-size plates
and 98 supporting illustrations inserted into the catalogue, the work gives
one of the richest visual documentations of Berninis sculpture presently
available. The publishers rendered noble service by having made a goodly
number of new photograph; these on the whole are excellent, and contribute
substantially to an illustrational problem which, as everybody recognizes,
only a corpus of several volumes could adequately solve. The details
especially are striking (e.g. Pls. 6, 39, 53, 88, 114), and exploit with real
sensitivity Berninis textural and chiaroscuro nuances. Unfortunately,
however, the whole series appears to have been subjected to a process of
reproduction which fairly pulverizes the surfaces and eliminates plastic
modulations. The effects in many cases are hardly noticeable, but in others
they are very damaging indeed (e.g. Pls. 3, 9, 35, 61). Reproductions are
never perfect, and a certain amount of touching-up was unavoidable, even
excusable; except in one instance where, surely through an oversight, the
restorers pencil marks were left blatantly in evidence (Pl. 8, around the
eyes). The publishers might have taken greater care to maintain their own

Lavin I. Revised:CHAPTER 24

13/8/07

05:55

Page 14

14

high standards and do justice to the photographs themselves, as well as to the


text.
These blemishes are all but overshadowed, however, by the authors
choice of plates for juxtaposition and comparison. Words being extremely
precious, it is not surprising to find photographic comparisons used to
supplement the text, to suggest to the reader special points for meditation,
and to serve as silent witnesses to the authors arguments. Wittkowers
selections are often particularly evocative; if nothing of Berninis whole
oeuvre were preserved except the two photographs of the head of
Constantines horse and that of Gabriele Fonseca (Pls. 111 and 112), proof
would yet be ample that here was one of the greatest artists of all
Christendom.
In the last analysis, some of our considerations, although pertinent to
Wittkowers subject, may reach beyond its scope. Even so, perhaps they will
suggest the magnitude of our loss in the authors decision to abandon his
plan for a definitive treatment of Berninis art. But also, they should indicate the complexity of the problems with which he has dealt in so concise
and orderly a fashion. Fortunate indeed are those who see Berninis
sculpture for the first time through Wittkowers eyes.

Lavin II:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

05:58

Page 1

II

Bernini and the Theater

HERE was one art form in which the use of a variety of media and the
effect of unity were, as we tend to assume, inherent that is, the
theater.1 For anyone wishing to understand Berninis artistic personality as
a whole, his activity in the theater presents one of the most beguiling problems. From all accounts, and there are many, it is clear that he spent much
time and energy throughout his life producing, writing and acting in plays,
designing sets and inventing ingenious scenic effects. Beginning in the early
1630s, during Carnival season, he would either stage something for one of
his patrons or, more regularly, put on a comedy of his own.2 John Evelyn
was awed during his visit to Rome in 1644, when he learned and noted in
his diary that shortly before his arrival Bernini had given a Publique Opera
. . . where in he painted the seanes, cut the Statues, invented the Engines,
composed the Musique, writ the Comedy & built the Theater all himselfe.3 These efforts were extremely successful and to judge from the

1 What follows is a somewhat revised and enlarged version of a review of DOnofrio,


Fontana, in The Art Bulletin, LXVI, 1964, 56872.
2 In a letter of 1634 Fulvio Testi speaks as if Bernini had been giving comedies for some
time (conforme al solito degli altri anni; Fraschetta, Bernini, 261, n. 3). The earliest notice
we have of a play by him is in February 1633 (ibid., 261, n. 1); Domenico Bernini states
(47f., 53) that his father began writing plays during an illness that occurred when he was
approaching the age of thirty-seven, i.e., in 1635.
3. Diary, ed. E. S. de Beer, 6 vols., Oxford, 1955, II, 261; repeated by Evelyn in the preface to his translation of Frarts Idea of the Perfection of Painting, 1668: . . . not many years
since, he is reported to have built a theatre at Rome, for the adornment whereof he not only
cut the figures, and painted the scenes, but writ the play, and composd the musick which
was all in recitativo (Miscellaneous Writings, ed. W. Upcott, London, 1825, 562).

Lavin II:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

05:58

Page 2

16

artists conversations in Paris in 1665, which are full of anecdotes about his
productions he was ingenuously proud of his accomplishments. Bernini
was passionately involved in the world of the stage.
From a broader historical point of view, as well, Berninis theatrical
activities are of extraordinary importance. He lived through a decisive
period in the creation of the opera, not only as a musical and dramatic but
also as a visual art form. Although he had had many predecessors as artistscenographer (not so many as artist-playwright and artist-actor), it is with
Bernini that the relationship between art and theater becomes a critical
question. The epithet Baroque theatricality has often been leveled at his
work in general and the Teresa chapel in particular, implying a kind of
meretricious stagecraftiness that transfers formal and expressive devices
from the domain of ephemeral and artificial to that of permanent and serious arts, where they have no proper business. It might almost be said that
our view of the whole period, as well as of the artist himself, has been colored by Berninis activity in the theater.4
Yet, it is evident from our analysis that there is not a single device in the
chapel which can be explained only by reference to the theater; every detail
the so-called audience in boxes, the so-called hidden lighting, the socalled stage-space of the altarpiece, the so-called dramatic actions of the
figures, the mixture of media every detail has roots in the prior development of the permanent visual arts. Nevertheless, the very conception of the
Teresa chapel involves a reference to the theater, and this is what chiefly distinguishes it from Berninis other works. The reference is not in the form of
borrowed scenic devices, however, but in the form of a deliberate evocation
of Berninis own very special conception of what occurred in the theater.
It must be borne in mind that we actually know very little about
Berninis productions. Historians have generally been content to repeat the
more spectacular instances of his scenographic wizardry, while neglecting
many other references and descriptions in the sources.5 It is also unfortu4 The

monograph of Fagiolo dellArco, Bernini, is the most recent attempt to interpret


virtually the whole of Berninis art under the aspect of the theater.
5 The sources for Berninis theatrical activities are conveniently gathered in C.
DOnofrio, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Fontana di Trevi: Commedia inedita, Rome, n.d. [1963],
91ff., except for the letters describing his comedy of 1635 about academies of painting and
sculpture in Naples (A. Saviotti, Peste e spettacoli nel seicento, Giornale storico della letteratura italiana, XLI, 1903, 71ff.), the accounts of the Fiera di Farfa intermezzo of 1639 (see
p. 18 below), and the unpublished documents of 1641 cited below, p. 18, n. 9.

Lavin II:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

05:58

Page 3

BERNINI AND THE THEATER

17

nately true that until recently nothing Bernini created for the theater had
been known at first hand. A drawing once thought to be a design by him
for a stage set is now generally ascribed to Juvarra.6 Bernini was long credited with the sets for the famous Barberini operatic production of the early
1630s, SantAlessio, recorded in a group of eight engravings by Collignon
(cf. Fig. 1); but from the documents in the Barberini archive in the Vatican,
it appears that Bernini had no share in this production.7 Nevertheless,
because of the astonishment expressed by contemporaries and his association willy-nilly with this and other Barberini extravaganzas, Bernini
came to be regarded as a major figure in the development of the Baroque
machine spectacle.
This was surely not the case. To begin with, Berninis name can be
attached firmly to only two of the important Barberini operas during Urban

For a recent general treatment, see C. Molinari, Le nozze degli di: Un saggio sul grande
spettacolo italiano nel seicento, Rome, 1968, 10520.
6 Brauer and Wittkower, Zeichnungen, 33f., pl. 15. Cf. A. E. Brinckmann, I disegni,
in Comitato per le onoranze a Filippo Juvarra, Filippo Juvarra, 1, Turin, 1937, 146, 162;
Battaglia, Cattedra, 119, n. 2; L. Grassi, Bernini pittore, Rome, 1945, 48, 59, n. 1.
7 The attribution to Bernini (which seems to occur first in G. Martucci, Salvator Rosa
nel personaggio di Formica, Nuova antologia di scienze, lettere ed arti, LXXXIII, 1885, 648)
never had any basis in fact. To begin with, a monogram that appears in the corner of one
state of the Collignon engravings (Il S. Alessio: Dramma musicale . . ., Rome, 1634, BV,
Stamp. Barb. N. XIII. 199) was misconstrued as referring to Bernini (by F. Clementi, Il carnevale romano, 2 vols., Citt di Castello, 19389 [first ed. 1899], 1, 473, and again by A.
Schiavo, A proposito dei Disegni inediti di G. L. Bernini e di L. Vanvitelli di A. Schiavo,
Palladio, N.S., IV, 1954, 90). Then Fraschetti (Bernini, 261) quite gratuitously interpolated
Berninis name into the account of the performance given in Giacinto Giglis Diario romano
(ed. G. Ricciotti, Rome, 1958, 140); no such reference occurs in the manuscripts of the
diary (Rome, Bibl. Vittorio Emanuele, MS.811, fol. 139v [autograph]; BV, MS. Vat. lat.
8717, 141; San Pietro in Vincoli, MS.147).
The monogram, by analogy with Franois Collignons own initials as they appear in the
opposite corner of the engravings, should probably be read as F.B.; payment was made to
the painter Francesco Buonamici for unspecified work on the production of 1634 (BV, AB,
Armadio 100, Giustificazioni Nos. 17512000, Card. Francesco Barberini, 16324, No.
1907; cf. Arm. 86, Libro Mastro B, Card. Francesco, 16304, 346).
A possible reading is P.B.; Pietro Berrettini da Cortona made some small pieces of
scenery and the Eye of the Demon for the 1632 production (ibid., Arm. 155, Alfabeto di
entrata e uscita della guardarobba, Card. Antonio, 1632, fol. I45r: A di 18 feb.ro 1632.
Lenzoli portati p. servitio della Representatione . . . Dati al Sig.r Pietro Cor.na lenzoli due
. . . E pi dato al Sig.r pietro lenzole n.o 1 . . . E Pi dati al Sig.r Pietro p. servitio della

Lavin II:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

05:58

Page 4

18

VIIIs reign. In the famous Fiera di Farfa intermezzo of the 1639 version of
Chi soffre speri, he recreated on stage a bustling country fair with live
animals, the garden of the Barberini palace itself with passing carriages and
a ball game, and a sunrise and sunset.8 In the 1641 production of
Linnocenza difesa, for which Bernini was indirectly responsible, the sunset
was repeated, and one scene included a fireworks display over a view of
Castel SantAngelo.9
Rep.ne due lenzoli . . . E pi dato al Sig.re Pietro tre Canne di tela di fare impanate cio se
ne servi per li lanternoni ch segnevano Ochi Ca.ne 3; fol. 44.v: A di 28 detto [February]
1632. Lenzoli usate uscite da Ga.ba p. ser.tio della Rep.ne date al Sig.r Pietro da Cortona n.o
cinque ... de quali ne fu fatto alcuni pezzi di scene piccole . . . Tela quatretto uscita di Gar.ba
per servitio della Rep.ne di S. Alesio Canne tre cio date al Sig.r Pietro da Cortona de che
ne fece li Ochio del Demonio); but the style of the sets in the engravings scarcely supports
an attribution to Cortona (proposed by M. Fagiolo dellArco, Lo spettacolo barocco, Storia
dellarte, Nos. 12, 1969, 229).
8 An important breakthrough, which confirms the attribution of the Fiera di Farfa
intermezzo to Bernini, was the discovery of his record of accounts for the work among the
documents of Cardinal Francesco Barberini, by F. Hammond, Girolamo Frescobaldi and a
Decade of Music in the Casa Barberini: 16341643, Analecta musicologica, XIX, 1979, 94124.
On Chi soffre speri, see A. Ademollo, I teatri di Roma nel secolo decimosettimo, Rome,
1888, 28ff. Subsequent bibliography will be found in S. Reiner, Collaboration in Chi soffre
speri, The Music Review, XXII, 1961, 26582; additional sources in Clementi, Carnevale, 1,
483f; M. L. Pietrangeli Chanaz, Il teatro barberiniano, unpub. diss., University of Rome,
1968, 11428 and unpaginated appendix of documents; M. K. Murata, Operas for the Papal
Court with Texts by Giulio Rospigliosi, unpub. diss., University of Chicago, 1975, 3168. The
sunrise and sunset are mentioned by H. Tetius, Aedes barberinae ad Quirinalem, Rome,
1642, 35; on this motif, see p. 151, n. 17 below.
It is tempting but probably incorrect to identify the Fiera di Farfa with the comedy
called La fiera staged by Bernini for Cardinal Antonio Barberini (Bernini, 55; cf. Baldinucci,
150), since neither the text nor the descriptions of the former mention the false fire that
highlighted the latter (see below).
9 Berninis role in the 1641 production of Linnocenza difesa emerges from several as yet
unpublished sources. A questa comedia h fatte due vedute di lontan.za il nipote di Mon.re
fausto gi diventato ingegniere di machine sceniche in pochi giorni, e sono luna, il sole
cadente del Bernino, quale si p[...?] da tutti allem.o non haverci parte nessuna ben che visibilm.te ci assista, e la seconda la ved.ta della girandola presa da monte cavallo creduta da
S. em.a p. inventione del s.r nipote: alla quale credenza il linguacciuto dice haver cooperato
che in d.e machine tutta la spesa h fatto mons.re fausto (from a letter by Ottaviano Castelli
to Mazarin, February 1, 1641, Paris, Ministre des affaires trangres, Archives diplomatiques, Correspondance politique, Rome, MS.73, fol. 187v, from which another passage was
excerpted by H. Prunires, Lopera italien en France avant Lulli, Paris, 1913, 26, n. 2). La
comedia . . . riusc isquisitam.te; massime nelle scene, che allusanza del Cav.r Bernino fecero

Lavin II:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

05:58

Page 5

BERNINI AND THE THEATER

19

For the most part, the scenes of the Barberini productions were not
done by stage designers at all, but by artists, mainly painters, who were primarily employed by the family in other tasks: Andrea Camassei, Giovanni
Francesco Romanelli, Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi, Andrea Sacchi. Apart
from the Medici court spectacles in Florence staged by Giulio Parigi and his
son Alfonso, the main line of evolution of Italian scenography was North
Italian. There a great tradition emerged in the early seventeenth century, in
Ferrara and Bologna with Giovanni Battista Aleotti and his successors
Francesco Guitti and Alfonso Chenda, in Venice with Giuseppe Alabardi
and Giovanni Burnacini, culminating in the work of the grande stregone
of High Baroque stage design, Giacomo Torelli.10 These men made stage
design and theater architecture a full-time, professional occupation, and it
is nave to ascribe to Bernini rather than to them the leading role in the
development of Baroque stage technology.
The truth is that Bernini did not really have much use for elaborate
contraptions. He ridiculed them as too slow and cumbersome. The secret,
he said, is to avoid doing things that will not succeed perfectly. He recommended a stage no more than twenty-four feet deep, and advised against
scenes that could be seen from only one point. What pleased him was that
his successes had been achieved with productions staged in his own house,
vedere lontananze maravigliose (Avviso di Roma, February 2, 1641, Rome, Bibl. Corsini,
MS.1733, fol. 109, found and transcribed by Pietrangeli Chanaz, Teatro, unpaginated documents; also Murata, Operas, 362); . . . con Intermedij apparenti et specialmente questo
Castello SantAngelo tutto circondato di lumi, facendo la Girandola, come si f la Festa de
Santi Pietro, et Paolo Apostoli (Avviso, February 2, 1641, ibid., MS.1735, fols. 15v and f.,
Pietrangeli Chanaz, Teatro, Murata, Operas, 362). See now also M. K. Murata,
Rospigliosiana ovvero: Gli equivoci innocenti, Studi musicali, IV, 1975 (publ. 1978),
13143. On the Castel Sant Angelo fireworks, see p. 151, n. 17 below.
The sets of II palazzo dAtlante, 1642, attributed to Bernini by Baldinucci and
Domenico Bernini, were actually by Andrea Sacchi; cf. the letters of the eyewitness
Ottaviano Castelli to Mazarin (H. Prunires, Les rpresentations du Palazzo dAtlante
Rome [1642], Sammelbnde der internationalen Musik-Gesellschaft, XIV, 19123, 219ff.),
the Avvisi di Roma (G. Canevazzi, Di tre melodrammi del secolo XVII, Modena, 1904, 44ff.),
and payments to Sacchi in March 1642 in conto delle spese p. le scene della comedia (BV,
AB, Arm. 76, Libro Mastro C, Card. Antonio Barberini, 163644, p. 342).
10 The picture of this whole period has been very much enlarged and enriched in recent
years by the pioneering researches of Elena Povoledo, in many publications, including
numerous articles in the Enciclopedia dello spettacolo, and by Per Bjurstrms monograph
Giacomo Torelli and Baroque Stage Design, Stockholm, 1961 (Nationalmusei Skriftserie, 7).
On Guittis work as a theater architect, see Lavin, Lettres.

Lavin II:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

05:58

Page 6

20

at his own expense and costing no more than tre baiocchi.


Characteristically, he said that the important thing is to have ideas, in which
case one can hire someone who knows how to paint scenes, and someone
who understands machines, to carry them out.11 In some respects, it is evident, Berninis principles were diametrically opposed to those underlying
the vast machine productions that were the hallmark of the period.
What is essential is a more balanced assessment of the character and
underlying motivation of Berninis scenographic technique. Far too much
emphasis has been placed on the sheer mechanics of stage engineering, and
this has obscured the real nature of Berninis achievements in the theater. It
is significant that Berninis own productions were comedies and farces in
the informal tradition of the commedia dellarte, and the sources leave no
doubt that one of the reasons for his success in this field, especially at the
outset, were his daring satires of important people. It is very unlikely that
ordinary commedia dellarte troupes could have had an immunity from
reprisal such as Bernini, darling of the Barberini, enjoyed. He could poke
fun in public at anyone, including the Barberini themselves and in their
very presence! One can well imagine that nothing of the kind had been seen
on stage before. These direct references to highly placed people and their
doings should not be thought of merely as reflections of Berninis privileged
position. They were also a device that helped Bernini break through theatrical convention and establish links with the real world.12
An analogous point may be made about Berninis use of illusionistic
devices, the second and perhaps chief source of his renown. In the great
court spectacles and to some extent also in the regular theater, more or less
elaborate stage effects had a long history. By contrast, the commedia dellarte, to which Berninis own private productions belong, was above all the
domain of the performer, with scenic elements secondary and largely stereotyped. Actual practice varied considerably, needless to say, and the great
actor-dramatist Giovanni Battista Andreini, Berninis predecessor in more
ways than one, introduced considerable visual interest into some of his
commedia dellarte plays.13 He seems to have done so, however, mainly
11 Chantelou,

68, 69, 115, 116f., 213.


There is a close and obvious parallel in Berninis caricature drawings of important
people, which begin at exactly the same period (cf. I. Lavin, Duquesnoys Nano di Crqui
and Two Busts by Francesco Mochi, The Art Bulletin, LII, 1970, 144, n. 75).
13 Cf. K. M. Lea, Italian Popular Comedy, 2 vols., Oxford, 1934, I, 320ff.
12

Lavin II:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

05:58

Page 7

BERNINI AND THE THEATRE

21

through lavish settings and costumes which were probably rare in


Berninis own productions with no hint of the surprising special effects
for which Bernini was acclaimed.
It can be shown that none of the methods Bernini used was actually
invented by him. In 1638, after a disastrous flood of the Tiber at Rome the
year before, Bernini staged his celebrated Inundation of the Tiber.14 In the
play, boats passed across the stage on real water, retained by embankments.
Suddenly the levee broke and water spilled out toward the audience, whereupon a barrier rose just in time to stop it. As background to this trick of
stage hydraulics, we need only mention that Giovanni Battista Aleotti, in
addition to being an important stage designer and theater architect, had
been one of the founders of modern hydraulic engineering; he wrote several
treatises on the subject with experience gained from such projects as the regulation of the waters of the Po at Ferrara and land reclamation in the
Polesine region of northeast Italy. In 1628 Francesco Guitti, Aleottis successor, had arranged to flood the huge Teatro Farnese on the second story
of the Palazzo della Pilotta in Parma for a marine spectacle involving a mock
naval battle; Guitti, indeed, was the one professional stage designer who
worked for the Barberini, on productions in 1633 and 1634.
In 1637 and 1638 Bernini produced a comedy that involved two audiences and two theaters. The spectators saw an actor on stage reciting a prologue; behind him they saw the back side of another actor facing another
audience and also reciting a prologue. At the end of the prologue a curtain
was raised between the two actors and the play began. At the end of the play
the curtain dropped, and the audience saw the other audience leaving the
other theater in splendid coaches by the light of torches and the moon shining through clouds. This conceit was certainly related to the play-within-aplay tradition, familiar to us from Shakespeare, in which there had recently
been significant developments. A comedy of 1623 by Andreini, titled The
Two Comedies in Comedy, even included two successive performances as part
of the plot.15

14 Cf. the title of a treatise on the technical problems of controlling the river, O.
Castelli, Della inondatione del Tevere, Rome, 1608.
15 Lea, Comedy, I, pp. 322ff.; cf. F. Neri, La commedia in commedia, Mlanges dhistoire littraire gnrale et compare offerts Fernand Baldensperger, 2 vols., Paris, 1930, II, pp.
l30ff. See further below, p. 29, n. 27.

Lavin II:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

05:58

Page 8

22

In Berninis comedy called The Fair (before 1645), a Carnival float was
shown returning from the celebration.16 One of the revelers carrying a torch
accidentally set fire to the scenery. The audience, thinking the theater was
about to burn down, scrambled for the exit. At the height of the confusion
the scene suddenly changed, and when the spectators looked, the fire had
disappeared and the stage had become a delightful garden. Here, Bernini
profited from the sophisticated devices of theatrical pyrotechnics that had
been developed especially for hell scenes, long a part of great court spectacles (Fig. 1).17
One certainly must not underestimate the significance of pure
spectacle for Bernini. It is essential to realize, however, that his secret lay not
in lavishness or complex engineering, but in the way he used the techniques
of illusion. When Francesco Guitti flooded the Farnese theater, it was for a
marine performance in the middle of the arena; when Bernini did his trick,
the water was on stage and threatened to spill out over the spectators.
(Guittis was no doubt a far more ambitious engineering feat.) When
Bernini adopted the play-within-a-play formula, he created the impression
that the two plays were going on simultaneously, confronting the audience
with duplicate actors and a duplicate theater and audience as well. Berninis
fire was not presented as part of the play in a scene of hell; in a feigned
accident with the torch held by the actor, it threatened to burn down the
theater itself. Clearly, it was by means of these sudden thrusts into the mind
and heart of the spectator accomplished without elaborate machinery
that Bernini created his wonderful effects.
16

See p. 18, n. 8 above. A terminus ad quem is provided by the fact that when Bernini
described the production in Paris in 1665, the Abbot Francesco Buti says he had been present; by 1645 Buti, who was secretary to Cardinal Antonio Barberini, had left Rome for Paris
(cf. Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 15 vols., Kassel, etc., 194973, II, cols. 532f.).
The comedies previously mentioned are dated by contemporary descriptions.
17 Fig. 1 is the hell scene from Il S. Alessio, 1634, pl. 2. On hell scenes generally, cf.
Bemmann, Bhnenbeleuchtung, 24ff., 92ff., I07ff. The treatise of Nicola Sabbattini, which
certainly does not represent the most advanced technique of its day, even contains a chapter
titled Come si possa dimostrare che tutta la scena arda. Another of Sabbattinis chapters,
Come si possa fare apparire che tutta la scena si demolisca, shows that Bernini did not
invent the trick for his comedy (1638) in which a house collapsed on stage (N. Sabbattini,
Pratica di fabricar scene, e machine ne teatri, Ravenna, 1638, ed. E. Povoledo, Rome, 1955,
70f.).
For the depiction on stage of the Castel SantAngelo fireworks display, which Bernini
evidently introduced in 1641 (p. 18 and n. 9 above), see the comments on Giovanni

13/8/07

05:58

Page 9

BERNINI AND THE THEATER

23

1. Stage set from Il S. Alessio, 1634, pl. 2, engraving.

Lavin II:Lavin 2 Chap VII

Lavin II:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

05:58

Page 10

24

Immediacy of effect and simplicity of technique are also the keys to an


understanding of the one direct trace of Berninis work for the theater that
has come down to us, a fragmentary manuscript of a comedy published
only a few years ago. The text is incomplete, and it is not certain that the
play was ever performed probably not, since it seems to be identical with
an idea for a comedy that Bernini later described, commenting that it had
never been carried out (see below). The play is especially important in our
context for two reasons: first, there is compelling evidence that it was
intended for the Carnival season of 1644, barely three years before the
Teresa chapel was begun; second, its plot contains an autobiographical element that makes it an explicit statement of Berninis own ideas.18
The story, briefly, is as follows: Cinthio, a young, gentleman in the service of a prince, is in love with Angelica, the daughter of Dottor Gratiano,
an aging and famous master of scenography, who also writes and acts in his
own plays. Cinthio has no money and Coviello, his charming and scheming Neapolitan valet, proposes a stratagem that will net enough at least to

Francesco Grimaldis replica for the 1656 production of La vita humana, in W. Witzenmann,
Die rmische Barockoper La Vita humana ovvero il trionfo della piet, Analecta musicologica, XV, 1975, I75f. On Berninis pyrotechnical style, see E. Povoledo, Gian Lorenzo
Bernini, lelefante e i fuochi artificiali, Rivista italiana di musicologia, X, 1975, 499518.
Berninis sunrises and sunsets (see p. 18 above) belonged in a tradition that went back
at least to Serlio (Architettura, Venice, 1566, bk. II, 64; cf. Bemmann, Bhnenbeleuchtung,
71ff, 99f., 110f.). The sunrise mentioned by Baldinucci (151) and Domenico Bernini (56f.;
cf. also Chantelou, 116) must date before 1643, since Louis XIII, who died in that year,
requested a model.
The treatise of Sabbattini and the relevant portion of that of Serlio have been translated
in B. Hewitt, ed., The Renaissance Stage: Documents of Serlio, Sabbattini and Furttenbach,
Coral Gables, Fla., 1958.
18 The text, preserved in a manuscript in the Bibliothque Nationale, Paris, was published by DOnofrio, Fontana. The play is written in a scribes hand, without title, in a fascicule inscribed, Fontana di Trevi MDCXLII, originally intended as a ledger of accounts for
work on the fountain. Only a few entries were made, however, the latest of which dates from
April 1643 (DOnofrio [28] through a lapsus gives August 1643 for the last entry in the
ledger). Scene two of the second act contains an anti-Spanish jibe that DOnofrio feels
would not have been written under the Hispanophile Innocent X; and since Urban VIII died
in July of 1644, the most plausible assumption is that the play was intended for the Carnival
season of that year. The manuscript copy cannot have been used for performance, since it
contains a number of lacunae and errors; moreover, the third act is exceedingly short (only
two scenes) and the ending seems not a proper denouement at all.

Lavin II:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

05:58

Page 11

BERNINI AND THE THEATER

25

make a show of wealth. The plan is to obtain 1000 scudi from a mysterious
stranger, Alidoro, who will pay that amount to see Gratianos marvelous
stage effects. Cinthio tells Gratiano that the prince has ordered him to do a
comedy. Gratiano resists, but is finally persuaded by his maidservant
Rosetta (with whom he has a flirtation). Gratiano tells Rosetta the plot he
has devised: a certain Dottor Gratiano is enamored of his maidservant,
named Rosetta. Gratiano is married, but his wife is un pezz de carnaccia
vecchia che s di rancido che appesta.19 Gratiano will try to accommodate
the situation by making use of Rosetta, in anticipation of his wifes demise,
to have a child. In a remarkable conversation between the real Dottor
Gratiano and his imaginary self, the latter scolds the former roundly for
having such dirty thoughts (sporchi pensieri). The second act includes a
brilliant scene in which, at a trial lowering of the cielo (sky), the mechanism fails to perform adequately. Gratiano expresses his dissatisfaction
vehemently, making two canonically Baroque esthetic pronouncements:
that stage machines are supposed to amaze people, not amuse them; and
that invention, design (linzegn, el desegn) is the magic art that fools the
eye so as to cause astonishment. Alidoro, we learn in the third act, is himself a producer of plays who also acts in them and paints the scenes. With
Zanni, Dottor Gratianos manservant, as an accomplice, he dons a disguise
in which he will be employed to assist with the preparations and thus learn
Gratianos techniques. The manuscript comes to an end as Cochetto, a
French scene painter, is about to put Alidoro to work.
The play, thus, is basically a conventional commedia dellarte farce,
with conventional commedia dellarte characters who speak informally and
often spicily in conventional commedia dellarte dialects. Dottor Gratiano
is certainly Bernini himself, a man of genius and fame, from whom jealous
competitors would seek to pilfer what they imagine to be the secrets of his
success. He is reluctant to do the comedy because of the taxing creative
effort and time involved: These are things that require the whole man, and
much time, he says (sien cos che rezercan tutt lhom e molto tempo).20
In a funny but touching moment, Gratiano even refers to the agony of

19 Compare Berninis description, reported by Baldinucci (145), of a painting of una


rancida e schifosa vecchia, che viva e vera ci apporterebbe nausea, e ci offenderebbe.
20 Bernini used similar phraseology concerning the various steps in the creative process:
ciascheduna di quelle operazioni ricercava tutto luomo (Baldinucci, 145).

Lavin II:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

05:58

Page 12

26

artistic creation, confessing that the hardest thing is to find a subject (la
mazzor difficult l l trovar un sozzet). He also wants people kept away
from the preparations, not in order to prevent his ideas from being stolen,
but because advance knowledge will spoil their effects (e si quand si sann
non son pi belle).
The plot again evidendy refers to the play-within-a-play motif, but here
Bernini forsakes the normal convention by not showing the inner play at
all, only the preparations for it. Thus Berninis is not strictly a play that contains a play, but a play about the creation of a play. The inner play, therefore, instead of being merely an episode within the main plot, becomes itself
part of the subject of the comedy, or rather the preparations for it do; the
levels of illusion completely interpenetrate. When the characters being created for the inner play turn out to be, in part, duplicates of those in the
main plot the chief character of the main play actually holding a conversation with his fictitious self still further links are added to the
chain.21
If all this seems very literary, it should be emphasized that the ultimate
point of the play was visual. Its chief purpose, surely, was to give scope to
the beautiful notion of having Gratiano try out stage devices that do not
perform to his satisfaction. Thus a scene that functions badly becomes the
perfect illusion. Moreover, since the sets need only fail, the trick could be
done with tre baiocchi and it also fulfilled Berninis requirement not to try
anything that could not be done convincingly. One is very tempted to see
in this plot the bella idea for a comedy, mentioned by Baldinucci and
Domenico Bernini, in which Bernini would have shown all the errors that
occur in manipulating stage machinery, together with the means for their
correction.22
The comedy permits two further observations that are of interest. It has
been assumed that Bernini did not really write plays, but that his comedies
were improvised in the pure commedia dellarte tradition.23 The topicality

21

Compare Andreinis Lo schiavetto (eds. Milan, 1612, Venice, 1620), in which one of
the characters proposes his own love intrigue, retaining the real names of the participants,
as the theme for a comedy (ed. Venice, 1620, 197f.; cf. Lea, Comedy, I, 323).
22 Baldinucci, 151; Bernini, 57.
23 I. Balboni, Le commedie di Gian Lorenzo Bernini e un diario francese del seicento,
Rivista di cultura, III, 1922, 231ff.; but see the remarks of C. Molinari, Note in margine
allattivit teatrale di G. L. Bernini, Critica darte, IX, No. 52, 1962, 57ff.

Lavin II:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

05:58

Page 13

BERNINI AND THE THEATER

27

of the wit, the repetition of successful tricks in different contexts, and above
all the impression one gets from the sources of an extraordinary liveliness in
the recitation, all seem to point in this direction. The conclusion is, however, profoundly misconceived. We know Bernini worked his assistants
mercilessly in preparing his productions, and that he would himself act out
all the parts for them, so as to make sure they performed exactly as he
wished. We know from the very gist of the play about Dottor Gratiano that
Bernini was a perfectionist in the matter of scenic effects. Finally, the manuscript itself distinguishes Berninis method from pure commedia dellarte,
where the plot was merely outlined in brief scenarios. Bernini wrote out the
parts completely. It could hardly be maintained that improvisation was forbidden in Berninis productions, but there can be no doubt that here, as in
his other works, the effect of immediacy and freedom was planned and calculated down to the last detail. A second, equally significant point is that
there is not the slightest hint from any source that Bernini ever intended to
put his theatrical activity into permanent form by publishing the texts of his
plays or prints of his sets. This fact alone would prevent our placing him in
a class with real hommes du mtier like Andreini or Torelli. The same fact
also makes it clear that his achievements in the theater were among the most
deeply rooted and spontaneous products of his creative spirit.
Considering the evidence as a whole, one is struck by the fact that,
without exception, the startling illusionistic conceits described in the
sources can be dated to the period of little more than a decade between the
early 1630s, when Bernini became interested in the theater, and the late
1640s (though his theatrical activity continued long afterward). Moreover,
the accounts suggest that the appeal of the earliest comedies was due primarily to their element of social satire, whereas in subsequent examples and
especially in the extant comedy, the overlapping spheres of reality are the
main fascination. There are important gaps in the evidence and, certainly,
pungent dialogue did not cease to lend spice to Berninis comedies. Yet the
shift in emphasis that seems to emerge from the sources probably does
reflect an actual development parallel to the increased complexity and
underlying unity of illusion we discerned in Berninis other work during the
same period, culminating in the Teresa chapel.
Perhaps Berninis secret will now have become clear. Upon the illusion
normally expected in the theater he superimposed another illusion that was
unexpected, and in which the audience was directly involved. The spectator, in an instant, became an actor, conscious of himself as an active, if dis-

Lavin II:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

05:58

Page 14

28

concerted, participant in the happening. The crucial thing is that when


he returned to his ordinary level of existence he became aware that someone
had created this response.
The relevance of this awareness lies in a series of interlocking conceits
which link the theater and art on a level that can only be described as metaphysical. It has repeatedly been observed that in the long and continuous
history of metaphors relating the theater on the one hand to real life and on
the other to abstract ideas, the early seventeenth century was of special
importance. A growing sense of the reality of the stage seems to have converged with a growing sense of the illusoriness of reality, to produce a paradoxical equation of the two. The equation became a leading topos of the
period in its most encompassing form as the theatrum mundi, or theater
of the world, whose producer is God; in its most concrete and circumscribed form, as the play-within-the-play.
Concerning the global theater, it can be observed that as the references
of the metaphor became more varied and enlarged, the notion of the theater itself did likewise.24 The word was applied in a vast range of contexts
a landscape, a palace courtyard, a garden fountain, a city, the sea, public
opinion, the art of writing, the art of memory whose connections with
the theater as a building or as a performance might be extremely tenuous.25
The applications are so disparate, in fact, that only one underlying idea is
discernible, although it is never part of any explicit definition of the term:
the idea of wholeness or totality. It is this quality that Berninis Teresa chapel

24 On the theatrum mundi, see the seminal chapter in E. R. Curtius, European Literature
and the Latin Middle Ages, New York and Evanston, 1953 (first ed. 1948), 13844, and the
article by R. Bernheimer, Theatrum Mundi, The Art Bulletin, XXXVIII, 1956, 22547; further, F. J. Warnke, The World as Theatre: Baroque Variations on a Traditional Topos, in
B. Fabian and U. Suerbaum, eds., Festschrift fr Edgar Mertner, Munich, 1969,185200; F.
A. Yates, Theatre of the World, London, 1969, esp. 164f. A vast collection of material will be
found in M. Costanzo, Il gran theatro del mondo: Schede per lo studio delliconografia letteraria nellet del manierismo, Milan, 1964, 746. The idea has been brought to bear in the
interpretation of Berninis St. Peters colonnade, by Kitao, Circle, 226.
25 The variety of uses is best gauged from the citations in Costanzo, Theatro; for some
applications in architecture, see K. Schwager, Kardinal Pietro Aldobrandinis Villa di
Belvedere in Frascati, Rmisches Jahrbuch fr Kunstgeschichte, IXX, 19612, 37982; Kitao,
Circle, 19ff. On the art of memory and the theater, Bernheimer, Theatrum, 22531; F. A.
Yates, The Art of Memory, Chicago, 1966, l29ff, 320ff.

Lavin II:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

05:58

Page 15

BERNINI AND THE THEATRE

29

shares with the contemporary notion of the theater.26 What distinguishes


his work, on the stage as well as in chapel decoration, is his concern at once
to elicit the sense of unity un bel composto and to engulf the spectator in it.
Concerning the play-within-the-play, various devices had been adopted
to double the redundancy of the motive, and thus relate it to a larger context.27 The performers of the inner play may have the role of actors in the
main play; the characters of the main play may retain their identities in the
inner play; the plot of the inner play may reflect that of the main play. So
far as I can discover, however, Berninis comedy about Dottor Gratiano is
the first in which the chief character is an impresario and the very subject
of the main plot is the staging of a play in which the same characters and
plot are retained. The focal point of these mirror images is the impresario
himself, whose significance is revealed in a crucial exchange between Dottor
Gratiano and his alter ego:
Gratiano: . . . chi el quel Gratian . . . ?
Gratiano: Chi el? li la favola de sta comedia, li!
Gratiano: Sigur; sel mondo non l altr chuna Comedia, Gratian l
la favola del mond.28
(Gr: . . . who is that Gratiano . . . ? Gr: Who is he? Hes the
theme of this play, he is ! Gr : Indeed; if the world is nothing but a
play, Gratiano is the theme of the world.)

26 Corollaries in theater history for the kind of unity discussed here are the development of the box theater with proscenium arch (see p. 93 above) and the development of stage
sets with symmetrical, continuous andby the mid-seventeenth centuryclosed structures
(for a convenient survey, see Mancini et al., Illusione).
27 The literature on the play-within-a-play is vast, although there is still no comprehensive treatment of the theme; for recent studies and further bibliography, see besides Neri,
Commedia, R. J. Nelson, Play within a Play: The Dramatists Conception of His Art,
Shakespeare to Anouilh, New Haven, 1958; A. Brown, The Play within a Play: An
Elizabethan Dramatic Device, Essays and Studies, XIII, 1960, 3648; D. Mehl, Forms and
Functions of the Play within a Play, Renaissance Drama, VIII, 1965, 4161; R. W. Witt,
Mirror within a Mirror: Ben Jonson and the Play-within, Salzburg, 1975 (Salzburg Studies in
English Literature, No. 46); L. Maranini, ed., La commedia in commedia: Testi del seicento
francese, Rome, 1974.
28 DOnofrio, Fontana, 66.

Lavin II:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

05:58

Page 16

30

The play-within-the-play is thus related to the theater of the world


through the role of its creator.
In the case of the comedies it was all in fun; in the case of the Teresa
chapel it was utterly serious. The conventional, expected illusion in a chapel
was that the setting of the liturgy was symbolic; the unexpected illusion
Bernini superimposed is that the setting is real. Thus, the Teresa chapel does
suggest a prestidigitator; in fact, its point is that it suggests a prestidigitator
a sublime, metaphysical, theological prestidigitator who has consciously
and as if by magic created and labeled this world, the inhabitants of which,
namely we, act as though it were real. On one level the name of the prestidigitator is God; on another level, it is Bernini. This seems incredibly conceited. Bernini was an extremely conceited, but at the same time a most
thoughtful and pious man. The metaphor linking God and the artist was
also an ancient one, deeply ingrained in the Christian tradition. God the
painter, God the sculptor, God the architect of the universe are ideas that
occur frequently in medieval theological treatises to exemplify divine creativity. In the Renaissance the relationship became more than an analogy,
expressing a special bond between the supreme creator and the artist. The
reference underwent a fundamental shift: whereas before Gods creativity
was compared to the artists, in the flood of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century
literature on art the artists creativity came to be likened unto Gods.29 In
part, Bernini went beyond the Renaissance, yet he also recaptured an essential element of the medieval spirit. He was acutely conscious of his own
inventiveness and he acknowledged unabashedly that his inspiration was
supernatural. His relationship to divinity was not a motive for self-aggrandizement, however, but for self-abnegation. He attributed his ability to
God, and, while he was very proud of his talent, he was very humble indeed
about its source.30
29 For a reference to this process in another context, cf. I. Lavin, The Sculptors Last
Will and Testament, Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin, XXXV, 19778, 38f., with bibliography on the artist-God metaphor, to which should be added E. Zilsel, Die Entstehung
des Geniebegriffes: Ein Beitrag zur Ideengeschichte der Antike und Frhkapitalismus, Tubingen,
1926, 27680; and, recently, M. Kemp, From Mimesis to Fantasia: The Quattrocento
Vocabulary of Creation, Inspiration and Genius in the Visual Arts, Viator, VIII, 1977, 384ff.
30 For the foregoing, see the statements in Chantelous diary assembled by Schudt,
Schaffensweise, 76f.
A closely analogous relationship to tradition underlies Berninis attitude toward death
and the works he made in preparation for it (Lavin, Berninis Death).

Lavin II:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

05:58

Page 17

BERNINI AND THE THEATRE

31

As the Teresa chapel itself was Berninis metaphor for heaven, so the
fusion of the arts and the unity of the whole were his metaphor for divine
creation.31 In the end, perhaps the great achievement of the Teresa chapel is
just this awareness of creation it provokes.

Abbreviations and Bibliography of Frequently Cited Works


AB: Archivio Barberini
BV: Biblioteca Vaticana, Rome
Baldinucci, F., Vita del Cavaliere Gio. Lorenzo Bernino, Florence, 1682, ed. S. S.
Ludovici, Milan, 1948.
Battaglia, R., La cattedra berniniana di San Pietro, Rome, 1943.
31 A comparable sense of the metaphysical and theological nature of verbal metaphor is
fundamental to the great mid-seventeenth-century manual of the subject, Emanuele
Tesauros Il Cannocchiale aristotelico: O sia idea delle argutezze heroiche vulgaramente chiamate
imprese, Venice, 1655; cf. the analyses by E. Donato, Tesauros Poetics : Through the
Looking Glass, Modern Language Notes, LXXVIII, 1963, 1530, esp. 23ff. on the importance
of visual perception in Tesauros thought, and J. A. Mazzeo, Metaphysical Poetry and the
Poetic of Correspondence, Journal of the History of Ideas, XIV, 1953, 22134; further, the
chapter Tesauro o dell ingannevole maraviglia, in M. Costanzo, Critica e poetica del primo
seicento, 3 vols., Rome, 196971, III, 91ff. Useful material on the seventeenth-century literary tradition of conceit will be found in the preface by A. Buck to a reprint of the 1670 Turin
edition of Tesauros work, Bad Homburg, Berlin, Zurich, 1968; aspects of Berninis imagery
have been discussed in this connection by Fagiolo dellArco, Bernini, 203ft, and Blunt,
Bernini.
Particularly interesting in our context is Tesauros concept of the metaphor of
Deception, or the Unexpected (referring to Aristotle, Rhetoric, III, 11); this he illustrates by
the prestidigitator (giocoliere), at the discovery of whose illusion the viewer is both pleased
and enlightened: Egli dunque vna segreta, & innata delitia dellIntelletto humano, lauuedersi di essere stato scherzeuolmente ingannato: peroche quel trapasso dallinganno al disinganno, vna maniera dimparamento, per via non aspettata; & perci piaceuolissima.
Questo piacer tu sperimenti nel vederti sorpreso da Giocolieri; che gabbano la tua credenza
con la destrezza della mano: onde tu ridi del tuo inganno dapoiche lhai conosciuto; hauendo
tu insperatamente appresa quella sperienza che non sapeui (Cannocchiale, ed. Turin, 1670,
460; cf. W. T. Elwert, Zur Charakteristik der italienischen Barocklyrik, Romanistisches
Jahrbuch, III, 1950, 460; E. Raimondi, Letteratura barocca: Studi sul seicento italiano,
Florence, 1961, 2).

Lavin II:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

05:58

Page 18

32
Bemmann, J., Die Bhnenbeleuchtung vom geistlichen Spiel bis zur frhen Oper als
Mittel knstlerischer Illusion, diss., Leipzig, 1933.
Bernheimer, R., Theatrum Mundi, The Art Bulletin, XXXVIII, 1956, 22547.
Bernini, D., Vita del Cavalier Gio. Lorenzo Bernino, Rome, 1713.
Blunt, A., Gianlorenzo Bernini: Illusionism and Mysticism, Art History, 1,1978,
6789.
Brauer, H., and R. Wittkower, Die Zeichnungen des Gianlorenzo Bernini, 2 vols.,
Berlin, 1931.
Chantelou, P. Frart de, Journal du voyage du Cavalier Bernin en France, ed. L.
Laianne, Paris, 1885.
Clementi, F., Il carnevale romano, 2 vols., Citt di Castello, 1938-9 (first ed. 1899).
DOnofrio, C, ed., Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Fontana di Trevi: Commedia inedita,
Rome, n.d.
Enciclopedia dello spettacolo, 10 vols., Rome, 1975.
Fagiolo dellArco, M., Bernini: Una introduzione al gran teatro del barocco, Rome,
1967.
Fraschetti, S., Il Bernini: La sua vita, la sua opera, il suo tempo, Milan, 1900.
Il S. Alessio. Dramma musicale dalleminentissimo et reverendissimo signore Card.
Barberino fatto rappresentare al serenissimo Principe Alessandro Carlo di Polonia
dedicato a sua eminenza e posto in musica da Stefano Landi romano musico della
cappella di N.S. e cherico beneftiato nella Basilica di S. Pietro in Roma, Rome,
1634.
Kitao, T. K., Berninis Church Faades: Method of Design and the Contrapposti
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, XXIV, 1965,26384.
Lavin, I., Berninis Death, The Art Bulletin, LIV, 1972, 15886.
Lavin, I., Lettres de Parme (1618, 162728) et dbuts du thatre baroque, in J.
Jacquot, ed., Le lieu thatral la Renaissance (Colloques internationaux du
centre national de la recherche scientifique, Royaumont, March 1963), Paris,
1964, 10558.
Lea, K. M., Italian Popular Comedy, 2 vols., Oxford, 1934.
Mancini, F., et al, Illusione e pratica teatrale: Proposte per una lettura dello spazio scenico dagli intermedi fiorentini allopera comica veneziana, exhib. cat., Venice,
1975.
Murata, M. K., Operas for the Papal Court with Texts by Giulio Rospigliosi, unpub.
diss., University of Chicago, 1975.
Schudt, L., Berninis Schaffensweise und Kunstanschauungen nach den
Aufzeichnungen des Herrn von Chantelou, Zeitschrift fr Kunstgeschichte, XII,
1949, 7489.

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 1

III

Bozzetti and Modelli


Notes on Sculptural Procedure from the
Early Renaissance through Bernini*
Dedicated, with admiration and gratitude,
to Richard Krautheimer

NE of the problems that has most occupied historians of Italian


Renaissance art during recent years concerns the amount and kind of
preparation that lay behind the great mural decorations of the trecento.
Following the basic work of Robert Oertel, and especially since the discovery of sinopias (the monumental and often astonishingly sketchy preparatory drawings executed directly on the wall) the old view that the medieval
painter worked by a more or less mechanical method of copying from prescribed models and patterns can no longer be maintained. Indeed, the chief
controversy has been reduced at present to the question whether even smallscale compositional sketches were used.1 There has taken place what
* The observations presented here are in the way of prolegomena to a general survey of
sculptors models and bozzetti and related problems of working procedure; this will form
part of the introduction to a critical corpus of the bozzetti of Gianlorenzo Bernini, which I
am now preparing for publication.
1
R. Oertel, Wandmalerei und Zeichnung in Italien, Mitteilungen des kunsthistorischen
Instituts in Florenz, 5, 1940, pp. 217 ff. Recent bibliography: E. Borsook, The Mural Painters
of Tuscany, London 1960; U. Procacci, Sinopie e affreschi, Milan 1961 (review, with additional observations by Procacci, by M. Muraro, Art Bulletin, 45, 1963, pp. 154 ff.); L.
Tintori and M. Meiss, The Paintings of the Life of St. Francis in Assisi with Notes on the Arena
Chapel, New York 1962 (review by J. White, Art Bulletin, 45, 1963, pp. 383 ff.); now

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 2

34

amounts to a fundamental reversal in our view of how works of art were


conceived. The medieval artist, formerly thought of as being bound by an
iron clad system of servile copying, now emerges as the paragon of direct
and unpremeditated creation. It was the Renaissance that sought to objectify and rationalize the artistic process into a fixed body of rules.
The problem has its counterpart in sculpture, though it has received far
less attention in this domain. And it is in this context that I shall offer some
rather loosely connected and tentative remarks on the history of the use of
bozzetti and modelli and Sculptural procedure in general.2
A useful point of departure is provided by the pioneering study by Carl
Bluemel on Greek sculptural technique, first published in 1927.3 On certain unfinished pieces of ancient statuary there is preserved a number of
small protuberances or knobs, with tiny holes in the center (Fig. 5, especially on the head and above the knees; Fig. 6, on the chest and knee). By
analogy with modern sculptural practice, it is evident that these knobs are
what are called points, fixed reference marks by means of which measurements are made in copying from a model or another sculpture. Such examples prove beyond question that a system of mechanical pointing-off was
known and used in antiquity.4 On this basis, Bluemel made an observation
that is of fundamental significance. It concerns an inherent difference in
procedure between sculpture that is executed free and directly in the
L. Tintori and M. Meiss, Additional Observations on Italian Mural Technique, Art
Bulletin, 46, 1964, p. 380. An important contribution is that of E. Kitzinger, The Mosaics of
Monreale, Palermo 1960, pp. 64 ff.
2
The reader should bear in mind that our attention will be focused on monumental
stone sculpture. Models for bronze and terracotta sculpture pose a special problem because,
unless there are external indications, it is practically impossible to determine with certainty
whether a given example is a study or the work itself in a pre-final stage. Sculptural models
for painting also form a category apart (J. von Schlosser, Aus der Bildnerwerkstatt der
Renaissance, Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sarnmlungen des allerhchsten Kaiserhauses, 31,
1913, pp. 111 ff.).
3
Griechische Bildhauerarbeit, Berlin 1927 (Jahrbuch des deutschen archologischen
Instituts. Ergnzungsheft XI), published independently thereafter (third edition, Berlin
1940) though omitting valuable documentation; English edition, Greek Sculptors at Work,
London 1955. Further observations by Bluemel appear in Archologischer Anzeiger, 54,
1939, cols. 302 ff.
4
Recent bibliography and examples: P. E. Corbett, Attic Pottery of the Late Fifth
Century from the Athenian Agora, Hesperia, 18, 1949, pp. 305 f, 341; G. M. A. Richter,
Ancient Italy, Ann Arbor, Michigan 1955, pp. 105 ff.; E. B. Harrison, New Sculpture from
the Athenian Agora, 1959, Hesperia, 29, 1960, pp. 370, 382; G. M. A. Richter, How were
the Roman Copies of Greek Portraits Made?, Rmische Mitteilungen, 69, 1962, pp. 52 ff.

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 3

BOZZETTI AND MODELLI

35

stone, and sculpture produced by pointing off from a model. In the former
case, characteristic of archaic and classical Greece, the artist tends to carve
the statue uniformly in the round (Fig. 7). He removes, as it were, a series
of skins from the figure, and at any given stage in the execution it will show
a more or less uniform degree of finish. With the technique of pointing-off,
used particularly by the Romans for copying Greek statuary, the tendency
is to work the figure from one side at a time, and to bring some parts to a
state of relative completion before others.
These questions seem to be largely unexplored as regards 'medieval
sculpture.5 What little evidence there is comes mainly from the Gothic
period. But though limited the evidence is of great value because it speaks
with a single and unequivocal voice. Bluemel himself cited several unfinished sculptures, such as the small female figure, probably an allegory of
Fortitude, from the late fourteenth century in Orvieto (Fig. 10). The technique is basically similar to that of archaic Greek sculpture; indeed, all the
medieval examples show the characteristics of direct carving, without pointing from a model.6
Even more striking is the consistency of the documentary evidence,
which for the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, particularly in
Italy, is rather extensive. We have the abundant records of both Florence
5
An important extension of Bluemels analysis to the development of Egyptian sculpture
was made by R. Anthes, Werkverfahren gyptischer Bildhauer, Mitteilungen des deutschen
Instituts fr gyptische Altertumskunde in Kairo, 10, 1941, pp. 79 ff.
6
Cf. after Bluemel, T. Mller in Reallexikon zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte, Stuttgart 1937
ff, II, cols. 6o8 ff, s.v. Bildhauer; also F. V. Arens in ibid., cols.1062 ff, s.v. Bosse,
Bossenkapitell. On medieval sculptural procedure generally, see P. du Colombier, Les
chantiers des cathdrales, Paris 1953, pp. 83 ff, with bibliography, though much more study
is necessary.
Needless to say, considerable variation in degree of surface finish on a given work is possible within the general principle of uniform, in-the-round carving in medieval sculpture.
Yet, there are real exceptions. On certain incompleted Romanesque capitals, parts were
brought to a final finish before the rest of the carving was even roughed out (suggesting the
use of a repeated pattern?); cf. J. Trouvelot, Remarques sur la technique des sculpteurs du
moyen-ge, Bulletin monumental, 95, 1936, pp. 103 ff. J. White, in his exemplary study of
the Orvieto faade reliefs, showed that a uniform working technique was used only in the
initial stages of blocking-out; execution of the subsequent stages progressed at varying rates
(The Reliefs on the Faade of the Duomo at Orvieto, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld
Institutes, 22, 1959, pp. 254 ff ). In this case however, we are not dealing with an artists
creative procedure, but, as White concludes, with a workshop system in which specific
kinds of secondary tasks were assigned to specialists once the main forms had been established by the leading masters.

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 4

36

and Milan cathedrals. And they show by repeated instances, and without
exceptions, that the monumental sculptures of these buildings were executed at this period not from models but from drawings. The drawings were
not provided by the executing sculptors themselves but by other artists; and
these other artists were usually not sculptors at all, but painters.7 The evidence concords perfectly with what the preserved examples suggested, for
sculpture executed exclusively from drawings is of necessity carved directly.
This then was the situation in the period immediately preceding the
emergence of the great masters of the early Renaissance, and it was the system under which they grew up. It is astonishing how rapidly and completely things changed. We cannot even remotely conceive of Ghiberti or
Donatello or Luca della Robbia executing sculpture as a general practice
after someone elses drawings, especially a painters. And as the sculptor
began to provide his own designs, the documents show with equal consistency that these designs now normally took the form of models.8 Drawings
7
On sculptors drawings generally cf. H. Keller, in Reallex. z. deut. Kunstg., II, cols.
625 ff, s. v. Bildhauerzeichnung. On the painters drawings for sculpture in Milan and
Florence, cf. Oertel, op. cit., pp. 267 ff (also, for Milan, U. Nebbia, La scultura del Duomo
di Milano, Milan, 1910, pp. 45 ff, 59 ff ). This suggests a link between the Milanese and
Florentine series of giganti as regards working procedure, as well as program (cf. R. and N.
Stang, Donatello e il Giosu per il Campanile di S. Maria del Fiore alla luce dei documenti,
Acta ad archaeologiam et artium historiam pertinentia. Institutum Romanum Norvegiae, 1,
1962, p. 119).
Needless to say, drawings by sculptors are documented in the trecento (cf. Nino Pisano,
Scherlatti tomb, Pisa, 1362, I. B. Supino, Arte Pisana, Florence, 1904, pp. 230 f.; wooden
choir-stall, Siena cathedral, 1377 ff, G. Milanesi, Documenti per la storia dellarte senese,
Siena, 1854-56, 1, pp. 332, 356, etc., R. Krautheimer, A drawing for the Fonte Gaia in
Siena, Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 10, 1952, p. 272).
It must be emphasized that, regardless of who made them, the question whether there
were true preparatory studies, as distinct from commission or working drawings, remains
open.
8
On models and bozzetti generally, cf. H. Keller and A. Ress, in Reallex. z. deut. Kunstg.,
II, cols. 1081. ff, s. v. Bozzetto, and Mller, ibid., cols. 600 ff.
This writer must report that so far he has encountered no certain example, either preserved or documented, of a model in whatever scale for monumental stone figural sculpture
before the fifteenth century. It should be emphasized, however, that there was an important
trecento practice of making models for architectural elements which may or may not have
included sculptured decorative details (documented at Prague, Xanten, Bremen, Milan,
Florence, and Bologna; cf. Keller, loc. cit., and L. H. Heydenreich, in idem, I, cols. 918 ff,
s.v. Architekturmodell); to this tradition presumably belongs the plaster model made by
Claus Sluter for the maonerie et faon of the fountain at Dijon (H. David, Claus Sluter,
Paris 1951, p. 86).

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 5

BOZZETTI AND MODELLI

37

continue to be used, of course, but they are no longer the distinctive basis
upon which works were commissioned or appraised.9
I suspect that the documentary notice of one of the key monuments in
this Florentine procedural revolution is still preserved to us. This is the
record referring to one of the famous series of colossal statues, or giganti,
commissioned for the cathedral of Florence, the series that resulted ultimately in the David of Michelangelo. It is a partial payment made in 1415
jointly to Donatello and Brunelleschi for a small figure of stone, draped
with gilt lead (una figuretta di pietra, vestita di piombo dorato); they were
to execute the figure for a test and illustration of the large figures that are
to be made upon the buttresses (per pruova e mostra delle figure grandi che
sanno a fare in su gli sproni).10 As far as I can discover this is the first reference to a model made in preparation for a piece of free-standing monumental sculpture since classical antiquity.
It is important to emphasize that the chief reason for making the model
was probably of a technical nature. We know that considerable difficulties
were experienced with the giant that Donatello had made a few years
earlier out of terracotta; it had to be repaired on several occasions within a
few years after it was completed.11 Chances are that Donatello and
Brunelleschi were trying out what would indeed have been a novel combi9
Jen Lnyi was apparently the first to draw attention to this fact, and stressed the
marked contrast between the Florentine masters on the one hand and on the other Jacopo
della Quercia, in whose work drawings play a leading role (Quercia-Studien, Jahrbuch fr
Kunstwissenschaft, 1930, pp. 25 ff.). But in this effort to establish Quercias originality, Lnyi
overlooked the fact that, in this respect at least, Quercia was carrying on a medieval tradition that was no less firmly rooted in trecento Siena than it had been in Florence and Milan
(cf. Oertel, op. cit., p. 263). Lnyi was right, however, in emphasizing Quercias departure,
along with the Florentines, from the late trecento tradition of monumental sculpture executed on the basis of drawings supplied by painters.
Lnyi (op. cit., pp. 53 f ) also misinterpreted the passage in which Vasari discusses
Quercias equestrian monument for the catafalque of Giovanni dAzzo Ubaldini (Le
vite . . ., ed. G. Milanesi, Florence 1906, II, pp. 110 f ) to mean that Vasari attributed to
Quercia the invention of the full-scale sculptors model. Vasari in fact is referring specifically
to the material construction of the piece, which in the sixteenth century was used for large
models. Quercias monument, however, was not a model in the sense of being preparatory
to execution in more permanent form, but belongs to the category of large scale decorations
executed in temporary materials for special occasions such as funerals and festivals.
10
C. Poggi, Il Duomo di Firenze, Berlin 1909, doc. no. 423.
11
Cf. H. W. Janson, Giovanni Chellinis Libro and Donatello, in Studien zur toskanischen Kunst. Festschrift fr Ludwig Heinrich Heydenreich, Munich 1964, p. 134.

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 6

38

1. Benedetto da Maiano,
Confirmation of the
Order of St. Francis,
Terracotta,
Victoria and Albert
Museum, London.

2. Benedetto da Maiano,
Confirmation of the
Order of St. Francis,
Pulpit,
S. Croce, Florence.

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 7

BOZZETTI AND MODELLI

39

3. Luca della Robbia,


Crucifixion of St. Peter,
National Museum,
Florence.

4. Verrocchio,
Model for the
Forteguerri
monument,
Terracotta,
Victoria and Albert
Museum, London.

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 8

40

5. Unfinished group, Dionysus and Satyr,


National Museum, Athens.

7. Unfinished archaic
Kouros,
National Museum,
Athens.

6. Unfinished statuette of a Youth,


Agora, Athens.

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 9

41

BOZZETTI AND MODELLI

8. Leonardo,
Drawing for a
mechanical pointing
device for sculpture,
Ms. A., Institut
de France,
Fol. 43 recto.

10. Unfinished statuette, Cathedral


Museum, Orvieto.

9. Michelangelo,
Bozzetto for a
two-figure group,
Terracotta,
Casa Buonarotti,
Florence.

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 10

42

11. Michelangelo, David, Accademia, Florence.

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 11

43

BOZZETTI AND MODELLI

12. Michelangelo,
David, Detail,
Accademia,
Florence.

13. Verrocchio.
Resurrection, Detail,
Painted terracotta,
National Museum,
Florence.

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 12

44

14. Michaelangelo,
Torso,
Terracotta,
British Museum,
London.

15. Michelangelo,
Model of a
River God,
Accademia,
Florence.

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 13

45

BOZZETTI AND MODELLI

16. Michaelangelo,
St. Matthew,
Accademia,
Florence.

17. Giambologna,
Cast model
for the Bologna
Neptune fountain,
Museo Civico,
Bologna.

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 14

46

nation of stone with a protective cover of metal in the form of drapery. But
even if it was primarily a technical rather than an aesthetic experiment it
represents a radical new departure in the way of conceiving a work of
sculpture.12
What were the models of the early Renaissance like, and how were they
used? The evidence for the first question is entirely indirect; so far, at least,
I have not encountered a single Italian work from the first half of the quattrocento that is convincing as a model for sculpture.13 But since the designs,
wether drawings or models, mentioned in the documents were made as the
basis for commissions and were often intended to be kept as a standard
against which the completed work would be judged, it seems probable that
they were highly finished.14 This assumption receives some support from
examples from the second half of the century that have a better (though by
no means certain) claim to be regarded as authentic models. Such is the terracotta in the Victoria and Albert Museum, showing the Confirmation of
the Order of St. Francis, one of a series related to the reliefs on Benedetto
da Majanos Pulpit in S. Croce of around 1475; the executed sculptures
show only slight variations from the models (Figs. 1, 2).15
As to the way the models were used we have one important direct clue
for the early part of the century an unfinished relief by L. della Robbia

12
Brunelleschis participation and the fact that what was being planned was, after all, a
piece of architectural sculpture, may not be fortuitous. It is my feeling that this experiment,
and the development of the sculptors model generally was closely related to the earlier
tradition of architectural models (cf. above, n. 8).
13
For a convenient list of early terracottas, cf. C. von Fabriczy, Kritisches Verzeichnis
toskanischer Holz- und Tonstatuen bis zurn Beginn des Cinquecento, Jahrbuch der
Preuischen Kunstsammlungen, 30, 1909, Beiheft, pp. 1 ff.
In particular, I would reject as a Nachbildung the small plaque (with original paint and
gilding) in the museum at Arezzo first published by Fabriczy as a model by Bernardo
Rosellino for the relief of the Madonna della Misericordia (Ein Jugendwerk Bernardo
Rossellinos und sptere unbeachtete Schpfungen seines Meissels, Jb. d. Preu. Kunstslgn.,
21, 1900, pp. 99 ff ); similarly, the relief published by A. Marquand (A terracotta Sketch by
Lorenzo Ghiberti, American Journal of Archaeology, 9, 1894, pp. 206 ff; cf. R. Krautheimer
with T. Krautheimer-Hess, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Princeton 1956, p. 191), etc.
14
Cf., e.g., C. Guasti, Il pergamo di Donatello pel Duomo di Prato, Florence 1887,
p. 13; A. Marquand, Luca della Robbia, Princeton, etc., 1914, pp. 78, 197; Poggi, op. cit.,
doc. 1099.
15
See now, J. Pope-Hennessy, Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert
Museum, London 1964, pp. 156 ff.

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 15

BOZZETTI AND MODELLI

47

in the Bargello, representing the Crucifixion of St. Peter (Fig. 3).


Together with its partner, which shows the Deliverance of St. Peter, it
formed part of an altar in the cathedral of Florence, commissioned in 1439,
for which a wooden model is recorded in the documents.16 The reliefs, however, give no evidence of having been worked from a model; there are no
pointing marks, and while the surfaces are not absolutely uniform the artist
certainly did not bring one part to completion before beginning another.
The technique is similar to that of the late medieval examples, and it would
appear that the introduction of models was not accompanied by a radical
change in procedure. In general we may say that the model was a kind of
preview of the final work; it was not really a study, and it did not play a
really integral role in the creative process.
The one literary source we have concerning the sculpture of this period,
Albertis Treatise on Sculpture, written probably in the 1430s gives the same
impression.17 It is, needless to say, one of the major documents in the
Renaissance tendency to codify artistic creation. Its chief technical contribution is that it provides a system whereby the measurements of a statue can
be taken and proportionally enlarged or reduced. But it is important to realize that Alberti does not actually give a method of pointing off. He tells you
how to obtain a given dimension on the prototype, but not how actually to
reproduce it in working the stone. The distinction is meaningful because it
is entirely possible to copy a model by taking its measurements, and yet to
work the stone directly without a true method of pointing-off. Such a procedure is exactly what the other evidence we have cited suggests for the early
quattrocento.18
In fact, the first instance of a mechanical pointing method comes only
at the end of the century. This is the famous perforated box of Leonardos
Trattato, for which a drawing appears in Ms. A of the Institut de France, of

A. Marquand, op. cit., pp. 41 ff. The wording of the document (ibid., p. 44) suggests
that the figural parts may not actually have been included on the model.
17
H. Janitschek, Leone Battista Albertis Kleinere Kunsttheoretische Schriften,Vienna 1877
(Quellenschriften fr Kunstgeschichte und Kunsttechnik des Mittelalters und der Neuzeit,
XI), pp. 165 ff.
18
A proportional enlarging method is alluded to by Ghiberti (J. von Schlosser, Lorenzo
Ghibertis Denkwrdigkeiten, Berlin 1912, 1, pp. 50 f, cf. II, p. 38), and Pomponius Gauricus
also includes one (H. Brochhaus, De sculptura von Pomponius Gauricus, Leipzig 1886, p. 26).
16

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 16

48

about 1492 (Fig. 8).19 Leonardos device, it must be admitted, is very


crude. It would not allow for more than a relatively small number of points
to be taken, it would be cumbersome for work on a large scale, and would
not be very well suited for enlargements or reductions in scale. If in this
case, as in others, Leonardos invention was at the vanguard of its time, we
must conclude that pointing techniques were being experimented with, but
were not very highly developed by the end of the quattrocento.
If this assumption is correct we can perhaps gain some insight into the
peculiar facts surrounding that other famous giant commissioned for
Florence Cathedral from Agostino di Duccio in 1464. According to the
record the statue, which was to be 9 braccia high, was to correspond to a
model that Agostino had made in wax.20 It was to have been made of four
pieces of white marble, one for the head and neck, one for each arm, and
one for the rest of the body. Since so far as we know Donatellos and
Brunelleschis figure never got beyond the model stage, Agostinos would
have been the first colossal freestanding marble statue since antiquity. One
cannot but admire the boldness of his attempt, and I suspect that it was
based upon a pointing method of some kind. At least, a system of proportional measurement must have been involved if he expected to reproduce a
wax model on a colossal scale. We may recall, moreover, that Alberti had
specifically recommended his method both for executing sculpture in several pieces, and for enlargement to superhuman size.21
But Agostinos daring did not end there. In December of 1466 the
operai of the cathedral agreed to increase Agostinos fee for the figure,
because now he proposed to execute it from a single block of marble, rather
than four.22 Most remarkable is the fact that the document stipulates that
the increase in fee was determined not only by the great spendio et expensa,
but also by the greater intelleto involved in the new scheme. This extra

19
C. Ravaisson-Mollien, Les manuscrits de Lonard de Vinci. Le Manuscrit A de la bibliothque de linstitut, Paris 1881, fol. 43 recto; cf. J. P. Richter, The Literary Works of Leonardo
da Vinci, London, etc., 1939, II, no. 706 ; A. P. McMahon, Treatise on Painting, Princeton
1956, I, no. 556, II, fols. 160 verso, 161 recto. Another sketch of a similar device, in the
Codex Atlanticus (fol. 68 va), was kindly brought to my attention by Prof. Carlo Pedretti,
who dates it 150005 (Studi Vinciani, Geneva, 1957, p. 268).
20
Poggi, op. cit., doc. 441.
21
Alberti was no doubt in part following a literary convention from antiquity, as in
Diodorus Siculus story (I, 28) of two sculptors who made a statue in two sections and in separate locations; with the fundamental distinction, however, that Alberti is speaking in this con-

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 17

BOZZETTI AND MODELLI

49

intelleto might well refer to an improvement in his pointing system that


Agostino hoped would enable him to accomplish this unprecedented feat.
I submit the possibility that Agostinos notorious failure was due to some
miscalculation in his pointing system, as a result of which he was forced to
give up and leave the block male abozatum, This phrase, male abozatum,
occurs in the record of 1501 in which the operai of the cathedral ceded the
block to Michelangelo, who would in the next two years carve the David
from it (Figs. 11, 12).23 If the hypothesis about Agostinos abortive attempt
at pointing off his giant is correct, perhaps we can shed some light on
another part of the same entry, which is by all odds one of the most curious
notices in the whole history of Renaissance sculpture. In the margin next to
the main giving the block to Michelangelo the following note was added:
The said Michelangelo began to work on the said giant on the morning of 13 September 1501, although a few days earlier, on 9
September, he had with one or two blows of the chisel (uno vel duo
ictibus) removed a certain nodus (quoddam nodum) that it had on
its chest.
This nodus has been interpreted as a knot of drapery, on the assumption
that Agostinos figure was to be clothed.24 I wonder, however, whether the
nodus was not in fact a point, a knob of marble deliberately retained by
Agostino as a fixed reference for measuring off his colossus from the model.
The David is one of the vivid cases of Michelangelos phobia against
people seeing his work while in progress; he actually had a wall built around
it to keep away the curious, as we know from both Vasari and the documents.25 Yet the payments show that Michelangelo had removed the nodus
before the wall was built, while the block was still visible. He seems to have
wanted one and all to know that he intended to execute the statue without
Agostinos nodus.
text not of a system of proportions, but of his method of measuring from a prototype (as has
been emphasized by E. Panofsky, Meaning in the Visual Arts, New York 1955, p. 72, n. 26).
22
Poggi, op. cit., doc. 444.
23
Ibid., doc. 449.
24
Cf. C. de ToInay, Michelangelo, Princeton 1948 ff, I, p. 154, citing K. Lanckoronska.
25
Vasari-Milanesi, VII p. 154; K. Frey, Studien zu Michelagniolo Buonarroti und zur
Kunst seiner Zeit, Jb. d. Preu. Kunstslgn., 30, 1909, Beiheft, p. 107, nos 12 (payment for
the wall, October 14, 1501 and 13 (for the roof, December 20, 1501).

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 18

50

We can scarcely even speculate as to how Michelangelo himself accomplished the feat. We know from Vasari that he too made a wax model. That
he used a system of enlargement is suggested by the very fact that he built
a wall around the figure, which would have made it practically impossible
to judge proportions from a distance. Another tantalizing notice in both
Vasari and Condivi is that he also left portions of the original block, which
might have served as stationary references for a measuring system, at the
head and at the base of the figure:26 but that at the head was removed,
unfortunately, in the eighteenth century.27
In any event, the David is the first definite instance we have of
Michelangelos use of the model in preparation for monumental sculpture.
Thereafter in his work the model takes on a virtually unheralded significance, but at this point we must consider briefly some aspects of what
might be called the pre-history of Michelangelos achievement.
In the general framework of late quattrocento Italian sculpture it is possible to define a powerful undercurrent of experimentation with new ways
of creating plastic effects. Verrocchio seems to have been a key figure in this
tendency. Certain passages in his relief of the Resurrection from Careggi in
the Bargello, for example, show a strikingly loose and expressive modeling
(Fig. 13) and the same may be said of his bust of Giuliano deMedici in

26
Vasari-Milanesi, loc. cit.; A. Condivi, Vita di Michelangelo Buonarroti, ed. Pisa 1823,
(Collezione di ottimi scrittori italiani), p. 22.
27
As reported by D. M. Manni (in a note to the edition of Condivi by A. F. Gori,
Florence 1746, p. 83; reprinted on p. 98 in the edition cited above, note 26), who says, La
scorza nella sommit del capo ora non si vede pi, dacch anni alquanti sono fu di nouvo
ripulita.
A brief search by the writer in the Florentine archives for a record of this operation was
unsuccessful. There did appear, however, an undated estimate for a later cleaning by the
sculptor Stefano Ricci (17651837):
Dovendosi da me sottoscritto Restaurare, ripulire, ed Incausticare la statua deldavidde dellImmortal Michelangelo esistente in Piazza del Gran Duca, e restaurare i due Leoni che esistono sotto la loggia detta dei lanzi, Avendo Ponderato ed i
Tasselli che ci mancano e la ripulitura, lIncausto, Ponti, ed altro, Esaminando la
Fatica necessaria p rimetter con criterio dei pezzi ad opera simili, giudico, e credo
potere ascender la total somma a Zechini quarantacinque
Tanto a lonore di esporre lUmilissimo Servo
Stefano Ricci Scultore
(Archive of the Soprintendenza della Galleria agli Uffizi, ms. no. 277.)

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 19

BOZZETTI AND MODELLI

51

Washington.28 The Careggi relief was certainly painted, the Medici bust
probably, so that much of the effect would have been lost. But in fact a host
of other works of this period, perhaps best exemplified by the series of reliefs
attributed to Francesco di Giorgio, show analogously bold vagueness of
form.29 It is scarecly necessary to emphasize that this whole phenomenon
was incalculably indebted to Donatello, and here is where its relevance for
Michelangelo becomes specific. When, as Vasari says, the youthful
Michelangelo in making his Madonna of the Stairs set out to contrafare la
maniera di Donatello,30 it is more than likely that at least part of his interest lay precisely in the diffuse and irregular surfaces that play a central role
in Donatellos relief technique. Certainly, in view of Michelangelos subsequent development it is difficult to imagine that the pictorial possibilities
of the rilievo schiacciato were of great concern to him.
What I wish to suggest is that the basic redefinition of sculptural finish
implied in this development was closely related to the emergence of the
sculptural study as an independent form. For here, too, the first steps were
taken in the late quattrocento, both towards freer handling in the model
itself, and towards an appraisal of the model in terms of its own special
properties. In both these respects Verrocchio once more seems to have been
a leader. His terracotta model in the Victoria and Albert Museum for the
Forteguerri monument in Pistoia (c. 1475, Fig. 4),31 though hardly a sketch,
is very different from such highly finished models as those of Benedetto da
Majano. And if the London relief was actually a presentation piece, submitted for the patrons approval, it marks the appearance of a new attitude
in this domain. That something of the sort was taking place is further evidenced by the fact that a few years later (1482) Verrocchios model of the
St. Thomas of Or San Michele was purchased for the Universit dei
Mercatanti. The model was to be placed on public display, and the decree
authorizing the acquisition states the motive in eloquent terms, per non

28
Illustrations of the former in L. Planiscig, Andrea del Verocchio, Vienna 1941, Pls. 17,
of the latter in C. Seymour, Jr., Masterpieces of Sculpture from the National Gallery of Art,
New York, 1949, Pls. 113116, Cf. p. 114.
29
See A. S. Weller, Francesco di Giorgio, Chicago 1943, pp. 135 ff.
30
Vasari-Milanesi, VII, p. 144.
31
Pope-Hennessy, op. cit., pp. 164 f.

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 20

52

lasciare guastarsi e perire la boza et principio di si bella cosa;32 it attaches a


definite and positive value to the work of genesis as such.
Whatever their ancestry, however, Michelangelos small figures in wax
and clay have the quality of directness that prompts us to speak for the first
time of real sculptural sketches, or bozzetti (Figs. 9, 14).33 In the terracotta
torso in the British Museum, we even find the same very personal graphic
surface treatment that appears in the unfinished marbles and in many of the
drawings. Throughout the whole prior history of European sculpture there
is nothing that conveys in this way the feeling of being confronted with the
artists most inward and private searchings. Moreover, the sources and preserved examples together leave no doubt that he made such studies regularly
for all sorts of projects, so it can also be said that with Michelangelo the
three-dimensional sketch became an essential part of the sculptors creative
machinery.
At the opposite extreme stands the equally dramatic fact that with
Michelangelo we are able, again for the first time since antiquity, to prove
the use of large-scale models for monumental stone sculpture. I refer of
course to the Medici tombs; large models for the figure sculptures are amply
documented in Michelangelos own Ricordi, and one, the River God in the
Accademia is still preserved (Fig. 15).34
32
Cf. C. von Fabriczy, Donatellos Hl. Ludwig und sein Tabernakel an Or San Michele,
Jb. d. Preu. Kunstslgn., 21, 1900, p. 257.
Fundamentally different is the situation described by Pliny, (NH, XXXV, 155), in which
Arkesilaus models brought more than the final works of others, and one of his statues was
set up before it was finished; these stories merely document the exceptionally high esteem in
which the artists works were held.
It is tempting to speculate that a direct line in the development of the three-dimensional
sketch may have led from Verrocchio through Leonardo; a drawing in Windsor with figures
for the Anghiari battle (c. 1505) has an inscription recording Leonardos intention to make
a small one of wax the length of a finger. These studies, in turn, are probably reflected in a
number of bronze statuettes, and in the small terracotta battle groups attributed to Rustici.
(Cf. K. Clark, Leonardo da Vinci, Harmondsworth, 1959, p. 132) There is no evidence that
the latter were preliminary studies, but it seems quite possible that Leonardos example was
followed in the preparation of larger works in sculpture.
33
See L. Goldscheider, A Survey of Michelangelos Models in Wax and Clay, London, 1962,
with many problematic attributions.
34
For the Ricordi, cf. G. Milanesi, Le Lettere di Michelangelo Buonarroti, Florence 1875,
pp. 591 ff. The frequency with which he used large models for sculpture is not so evident as
with the bozzetti; Cellini (cited below, note 35) says that Michelangelo had worked both
with and without full-scale models, and that after a point he used them regularly. On the

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:00

Page 21

BOZZETTI AND MODELLI

53

Both these innovations should be kept in mind when one considers still
another aspect of Michelangelos working procedure (Fig. 16). This is his
habit, described by Vasari and Cellini and confirmed by the works themselves, of attacking the block from one side only, uncovering the projecting
forms first and proceeding only gradually to the deeper excavations.35 The
significance of this technique has not I think been clearly grasped, though
Vasari himself supplies the explanation. He says that its purpose was to
avoid errors by leaving room at the back of the block for alterations. In
other words, should the artist encounter any flaws in the marble as he proceeds, should he make a mistake, should he alter his conception, he will be
in a much better position to make any necessary allowances or changes than
if the opposite side were already hewn away.
I need hardly point out the similarity of this to the later classical procedure, which Bluemel showed was based on making copies by pointing-off.
What this would indicate, however, is that Michelangelos technique, too,
developed in relation to his use of models. Indeed, Vasari gives his description of the procedure in a passage dealing with the use of models. His
description is even couched in terms of the famous analogy of a wax model
slowly withdrawn from a pail of water. I do not mean to imply that
Michelangelo actually pointed-off in a modern way, as has been claimed,36
or even that he necessarily made models, on whatever scale, in every case.
Rather, I suggest in general terms that these two most salient features of his
working procedure his one-sided approach to the block, and the
unprecedented role of bozzetti and modelli in his work should be viewed
as interconnected phenomena, the one proceeding directly from the other.
Michelangelos revolutionary technique may thus be understood against the
broad background of sculptural procedure since the early fifteenth century.
The development that began with Donatellos and Brunelleschis quasiscientific experiment reaches here, a hundred years later, a kind of
threshold.

other hand, in a letter of 1547 Bandinelli reports Pope Clement as having said that
Michelangelo could never be persuaded to make such models (G. Bottari, Raccolta di lettere
sulla pittura . . ., ed. S. Ticozzi, Milan, 1822 ff, I, p. 71).
But that Michelangelo himself thought of them as a means of facilitating the work is
apparent from his letter of April 1523 concerning full-scale models for the Medici tombs
(Milanesi, Lettere, p. 421; cf. on the dating, K. Frey, Die Briefe des Michelagniolo Buonarroti,
ed. H.-W. Frey, Berlin 1961, pp. 243 ff ).

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:01

Page 22

54

18. Bernini, Model for the Four Rivers fountain,


Detail, Private Collection, Rome.

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:01

Page 23

BOZZETTI AND MODELLI

19. Giambologna, River God,


Terracotta,
Victoria and Albert Museum,
London.

20. Bernini,
Angel with the
Iinscription,
Terracotta,
Side View,
Hermitage,
St. Petersburg.

55

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:01

Page 24

56

21. Bernini,
Angel with the
Iinscription,
Terracotta,
Front View,
Hermitage,
St. Petersburg.

20. Bernini,
Angel with the
Iinscription,
Terracotta,
Coll. Mr. and Mrs.
Richards S. Davis.

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:01

Page 25

BOZZETTI AND MODELLI

23. Bernini, Angel with the Inscription,


Ponte S. Angelo, Rome.

57

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:01

Page 26

58

In the course of the sixteenth century this threshold was crossed and the
creative process became, as it were, so self-conscious and articulate as to be
virtually autonomous. The treatises of Cellini and Vasari on sculpture give
detailed accounts involving a series of clearly defined steps from small study
through the full-scale model, to the final work. An important factor in this
context was that Michelangelo could be cited as authority; the Medici
chapel is Cellinis chief witness when insisting on the desirability of the fullscale model.37 Characteristically, they both give as much attention to the
preparatory stages, the making of the models, as to the final execution. This
attitude has its visual corollary in the fact that the preliminary studies and
models now become independent and highly finished works of art in their
own right. It is probably no accident that two of Giambolognas full-scale
models, the Florence Triumphant over Pisa and the Rape of the Sabines, were
preserved along with the executed works themselves.38 And of course the
small studies for works in a large scale were often cast in bronze as
Kleinkunst (Fig. 17).
This by no means signifies that true bozzetti were not produced in the
sixteenth century; although the highly finished studies form the backbone
of Giambolognas preparations for a work of art, under certain iconographical circumstances at least, he produced sketches that go far beyond
Michelangelo in freedom of handling (Fig. 19).39
I strongly suspect that Berninis bozzetto style was not developed without a direct knowledge of such sketches by Giambologna, possibly in the

35
Vasari-Milanesi, I, pp. 154 f, cf. VII, pp. 272 f.; Cellini, Trattato della Scultura in A. J.
Rusconi and A. Valeri, eds. La Vita di Benvenuto Cellini, Rome 1901, p. 780; these are the
most important among numerous allusions to Michelangelos procedure.
36
F. Kieslinger, Ein unbekanntes Werk des Michelangelo, Jb. d. Preu. Kunstslgn., 49,
1928, pp.50 ff.
37
Op. cit. (above, no. 35), p. 778780
38
E. Dhanens, Jean Boulogne: Giovanni Bologna Fiammingo, Brussels 1956 (Koninklijke
Vlaamse Academie voor Wetenschappen . . ., Kl. der schone Kunsten, Verhandeling nr 11),
pp. 147 (n. 2) ff.
39
It now seems certain that the London model illustrated in our Fig. 19 is a study for a
colossal Nile at Pratolino, which was ultimately superseded by the famous figure of the
Apennines (cf. Pope-Hennessy, op.cit., p. 473, citing H. Keutner, review of Dhanens, in
Kunstchronik, 11, 1958, p. 327). And indeed, from the fluid treatment of the river god a
subtle but definite change may be observed toward sharper, almost craggy surfaces in the
Bargello study for the mountain deity (A. E. Brinckmann, Barock-Bozzetti, Frankfurt a. M.
192325, I, Pl. 29).

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:01

Page 27

BOZZETTI AND MODELLI

59

Medici collection in Florence.40 Moreover, Bernini continues and even surpasses the late sixteenth century in working out his conception fully in
advance. This may be judged from the fact that Sandrart reports he saw no
less than twenty-two wax bozzetti for the St. Longinus alone.41 Sandrart was
himself astonished, and observes that the number of studies was far greater
than other sculptors were wont to produce. Eleven bozzetti for the angels of
the Ponte S. Angelo are preserved still today, and in them we follow the
development of Berninis ideas with a degree of intimacy that can only be
described as startling. Even in the famous case where we know Bernini
worked the marble directly, the bust of Louis XIV, he did so only after the
most painstaking study, which included besides drawings, many clay
models.42
No less clear is the evidence for Berninis committment to the full-scale
model. In every case where the documents for his larger commissions are
preserved they show that he used full-scale models; it was through them
that he was able to control and give his personal stamp to vast undertakings
executed largely with the help of assistants. Symptomatic of this development is that by far the most elaborate and practical description to date of
techniques of model-making, measurement and proportional enlargement
comes in a treatise on sculpture, still unpublished, written around 1650 by
one Orfeo Boselli.43 Boselli, though a pupil and follower of Duquesnoy,
worked under Bernini on the decoration of St. Peters, and his account may
well reflect the practise in Berninis studio. Symptomatic, too, is the fact
that with Bernini and his school we begin to get measured bozzetti; that is,
bozzetti on which calibrated scales have been incised, for the purpose of
Berninis acquaintance with the Medici collections seems evident from a comparison
of his Rape of Proserpine with the bronze by Pietro da Barga in the Bargello (cf. G. de Nicola,
A Series of Small Bronzes by Pietro da Barga, Burlington Magazine, 29, 1916, Pl. III, Q), a
relationship I hope to enlarge upon in another context.
41
A. R. Peltzer, Joachim von Sandrarts Academie . . ., Munich 1925, p. 286.
42
Cf. R. Wittkower, Berninis Bust of Louis XIV, Oxford 1951 (Charlton Lectures on
Art), p. 8.
43
Osservationi della Scoltura antica, Rome, Bibl. Corsini, ms. 36, F. 27, Bk. I, chs.
xiv ff., II, chs. xviii ff. Concerning one of his methods he says salvarai sempre le doi cime
del sasso, grosse tre dita, ben riquadrate, tanto nel di sopra, quanto nel fianco, perche perse
quelle, sarebbe vano il tutto; ne le levarai mai sin tanto, che non habbi posto a loco certo
tutte le parti principali (fol. 6o verso). On the treatise, cf. M. Piacentini, Le Osservationi
della scoltura antica di Orfeo Boselli, Bollettino del R. Istituto di Archeologia e Storia
dellArte, 9, 1939, pp. 5 ff.
40

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:01

Page 28

60

mathematically precise enlargement. One of the first examples I know is a


magnificent unpublished bozzetto by Bernini for the Angel with the
Inscription on Ponte S. Angelo, in which measured scales run vertically up
both sides of the rear support (Figs. 20, 21).44
I do not believe one could duplicate this kind of advanced preparation
in the work of any previous sculptor. We are faced with the paradox that
behind Berninis revolutionary effects of freedom and spontaneity there lay
an equally unprecedented degree of conscious premeditation. In a sense, of
course, it may be said that Bernini simply carries to a new level the tendency
to externalize and articulate the creative process that had begun in the early
Renaissance. But there are a number of factors that taken together point to
a profound difference from earlier procedure and have some bearing upon
the paradox of Berninis calculated spontaneity. As regards full-scale models
the examples recorded were made either for the benefit of assistants, or as a
means of trying out the projected work in situ. There is no evidence that
Bernini used full-scale models as part of his own personal working procedure. Interestingly enough, Boselli says specifically that whereas it had
previously been the custom to make full-scale models, he considers a small
model sufficient, except for larger works requiring try-outs for size.45
With regard to smaller models, in Bernini the relationship between
developed studies and sketches is reversed as compared with Giambologna.
Rapidly executed bozzetti, instead of being relatively rare, form by far the
greater portion of the corpus of known Bernini terracottas. Conversely,
highly finished studies are exceptional in Berninis work, and those that
exist can usually be linked to special circumstances such as execution by
assistants. No certain example of a study by Bernini cast in bronze is
known.46 The loose and very personal sketch, then, was his characteristic
instrument of creation.
It is remarkable, finally, that his bozzetti do not necessarily become more
highly finished as they approach the final conception. A striking case in

Height: 32.5 cm.; Inv. no. 630.


Op. cit., fol. 56 recto.
46
One possibility is a small bronze version of the Countess Matilda, cf. R. Wittkower,
Bernini, London 1955, p. 196. A small lead statuette, supposedly a trial model for Berninis
Neptune fountain at the Villa Montalto, was owned by Antonio Muoz (cf. I. Faldi, Galleria
Borghese. Le sculture dal secolo XVI al XIX, Rome 1954, p. 43, and Muoz in LUrbe, 1957,
no. 6, p. 13).
44
45

Lavin III. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VII

13/8/07

06:01

Page 29

BOZZETTI AND MODELLI

61

point is the one just mentioned (Fig. 21). It is extremely close to the third
of Berninis angels, the one now on the bridge (Fig. 23),47 and as we have
seen it is actually measured for enlargement. Nevertheless it is not much
more highly finished than studies produced at an earlier stage in the planning (Fig. 22).48 To be sure, Berninis chief purpose in making the models
was to study the general disposition of pose and drapery, rather than to
work out details. But there is also, I think and this can be shown in many
other ways as well a deliberate effort to retain, or actually to increase the
sense of immediacy and freshness. These qualities which had previously
been, so to speak, incidental by-products of the creative process,
become part of its very purpose, a goal toward which Berninis elaborate
preparations were aimed.
In this way one can also understand the vast gulf separating Berninis
conception of sculpture from that of Michelangelo, despite the many points
they have in common. For Michelangelo sculpture was a matter of taking
away material to reveal the form in the stone. And he was obsessed with the
difficulties of the task such phrases as dura and alpestra pietra occur
repeatedly in his poems in reference to sculpture.49 Sculpture was not an
easy business for Bernini either; one of Michelangelos own dicta that he
applied to himself was nelle mie opere caco sangue.50 But for him a major
challenge was to preserve in the final execution the momentary quality,
though not the roughness, of a sketch. Hence he thought of sculpture as a
process of moulding the marble, rather than hewing it away; and he said
precisely that one of his greatest achievements was to have succeeded in rendering the marble pieghevole come la cera.51

On the attribution of this figure, cf. Wittkower, Bernini, p. 233.


Height: 30 cm.; one of a pair of unpublished bozzetti for the angels in the collection
of Mr. and Mrs. Richards. Davis, formerly of Wayzata, Minnesota, illustrated and discussed
in my dissertation, The Bozzetti of Gianlorenzo Bernini, Harvard Univ., 1955, pp. 184 f.
49
Cf. E. Panofsky, Studies in Iconology, New York and Evanston 1962, p. 178 and n. 16.
50
P. Frart de Chantelou, Journal du voyage du Cavalier Bernin en France, ed. L. Lalanne,
Paris 1885, p. 174.
51
D. Bernini, Vita del Cavalier Gio. Lorenzo Bernino, Rome 1713, p. 149; cf. A. Riegl,
Filippo Baldinuccis Vita des Gio. Lorenzo Bernini, eds. A. Burda and O. Pollak, Vienna 1912,
p. 235.
47
48

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page2

IV

Bernini and the


Crossing of Saint Peters
Introduction

N THE present essay the crossing of Saint Peters refers to the grandiose
plan by which, during the reign of Pope Urban VIII (16231644) under
Berninis direction, a visually and conceptually unified focus was created at
the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles (Fig. l).1 The scheme consisted essentially of grouping four of the major relics of early Christianity, previously
dispersed, about the altar above the tomb.2 My chief purpose here is to define the way in which the arrangement was given meaning and expressive
form in the baldachin above the altar and in the decorations of the four
piers supporting the dome of the basilica. It will be necessary to consider
also the earlier contributions, which conditioned the final solution, and the
changes introduced in the course of execution, as a result of which much of
the original unity was lost. Sections IIV trace the broad outlines of the his-

A tradition universally accepted since the Middle Ages held that the bodies of both St.
Peter and St. Paul had been divided; half of each had been deposited at Saint Peters, the
other two halves at Saint Pauls Outside the Walls (cf. E. Kirschbaum, The Tombs of St. Peter
& St. Paul, London, 1959, 209 ff.). For effects of the legend on planning for the crossing see
nn. 48, 111, 171 below.
2
For the holy days and special occasions on which the Passion relics are shown, see
Moroni, Dizionario, CIII, 101 f. In 1964 the head of St. Andrew was returned to Patras in
Greece, whence it had come to Rome under Pius II in 1462 (LOsservatore Romano, anno
104, no. 218, Sept. 20, 1964, 4, and subsequent issues; see now R. O. Rubenstein, Pius IIs
Piazza S. Pietro and St. Andrews Head, in Essays in the History of Architecture Presented to
Rudolf Wittkower, London, 1967, 22 ff.). See also end of n. 125 below.
1

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page3

63

1. St. Peters,
view of
crossing
toward west
(photo:
Anderson)

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page4

64

tory of the crossing through the period in question, with emphasis on the
sources and meaning of the baldachin. Chapter V analyzes the role of the
colossal statues in the lower niches of the piers. The Conclusion (Section
VI) is a schematic and tentative effort to understand the significance of the
crossing in Berninis development. The Appendices offer an annotated list
of projects submitted before and in competition with Bernini.
I. The Crossing Before Bernini
The Piers
The first steps toward the new disposition of the relics may be said to
have been taken under Pope Paul V (16051621). In 1606, with the destruction of the nave of the old basilica, Paul transferred the three chief
relics that had long been in Saint Peters to the two piers flanking the apse
of the new building:3 the Holy Face (Volto Santo) and the Lance of St.
Longinus were moved to the southwest pier, the head of St. Andrew to the
northwest (Text Fig. A; see p. 132).4 The relics were kept in the upper
niches, which were separated from the larger niches below by balconies with
balustrades (Figs. 24).5 The arrangement thus retained, without altars
below, that of the two-storey free-standing tabernacles which had been
3
Evidently there was an earlier plan, not carried out, to reorganize the display of the
relics in the new church: Si tratta di fare nel fenestrone principale della gran tribuna del
nuovo San Pietro un nuovo pulpito balaustrato con finiss.e pietre, reliquie del volto santo et
lancia di nostro Sig.re . . . (Avviso of Aug. 18, 1598) Cited by Orbaan, Documenti, 46 f., n.,
whose transcription I have checked against the original. Siebenhner, Umrisse, 301, gratuitously interpolates a phrase into this passage, and interprets it as referring to the west
window of the drum of the cupola.
4
The fundamental source for the transferral of the relics is Grimaldi, Instrumenta autentica . . . 1619 (on Grimaldi, see Pastor, History of the Popes, xxvi, 382; henceforth cited as
Pastor). Grimaldi also devoted a special treatise to the Volto Santo and the Lance,
Opusculum de sacrosancto Veronicae Sudario . . . 1618.
All three relics were moved on Jan. 25, 1606, to the capitulary archive while the Veronica
niche was being readied (ibid., fols. 82 ff.); they were moved thither on March 21 (ibid., fols.
87 ff.). This transferral is reported in an Avviso of March 25 (Orbaan, Der Abbruch AltSankt Peters 16051615, 48 henceforth references to Orbaan are to this work unless
otherwise stated; and Orbaan, Documenti, 71). The head of St. Andrew was shifted to the
northwest pier on Nov. 29, 1612 (Grimaldi, Opusculum, fols. 90v f.).
5
Cf. Appendix I Nos. 5 f., 10, 14 f. See also Ferrabosco, Architettura, Pls. xiv, xxii.
Payments during 16056 for work on the stairways within the piers, the balustrades,
etc., are published by Pollak, Ausgewhlte Akten, 116, and Orbaan, 36 ff.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page5

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

2. Giovanni Maggi, Canonization of Carlo Borromeo, 1610, engraving.


Bibl. Vat., Coll. Stampe.

65

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page6

66

3. Canonization of Carlo Borromeo, 1610, engraving.


(From San Carlo Borromeo nel terzo centenario, 580 fig. 10).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page7

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

4. Matthus Greuter, Longitudinal section of St. Peters


(detail of 1625 reprint of 1618 map of Rome). London, British Museum.
5. Matthus Greuter, Canonization of Ignatius of Loyola, et al., 1622
(decorations by Paolo Guidotti), engraving (detail).
Rome, Archive of Santa Maria in Vallicella (517 x 366mm).

67

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page8

68

6. Canonization of Ignatius of Loyola, et al., 1622, engraving (detail).


(From Mle, Concile, fig. 57).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page9

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

69

among the most prominent monuments in Old Saint Peters (Figs. 79).6
Until Berninis time, the lower niche of the southeast pier contained the
tomb of Paul 111 (15341549), while before the northeast pier stood the
famous Colonna Santa, the spiral column against which Christ was believed
to have leaned in the Temple at Jerusalem (Text Fig. A).7
The permanent decoration of the niches seems to have been undistinguished. In engravings showing the crossing during the great quintuple
canonization of 1622, however, the upper reliquary niches contain hangings
(Figs. 5, 6).8 These are doubtless the same as two paintings one with Sts.
Peter and Paul holding aloft the Volto Santo, the other showing St. Andrew
with his cross which had been given to the basilica a decade before.9 The
use of the paintings in the niches is of considerable interest, for it indicates
that monumental representations of figures referring to the relics were part

Kauffmann was the first to note the relevance of the earlier tabernacles ("Berninis
Tabernakel, 229 ff.). According to Braun, Der christliche Altar, ii, 259 ff., tabernacles of this
kind were characteristically Roman.
The tabernacles occupied prominent positions in the old basilica. That of Saint Andrew,
originally erected by Pius II (145864), stood just inside the facade in the southernmost aisle
(cf. Alfarano, De basilicae vaticanae, 86 f., no. 85 on the plan, Pl. I). The Volto Santo tabernacle, dating from the twelfth century, stood in the corresponding position in the
northernmost aisle (ibid., 107 f., no. 115 on the plan). The tabernacle of the Lance, built by
Innocent VIII (148492) together with his famous tomb, was at the far end of the central
nave at the south crossing pier (ibid., 57 ff., no. 38 on the plan). The Saint Andrew and
Volto Santo tabernacles are shown in situ in another drawing in Grimaldi, Instrumenta autentica (reproduced by Orbaan, 13 Fig. 5).
It is interesting to note that in 1507, when the building of the new basilica began under
Julius II, the Lance was transferred to the tabernacle of the Volto Santo (Alfarano, De basil.
vat., 58 n., 108); they remained together when Paul V moved them to the crossing.
7
Cf. Panciroli, Tesori nascosti, 531 f.
8
See pp. 88 f. below; Appendix I, nos. 14, 15.
9
The donations are recorded by Grimaldi:
1611. Illustrissimus R.mus Ds Scipio Corbellutius S.R.E. Presbyter Cardinalis Sanctae
Susannae tunc Vaticanae Basilicae Canonicus pia erga Sanctissimu Jesu Christi Sudarium religione motus, ante absidat magnam fenestram, unde eadem sancta facies populo ostenditur
yconam imaginibus, & Apostolorum Petri & Pauli coloribus expressam dono dedit cu ubella.
(Opusculum, fols. 90r f.)
1612. Cum R.mus Ds Angelus Damascenus Romanus utriusque signaturae sanctissimi
Domini Nostri referendarius dictae Vaticanae Basilicae Canonicus ante fenestram magnam absidatam in parastata summi Tholi, ubi ex nobiliss o., marmoreo suggestu ad sinistram arae
maximae caput sancti Andreae Apostoli populo ostenderetur, yconam cum imagine sancti Andreae
Crucem amplectitis cu ubella figuris & insignibus ornata pia largitione fecisset. (Ibid., fol. 90v.)
6

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page10

70

of the decoration of the piers, at least on special occasions, before Bernini


began his transformation.
The Tomb and the High Altar
Before discussing the contributions made under Paul V at the tomb and
high altar, we may review briefly the previous history of the shrine. Modern
excavations combined with other evidence have made it possible to reconstruct with rare accuracy the monument as it had been installed by
Constantine when he built Saint Peters (Fig. 10).10 It consisted of four
twisted marble columns forming a screen across the apse; in front of the two
central columns were placed two more twisted columns, creating a square
enclosure around the tomb.11 Two semicircular ribs intersecting diagonally
rested on these four central columns. Around A.D. 600 drastic changes
were introduced. The level of the apse floor was raised and a bench placed
around it with a bishops throne at the back (cf. Fig. 18). Over the tomb was
placed a ciborium, whose design is unknown, except for the fact that it had
four columns. The six original spiral columns were now arranged in a line
in front of this presbytery, and in the eighth century another set of six was
added in front of them, to form a second, outer screen (Fig. 11). The shrine
remained essentially in this form until construction of the new basilica
began in the early sixteenth century under Bramante. Bramante removed
the outer row of columns, replacing them with the wall of a protective
structure that incorporated the apse and enclosed the rest of the shrine (cf.
Fig. 17). This structure stood until the time of Clement VIII (15921605).
It was then removed to permit raising the floor level again and construction
of the new grotte, or crypt. The high altar was also refurbished (dedicated
1594), and over it Clement erected a provisional ciborium with a cupola of
wood.12
There reverberates throughout the subsequent history of the crossing a
dilemma that was a direct consequence of having erected a centrally
planned church over the tomb. Ancient tradition at Saint Peters, as elsewhere, required that the high altar be in close proximity to the apse, which
10
B. M. Apollonj Ghetti, et al., Esplorazioni sotto la confessione di San Pietro in Vaticano,
Vatican City, 1951, 161 ff. For a summary, see J. Toynbee and J. Ward Perkins, The Shrine
of St. Peter and the Vatican Excavations, London-New York, 1956, 195ff.
11
On the spiral columns, see pp. 100 ff. below.
12
See Orbaan, Documenti, 47n., 48n.; a first payment for the ciborium was made in
June, 1594. Documents for the removal of the ciborium are cited in Orbaan, 44.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page11

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

71

served as a choir for the pope and the sacred college during solemn functions. No less important, however, was the traditional connection between
the high altar and the tomb. Logically, only four solutions were possible, all
of which were proposed or attempted at one time or another, but none of
which could be wholly satisfactory. First, the high altar could be moved
westward toward the apse, relinquishing its connection with the tomb.
Second, the tomb might be moved along with the high altar, a course that
ran the risk, as one source reports, of searching for the bodies of the apostles in vain, although it was known for sure that they were there.13 Third,
the tomb and high altar might be left in situ and a choir built around them,
necessitating an inconvenient encumbrance of the crossing (Figs. 12, 13).14
The fourth alternative was to leave the altar and tomb undisturbed, and relinquish the connection with the choir.
Of these possibilities the first and fourth are particularly important: the
last because, having evidently been preferred by Michelangelo, it was finally resolved upon by Urban VIII and executed by Bernini;15 the first because
it was the one chosen at the beginning of Paul Vs reign, and the projects
for it, though never carried out in permanent form, profoundly influenced
the design of Berninis baldachin. The decision in favour of the first solution is reported in an Avviso of January 18, 1606, at the time the relics were
being transferred to the new church.16 According to this dispatch it had
Quoted n. 16 below.
See Appendix I Nos. 24, 25. The first objection to which Papirio Bartoli replies in his
treatise describing his project is that it would take up too much room in the crossing
(Discorso, int. 2, fol. 1 ff.).
15
Owing to the subsequent retention of the choir begun by Nicolas V (Magnuson,
Roman Quattrocento Architecture, 177 f.), the tomb and high altar is not in the center of the
crossing, but slightly to the west. judging from the engraved plan by Duprac, Michelangelo
had planned to shift it in the opposite direction in order to achieve true centrality (cf.
Siebenhner, Umrisse, 291).
16
The character and importance of this project was first defined by Siebenhner,
Umrisse, 313 f. The relevant passage in the Avviso is as follows:
. . . sendosi intanto fatto levare quella cuppola di legno, che ci era in mezo della nuova chiesa
sudetta sopra laftare maggiore delli Santissimi Apostoli, quale altare anco si levar secondo
il nuovo modello, dovendosi trasportar pi avanti verso il capo della chiesa, ove sar il choro
per poter et Sua Santita et il Sacro Colleggio intervenire alli divini officij, sentendosi, che
dove hora il detto altare, vi si far una balaustrata intorno con scalini per potere scendere
a basso et andar a celebrar messa allaltare et corpi de detti. Santi Apostoli, senza moverli altrimenti, come alcuni altri volevano et stato questo tenuto pi salutifero consiglio, per non
mettersi in pericolo di cercarli indarno, sebene si sa certo, che ci sono. (Orbaan, 44; Orbaan,
Documenti, 68) Cf. also an Avviso of Oct. 4, 1606, in Armellini, Le chiese di Roma, 903.
13
14

7. Tabernacle reliquary of the head of St. Andrew,


Old Saint Peters, drawing. (From Grimaldi,
Instrumenta autentica, fol. 49r).

8. Tabernacle reliqury of the Volto Santo, Old Saint Peters, drawing.


(From Grimaldi, Instrumenta autentica, fol. 92r).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page12

72

10. Constantinian presbytery, Old Saint Peters, reconstruction


drawing. (From B. M. Appollonj Ghetti, et al., Explorazioni sotto la
confessione di San Pietro in Vaticano, Vatican, 1951, pl. H opp. p. 170).

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

9. Tabernacle reliquary of the Lance of St. Longinus,


Old Saint Peters, drawing. (From Grimaldi,
Instrumenta autentica, fol. 71r).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page13

73

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page14

74
11. Plan of mediaeval
presbytery, Old Saint
Peters. (From
Appollonj Ghetti,
et al., Esplorazioni,
fig. 136c).

12. Papirio Bartoli,


Project for a choir in
the crossing of
Saint Peters (detail),
engraving by
M. Greuter.
Rome, Bibl. Vitt.
Em., MS Fondi
Minori 3808,
fol. 141
(266 x 197mm).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page15

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

13. Carlo Maderno, Project for choirs


in the crossing and apse of Saint Peters,
drawing. Florence, Uffizi, Gabinetto
dei disegni, A265 (665 x 457mm).

14. Borromini, Project for ciborium in


crossing of Saint Peters, drawing, Vienna.
Albertina, Arch. Hz., Rom, Kirchen,
No. 1443 (254 x 160mm).

75

15. Medal of Paul II, 1470.


Bibl. Vat., Medagliere.

16. Ciborium of Sixtus IV


(14711484), Old Saint Peters,
reconstruction drawing.
(From Grimaldi, Instrumenta
autentica, fol. 160r).

18. Sebastian Werro, Ciborium of


Saint Peters, 1581, drawing.
Fribourg, Bibl. Cantonale.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page16

76

17. School of
Raphael, Donation of
Constantine
(detail showing
reconstruction of the
Constantinian
presbytery based on
elements still extant).
Vatican, Sala di
Costantino
(photo: Alinari).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page17

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

77

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page18

78

19. Canonization of Francesca Romana, 1608, fresco. Bibl. Vat., Galleria di Paolo V.
20. Canonization of Carlo Borromeo, 1610, fresco. Bibl. Vat., Galleria di Paolo V.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page19

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

21. Medal of Paul V, 1617.


Bibl. Vat., Medagliere.

79

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page20

80

been determined to shift the high altar toward the main apse, where a choir
would be installed. A proposal to move the tomb as well had been rejected,
and instead stairs were planned to give access from the floor level down to
the tomb so that mass could be said there; this was the beginning of the
open confessio carried out later in Paul Vs reign.17 The second altar was actually built, and simultaneously a baldachin was erected over the original
altar and a model of the proposed ciborium over the new one.18
The baldachin over the tomb altar, built of perishable materials, broke
radically with tradition. At least since the late fifteenth century the ciboria
over the high altar of Saint Peters had conformed to a basic type, with four
columns supporting a cupola (Figs. 1518).19 As we have noted, the temporary ciborium of Clement VIII, which this new one replaced, also had a
cupola.20 In contrast to these predecessors, Paul Vs baldachin, as recorded
17
The Florentine painter and architect Ludovico Cigoli submitted a project that involved moving the tomb (Figs. 25, 26; see p. 82 f. below and Appendix I no. 18). A project
by Martino Ferrabosco for a confessio with circular balustrade and stairways is recorded,
though there is no certain evidence that he was in Rome by this date (see n. 176 below).
18
Payments for the new altar are recorded as early as Dec., 1605: per fare larmatura de
laltare da fare nella tribuna grande verso Santa Marta . . . per ordine di messer Carlo
Maderni (Orbaan, 40). The altar over the tomb continued to function, though one project
for a ciborium over the tomb seems to contemplate its removal (Fig. 14; Appendix I no. 2).
Payments for dismantling the ciborium of Clement VIII occur in Jan., 1606 (Orbaan,
44). Payments for building the new baldachin over the tomb altar begin in Feb. (Fraschetti,
Il Bernini, 55 f.; Pollak, Ausgewhlte Akten, 110; Orbaan, 45 ff.). Payments for the model
of the ciborium over the new altar at the choir begin in Sept. (ibid., 541 f.).
The designer or designers of both these structures remain anonymous, though Carlo
Maderno, as architect of the basilica, is the most likely candidate. Nevertheless, the phraseology of the document quoted at the beginning of this note is inconclusive, since Maderno
may have ordered work to be done even though it was not of his invention.
19
For a general survey, see Braun, Der christ. Altar, II, 185 ff.
The Saint Peters ciborium is shown with a dome in: a medal of 1470 of Paul II celebrating his reconstruction of the tribune (Fig. 15; cf. G. Zippel, Paolo II e larte, LArte, 14,
1911, 184 f.; Magnuson, Roman Quattrocento Architecture, 169); a reconstruction by
Grimaldi of the ciborium built by Sixtus IV (147184), of which important relief sculptures
are preserved (Fig. 16); the Donation of Constantine fresco by the Raphael school in the Sala
di Costantino in the Vatican (Fig. 17); a drawing by the Swiss pilgrim Sebastian Werro, who
visited Rome in 1581 (Fig. 18); E. Wymann, Die Aufzeichnungen des Stadpfarrers
Sebastian Werro von Freiburg i. Ue. ber seinen Aufenthalt in Rom von 1027. Mai 1581,
Rmische Quartalschrift fr christliche Altertumskunde und fr Kirchengeschichte, 33, 1925, 39
ff.
20
See the Avviso of Jan. 18, 1606, quoted n. 16 above, and another of Oct. 28, 1600,
cited by Orbaan, Documenti, 48n. In an Avviso of June 29, 1594, it is described as un
ornamento di tavole depinto a similitudine di catafalco (ibid., 47n.).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page21

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

81

in many contemporary illustrations, consisted of a tasselled canopy supported on staves held by four standing angels (Figs. 24, 1923);21 it
reproduced, in effect, a portable canopy such as was borne above bishops
(hence the pope) on formal occasions, and above the Holy Sacrament and
the relics of the Passion when they were carried in procession.22 This was the
basic theme that would be retained in the two subsequent baldachins built
over the tomb, including Berninis. The scale of the baldachin was impressive; its height has been calculated at roughly nine meters, only a meter
short of Berninis bronze columns.23 Moreover it was to be executed in
bronze,24 a significant innovation, since monumental altar coverings were
usually of stone. The project thus foreshadows the material of Berninis baldachin, as well as the underlying notion of translating a normally
ephemeral type into permanent and monumental terms.
The purpose of this revolutionary design must have been largely symbolic. With the removal of the high altar the tomb itself became a kind of
reliquary, for which such a canopy would be appropriate. At the same time,
by alluding to the processional canopy traditionally associated with the
bishop, the new design may have been intended to mark the special character of the site as the tomb of the first pope. Whatever its meaning, the
baldachin offered a vivid and surely deliberate contrast to the proper ciborium that was at the same time erected over the new papal altar.
It should be noted, finally, that the depictions of the baldachin during
the canonization of Carlo Borromeo in 1610 are of interest in showing the
decorations it received for the occasion (Figs. 2, 3, 20).25 Strands of lilies are
wound spirally about the supports, and above the canopy proper is a medal-

21
Appendix I Nos. 412, Payments for the angels were made to the sculptors Ambrogio
Buonvicino and Camillo Mariani; the angels drapery was made of real cloth (cf. Orbaan, 47
f.).
22
J. Braun, Die liturgischen Paramente in Gegenwart und Vergangenheit, Freiburg-imBreisgau, 1924, 240; Moroni, Dizionario, VI, 57 ff.
23
Cf. Siebenhner, Umrisse, 309. The height of the bronze columns is given as 45
palmi by G. P. Chattard, Nuova descrizione del Vaticano . . . Rome, 176267, 1, 148 f. (The
Roman palmo was slightly over .22 m.)
24
Tota haec machina ex ligno compacta, subjecto Iconismo expressa ideam exhibebat future
molis, quam ex aere, auroque excitare animo inerat Pontificis . . . Nihil tamen Paulo regnante
effectum est, sed postquam Urbanus VIII Pontificiae Dignitatis . . . (Buonanni, Numismata templi vaticani, 127, and Numismata pontificum romanorum, II, 573)
25
Appendix I, nos. 58.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page22

82

lion with an image of the saint, held in Giovanni Maggis engraving by two
kneeling angels (Fig. 2).26
In the Maggi engraving there also appears a partial view of the ciborium
over the apse altar, jutting above the temporary arcade at the back of the enclosure (Fig. 24). It shows a polygonal structure whose dome rests on a high
drum with volutes at the corners; the dome is surmounted by a lantern
topped by a globe and cross. We know from other contemporary witnesses
that the ciborium employed ten of the famous twisted columns that
adorned the mediaeval sanctuary.27 These pieces of information make it possible to link (though not identify) the model that was built with a group of
closely related, projects of various dates, preserved in drawings and an engraving (Figs. 2528, 79).28 These projects are all for ciboria of the ordinary
kind, with domes supported on columns. In addition, from the central element they envisage two arms extending outward to the corners of the apse
walls, creating a screen-like enclosure before the choir. It is clear that, by
reusing the ancient columns, and by screening the apse with an enclosure
containing an altar, these designs hark back to the mediaeval arrangement
in Saint Peters, which had remained intact (minus the outer row of
columns) until only a decade before the pontificate of Paul V (Fig. 17).29
The chief difference is that now the ciborium has been fused with the
See the comments in Appendix I, no. 5.
In 1618 Grimaldi notes that the pair of spiral columns that had adorned the Oratory
of John VII (see n. 70 below) hodie cernuntur ad maiorem templi apsidam pergulam cereorum
in pontificijs solemnibus sustinentes caeteris consimilibus saniores, et pulchriores (Opusculum, fol.
119v).
In 1635, in a series of notes appended to Grimaldis treatise, Francesco Speroni, sacristan
of Saint Peters, mentions the number ten: . . . tempore d. Pontificis [Paul V]decem earum
integrae delatae fuerunt in novum Templum, ac positae fuerunt ad ornatum ante maiorem apsidem Templi. (Grimaldi Opusculum de SS. Veronicae . . . additis aliquibus praecipuis
additionibus ad hoc pertinentibus a Francisco Sperono eiusdem Basilicae Sacrista an. D. 1635,
Biblioteca Vaticana, MS. Vat. lat. 6439, p. 354) Concerning Speroni, see also Pollak, Die
Kunstttigkeit unter Urban VIII, 635 henceforth cited as Pollak. (See Addenda and Fig.
28A.)
28
See Appendix I, nos. 18, 20, 23, 26.
29
Cf. the project for rebuilding Saint Peters by Bernardo Rossellino under Nicolas V
in the mid-fifteenth century, as reconstructed by Grimaldi and Martino Ferrabosco
(Magnuson, Roman Quattrocento Architecture, 177 f., 178, Fig. 22). A. Schiavo, San
Pietro in Vaticano (Quaderni di Storia dellarte, IX), Rome, 1960, 11, assumes that the
twelve columns surrounding the altar in the Grimaldi-Ferrabosco plan were to be the
originals.
26
27

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page23

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

83

colonnaded screen to form one unit; the result recalls, whether consciously
or not, the earliest mediaeval form of the shrine (Fig. 10).
What all these considerations suggest is that the memory of the shrine
of Old Saint Peters was very much alive and that the idea of recreating it in
a modern idiom was in force from the time it was dismantled, or at least
soon afterward. We shall find that Bernini was motivated by a similar idea.
These projects further anticipate that of Bernini in their scale. They would
have been some ten metres shorter than Berninis baldachin (28.97 m.), but
they would have stood in the relatively low choir, not under the main
dome.30
The two huge models, standing a few meters apart on the axis of Saint
Peters the baldachin over the tomb and the ciborium in front of the apse
represented opposite poles of tradition; the one was inherently mobile,
fragile, and informal, the other was static, permanent, and architectonic. In
the development that took place during the next quarter of a century, which
culminated in Berninis baldachin, these two seemingly incompatible traditions were fused.
The crucial link was provided by a third type, intermediate, almost in a
literal sense, between the other two. This was the baldachin made usually of
perishable materials and suspended in a fixed position above the altar.31 The
type seems to have been introduced into the development of Saint Peters
by Carlo Maderno. At least this is suggested by a rather obscure passage in
a manuscript guide to Rome written during the 1660s by Fioravante
Martinelli, the friend of Borromini.32 Martinelli reports that Maderno submitted to Paul V a design that included twisted columns; he adds, however,
that the canopy did not actually touch the columns or their cornices. It is
We may note, further, a plan for the completion of the church as a whole, ca. 16056,
which shows an enclosure with an altar flanked by two columns at the entrance to the apse
(Fig. 29; Appendix I, no. 1); two groups of four columns flank the altar in the crossing. If
the ten columns were to be the originals, it would be an early precedent for Berninis use of
spiral columns in the crossing, rather than as a screen in the choir.
In the other projects it was evidently intended to supplement the preserved originals
with copies (cf. Appendix I, no. 19).
30
The height of these projects (about 19 m.) may be judged from the scale (100 palmi)
on Borrominis drawing (Fig. 28). The height of Berninis baldachin is given in P. E. Visconti,
Metrologia vaticana, Rome, 1828, Table II.
31
Cf. Braun, Der christ. Altar, II, 262 ff., Pls. 187 ff.
32
The passage is quoted in its context below, n. 53. On Borromini and Martinelli cf. P.
Portoghesi, Borromini nella cultura europea, Rome, 1964, 96, 200.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page24

84

22. Canonization of Ignatius of Loyola, et. al., 1622, drawing.


Vienna, Albertina, Arch. Hz., Rom, Kirchen, No. 780 (292 x 195mm).
23. Canonization of Elizabeth of Portugal, 1624 (decorations by Bernini),
engraving. Bibl. Vat., Arch. Cap. S. P. (330 x 245mm).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page25

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

24. Detail of Fig. 2.

25. Ludovico Cigoli, plan of choir


for Saint Peters, 16051606.
Florence, Uffizi, Gab. dei disegni,
A2639r (424 x 286mm).

85

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page26

86
26. Ludovico Gigoli, Ciborium for
choir of Saint Peters, 16051606,
drawing (detail).
Florence, Uffizi, Gab.
dei disegni, A2639v
(424 x 286mm).

27. Ciborium for choir of Saint


Peters, drawing. Vienna,
Albertina, Arch. Hz.,
Rom, Kirchen, No. 767
(362 x 315mm).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page27

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

87

28. Borromini, Ciborium for


choir of Saint Peters,
ca. 1620, drawing.
Vienna, Albertina, Arch. Hz.,
Rom, Kirchen, No. 766
(235 x 177mm).

28A. Attributed to Franois Derand,


Ciborium model of 1606 in choir of
Saint Peters, drawing, 16131616.
Paris, Louvre, Cabinet des Dessins,
cole fran. No. 3598
(431 x 3000mm).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page28

88

difficult to imagine what sort of arrangement was intended, but it is most


probable that the canopy was to be suspended from above. (A proposal of
just this sort was made later, under Urban VIII.33) Madernos project may
also have laid the groundwork for one of Berninis first solutions, in which
the canopy, held aloft by angels, was also separate from the columns (cf. Fig.
31, and p. 92 below). The idea of using columns and a canopy is the first
evidence of the tendency to combine elements of the traditional baldachin
with those of an architectural ciborium.34
After the models were built in 1606 there is no further record of construction on the projects during Paul Vs lifetime. Effort must have been
concentrated on building the nave and the confessio at the tomb; when
these were finished the problem came to the fore once more, and new proposals were offered.35 Before the pope died plans were evidently made to
replace the models, perhaps because they had deteriorated in the meantime.
However, actual rebuilding of both models, again using temporary materials, began only under Paul Vs successor, Gregory XV (16211623). The
final invoices, which contain detailed descriptions, date from the early years
of Urban VIIIs pontificate. The description of the apse ciborium given in
the painters invoice corresponds with a project drawn by Borromini, but
Anonymous, Modo di fare il tabernacolo, fols. 26r and v; see n. 55 below.
It is tempting to pair Madernos project described by Martinelli with one recorded in
a drawing by Borromini, but presumably invented by Maderno in 16056, for a ciborium
with cupola resting on straight columns over the tomb in the crossing (Fig. 14; Appendix I,
nos. 2, 17). In this case the relationship ciborium in the crossing vs. baldachin in the choir
would have been the reverse of that of the models. This interchangeability of types is in
itself a significant prelude to their fusion.
35
The nave was finished in 1615 (Pastor, XXVI, 394 f.). Paul V resolved in Jan., 1611,
to build the confessio, which was opened in 1617 (ibid., 401 f.; cf. Appendix I, no. 9).
Papirio Bartoli specifically says that planning for the pontifical choir was delayed by construction of the nave and indecision about the choirs form: . . . e se bene da molti sommi
Pontefici stato pensato di fare detto Coro [pontificio] . . . con tutto ci si restato, si perche
ancora non era finito il corpo della chiesa, s anco che non si concordava del modo, se bene
del luogo la maggior parte concorreva, che si dovesse fare vicino allAltare de St i Apostoli
. . . (Bartoli, Discorso, int. I, fol. 1r.)
Projects other than those considered in the text that can securely be dated to the latter
part of Paul VS reign are: dismountable choir for the apse recorded in Ferrabosco,
Architettura (Appendix I, no. 22; Appendix II); Papirio Bartolis proposal for a choir in the
form of a navicella to be placed in the crossing and incorporate Madernos confessio (Fig. 12;
Appendix I, no. 24), a drawing in the Uffizi attributed to Maderno showing a colonnaded
enclosure in the crossing behind the confessio and a choir in the apse (Fig. 13; Appendix I,
no. 25).
33
34

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page29

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

89

probably designed by Maderno, which has an inscription bearing the name


of Paul V (Fig. 28).36 The phraseology shows that it was largely a remodelling of the earlier structure, the main alterations being the addition of four
straight columns to the ten twisted ones and of four apostles to the cornice
of the dome.
Of greater importance are the changes that were introduced in the new
baldachin model over the tomb. Payments for the work begin in June,
1622, but it seems possible that a kind of preview of the new model is given
in engravings of the great quintuple canonization that took place on March
12 of that year (Figs. 5, 6).37 The baldachin depicted here is the same basic
type as that of Paul V, a tasselled canopy resting on four supports with angels at the bases. There are notable differences, however. The angels, of
whom only two are shown, kneel rather than stand, and the supports consist of rich foliate forms. This baldachin may still be Paul Vs, again dressed
up for the ceremony.38 Yet we shall see presently that the new baldachin,
begun within three months after the canonization, also had elaborately
carved supports and a new set of angels beside them, executed in stucco by
Bernini. Moreover, we shall shortly consider a later canonization print in
which Berninis original design for his bronze baldachin was previewed in
just this fashion (cf. Fig. 30). In any case, the baldachin shown in the engravings provides an important link to Berninis ideas, in that it combines
essential elements of both its predecessors. The supports are wholly organic, curvilinear in form, recalling the twisted columns of the ciborium; but
they are now used to carry a canopy rather than a cupola. The fact that the
angels, in kneeling, seem less actively to carry the structure also implies a
Appendix I, nos. 26, 27.
Appendix, I no. 1315.
38
A record of purchases of material for decorating the baldachin for the canonization is
preserved:
Baldachino grande
Per armesino, canne 75 ................scudi 337.50
Frangie alte di oro et seta bianca ............237.30
Per oro in folio per indorare ..................104
Per colori, tele, pitura trategi ................194
The account book dates from 1615 to 1618, that is, at least four years before the canonization took place; nevertheless there is no hint of any intention to replace the angels.
Cf. I. M. Azzolini, in Canonizzazione dei santi Ignazio di Loiola, 127; the account book
contains no further references to the baldachin (Rome, Casa Generalizia della Compagnia di
Ges, Archivum Postulationis, Atti concernenti santi, Sez. i, Scaff. A, Busta 16, int. 20).
36
37

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page30

90

29. Project for a tabernacle in the crossing and a choir screen in the apse of Saint
Peters, drawing (detail). Bibl. Vat., Arch. Cap. S. P., Album, pl. 4 (740 x 455mm).
30. Canonization of Elizabeth of Portugal, 1625 (decorations by Bernini),
engraving. Bibl. Vat., Coll. Stampe (330 x 245 mm).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page31

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

31. Medal of Urban VIII, 1626. Bibl. Vat., Medagliere.

32. Medal commemorating the canonization


of Andrea Corsini, 1629.
Paris, Bibl. Nat., Cabinet des Mdailles.

91

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page32

92

significant change in dynamic: the baldachin is thought of as a more selfsufficient, quasiarchitectural unit. Two major steps remain in the transition
to the final form: the introduction of true columns as supports for the
canopy, and the addition of a superstructure.
The new baldachin model as it was actually built is described in the carpenters final invoice.39 It too had a fringed canopy, and the supports seem
to have incorporated into their regular design something of the ornamentation applied to the earlier structure on special occasions. The ornaments
included among other things cherubs, foliage, and spiral fluting.40 It is not
likely that the supports actually had the form of columns, since they are
consistently described as staves (aste), and neither capitals nor proper bases
are mentioned. But their decoration must in any case have closely resembled that of the ancient spiral shafts, and they thus anticipate Berninis idea
of imitating rather than reusing the originals. It was also intended to gild
the supports, which would have given them the effect of being made of
metal.41 Furthermore, the supports were colossal in scale; they stood well
over twelve meters high, more than two meters taller than the bronze
columns by which Bernini replaced them. A final point of importance is
that during the first part of 1624 Bernini himself made four stucco angels
for this model; they were apparently placed at the base of the supports, as
had been the case previously.42

II. Berninis First Project for the Baldachin


The transition from the baldachin begun under Gregory XV to Urban
VIIIs enterprise is barely perceptible. The earlier model was never quite finAppendix I, no. 13.
Per lintaglio dele dette 4 Aste alte luna pi 58. con cherubini festoni cartelle cartocci
fogliami e scanelate a vite vasi regni mitre colarini e piedi fatto a fogliami (Pollak, 18, no.
35).
41
The bole and gesso were applied, but the gilding was never carried out (cf. Pollak, 309
no. 1000).
42
He was paid for them between Feb. and Aug., 1624 (Pollak, Nos. 1001 ff.). The fact
that there were four angels and that the columns had spiral fluting are the chief differences
of the model as executed from the baldachin represented in the prints of the canonization of
Ignatius of Loyola, et al. (Figs. 5, 6). The possibility still remains, however, that the engravings prefigure the intended new baldachin, and that the design was modified in the course
of execution (as proved to be the case with Berninis baldachin). It may also be that the en
39
40

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page33

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

93

ished, and at some point precisely when is not known it was decided
to return the high altar to its place above the tomb, thus finally re-establishing the predominance of the crossing, but relinquishing the reference to
the mediaeval form of the presbytery.43 We shall see that, paradoxically, the
decision may have been at least partly determined by a desire to recreate
even more accurately the original form of the shrine. No formal contract
with Bernini for the design and construction of a new, permanent structure
has been preserved, if one ever existed; payments to him simply began, in
July of 1624, while he was still being paid for the stucco angels for the earlier baldachin.44 The first elements of the new baldachin to be executed were
the bronze columns; installation began in September, 1626, and they were
unveiled in June of the following year.45 A separate commission, based on a
small model, provided for the superstructure, of which a full-scale model
was set in place in April, 1628.46
Berninis first project is recorded, with certain variations, in an engraving showing the decorations he designed for the canonization of Queen
Elizabeth of Portugal on March 25, 1625 (Fig. 30),47 and in medals dated
graver simply omitted the two angels at the back (in one engraving of the canonization of
Carlo Borromeo, the rear two angels were omitted, and in another the medallion atop the
western face of the canopy was left out; cf. Figs. 2, 3). That the project for the new baldachin
was developed during the preparations for the quintuple canonization is suggested by the
fact that a preliminary drawing in Vienna for the 1622 prints shows the straight, smooth
staves of the earlier structure (Fig. 22; Appendix I, no. 11).
Siebenhner, Umrisse, 317 ff., offers the curious theory that the engraving by Girolamo
Frezza in Buonanni, Num. templ. vat., Pl. 48, represents the present baldachin, despite the
facts that it does not show the carving on the supports mentioned in the documents and
that, as is clear from Buonannis text (p. 127), the plate is based upon Paul Vs medal (Fig.
21; Appendix I, no. 9).
43
The choir was to be retained in the apse; a model for one was later designed by Bernini
(Pollak, 611).
Bartoli notes in 1620 (Discorso, int. 1, fol. Ir) that the choir installations in the apse were
temporary and had to be set up and taken down for each occasion; the same is true today.
44
Pollak, nos. 1053 ff.
45
Cf. Pollak, nos. 1127, 1130.
46
Pollak, nos. 1142 ff., where payments for the large model are wrongly ascribed to the
small one; on the installation, see an Avviso of April 8, 1628, quoted in E. Rossi, Roma ignorata, Roma, 15, 1937, 97.
47
Berninis designs for the canonization were approved by the pope shortly before Feb.
8, 1625 (Fraschetti, Bernini, 251 n. 1; cf., Pastor, XXIX, 10, where the references should be
corrected as follows: Bibl. Vat., Arch. Segreto, Acta Consistorialia, Camerarii, XVI, fols.
67v68, aud Bibl. Vat. MS. Urb. lat. 1095, fol. 315r, May 28, 1625; Pollak, Nos. 125 ff.).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page34

94

1626 (Fig. 31) and 1629 (Fig. 32).48 All three depictions agree on the basic
thought underlying the design, which consists of four spiral columns supporting semicircular ribs that intersect diagonally; from the apex, crowning
the whole structure, rises a figure of the Resurrected Christ holding the bannered Cross.49 On the columns are angels who seem to carry the tasselled
canopy by means of ribbons strung through loops on its top and secured to
the ribs. The representations differ in one important respect. The medal of
1626 shows the canopy raised well above the level of the columns, so that
it appears as a completely separate unit. In the engraving of 1625 and the
medal of 1629, however, the canopy is lowered to the same height as the
capitals and is joined to them by a continuous molding or cornice. This is
the solution Bernini adopted in the work finally executed.50
It is evident that Berninis project owes a great debt to its predecessors,
both visually and conceptually. The idea of using bronze and gilt dates from
the time of Paul V, when also it was contemplated to execute a monumental balclachin, rather than a ciborium, over the tomb. The angels and
tasselled hangings had appeared in both earlier temporary baldachins. The
ciboria with screens planned for the high altar before the apse had incorporated the ancient spiral columns.51 The notion of imitating the marble shafts
The fullest available account of the canonization is that of A. Ribeiro de Vasconcellos,
Evoluo do culto de Dona Isabel de Arago, Coimbra, 1894, 1, 439 ff., II, 190 ff. An earlier
version of the print (Fig. 23) is discussed in Appendix I, no. 12. Berninis canonization installations will be discussed in a separate paper.
48
The medal bearing the date 1626 on the reverse (Fig. 31; Buonanni, Num. Pont., II,
573 f., no. XIII) is inscribed with the fourth year of Urbans reign on the obverse, and therefore dates between Sept. 29 (the anniversary of the coronation) and Dec. 31. Both this and
a medal of 1633 showing the baldachin in its final form have legends describing the tomb
as that of Peter and Paul, reflecting the belief that parts of both apostles bodies were preserved at Saint Peters; see n. 1 above.
The medal of 1629 (Fig. 32) honours the canonization of Andrea Corsini in April of
that year, for which Bernini also designed the decorations (cf. Pastor, XXIX, 9 n. 3; Pollak,
nos. 136 ff.).
49
In the full-scale model, Christ was to rise from a cloud (Pollak, 354).
50
The drawings by Bernini for the final form of the crown, except for the very latest,
show the canopy in the raised position (Brauer-Wittkower, Zeichnungen, Pls. 6 ff.); but the
engraving of 1625 and the medal of 1629 indicate that the continuous cornice existed as an
alternative solution from the outset.
51
The idea of an independent ciborium with only four spiral columns supporting a
cupola occurs in a fresco in the Vatican Library from the time of Sixtus V (158590), representing the Council of Ephesus (Fig. 33; A. Taja, Descrizione del palazzo apostolico vaticano,
427 f.; J. Dupront, Art et contre-reforme. Les fresques de la Bibliothque de Sixte.Quint,

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page35

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

95

in another material may have originated in the previous ciborium and baldachin models. Maderno had thought of using spiral columns with a
baldachin, rather than with a dome. The baldachin begun under Gregory
XV may have suggested that spiral columns serve as actual supports for the
canopy. In several of the earlier projects sculptured figures, including angels,
had appeared atop the superstructure (Fig. 34; cf. Figs. 2628).52 Finally, the
stupendous scale of Berninis work was by no means an innovation.
Despite this catalogue of precedents, Bernini blends the ingredients in a
completely new way. He combines the columns and superstructure proper
to a ciborium with the tasselled canopy and supporting angels of a baldachin. His treatment of each of these elements individually, as will become
apparent in the following discussion, is equally original. And in the versions
that join the canopy directly to the columns he takes the final step in fusing the architectural quality of a permanent ciborium with the transitory
quality of a processional baldachin.
Striking confirmation that these were indeed the innovating features of
Berninis design is found in the criticisms voiced against it by certain contemporaries. One of these came from the painter Agostino Ciampelli, and
is reported in the manuscript guide to Rome by Fioravante Martinelli, mentioned earlier as the source for our knowledge of Madernos project.53
Ciampelli had himself supplied Bernini with a design, but he objected to
Berninis, maintaining that baldachins are supported not by columns but
MlRome, 48, 1931, 291). Interestingly enough, there was a tradition that the columns in
Saint Peters had come from a temple of the Ephesian Diana in Greece (Torriggio, Sacre giotte
vaticane, 283).
52
Appendix I, nos. 16, 18, 26.
53
F. Martinelli, Roma ornata dallarchitettura, pittura, e scoltura, Rome, Bibl.
Casanatens, MS. 4984, p. 201:
F pensiero di Paolo V coprire con baldacchino Ialtar maggiore di S. Pietro con ricchezia proportionata allapertura fatta alla confessione e sepolcro dl d.o Once Carlo Maderno
gli presen un disegno con colonne vite; ma il baldacchino non toccava le colonne, ne il
lor cornicione: sopragionse la morte di Pauolo, e resto lop.a sul disegno sin al ponteficato di
Urbano VIII. il quale disse at d.o Carlo si contentasse, che il Bernino facesse d.a opera. Il
Cavalier Celio, forse non ben informato del tutto, stamp essere inventione di Santiss.o giuditio (cio del Papa) messo in opera dal d.o Bernino. Vincenzo Berti manoscritto appresso
Mons.r Landucci Sacrista di Nro Sig.re Alessandro VII. e p le sue eminenti virtudi dignissimo di grado superiore, ha scritto, esser disegno del Ciampelli cognato del d.o Bernini, il che
non s se sia vero; ma si bene non concorreva con d.o Bernini circa labbigliam.ti et altro; e
diceva, che li Baldacchini non si sostengono con le colonne, ma con lhaste, e che in ogni
modo voleva mostrare che to reggono li Angeli: e soggiongeva che era una chimera.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page36

96

by staves, and that in any case he would show it borne by angels; and he
added that it was a chimera. The objection evidently refers to the solution
shown in the engraving of 1625 (Fig. 30) and the medal of 1629 (Fig. 32),
in which the columns rather than the angels appear to be the chief support
of the canopy; this was a grave breach of architectural etiquette, and the re-

The passage occurs as a marginal correction to the original text, which is canceled but
can be deciphered: Il Ciborio con colonne di metallo istorte vite dellaltar maggiore disegno del Cav. Bernino, et il getto di Gregorio de Rossi Rom.o Ma il Cav.re Celio scrive essere
inventione di santissimo giuditio messo in opera dal d.o Cav.re Vincenzo Berti manoscritto
appresso monsig.re Landucci sacrista di N. S.re h lasciato scritto esser disegno del Ciampelli
cognato di d.o Bernino. (See Addenda.)
The reference from Celios guidebook concerning Urban VIIIs contribution is as follows: Laltare maggiore con le colonne fatte vite e suoi aderenti, il tutto di metallo
indorato, Inventione di santissimo giuditio, messo in opera dal Cavalier Lorenzo Bernino.
(Memoria fatta dal Signor Gaspare Celio . . . delli nomi dellartefici delle pitture, che sono in alcune chiese . . . di Roma, Naples, 1638, 70.) The publisher of this work, Scipione Bonino,
writes in the introduction (pp. 4 f.) that it was based on a manuscript of Celios written in
1620, and that almost all the additional information about works done since then came from
Sebastiano Vannini, Galeno di questi tempi. Vannini was the author, among other things,
of two poems to Fioravante Martinelli (Bibl. Vat., M.S. Barb. lat. 2109, fols. 162 f.).
Baglione describes Celios book as pieno derrori (Baglione, Vite, 381).
The source of the story is probably a passage in a manuscript dialogue by Lelio
Guidiccioni (kindly brought to my attention by Cesare DOnofrio), in which Guidiccioni
(L.) and Bernini (G.L.) are the conversants. The context of the passage is an elaborate eulogy of Urban VIIIs expertise in artistic matters; Bernini asks, Di chi pensate, che sia il
pensiero dellAltar Vaticano, tale, quale sia divenuta lopera? L. Vostro h sempre pensato.
G.L. pensarla meglio, dite di S. S.ta L. Dunque voi sete pure obietto di lode sua; la quale
origine della vostra . . . (Bibl. Vat., MS. Barb. lat. 3879, fol. 53v) The dialogue is datable
to Sept., 1633, since it contains a reference (fol. 51v) to the death within the last days of
Antonio Querengo (d. Sept. 1, 1633; G. Vedova, Biografia degli scrittori padovani, Padua,
183236, II, 134 f.). It is conceivable that the phrase quale sia divenuta lopera refers to the
decision to change the superstructure. (See now C. DOnofrio, Un dialogo-recita di
Gianlorenzo Bernini, Palatino, 10, 1966, 127 ff.)
Except for two letters, dated 1660, in the Biblioteca Nazionale, Florence (C.V.90.147;
C.V.97.5), I have been unable to identify the Vincenzo Berti whose manuscript is mentioned
as the source of the story about Agostino Ciampelli. Ambrogio Landucci was a well-known
Augustinian, a native of Siena (D. A. Perini, Bibliografla agostiniana, Florence, 192938, I,
143 ff.), for whom Borromini designed an altar (H. Thelen, Istituto austriaco di cultura in
Roma. 70 Disegni di Francesco Borromini [Exhibition Catalogue], Rome, 1958, 24 no. 54).
He died in Rome on Feb. 16, 1669, leaving his books and manuscripts to the Convent of
San Martino in Siena. His testament is accompanied by an inventory of his library which includes 121 items, but they are listed with short titles only and none is identifiable as the one
by Berti that Martinelli mentions (Rome, Arch. di Stato, Notaio Bellisarius, Busta 243, fols.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page37

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

97

sult is truly a hybrid, chimerical form.54 To another, anonymous writer who


submitted an alternative project of his own, the superstructure appeared unworkable. He claimed that an open arch could not possibly support a
figure, and also hold together columns of such great weight.55 This argument seems to have weighed heavily in the ultimate decision to substitute a
cross and globe for the Risen Christ and to increase the number and change
the shape of the ribs (see p. 126 below).
From an aesthetic point of view the key to Berninis solution lay in the
idea of discarding the ancient spiral columns themselves, and instead imitating them on a larger scale. What he achieved may best be understood by
comparing his project with the earlier ones for screen-ciboria in the choir,
which were to reuse the ancient shafts (Figs. 2628, 79). The original
465v, 535 ff.). The library of San Martino passed to the Biblioteca Comunale of Siena,
whose director kindly informs me that an inventory of the convents library contains the following entry: Berti Quaestiones regulares. But no manuscript answering the description
appears in L. Ilari, Indice per materie della Biblioteca Comunale di Siena, 7 Vols., Siena,
184451.
The statement that Ciampelli and Bernini were brothers-in-law cannot be strictly true.
Ciampelli who died not in 1642, as is commonly reported, but on April 22, 1630 (Rome,
Arch. del. Vicariato, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, Liber Defunctorum 16261716, fol. 16r)
was married to a woman named Camilla Latina (ibid., S. Giov. Fior., Liber Baptizatorum
161649, fol. 82v), who did not remarry after Ciampellis death, while Bernini married
Caterina Tezio in 1639 (Fraschetti, Bernini, 104 f.).
We may note, finally, a drawing by Ciampelli with twisted columns mentioned in an inventory of Cardinal Francesco Barberini: Una carta fattoci in penna IAnuntiata dipinta con
diverse Colori e due Coloe ritorte di mano di Agostino Ciampelli, alta p.m i uno e larga tre
quarti di palmo. (Bibl. Vat., Arch. Barberini, Arm. 155, Inventario di tutte le robbe . . . nel
Palazzo della Cancellaria del . . . Card.le Fran.co Barberino, Oct., 1649, p. 68).
54
Since Ciampelli died early in 1630 (see the previous footnote) he presumably did not
know the final version, which was not worked out until 1631 (see p. 126 below).
Criticism of Berninis architectural grammar seems implicit also in Teodoro della Portas
offer to submit a project according to the good rules of architecture (Appendix I, no. 28B);
this is perhaps to be identified with a drawing in the Albertina (Fig. 35; Appendix I, no.
28c).
55
Modo di fare il tabernacolo, fol. 26r: . . . e non puol mai un Archetto in aria sostenere
ne figura ne unite le colonne di tanto gravissmo peso, come il Cavaliere h esposto, che essendo di gettito oltre la grossa spesa non necessaria pericolosa di motivo di gran rovina.
The project was to be executed in bronze and copper over a wooden core and use
columns decorated with bees, laurel, and animals to support an architrave, upon which eight
putti were placed, fingendo di portare come per Aria il Baldachino che sar attaccato nella
volta di sopra con Ingegno di poterlo levare (ibid.); the idea seems to recall the project of
Carlo Maderno, reported by Fioravante Martinelli (pp. 83 f. above).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page38

98

columns were dwarfed by the new building, and to gain height the earlier
projects included both an attic and a drum between the capitals and the
dome; the resulting vertical accent was safely counterbalanced by the lateral wings. For a structure in the crossing even more height was needed, but
the wings were an obstruction and had to be removed.56 By enlarging the
columns Bernini was able to omit the drum and attic, and thus create a
more balanced proportion without the help of the wings. It might be said
that Berninis solution made it aesthetically possible to keep the high altar
and tomb together in the crossing. It also made possible the fusion of baldachin and ciborium types, for in the absence of both drum and attic
Bernini could rest the superstructure directly on the columns and cover the
intervening space with a fringed canopy.
The design of the crown itself serves a dual function, in keeping with the
nature of the whole conception. Its domical shape suggests the cupolas with
which ordinary ciboria were often covered, while its open ribs deny the
sense of weight and mass that a cupola normally conveys. The perforated
superstructure recalls a common mediaeval type of ciborium, in which one
or more orders of colonnettes resting on the main entablature act as a kind
of drum for the dome.57 Berninis open ribs had been anticipated in a ciborium by Giovanni Caccini in Santo Spirito in Florence, where open metal
strapwork screens the space between the thin ribs of an octagonal cupola
(Fig. 36).58 But while this tradition may have paved the way for Berninis
general conception, his design has its most precise antecedent in the central
56
Ferraboscos project with wings was rejected by Urban VIII because it occupied too
much space (see n. 179 below).
57
Braun, Der christ. Altar, II, pls. 160 ff.
58
Designed by 1599, dedicated in 1608 (cf. W. and E. Paatz, Die Kirchen von Florenz,
Frankfurt-am-Main, 194054, v, 140 f.).
A few years later Bernini drew even closer to Caccinis ciborium, in the catafalque he designed for the funeral of the popes brother Carlo Barberini (d. 1630), known from a
workshop drawing in Windsor (Fig. 37). Here he used a proper open-ribbed dome, crowning it with a figure of death analogous to the Risen Christ on the baldachin (cf.
Brauer-Wittkower, Zeichnungen, 162 n. 6; A. Blunt and H. L. Cooke, The Roman Drawings
of the XVII and XVIII Centuries in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle,
London, 1960, 25 no. 48; no. 49, Inv. no. 5612, seems to have no connection with the
Barberini catafalque). The catafalque is discussed in an unpublished doctoral dissertation by
O. Berendsen, Italian Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Catafalques, New York
University, 1961, 132 f., Fig. 48. A ground plan study for the catafalque by Borromini is in
Vienna, Albertina, Architektonische Handzeichnungen, Rom, Kirchen, no. 64; 214 
173mm.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page39

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

99

portion of the shrine built over the apostles tomb by Constantine in the
early fourth century (Fig. 10). There, four of the twisted columns also supported semicircular intersecting ribs.
Though careful records were kept of the excavations beneath the crossing when the foundations for the bronze columns were dug, it is
improbable that these could have yielded such accurate information concerning the elevation of the Constantinian shrine.59 Rather, the source of
Berninis astonishing piece of archaeological reconstruction seems to have
been a unique medal, now lost, of the early Christian period (Fig. 38). On
one side a tabernacle appears that has been regarded as a depiction of the
shrine in Saint Peters.60 It consists of four twisted columns surmounted by
two semicircular arches placed diagonally, exactly the form that can be reconstructed, on independent grounds, for the main feature of the early
mediaeval confessio of Saint Peters. The similarity of Berninis design to
that on the medal extends even to the swags of drapery hung between the
columns and to the interposition of a continuous cornice between columns
and open crown.
Precisely how Bernini came to know the medal cannot be determined,
but its history has been traced to within a decade of his project; it was given
to the popes nephew Cardinal Francesco Barberini in March, 1636, by
Claude Mntrier, the French antiquarian living in Rome.61 Mntrier, who
sent a cast of the medal to his colleague Nicolas Peiresc in Paris to get the
latters interpretation, does not say when or where the medal was discovered, or from whom it was acquired. But he reports that it had been found
together with a representation in gold glass of Sts. Peter and Paul a circumstance that, especially in view of the legend linking the bodies of the
59
See the accounts of the excavations published in Armellini, Le chiese di Roma, II, 862
ff., and H. Lietzmann, Petrus und Paulus in Rom, Berlin-Leipzig, 1927, 194 ff., 304 ff. An
attempt under Urban VIII to reconstruct the confessio in detail from literary sources is noted
below, p. 100.
60
Cf. most recently F. Castagnoli, Probabili raffigurazioni del ciborio intorno alla
memoria di S. Pietro in due medaglie del IV secolo, Rivista di archeologia cristiana, 29, 1953,
98 ff.; A. Baird, La colonna santa, BurlM, 24, 191314, 128 ff. A badly oxidized lead cast
of the medal was preserved in the Museo Sacro of the Vatican, the original bronze having
been lost; the cast has since also disappeared, perhaps oxidized into unrecognizability. (See
Addenda.)
61
See the brilliant piece of research tracing the medals history by G. B. De Rossi, Le
medaglie di devozione dei primi sei o sette secoli della chiesa, B di archeologia cristiana, 7,
1869, 33 ff.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page40

100

two apostles, must have reinforced the association with Saint Peters suggested inevitably by the twisted columns. The medals testimony must have
been further supported by a passage in Gregory of Tours (538594), who
reports that over the tomb was a ciborium resting on four white columns;
in a learned treatise on the ancient confessio, submitted to Urban VIII before Berninis baldachin was built, the passage is taken as an accurate
description of the original monument.62 If the medal was believed to show
the shrine in its pristine form that is, as an independent structure without wings knowledge of it may even have influenced the basic decision
to return the high altar to its place over the tomb in the crossing.
This clear and deliberate effort to recreate the early Christian monument while retaining essential elements from the recent predecessors may be
what chiefly distinguishes Berninis work as a new departure. But the motivation was more than simply one of archaeological exactitude, as becomes
evident when one considers the baldachins meaning.
Of the twelve white spiral columns that decorated the mediaeval presbytery, eleven are still preserved.63 Eight were installed by Bernini in the
upper reliquary niches in the crossing piers (Figs. 5356; see p. 118 ff.
below), one is the Colonna Santa referred to earlier (p. 69 above), and two
flank the altar presently dedicated to St. Francis in the Chapel of the Holy
Sacrament off the north aisle of the basilica (Fig. 39). These columns were
the subject of various legends, by far the most widespread of which was that
they had been brought by Constantine from the Temple of Solomon at
Jerusalem. The association was so strong that twisted columns were often
used by artists in representations of the Temple (Fig. 40),64 and the allusion
to the Holy City is implicit in the columns of Berninis baldachin as well.
Vous treuverez . . . un soulphre que jay jett sur une petite lame de metal Corinthe de
cave laquelle jachepta ces jours passs et donna Monseig.r lEcc. Card.le Pat.ne, lequel tesmogna luy plaire grandement pour estre une pice de la primitive Eglise. (Letter of
Mntrier to Nicolas Peiresc, March 8, 1636; ibid., 35.)
62
Michele Lonigo, Breve relatione del Sito, qualit, e forma antica della Confessione
. . . in Buonanni, Num. templ. vat., 191 ff. (cf. p. 198); Buonanni says (p. 115) that Lonigo,
who was papal archivist and master of ceremonies under Paul V, submitted the work to
Urban VIII before the baldachin was built, The essential passage in Gregory of Tours is: Sunt
ibi et columnae mirae elegantiae candore niveo quattuor numero, quac ciborium sepulchri
sustinere dicuntur. (De gloria beatorum martyrum 28, PL, LXXI, 729.)
63
On the columns see especially J. B. Ward Perkins, The Shrine of St. Peter and its
Twelve Spiral Columns, JRS, 42,1952, 21 ff., and Alfarano, De basil. vat., 53 ff.
64
Some further examples are mentioned in nn. 67, 107 below.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page41

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

101

In fact, even apart from the spiral columns, parallels between Saint Peters
and the Temple in layout, measurement, and decoration were long thought
to exist.65 One in particular is important here, since it involves specifically
the Temple and St. Peters tomb. It is stated by Tiberio Alfarano (d. 1596),
who was a cleric of Saint Peters, in his description of the old basilica: The
emperor Constantine and Pope Sylvester did no differently about the body
and altar of the apostle Peter than Moses and Aaron had done about the Ark
of the Covenant containing the tablets of the Law and the urn, which at
Gods command they constructed in the centre of the Tabernacle inside the
Holy of Holies under the wings of cherubim. And Solomon did the same
in the Temple of the Lord.66 The cherubim mentioned here seem to find an
echo in the angels who spread their wings above Berninis baldachin; indeed
this may well have been among the reasons for shifting them from beside
the supports, their position in the previous baldachins, to the top. It is even
possible that the very material of the baldachin was intended to carry out
this theme, recalling the famous pair of brazen columns with which
Solomon had flanked the Tabernacle.67
To be sure, the allusion to the Temple was already implicit in the reuse
of the ancient columns in earlier projects. But it is important to emphasize
The relationship was already explicit in Nicolas Vs project for rebuilding Saint Peters
(cf. Magnuson, Roman Quattrocento Architecture, 210, 36062), and according to L. D.
Ettlinger it is reflected in the early decoration of the Sistine Chapel (The Sistine Chapel, 79
f.). For the sixteenth century, see the many references in Alfarano, De basil. vat., 221, s.v.
Templum Salomonis.
66
Haud aliter quidem Constantinus Imperator et Beatus Silvester Papa circa beati Petri
Apostoli Corpus et Altare fecerunt quam Moses et Aaron fecerant circa Arcam foederis Domini
tabulas legis et urnam continentem, quam Dei monitu in Tabernaculi medio intra sancta sanctorum sub cherubim alas constituerant. Et Salomon in Templo Domini idem fecerat. (Alfarano,
De basil. vat., 29.) The allusion is to Hebrews 9:35. (See Addenda.)
67
I Kings 7:21; II Chron. 3:17. Cf. S. Yeivin, Jachin and Boaz, Palestine Exploration
Quarterly, 1959, 6 ff.
In a painting of the Presentation of the Virgin by Domenichino in Savona (Borea,
Dornenichino, Pl. 78) and in a miniature of the Marriage of the Virgin in the Book of Hours
of Etienne Chevalier by Jean Fouquet (K. Perls, Jean Fouquet, London-Paris-New York,
1940, 53), the entrance to the Temple is actually shown flanked by a pair of the spiral
columns of Saint Peters; in the Fouquet the columns are tinted to imitate gilt metal.
I am convinced that Bernini later had in mind a dual reference to Old Saint Peters and
Jerusalem when he included the window with the dove of the Holy Spirit above the
Cathedra Petri in the west apse; Alfarano speaks of the setting sun penetrating the rear windows of the old basilica: ad occasum tendens per posteriores Basilicae fenestras dictam Aram
maximam, totamque Basilicam irradiat sicut Arcam Foederis intra sancta sanctorum
65

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page42

102

that Berninis bronze columns differ from the originals in several ways. The
enveloping vine tendrils of the originals have been transformed by Bernini
into laurel, a Barberini device that occurs throughout the crossing along
with the popes famous bees and sun. In making this change, an essential
symbolic element of the columns the age-old association of the vine
scroll with the Christian sacrament was lost. Yet there seems to have been
an allusion to the sacrament in the form Bernini gave to the columns. He
did not imitate the normal type, with alternating bands of fluting and foliage (cf. Figs. 5356). Rather, he singled out those which, evidently as a
result of having been shortened at some time, have fluting only on the lower
portions.68 Two columns of precisely this form had been used by Paul III in
the mid-sixteenth century to decorate the altar of the Holy Sacrament in
the old nave (Fig. 41).69 Their subsequent history is uncertain, but it is surely significant that Bernini used two of the same type, perhaps the same pair,
to flank the lateral altar in the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament in the new
church (Fig. 39).70 The cycle of interrelationships is carried out also in the
Tabernaculi Mosi et Salomonis Templi existentem per anteriores portas ingrediens olim illustrabat. (De basil. vat., 19) It should be recalled that the orientation of Saint Peters is unusual
in that the apse is to the west.
68
Ward Perkins, The Shrine of St. Peter, 26, 32, was evidently the first to observe that
two of the columns had been cut down, and that these in particula served as Berninis model
for the baldachin.
69
Alfarano, De basil. vat., 55, 63 f.
70
The altar, then dedicated to St. Maurice, was decorated from April, 1636 (Pollak, Nos.
890 ff.). The chapel as a whole was first intended as a sacristy; the request of the
Archconfraternity of the Sacrament to have it assigned to them was approved in 1626
(Pollak, no. 872).
Grimaldi in fact shows four columns of this type, two of them on the old sacrament altar
(Fig. 41) and two flanking the entrance to the Chapel of John VII (7057), which was located at the Porta Santa. Grimaldi (quoted n. 27 above) says that in his day the columns of
the John VII monument were to be seen before the main apse, along with other similar
columns, making no mention of what happened to the pair from the sacrament altar. Both
Cerrati and Ward Perkins assume that the pair now in the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament
came from the John VII chapel. But Ward Perkins seems to have overlooked the sacrament
altar of Paul III altogether, while Cerrati (ed. of Alfarano, De basil. vat., 55, 106 n. 2) seems
not to have noticed that the extant pair have been altered and assumed that they were copies;
except for minor restored details, they are certainly antique. The problems would be resolved
if Schller-Piroli is right in stating (I know not on what evidence) that the same pair was
simply shifted from the John VII chapel to the sacrament altar in old Saint Peters (2000
Jahre Sankt Peter, Olten, 1950, 629). They would subsequently have been moved to the apse
of the new basilica, where Grimaldi saw them, and finally to the Chapel of the Sacrament.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page43

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

103

stucco scene in the vault of the chapel directly above this altar (Fig. 40).71
The panel shows Solomon examining the plans of the Temple of Jerusalem;
in the background is a complex structure in course of construction, which
includes four columns of this same design.72 Equally striking, the columns
A drawing in Berlin attributed to Etienne Duprac shows the Colonna Santa beside a row
of four columns of the sacramental type, without any architectural setting; M. Winner assumes that Duperac invented two of the sacramental columns (Zeichner sehen die Antike.
Europische Handzeichnungen 14501800 [Exhib. Cat.], Berlin-Dahlem, 1967, 129 f. no.
80, Pl. 48).
There has also been considerable confusion about the fate of the missing column or
columns. Cerrati believes that three columns were lost or destroyed in transport; others, accepting the pair in the sacrament chapel as originals, have theorized that one column was
given away (cf. Cerrati, in Alfarano, De basil. vat., 55). A possible answer to this problem is
suggested by the sacrament columns themselves. Though at some time the intermediate zone
of fluting was removed, their actual height is precisely the same as the rest of the series (that
is, 4.70 m., as reported by Cerrati, ibid., 55; the figure 3.60 m., given in the caption to Ward
Perkins Pl. V, Fig. 1, is erroneous). Furthermore, this pair of columns is different from all
the others in several respects, notably in that the vine scrolls are inhabited only by birds and
other animals; there are no putti. What all this suggests is that the missing twelfth column
may have been of the same unusual type as the sacrament pair and that it was cut up and
portions used to bring the latter two back to their original length. When these operations
might have taken place is impossible to say. A payment of June, 1637, when the altar in the
sacrament chapel was readied, records the addition of a piece to one of the columns (Pollak,
277, no. 897); but this probably refers to the bottom half of the lowest ring of acanthus on
the left-hand column.
It should be noted finally that a sixteenth century engraving of one of the sacrament
columns appears in various versions of A. Lafrrys Speculum Romanae magnificentiae (e.g.,
Bibl. Vat., Riserva S. 6. fol. 18, with title page dated 1587); doubtless this was the print mistakenly identified as representing the Colonna Santa in the 1572 list of Lafrrys prints
published by F. Ehrle, Roma Prima di Sisto V. La Pianta di Roma Du Perac-Lafrry del 1577,
Rome, 1908, 55 (cf. Cerrati, in Alfarano, De basil. vat., 55). The print seems to show the
column in its shortened state.
71
Payments to Giovanni Battista Ricci for the cartoons for the narrative stucco panels in
the choir began in May, 1621 (Rome, Arch. della Rev. Fabbrica di S. Pietro, I Piano, Ser. 1,
Vol. 246, Spese 162123, fol. 17r); the sacristy is first mentioned in the payments in Dec.,
1622 (ibid., fol. 72v). His payments ended in Dec., 1626 (Pollak, Nos. 705 ff.; cf. no. 33).
The areas surrounding the narratives had been designed earlier by Ferrabosco (Beltrami,
Ferabosco, 30). The execution extended into the reign of Urban VIII (Pollak, Nos. 712 ff.,
Feb., 1623Aug., 1627).
72
These columns had often been imitated, but I would mention one instance in Rome
in which the sacramental association seems evident; namely, in the Oratorio del Gonfalone,
where they form the general framework of the fresco cycle (156884) illustrating the Passion
(cf. A. Molfino, Loratorio del Gonfalone, Rome, 1964). Here they also appear prominently
in the background of Livio Agrestis Last Supper (ibid., Fig. 22). A chapel in Santo Spirito in

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page44

104

33. Council of Ephesus, fresco. Bibl. Vat., Salone Sisto V (158590).

34. Project for a choir screen with an altar, drawing. Windsor Castle,
No. 5590 (436 x375mm).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page45

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

35. Project for a ciborium,


drawing. Vienna, Albertina,
Arch. Hz., Rom, Kirchen, x-15
(525 x 226mm).

36. Giovanni Caccini, ciborium,


Florence. Santo Spirito
(photo: Alinari).

105

37. Bernini Workshop,


Catafalque for Carlo
Barberini,
drawing. Windsor
Castle, No. 5613 (485
x 261mm).

38. Early Christian medal. Formerly Bibl. Vat.,


now lost or disintegrated (from De Rossi,
Le Medaglie . . ., Bolletino di Archeologia
Cristiana, 7, 1869, No. 8 on pl. opp. p. 44).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page46

106

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

39. Saint Peters, Chapel of the Holy Sacrament,


Altar of Saint Francis.

40. Saint Pters, Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, vault,


Solomon Inspecting the Construction of the Temple.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page47

107

41. Altar of the Holy Sacrament, Old Saint Peters,


drawing. (From Grimaldi, Instrumenta autentica, fol. 35r).

42. Rome, San Giovanni in Laterano,


Altar of the Holy Sacrament.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page48

108

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

42A. Rome, San Giovanni in Laterano,


Altar of the Holy Sacrament,
southwest corner.

43. Saint Peters, vie of baldachin and dome.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page49

109

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page50

110

of the Temple support an inward curving entablature, a device that in the


final version Bernini applied to the sides of the baldachin (cf. Fig. 43).
The allusion to the sacrament in Berninis first project for the baldachin
is far more pervasive than the choice of the columns alone would suggest.
Around 1600 Clement VIII had erected a great altar of the sacrament at the
Lateran. This Constantinian foundation the cathedral of Rome and the
mother church of Catholicism, at whose high altar, as at Saint Peters, only
the pope may officiate had been lavishly restored by Clement. He had
decorated the confessio before the papal altar, which is mentioned in a document as one of the models for Paul Vs confessio at Saint Peters.73 Under
the direction of the Cavaliere dArpino the upper part of the lateral transept
walls had been covered with a series of frescoes illustrating the life of
Constantine. On the end of the south transept wing, DArpino painted a
grandiose fresco of the Ascension of Christ. Below this is the Altar of the
Sacrament, designed by Pier Paolo Olivieri as a wall tabernacle in the form
of a temple front (Fig. 42). Four colossal bronze columns support the triangular pediment, which is also of gilt metal. Here the idea of a monumental tabernacle all in bronze had actually been realized.
Its relevance for the Saint Peters altar was more than a matter of scale
and material. The bronze columns of the Lateran were also the subject of
various legends, among the current ones being that they too had once
adorned the Temple at Jerusalem, whence they had been brought by the
Empress Helen.74 They thus embodied the same allusion as the spiral
columns of Saint Peters and provided an additional motive for using
bronze. The back of the Lateran altar was ornamented with a relief of the
Last Supper in solid silver, which served as a reliquary cover for a portion of
cedar wood believed to have come from the table at which Christ and the
disciples supped; the relief was melted down in the eighteenth century during the French occupation of Rome (and later replaced). But the
sacramental nature of the altar was also provided by another relic: the
Sassia with frescoes by Agresti (Fig. 57; see p. 128 below) seems to have provided the model
for Berninis own use of the columns in the upper niches of the piers in Saint Peters.
73
La Santit di Nostro Signore . . . risolv di far aprire sotto laltar maggiore di San
Pietro . . . in quella guisa, che stanno le cappelle sotto laltar maggiore di San Giovanni
Laterano et del Presepio in Santa Maria Maggiore. (Avviso of Jan. 26, 1611, in Orbaan, 98.)
For Clement VIIIs work at the Lateran, see Pastor, XXIV, 475 ff.
74
On the legends concerning the Lateran columns, cf. Panciroli, Tesori nascosti, 139f.;
Severano, Memorie sacre, I, 506 f.; C. Rasponi, De basilica et patriarchio lateranensi, Rome,
1657, 32, 47 f.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page51

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

111

columns were supposed to be filled with earth from Mount Calvary upon
which Christ shed his blood at the Crucifixion, again brought back to
Rome by Helen. This lent a real, topographical basis to the allusion to
Jerusalem, and we shall later consider another exactly parallel case that was
directly pertinent to Saint Peters.
The Lateran altar, in keeping with its dedication to the sacrament, has
the Trinity as its overall theme (cf. Fig. 45). God the Father is depicted in
the triangular opening of the pediment, while on the underside of the roof
appears the dove of the Holy Ghost. Combined with the crucifix on the
altar itself, these form the three elements of the traditional formula for representing the Trinity, in their usual vertical sequence. The same elements are
distributed in an analogous way at Saint Peters. The dove is also shown on
the underside of the baldachins canopy above the altar crucifix, while God
the Father appears in the lantern at the apex of the dome (Fig. 43).75 The
latter figure was executed when the decoration of the dome began, also directed by the Cavaliere dArpino, under Clement VIII.76
A similar arrangement had occurred in the Church of Santa Maria dei
Monti in Rome, designed by Giacomo della Porta and built and decorated
after 1580 (Fig. 44).77 Here the high altar, with its famous miraculous image
of the Virgin, also holds the tabernacle containing the Eucharist. The dove
of the Holy Spirit appears in the conch of the apse above the altar (also in
the stucco decoration around the base of the drum), and God the Father is
depicted in the lantern of the dome. The special emphasis given to the
sacrament in the Madonna dei Monti may be explained by the fact that it
was the church of the Confraternity of the Catechumens, whose purpose
was to instruct and assist Jews and other non-believers wishing to convert
to Catholicism.78
All these considerations shed light upon what would surely have been
one of the most spectacular features of Berninis baldachin, the great
figure of the Resurrected Christ at the centre of the crown in the first proH. Sedlmayr has also emphasized the relation of the baldachin to the dome mosaics in
Saint Peters and, though in a different way, has seen the reference to the Trinity (Epochen
und Werke, Vienna, 1960, II, 23 ff.).
In Paul Vs baldachin, as the medal of 1617 shows (Fig. 21), the underside of the canopy
was covered with stars.
76
On the chronology of the dome decorations, cf. Siebenhner, Umrisse, 300.
77
Cf. Pastor, XX, 583.
78
See Moroni, Dizionario, XLVII, 270 ff.
75

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page52

112

ject.79 Monumental altar ciboria are most frequently surmounted by the


cross and globe (Figs. 14, 18, 24, etc.), and so eventually was Berninis baldachin. Instead, Berninis use of the Risen Saviour in the first project recalls
the eucharistic images in which Christ is shown usually with a chalice
and holding a cross that often occur on tabernacles intended to hold the
sacrament (Fig. 45).80 Yet Berninis Christ held the banner associated with
the Resurrection as a narrative event rather than a symbolic type, and there
was no chalice; this is exactly the sort of figure that occurs in the Lateran
sacrament altar, on a small scale in bronze atop the cupola of the lavishly
decorated altar tabernacle (Fig. 46), and in a life-size marble surmounting
the high altar in Santa Maria dei Monti (Fig. 44).
Thus, the substitution of the Risen Christ for the usual cross and globe,
in conjunction with the Trinity, embodies a reference to the sacrament; and
the form these elements were given seems to derive specifically from two of
the most recent and conspicuous altars in Rome that held the sacrament.
It should be noted, finally, that reflections of the Lateran sacrament
altar are found in Berninis work long after the baldachin was completed.
The general organization of the altar at the end of the transept served as
a model for his Chapel of Saint Teresa in the transept of Santa Maria della
Vittoria (begun 1647). There is also evidence that the relief of the Last
Supper on the altar frontal of the Teresa chapel may have been based
specifically on the lost silver relief of the Lateran altar.81 Toward the end
It may be relevant that images of the Resurrected Christ had appeared on coins struck
during the sede vacante of 1623, the period between the death of Gregory XV and the election of Urban; the obverses bear the arms of Cardinal Ippolito Aldobrandini, nephew of
Clement VIII who was Camerlengo. But these have no known connection with the basilica.
Cf. E. Martinori, Annali della Zecca di Roma. Sede vacante 1621 . . ., Rome, 1919, 17 ff.;
Corpus nummorum italicorum, Milan, 1910 ff., XVI, 269 ff.
80
A. Marquand, Luca della Robbia, Princeton, 1914, 61 ff., considers the door in the
Peretola tabernacle to be a later insertion; in any case, the figure of Christ follows the traditional eucharistic type. Cf. also Braun, Der christ. Altar, II, Pls. 346 left, 348, 350 left.
81
I have in preparation a monograph on the Saint Teresa chapel, in which the relations
to the Lateran altar will be discussed. Berninis Last Supper is illustrated in E. Lavagnino, et
al., Altari barocchi in Roma, Rome, 1959, Pl. on p. 83. As far as I can discover the connection is first mentioned in A. Nibby, Roma nellanno MDCCCXXXVIII, Rome, 183841,
Moderna, 1, 530, but there is good reason to believe it is true; in the engraving of the Lateran
altar in the series by Giovanni Maggi discussed in Appendix I no. 8, the relief is shown with
a composition verv close to Berninis. A similar composition is also shown in a medal commemorating the altar (Buonanni, Num. pont., II, 457 Fig. XI, but the engraving here is
inaccurate; see instead A. Ciaconius, Vitae, et res gestae pontificum romanorum . . . Rome,
79

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page53

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

113

of his life he placed a figure of the Resurrected Christ without a chalice


atop the cupola of the sacrament altar he himself designed for Saint Peters
(1670s).82
The reference to the sacrament is only part of the significance of the figure on the baldachin. The decoration of the dome of Saint Peters had been
completed under Paul V. Around its base the twelve apostles had been depicted, with Christ enthroned and flanked by the Virgin and John the
Baptist in the west side facing the nave; in the compartments above, angels
hold the instruments of the Passion (Fig. 47). The scheme is familiar from
depictions of the Last judgment, and the figure atop the baldachin was certainly conceived in this context. The basic imagery of the crossing would
have comprised the sacrifice at the altar and, above, Christ rising from the
tomb to assume his place in heaven as King and Judge.83 The Christ figure
thus charges the physical space of the crossing with the meaning of a dramatic action; we are actually at Jerusalem and salvation is being achieved
before our very eyes.
The conception of the baldachin that emerges from these considerations
may be summarized under three headings: historical, liturgical, and geographical. Historically, through its paraphrase of the ancient spiral columns
and its basic design, it recalls the original monument in Saint Peters.
Liturgically, through the design of the columns and the figure of Christ, it
refers to the Holy Sacrament. And geographically, the Risen Christ, the spiral columns, and perhaps even the use of bronze, involve a reference to

1677, IV, cols. 275f., no. 17; examples of the medal are preserved in the Staatliche
Mnzsammlung, Munich, and in the Bibliothque Nationale, Paris).
82
Visible in the illustration in Fraschetti, Bernini, 395. No banner is attached to the
cross-staff held by Christ in the work as we know it; but it is interesting to note that a banner does appear in a drawing at Windsor with projects for adding candelabra, which Brauer
and Wittkower believe was made after the altar was finished (Zeichnungen, 173, 175, Pl.
195c). The Christ on the Saint Peters ciborium rises from a cloud, as did the figure in the
first version of the baldachin (see n. 49 above).
For the relationship between the Lateran sacrament altar and the crossing of Saint Peters
as a whole, see n. 164 below.
83
This theme also seems embodied in the ornaments of the upper reliquary niches of
the piers; symbols of the Passion appear in the lower part of the frontispieces, symbols of
salvation above (see nn. 121, 164 below). An element of vertical integration involving the
building itself was also present at the Lateran, with the crucifix on the altar. the
Resurrected Christ on the ciborium, and the Ascension of Christ on the wall above the
tabernacle.

44. Rome, Santa Maria dei Monti, high altar.

45. Luca della Robbia, Tabernacle of the Holy Sacrament,


14411443. Peretola, Santa Maria (photo: Alinari).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page54

114

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page55

47. Saint Peters, mosaics in dome, west side


(photo:Alinari).

115

46. Detail of Fig. 42.

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

48. Bernini workshop, Project for the Saint Veronica niche.


Vienna, Albertina, Arch. Hz., Rom, Kirchen,
No. 776 (359 x 305mm)

49. Francesco Mochi, St. Veronica. Rome, Saint Peters


(photo: Anderson).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page56

116

51. Bernini, St. Longinus. Rome, Saint Peters


(photo: Anderson).

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

52. Francesco Duquesnoy, St. Andrew. Rome, Saint Peters


(photo: Anderson).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page57

117

52. Andrea Bolgi, St. Helen. Rome, Saint Peters


(photo: Anderson).

53. Saint Peters, reliquary niche of St. Veronica.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page58

118

55. Saint Peters, reliquary niche of St. Longinus


(photo: Anderson).

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

54. Saint Peters, reliquary niche of St. Andrew.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page59

119

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page60

120

Jerusalem, the site of Christian redemption. This imagery became fundamental to Berninis treatment of the crossing as a whole.
III. The Decoration of the Pier Niches
Planning for the four piers and their decoration began when it was still
expected to execute the baldachin according to Berninis first project. Urban
had already shown his concern for the condition of the relics when in
January, 1624, he ordered a complete reconstruction of the reliquary niche
for the Holy Face and the Lance; it was finished late in the following year.84
The crucial decision to redecorate the lower niches beneath the relics must
have been taken shortly thereafter. This is evident from a document in the
archive of the basilica reported by Baldinucci in the famous defense of
Berninis work on the piers, which lie appended to his biography of the
artist; the document shows that two models for altars, uno sotto al nicchio
del Volto Santo e laltro di S. Andrea, were in existence by June of 1626.85
During the first part of 1627 payments were made for a group of models
for the Veronica niche, one of which was by Bernini himself.86 His project
is preserved in a workshop drawing in Vienna, which is practically identical
with the description given in the craftsmens invoices (Fig. 48).87 It estabThe documents are published by Pollak, 311 ff. The inscription bearing the date 1625
placed beneath the balustrade (Forcella, Iscrizioni, VI, 148 no. 542) surely refers to the completion of this reconstruction (cf. also Hess, Knstlerbiographien, 109 n. 1), rather than the
beginning of that which followed (Brauer-Wittkower, Zeichnungen, 22 n. 2).
85
Vi son in essere le cimenti p 2 altari da farsi uno sotto al nicchio del Volto S.to, et laltro d S. And.a Parlarne con N S.re parria molto conveniente far li altari del Volto S.to e S.
And.a in d.i luoghi, che non vi son, ne si vuole andare a celebrare ne luoghi, dove son collocate d.e reliquie. (Minutes of the Congregation, June 3, 1626; transcribed from the original,
Arch. Fabb. S. P., I Piano, Ser. 2, Vol. 71, Congregazioni 15711630, fol. 397r)
Cf. Baldinucci, Vita, 165 f. Bernini was accused of having weakened the piers, causing
cracks that had appeared in the dome.
86
The documents are quoted in Pollak, 465f., but are there misleadingly placed under
the heading of the upper reliquary niches.
87
Apparently overlooking the correspondence with the documents, Brauer and
Wittkower regarded the project as the invention of another artist (Zeichnungen, 23 n. 3, Pl.
195a). I quote the documents after Pollak, 24, 29 f. (italics mine):
Per unaltro Modello sotto la Nicchia del Volto Santo con il disegnio del Sr Cavv, Bernino
fatto amezzo ottangolo con pilastri alli angoli doppij con basamento, zoccolo con li collarino
fregi cimasa tutto scorniciato fatto tutte le modinature etc. . . . con il finimento sopra fatto
piramida con le mozzole (mensole?) nelle Cantonate alto tutto pi 32 long. di giro pi 30 etc.
. . .  80
84

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page61

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

121

lishes the basic solution that was to be retained in the final execution: a
monumental statue raised on a high base, in which there are openings giving access to a stairway that leads down to an altar in the grotto below. The
statue is conceived in accordance with the traditional formula for St.
Veronica, which had appeared on the mediaeval tabernacle (Fig. 8) and
would later also provide the point of departure for Francesco Mochis figure
of the saint. Indeed, the whole arrangement, comprising an altar below, depictions of the appropriate saint and relic, and a container for the relic
above seems consciously to recreate in relief the reliquary monuments of the
old basilica. Since there is no reference in the project to the Lance, which
was kept together with the Holy Face, it must already have been determined
to house the relics separately.
The official decision to include all four piers in the program was taken
in June of 1627.88 There had been an earlier proposal to treat the four niches uniformly.89 But coming after the high altar had nearly been shifted

Per li fusti contornati dove dipinta la Veronica e doi angeli grandi etc. .  10
E pi ordine del Sig.r Chavaglier Bernino si depinto un modello fatto di legniame sotto
alla nichia del Volto Santo con haverlo incessato e stuchato e dato di piacha (biacca) fina e
si inbrunito da alto e passo e svenato di marmaro, con un arme del Papa di chiaro e scuro
e quadro cartelone con le steste di carobini messe di rame battuto e unbrato di sopra et dui
ferate messe di rame battuto e unbrato, di sopra e una ficura di Santa Veronicha di palmi
quindici con dui Angeli di palmi nove messo di rame battute e umbrato e scorniciato di dutto
. . .  50
E pi per haver rifatto sopra li ideso modello se alzato tre palmi di piu pisogniato
restauralo e far di nuovo et un arme del Papa messo di rame battuto umbrato di sopra e si
fatto sopra le dui porte dui ferate messe rame battute e umbrate con dui candelone di pi e
dui ferate di pi fatte di color di rame scorniciato e unbrato et haver rifatto un a(l)tra volta
la figura di palme 12 e li Angeli di palmi 7 e si rimesso di rame battuto la maggior parte e
umbrato di nuovo . . .  35
88
Pollak, no. 1621.
89
A document of uncertain date reads as follows: Nelle quattro nicchie grandi che sono
alli piloni della Cuppola canto lAltar maggiore pensato di fare due Chori, uno per li
Cantori, et laltro per li Principi, che verranno veder la messa pontificale, se bene alcuni
hanno opinione, che vi staranno bene quattro Altari nelli quali si potranno collocare li quattro Corpi di S. Leoni Papi, che sono nella medesima Chiesa. (Pollak, Ausgewhlte Akten,
73) Siebenhner connects the chori mentioned here with those shown in Cigolis project
(Figs. 25, 26; Umrisse, 312, where the reference should read Pollak in place of Orbaan).
Siebenhners assumption (Umrisse, 245, 257) that four figures of prophets made for
Saint Peters in the 1550s by Guglielmo della Porta were intended for the crossing piers, has
been disproved by W. Gramberg (Guglielmo della Porta verlorene Prophetenstatuen fr San
Pietro in Vaticano, in Walter Friedlaender zum 90. Geburtstag, Berlin, 1965, 80 n. 7).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page62

122

toward the apse and after the nave had been added, the new arrangement
was a reaffirmation of the centrality of the crossing. Interest still focused
primarily on the Veronica and Andrew niches, however, and in April, 1628,
several models (plura modula seu formae) for them were shown to the
Congregazione della Fabbrica, the group of cardinals who governed the
basilica.90 Remarkable insights into the whole development of the crossing
are provided by the records of the meeting of the Congregation a month
later, May 15, 1628, in which the choice among the projects was made.
There are two documents in question: one comes from the notes made by
the steward (oeconomus) of the Congregation during the actual meeting, the
other from the official record of the meeting as it was transcribed from these
notes.91 Variations between the two versions are normally trivial, but that is
not the case in the present instance. In the notes made at the meeting it is
said that the design which most pleased the pope was that for the St.
Andrew and that authorization was given to award the commission. In the
official transcription the oeconomus specifies that the project chosen was
Berninis. Thus it appears that Berninis winning design was for the St.
Andrew, and it was this design that evidently provided the basis for the statue executed subsequently by Duquesnoy. The implications of this point will
become evident when we consider the close similarities between
90
April 10, 1628:
Fuerunt exhibita plura modula seu formae capellarum construendarum in locis subtus SSmas
Reliquias Vullus S ti et Capitis S. Andreae quae per Ill mos DD. visa, et diligenter expressa,
Iniunxerunt mihi ut illa S mo D. N. deferrem, ut facilius possit ex dictis et alia, quae habet, formula, seu modula sibi magis placitus eligere et Sacr. Cong. eo citius mentem S mi desuper
executione demandare. (Pollak, no. 1622.)
91
May 15, 1628:
Li disegni delli Altarini, N. Sre dice che la Congne veda qual pi li sodisfaccia et quello si
faccia; mostra gradir il S. And(re)a. si potria deputar. qualche delli SSri Illmi S. Sisto e Vidone.
(Pollak, no. 1623)
May 15,1628:
Exhibui Ego Oeconomus plura delineamenta depicta pro forma seu modulo parvarum
Cappellarum de mente S mi construendarum in loculis Nicchi nuncupatis per me de ordine eiusdem Sanct mi huic Sacrae Congregationi praesentanda ut illis per DD. visis ex eis eligerent quale
perficiendum erit, ideo per eos bene inspectis approbarunt ex eis unum ab Equite Bernino delineatum, utque facilius, et citius opus absolvatur, rogarunt Ill mos DD. Cardinales St ti Sixti, et
Vidonum, ut curam huic incumbant et quatenus illis.videatur mentem eiusdern S mi desuper
melius exquirant, et exequantur. (Pollak, no. 1624.)
On the minutes of the meetings, see F. Ehrle, Dalle carte e dai disegni di Virgilio Spada,
AttiPontAcc, Ser. III, Memorie, II, 1928, 19.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page63

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

123

Duquesnoys figure and Berninis own St. Longinus. The St. Andrew was in
fact the test case for the whole program. Work was begun immediately on
the niche proper; Duquesnoy received the first payment for his full-scale
stucco model in May, 1629, and the final payment the following
November.92
In February of 1629, following Madernos death, Bernini had been appointed architect of Saint Peters.93 The overall scheme matured in April of
the same year, when the pope gave the basilica a portion of the famous relic
of the True Cross, composed of fragments which he had removed from
Santa Croce in Gerusalemme and SantAnastasia.94 The significance of this
step can best be appreciated by considering momentarily a document of
three years before, July 15, 1626, also reported by Baldinucci.95 It records
with respect to the altars then being planned that the oeconomus was directed to determine whether there were in Saint Peters other relics of the
apostles that might accompany the head of St. Andrew; the head of St. Luke
was one possibility mentioned. The thought clearly was to pair the Passion
relics, the Volto Santo and the Lance, against relics of the apostles. The idea
of pairing remained, as we shall see, but the procurement of the fragments
of the True Cross early in 1629 shows that a general theme had emerged
which required another Passion relic for its completion.
In the Congregation meeting of December 10, 1629, within a month
after the model of the St. Andrew was finished, the other three artists who
were to execute models of their statues were named.96 Bolgi began his model
for the St. Helen on July 2, 1631, and Bernini probably began his model for
the St. Longinus at the same time; Mochi began the Veronica model on
September 24 of that year. He completed his model on November 29,
1631, and it was viewed by the pope on February 8, 1632; the pope saw
Berninis completed model one week later, on February 15, and that of

Pollak, nos. 1625 ff.


Pollak, no. 4.
94
Cf. Torriggio, Sacre grotte vaticane, 217. The new relic was at first kept with the Volto
Santo and the Lance (Severano, Memorie sacre, 1, 164).
95
Delli altari del Volto S.to e S. And.a che le pareva si dovessero fare nelli luoghi etc. et
chio minformassi sin S. Pietro vi fusse reliquia insgne di apostolo per poterla accompagnare con la testa di S. And.a / parl.e D. Bonin . . [?] / testa di S. Luca. (Minutes of the
Congregation, July 15, 1626, Arch. Fabb. S. P., I Piano, Ser. 2, Vol. 71, Congr. 15711630,
fol. 417r). Cf. Baldinucci, Vita, 166.
96
Pollak, no. 117.
92
93

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page64

124

Bolgi on March 5.97 Considerable time elapsed before execution of the marbles began, in Duquesnoys case presumably because he had to wait until the
other models were completed; in the other cases there was delay in acquiring suitable marbles.98 Duquesnoy was the first to begin work, in April of
1633, and the Andrew was in place by October, 1639 (Fig. 50).99 Bernini
began only in June, 1635, but the Longinus was installed by June, 1638
(Fig. 51).100 Mochi also began in June, 1635, and his Veronica was in place
by October, 1639 (Fig. 49).101 Bolgi received his first payment in January,
1635, and the Helen was finished by the end of 1639 (Fig. 52).102
The decoration of the upper niches (Figs. 5356), carried out between
1633 and 1641, brought the program to completion.103 The niches were
based on a design by Bernini (cf. Fig. 68), which involved reusing the ancient columns from the presbytery of Old Saint Peters. At first the columns
were to support triangular pediments, but in the final form the pediments
are segmental and the whole fronticepiece is bowed inward. Marble putti
surmount the pediments, upon which stucco clouds flow down from the
surface of the conch.104 Above, also in stucco, putti carry inscriptions, while
inside the frontispieces are marble reliefs of angels and putti displaying images of the relics.105
Here again, dual reference to the old church and to Jerusalem is evident.
The idea for images of the relics and columns in the upper story seems to
97
The dates are given by Torriggio, Sacre grotte vaticane, 206, 219, 283. Torriggio says that
the model of the Longinus was finished on July 5, 1631, but more likely this was the beginning
date. All the artists received down payments of 50 scudi on Dec. 19, 1629, after which there
was a delay while work on the niches proceeded. On May 5, 1631, the Congregation decreed
that the models be executed (Pollak, no. 1646) and regular payments for them began in Sept.
(Longinus) and Nov. (Veronica and Helen), 1631. Final payment to Bolgi was made on March
15, 1632, to Bernini on April 5, to Mochi on Aug. 11, of the same year. Bernini received a
total of 500 scudi, Mochi 450, Bolgi 350. Cf. Pollak, 442 f., 454 f., 461 f.
98
Pollak, Nos. 1718 ff.; see end of n. 174 below.
99
Pollak, Nos. 1654, 1667. G. Baglione, Le nove chiese di Roma, Rome, 1639, 38 f.,
speaks of the Helen and Longinus as in their places, but not yet the Andrew and Veronica. His
dedication to Cardinal Francesco Barberini is dated Sept. 1, 1639.
100
Pollak, Nos. 1787, 1791. The pope had inspected it on May I (Fraschetti, Bernini,
76). See also n. 125 below.
101
Pollak, nos. 1735, 1747.
102
Pollak, nos. 1820, 1752. The statue is signed and dated 1639. The document of 1649
mentioned by Fraschetti, Bernini, 74, refers to other works by Bolgi in Saint Peters.
103
Pollak, 467 ff.
104
On this device, see n. 132 below.
105
With one important exception; see p. 160 below.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page65

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

125

have come from the earlier reliquary tabernacles, one of which that of
the Volto Santo actually had versions of the famous twisted columns (cf.
Fig. 8).106 The cornices, like those of the baldachin, are concave and may be
related to the reconstruction of Solomons Temple in the vault of the sacrament chapel (cf. Fig. 40); the notion of surrounding the central altar by the
Solomonic spiral columns has a precedent among versions of the Temple,
in which the columns were distributed around the Holy of Holies.107
The bowed frontispieces are of particular interest, however, since hereafter they appear frequently in Berninis work, in varied forms, and they
become one of the stock phrases in the vocabulary of Baroque architecture. The motif has a complex genealogy, but in this instance Berninis
direct model lay not far from Saint Peters, in the Church of Santo Spirito
in Sassia. The side chapels of this church are, like the reliquary niches of
Saint Peters, semicircular in plan with half-domes. In a number of cases
the frames of the altarpieces are curved in adherence to the wall surface.
This is the case in the second chapel on the right (Fig. 57), decorated at
the altar and in the vault with paintings by Livio Agresti (d. ca. 1580),
where the altarpiece is framed by a pair of columns that closely imitate the
sacrament columns of Saint Peters.108 Here, too, are the broken pediment
surmounted by figures, the flat strips that continue the entablature and
bases on the wall as if to form lateral extensions of the frontispiece, and
other details that appear in Berninis niches. His major changes were toward unifying the design, by making the horizontal entablature
continuous between the columns and echoing the columns in the form of

106
As noted by Kauffmann, Berninis Tabernakel, 229. In fact, it seems to have been a
common type, as witness the tabernacles with spiral columns in the upper level in Santa
Maria Maggiore and San Giovanni in Laterano in the series of prints by Maggi discussed in
Appendix I no. 8 (the Santa Maria Maggiore print is reproduced by Armellini, Chiese di
Roma, 1, 286; cf. P. De Angelis, Basilicae S. Mariae Maioris de urbe . . . Descriptio, Rome,
1621, ills. on pp. 83, 85, 87); also in Santa Maria in Campitelli (G. Ciampini, Vetera
monumenta, Rome, 1690, Fig. 3 on Pl. XLIV opp. p. 181).
107
Cf. the interior of the Temple in a miniature of Jean Fouquets Antiquites judaques
(Perls, Fouquet, 248); reconstructions of the Temple as a centrally planned structure were
also common (see now S. Sinding-Larsen, Some Functional and Iconographical Aspects of
the Centralized Church in the Italian Renaissance, Institutum Romanum Norvegiae, Acta,
11, 1965, 221 ff.).
108
Cf. P. De Angelis, La chiesa di Santo Spirito in Santa Maria in Sassia, Rome, 1952, 10;
E. Lavagnino, La chiesa di Santo Spirito in Sassia, Rome, 1962, 110.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page66

126

bent pilasters at the angle with the back wall. Also significant is the fact
that Bernini gave the frontispiece a less pronounced curvature than the
niche itself (Fig. 58);109 this, together with the continuous entablature,
makes the frontispiece seem almost to project from the niche as an independent unit, rather than following its surface as in the Santo Spirito,
altarpiece.
Perhaps most remarkable is that even in the design for these niches
Berninis interest may have been more than simply formal. The Church of
Santo Spirito, and especially the Confraternity of the Holy Spirit whose seat
it was, had an ancient and intimate association with the relic of the Holy
Face, and hence with Saint Peters. The relic had once been kept in the
church, and in the later Middle Ages, after it was transferred, the popes
would carry it from Saint Peters to Santo Spirito and back again in annual
procession. From the latter part of the fifteenth century the custom was reversed and the Confraternity went in procession to Saint Peters where it
had the signal honour of being shown the relic.110
IV. Changes During Execution
The Crown of the Baldachin
During the long period of work on the statues and the niches two major
changes were made, both of which radically affected the design and disposition of the crossing. The first of these occurred probably in 1631 while the
models for the niche figures were being made. The two semicircular arches
that Bernini had intended to place over the columns of the baldachin were
discarded and were replaced instead by the familiar twelve curving volutes
(four sets of three) decorated with palm fronds; and the great figure of the
Resurrected Christ was replaced by the more traditional globe and cross

The plan of the niches is from Baldinucci, Vita, Pl. 11 opp. p. 176. Baldinuccis point
(pp. 162 f.) is that Bernini did not weaken the piers by deepening the niches, but, on the
contrary, tended to fill them in; he also notes that the space between the old and the new
surface served to insulate the wall from humidity.
Cf. the niche with double curvature that Bernini created during the same period for the
Countess Matilda monument (Fig. 75).
110
See Moroni, Dizionario, CIII, 95 f. The connections between the Volto Santo and Santo
Spirito are recorded extensively by Grimaldi, Opusculum, fols. 35 ff., 41, 47, 67 f., 147 ff.
109

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page67

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

127

(Fig. 59).111 It seems that these alterations were motivated at least partly by
practical considerations. One of Berninis critics mentioned earlier, who
submitted a project of his own, objected that the original arrangement
would be inadequate to support the Christ figure and restrain the columns,
and there would be danger of a collapse.112 Filippo Buonanni says explicitly
that it was feared the columns might give way (laxari).113 In fact, the change
increased the number of supports, and created groups of pointed arches,
raising the crown and making the thrust on the columns more nearly vertical. A series of drawings shows Bernini experimenting with a variety of
convex, concave, and mixed curves that would achieve this result.114 A small
and a full-size model of the new crown were made during 1631; the work
was unveiled on June 29, 1633.115 The repercussions of the substitution of
the cross and globe for the Christ, which served to lighten the load, will be
discussed in Section V.

Cf. Brauer-Wittkower, Zeichnungen, 20 f. Their dating for the change is based on a


series of payments beginning in April, 1631, to Borromini for detailed drawings (Pollak, nos.
1274 ff.). Payments for models of the new superstructure also begin at the same time
(Pollak,369 ff.). The original form still appears on the canonization medal of 1629 (Fig. 32),
and is referred to in a poem published that year (Brauer-Wittkower, Zeichnungen, 20 n.
2)The Christ is also mentioned in C. Bracci, Rime . . . per il ciborio, opera di bronzo fatta inalzare in S. Pietro . . . , Arezzo, 1633, 56:
Sovra quel bronzo in pi Colonne alzato
Dal divo Urbano, e successor di Piero,
Vedesi pur listesso
Christo resuscitate. (Florence, Bibl. Marucelliana, Misc. 253, int. 3)
In his preface (p. 44) Bracci only notes seeing the bronze columns on a recent visit to
Rome (Non molto, che trovandomi in Roma ammirando le quattro Colonne di bronzo,
che fanno ciborio in S. Pietro). It was still being planned to cast the Christ in Jan., 1633,
presumably for another destination (Pollak, no. 1248).
Also unexecuted were seated figures of Peter and Paul to be placed before the balustrade
in front of the baldachin, for which Giuliano Finelli made models (cf. Brauer-Wittkower,
Zeichnungen, 20 n. 2). A drawing in the Albertina (Arch. Hz., Rom, Kirchen, no. 768, 321
 215 mm.) shows the figures seated on pedestals attached to the balustrade, flanking the
entrance to the confessio.
112
Anonymous; quoted n. 55 above.
113
Buonanni, Num. templ. vat., 130: Verum cum mentem Pontificis non explerent, & nimis
aeris pondere subjectas columnas laxari posse timeretur, aliam formam . . . Bernini excogitavit.
114
Cf. Brauer-Wittkower, Zeichnungen, Pls. 6 ff. (See Addenda.)
115
Pollak, 369 ff.; the finishing touches were not completed until two years later.
111

56. Saint Peters, reliquary niche of St. Helen.

57. Rome, Santo Spirito in Sassia, Altar of the Virgin.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page68

128

59. Saint Peters, crown of the baldachin.

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

58. Saint Peters, plan of the reliquary niches.


(From Baldinucci, Vita, pl. 11 opp. p. 176).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:25Page69

129

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page70

130

60. St. Andrew (from the


tabernacle of Old Saint Peters).
Rome, Saint Peters, Sacristy
(photo: Anderson).

61. Adriaen Collaert,


St. Andrew, engraving.
Brussels, Bibl. Royale,
Cabinet des Estampes.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page71

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

62. Domenichino, Apotheosis of St. Andrew. Rome, SantAndrea


della Valle (photo: Anderson).

63. Saint Peters,


vault of northwest
grotto chapel
(originally dedicated
to St. Andrew),
Apotheosis of St.
Andrew.

131

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page72

132
Apse
(west)
Volto Santo
and Lance

Head of
St. Andrew

Volto Sancto
(Veronica)

Head of
St. Andrew

Volto Santo

Lance

Tomb of
Paul III

Colonna
Santa

Lance
(Longinus)

True Cross
(Helen)

Head of
St. Andrew

True Cross

A. Under Paul V

B. First arrangement under


Urban VIII (1629 ff.)

C. Decree of April 26, 1638

Volto Santo

Head of
St. Andrew

True Cross

Lance

D. Decree of July 5, 1638


(final)

Text Figure. Disposition of the relics in the crossing.

The Placement of the Niche Statues


The second major change involved the distribution of the relics in the
four piers, and hence also the placement of the statues and the decoration
of the upper niches. The point of departure for the original placement was
certainly the installation of Paul V (Text Fig. A), in which the two Passion
relics, the Holy Face and the Lance, had been given the place of honour in
the southwest pier (in cornu evangelii), while Andrews head had been
placed in the northwest corner, the side of lesser distinction (in cornu epistolae).116 When Urban VIII decided to treat the Lance separately and add
the True Cross, the same principle was applied at a lower level to the two
eastern piers, that on the south being considered more important than that
on the north. Thus, the descending order of precedence of the piers was:
southwest; northwest; southeast; and northeast. The Volto Santo, because
of its outstanding importance, retained the first place. The distribution of

116
On the directional symbolism of the Christian basilica, cf. J. Sauer, Symbolik des
Kirchengebudes, Freiburg-im-Breisgau, 1924, 87 ff.; J. A. Jungmann, Missarum sollemnia,
Freiburg, 1958, I, 529 ff.; I. Lavin, The Sources of Donatellos Pulpits in San Lorenzo, AB,
41, 1959, 20 n. 8. The nobler side, to the right of the celebrant of the Mass, gets its name
from the fact that the lesson from the Gospel in the Mass was read from there, while the
Epistle, of lesser distinction, was read from the celebrants left. In Saint Peters the pope celebrates the Mass facing the congregation in the nave. Because Saint Peters is also wested
(that is, with the apse in the west), the nobler side is to the south, as it is in normally oriented churches.
117
Breviarium romanum, Rome, 1634, Commune sanctorum, xviff.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page73

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

133

the other three relics depended upon the basic distinction according to
which saints are classified, that is, between males and females. In the
Common of the Saints, the series of prayers by which saints are collectively venerated, males have preference over females. Apostles and evangelists
come before male martyrs; confessors, doctors, and abbots follow, and the
female saints come last. Among the latter, saints who were neither virgins
nor martyrs which was the case with Veronica and Helen constitute
the lowest category.117 By this criterion, Andrew, as apostle and martyr, takes
precedence over the male martyr Longinus, who in turn precedes Helen;
this was the order in which Urban VIII originally distributed the relics (Text
Fig. B). The controlling factor, except for the Volto Santo, was the liturgical rank of the saints, male martyrs vs. female non-virgins non-martyrs.
The frescoes illustrating the histories of the relics in the grotto chapels
beneath the niches were actually carried out according to this original
arrangement, under Berninis direction, mainly during 1630 and 1631.118
The liturgical rank of the saints was emphasized in the altar paintings by
Andrea Sacchi in these chapels: in the case of Veronica and Helen, scenes
showing their connection with the relics were chosen (the Road to Calvary
and the Testing of the True Cross), while under Andrew and Longinus the
altarpieces pertained to their martyrdom (Andrew worshipping the cross on
which he would be crucified and the Beheading of St. Longinus).119 Another
118
The dates are given by Torriggio, Sacre grotte vaticane, 200, who also describes the
frescoes in detail. An inscription in the vault of the ambulatory between the northeast and
northwest chapels reads as follows:
URBANUS VIII  PONTE [sic]  MAX 
NOVOS  ADITVS  APERVIT 
ALTARIA  CVM  STATUS  ER[E]XIT
PICTVRIS  ADAVXIT
ANN  DOM  M  DC  XXXI  PONT  VIII
The inscripion thus dates between Jan. I and Sept. 28, 1631 (the eve of the anniversary
of the popes coronation). Payments begin in Jan., 1630 (Pollak, no. 2108), and the last invoice is Jan., 1633 (Pollak, no. 2123).
119
Mosaic copies of the paintings are now on the altars (according to the final, not the
original location of the relics). The paintings are now in the Treasury of Saint Peters. Sacchi
received payments in 1633 and 1634 (Pollak, Nos. 2086 ff.), and a final payment for the St.
Helen scene on Sept. 5, 1650: Al And.ea Sacchi Pitt.e Scudi 150 m.ta oltre a scudi 650 havuti sono p. intero pagam.to di tutti quattro li quadri che il d.o ha dipinto sotto le grotte
compresoci in d.o n.o il quadro con lhist.a quando S.ta helena trovo la Croce di N.S. Sotto
S.ta helena di marmo e questo e in conformita di quanto ha ordinato la Sacra Cong.e di q.to
di. (Arch. Fabb. S.P., Ser. Arm., Vol. 179, Spese 163657, p. 276; cf. Set. 3, Vol. 162, Decreta
et resolutiones 164253, fol. 178r.)

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page74

134

souvenir of the original disposition, in which the liturgical pairing of the


saints is also indicated, is in the decorations on the bases of the statues, for
which payments were made between April, 1632, and March, 1635.120
Beneath the inscriptions on the bases in the northwest (Fig. 52) and southeast (Fig. 50) niches are palm fronds, the symbol of martyrdom; they were
intended respectively for Sts. Andrew and Longinus. Under Veronicas inscription are laurel leaves (Fig. 49); no change took place here. The base on
which Longinus now stands has laurel branches entwining a sceptre
(Fig. 51), showing that it was intended for the Empress St. Helen.121
Most important, it is evident that the statues were conceived as pairs,
facing each other diagonally across the baldachin Andrew vs. Longinus,
Veronica vs. Helen (Figs. 50 vs. 51, 49 vs. 52). Changing the statues locations not only destroyed this deliberate opposition but profoundly affected
the logic of their design (cf. Text Fig. D). The St. Andrew, simply moved
diagonally across the crossing, suffered least. But the whole movement in
the pose and glance of the Longinus, shifted to the opposite side of the nave,
is now outward and away from the baldachin; like the St. Andrew, it would
have been directed inward and up toward the Resurrected Saviour.
Likewise, Helens glance and gesture, now outward in the direction of the
transept, would have been inward toward the central axis of the basilica,
corresponding to St. Veronicas. The figures thus created a compact, centralized unity that was, in the end, largely dispersed.
The statues were already nearing completion, and their bases and the
frescoes in the grotto chapels had been executed, when, in 1638, the original plan was altered. The motivation was a bull that had been issued by
Urban VIII in 1629, when he gave the relic of the True Cross to the basiliCf. Fraschetti, Bernini, 70; H. Posse, Andrea Sacchi, Leipzig, 1925, 54 ff.; A. Mezzetti,
in Lideale classico del seicento in Italia e la pittura di paesaggio (Exhibition Cat.), Bologna,
1962, 332 ff.
120
Pollak, 436 ff., 452, 458, 464.
121
A further remnant of the first arrangement is in the motifs that decorate the socle zone
of the frontispieces of the reliquary niches; under the twisted columns in three of the niches are Passion symbols (crown of thorns and crossed reeds, gauntlets and lantern, bag of
coins, scourges, hammer and tongs, nails and loincloth, ewer and basin), while under those
in the northwest niche are various fish, for Andrew the fisherman, whose relic was the only
one not connected with the Passion (cf. Figs. 5356). On the north side of the north column of the northeast niche is an imperial crown with a cross, for the Empress Helen. (I have
been able to visit only the eastern niches; hence I cannot identify the emblems on the inner
faces of the column bases in the western niches, which are not visible from afar.)

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page75

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

135

ca. He had then stipulated that the three relics of the Passion be displayed
in a sequence that implied an ascending order of importance, the Lance first
and the Cross second, climaxing with the Holy Face.122 A compromise between the original arrangement and the import of Urban VIIIs bull was
made in the first of two decrees issued by the Congregation concerning the
placement of the relics: in April of 1638 the Congregation ordered a new
disposition, stating explicitly that it was in accordance with the relative dignity of the relics (Text Fig. C).123 Yet the decree merely exchanged the places
of the head of Andrew and the Lance of Longinus; the preferred position
was given to the Lance because it is a Passion relic, but the pairing of the
saints was still retained. The difficulty now was that the Lance had precedence over the True Cross. The Congregation changed its mind again and
in a subsequent meeting, in July, 1638, decreed what was to be the final
arrangement (Text Fig. D).124 This adheres strictly to the hierarchy of the
relics, expressing it in an ascending counterclockwise order beginning with
the head of St. Andrew, the only relic not related to the Passion, and end. . . . de cetero Ferri primo, deinde Crucis, postremo Sacrae Imaginis reliquiae hujus modi
ostendi debeant. (Collectionis bullarum, III, 240 [April 9, 1629]).
123
April 26, 1638:
Fuit actum mandato S.D.N., de quo mihi oeconomo fidem fecit Rev.mus D. Archiep.us
Amasiae super collocat.ne 4.or p.lium Reliquiarum S.S. Basilicae S. Petri iuxta debitum cuiq
pced.ae ord.em et exhibito Modulo milti ab eodem R.mo D. Archie.po consignato et D. Paulo
Alaleona Magro Ceremoniarum eiusd S.D.N. subscripto, in quo p.s locus Augustissimo Vultus S.
Reliquiae in loculo dexterae Parastidis, seu Pilastri subtus Cupolam versa ad Januam facie assignandam propanitur, 2.s S.mae Cruci in loculo sinistro sub.to per Diametrum respondente, 3.s
ptiossimae Lanceae in loculo sinistro p.o loculo Vultus S.tt respondente et 4.s Capiti Gloriosissimi
Apostoli S. Andreae in loculo dextero conspectu S.mae Crucis. Em.mi D.ni eodem viso et considerato mandarunt juxta ordinem ibi perscriptum easd S.S.tas reliquias collocari, et modulum ptum
cum p.nti decr.o ad perpetuam memoriam conservari. (Arch. Fabb. S. P., I Piano, Ser. 3, vol.
161, Decreta et resolut 163642, fol. 36v).
124
July 5, 1638:
Fuit iterum actum de collocatione Reliquiarum pn.lium sacros.ta Basilicae S.tt Petri, et non
obst.e Decreto alias facto melius discusso neg.o resolutum S.mam Vultus S.ti Reliquiam in eodem loculo dexterae parastidis seu Pilastri verso ad Januam facie esse collocandam, sacrosanctum Crucis
Lignum in sinistro eidem respondenti, Praetiosissimam Lanceam in loculo dexterae paristidis,
quae invenitur ab ingressu Ecclesiae, et Caput gloriosissimi Apostoli S.ti Andreae in sinistro huic
respondenti. (Ibid., fol. 43v).
The decrees are alluded to by Fraschetti, Bernini, 72f.
It is evident that Duquesnoys cries of foul play at the change of plan, reported by Bellori,
Passeri, etc., were quite unfounded (the sources are conveniently quoted in Fransolet, Le S.
Andre de Duquesnoy, 277 ff.; cf. 252).
122

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page76

136

ing with the Volto Santo. The pairing of the saints was abandoned completely.125
Underlying these changes was a progressive shift in emphasis in which
the importance of the relics rather than that of the saints became the
basis for the arrangement. Hierarchy was the determining factor throughout. In the beginning, however, it was focused on the human personalities
of the saints represented, which in turn determined their liturgical status;
125
The Longinus was installed in June, 1638 (Pollak, no. 1791), before the Congregations final decree. Presumably the final disposition was known in advance. It is just
possible, however, that the statue actually was set up in the northwest pier in accordance with
the first decree, and subsequently moved. A list of expenses for work done during June,
1639, includes a payment per haver condutto il Bassorilievo[sic!] di S. Longino; this is listed in Pollak as though it were for the statue (no. 1793), though it may refer to the relief of
the reliquary niche above (nos. 1978 ff.). The English Sculptor Nicholas Stone notes in the
diary of his visit to Rome that on Dec. 11, 1639, Bernini told him he would finish within
fifteen days a statue on which he was working in Saint Peters; this can only refer to the
Longinus (cf. W. L. Spiers, The Note-Book and Account Book of Nicholas Stone, Walpole
Society, 7, 1919, 171).
In 1637 P. Totti describes the statues (and the long inscriptions below the balconies) as
if they were already in place according to the original plan, though none of the figures was
completed then (Ristretto delle grandezze di Roma, Rome, 1637, 5 ff.). The next year he adds
a correction, hoggi si sono mutati i luoghi di S. Longino e di S. Andrea (Ritratto di Roma
moderna, Rome, 1638, 530, with dedicatory letter dated Nov. 18, 1638).
Another indication of the date of the change is provided by two payments to the painter
Guidobaldo Abbatini. The first was on April 23, 1637, for having painted the inscriptions
on the scrolls carried by the angels in the uppermost arches of the reliquary niches (Pollak,
no. 2015); the second was on July 29, 1638, for having painted the inscriptions a second
time (Pollak, no. 2018).
Because Torriggio states (Sacre grotte vaticane, 220, 232, 283) that the inscriptions below
the balconies of the Longinus, Andrew, and Helen niches were set up in 1634, the change
has been dated too early (Fransolet, Le S. Andr de Duquesnoy, 251 n. 8; Kauffmann,
Berninis H1. Longinus, 370). Torriggio makes no mention of any discrepancy between the
inscriptions and the chapels below, an anomaly he certainly would not have overlooked or
failed to note in his detailed account. Either the inscriptions were not yet really installed, and
Torriggio anticipated, or they were first set in place according to the original arrangement
and subsequently shifted.
There is an engraved plan of the grottoes (a reworking of an earlier print showing the
grottoes in their pre-Urban VIII form; cf. Lietzmann, Petrus u. Paulus in Rom, 193, 304, Pl.
11), ordered first by Benedetto Drei, fattore of the basilica, with inscriptions in the chapels
identifying them according to the final disposition of the relics and carrying the date 1635
(e.g. Bibl. Vat., R. G. Arte-Arch. 5.95 unnumbered). But a further inscription says the plan
was brought up to date (ridotta nella forma che al presente si ritrova) by Pietro Paolo Drei,
soprastante of the basilica, an office to which he was appointed only in Nov., 1638 (cf.
Pollak, no. 28).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page77

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

137

and this is reflected in the design of the statues, which are paired visually
and psychologically. Ultimately, the overriding consideration became the
relics and their relative dignity; pre-eminence was given to the mementoes
of Christs sacrifice.
The main results and implications of the discussion in the preceding two
Sections may now be briefly summarized. First, the statues were planned
when the baldachin was to have its original form, with the Resurrected
Christ above. Second, it seems clear that besides his own statue Bernini provided initial designs also for the Andrew and the Veronica. Presently we shall
offer evidence that the same is true of Bolgis Helen. Each artist developed
the prototype according to his own predilection; but the statues complement one another according to a unified scheme, as we shall also see, and
this underlying conception can only have been Berninis. The significance
of these observations will become apparent as we consider the sources and
meaning of the figures and the overall programme.
V. The Sources and Significance of the Statues
St. Andrew and the First Version of St. Longinus
The decisive change introduced by Bernini into the two-storey organization of the piers under Paul V lay in devoting the lower niches to
monumental figures of the saints, and the upper niches to representations
of the relics themselves. This new arrangement, already implicit in Berninis
Veronica project early in 1627 (Fig. 48), involves a much more explicit reference than had obtained under Paul V to one in particular of the reliquary
tabernacles in Old Saint Peters, namely that of Saint Andrew (Fig. 7). A

The St. Andrew is shown in the northwest niche in a view of the interior of Saint Peters in
the Prado, signed by Filippo Gagliardi and dated 1640 (A. E. Perez Sanchez, Pintura italiana
del S. XVII en Espaa, Madrid, 1965, 279, Pl. 75). The statue had been installed in Oct., 1639,
after the final decree and therefore certainly in the southeast niche. Incongruously, the reliquary
niche above the St. Andrew shows the relief with the cross of St. Helen.
It should be emphasized, finally, that all this had no bearing on the actual location of the
relics; the Passion relics are kept in the Veronica niche and shown from there (see Moroni,
Dizionario, CIII, 101 f.; P. Moretti, De ritu ostensionis sacrarum reliquiarum, Rome, 1721,
111), while St. Andrews head was reserved to the niche above St. Helen. We have a payment
for the canopy over the niche of St. Helen in Nov., 1641, that is, long after the final disposition was made, in which it is stated that the St. Andrew relic was kept there (Pollak, 492;
cf. 65 no. 54).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page78

138

representation of the apostles head held by angels decorated the upper


story, and standing on the altar below was a colossal marble statue of the
saint (Fig. 60).126 The relationship goes beyond general organization, however. The earlier statue, which was added to the fifteenth century tabernacle
in 1570, also seems to be reflected in the figure of the saint executed by
Duquesnoy (Fig. 50); the arrangement of the drapery is similar and the figure holds the cross behind him in the same distinctive way. The connection
clearly forms part of the pattern of deliberate reminiscences of the old basilicas monuments in the new crossing.
Another antecedent that must be taken into account is an engraving
(Fig. 61) from a series depicting the apostles by the Antwerp printmaker
Adriaen Collaert (d. 1618).127 The saint is again placed in front of the cross,
which consists of knotty cylindrical logs, and embraces it with his right arm;
here, moreover, part of the mantle falls behind the cross at the right side, as
in the marble. The link with Collaerts engraving is of special interest because another series of prints by him a life of St. Theresa printed first at
Antwerp in 1613 and then at Rome before 1622 later served as one of
Berninis chief sources for his Chapel of Saint Teresa in Santa Maria della
Vittoria in Rome (begun 1647).128
The Duquesnoy figure is also inconceivable without still another model,
by which the earlier images were brought up to date; this is Domenichinos
famous depiction of St. Andrew in Apotheosis on the vault of the choir of
SantAndrea della Valle (Fig. 62). Domenichino had executed the fresco late
in 1624, a few years before Bernini submitted his design for the St. Andrew
niche in April, 1628.129 While the colossal scale and details of pose and
drapery come from the earlier sculpture and the engraving, Domenichino
provided the basic conception of the saint, with nude torso, head tilted back
and to the right, and arms extended upward in a gesture of helpless yearn-

126
C. De Fabriczy, La statua di SantAndrea allingresso della sagrestia in San Pietro,
LArte, 4, 1901, 67 ff.
127
The similarity was first noted in print by Hess (Notes sur Duquesnoy, 30 f.), who
cites R. Berliner.
128
This relationship will be explored at length in my forthcoming study of the Saint
Teresa chapel.
129
The Apotheosis scene seems to have been the first of the frescoes carried out by
Domenichino in the choir and pendentives of SantAndrea; a payment of 26 scudi in Dec.,
1624, evidently refers to it. The main body of the decoration was executed during 162627,
and the latest payment to Domenichino is in Feb., 1628. See A. Boni, La chiesa di S. Andrea

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page79

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

139

ing.130 As if to acknowledge his debt to Domenichinos work, Bernini had it


virtually duplicated soon thereafter on the vault of the chapel under the
northwest pier, originally dedicated to St. Andrew (Fig. 63).131 Indeed, the
Domenichino fresco long continued to be an important source of inspiration for Bernini. His vision of the saint rising on a cloud in the apse of
SantAndrea al Quirinale (begun 1658) seems to translate Domenichinos
image into three dimensions (Fig. 64).132
The realization that Bernini was responsible for the basic conception of
the St. Andrew whose power and monumentality is without precedent or

della Valle (Conferenza letta allAssociazione Archeologica romana la sera dell8 Dic. 1907),
Rome, 1908, 21; Hess, Die Knstlerbiographien, 48 n. 5; H. Hibbard, The Date of
Lanfrancos Fresco in the Villa Borghese and Other Chronological Problems, in Misc. Bibl.
Hertz., 357 f., 364; Borea, Domenichino, 184.
130
The pose, gesture, and expression for an upward soaring figure are characteristic of
Domenichino, and recur frequently in his work (cf. Borea, Domenichino, Pls. 28, 47, 67,
81 f.).
The statues connection with Domenichino, though not with the SantAndrea fresco, has
been noted by J. Pope-Hennessy, Italian High Renaissance and Baroque Sculpture, London,
1963, text vol. p. 109, and Nava Cellini, Duquesnoy e Poussin, 41.
Nava Cellini (pp. 40 f.) revives the attribution to Duquesnoy of a terra-cotta model of
St. Andrew in SantAndrea delle Fratte, which had been rejected by Fransolet (Le S. Andr
de Duquesnoy, 243 n. 4) and Hess (Die Knstlerbiographien, 110 n.1; Notes sur
Duquesnoy, 31 f.). The tilt of the head in the opposite direction seems sufficient, in the
present context, to exclude it as a study for the Saint Peters figure; indeed, the model has
close analogies to the statue of the saint by Camillo Rusconi in the Lateran (cf. A.
Riccoboni, Roma nellarte. La scultura nellevo moderno dal Quattrocento ad oggi, Rome,
1942, Pl. 315).
131
Torriggio, Sacre grotte vaticane, 220.
132
The similarity has also been pointed out by M. Fagiolo DellArco, Domenichino
ovvero classicismo del primo Seicento, Rome, 1963, 92.
We may note that it was probably also from Dornenichinos frescoes the allegories in
the choir in SantAndrea della Valle and the pendentives there and in San Carlo ai Catinari
(162731) that Bernini developed his famous technique of stucco spilling over the architectural frame. Bernini is usually credited with the invention of this device, which he
introduced in the reliquary niches in Saint Peters (Figs. 5356) and elaborated further in his
Cappella Pio in SantAgostino (begun 1644); in fact, it has a long prior history, with which
I hope to deal in my study of the Chapel of Saint Teresa.
The allegory in the choir of SantAndrea della Valle variously identified as Hope,
Chastity, or Voluntary Poverty seems, along with the figure of Andromeda in the Galleria
Farnese, to have contributed to Berninis figure of Truth in the Borghese Gallery (begun

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page80

140

sequel in Duquesnoys work133 helps to clarify its intimate relation to


Berninis own St. Longinus (Fig. 51). They are analogous in pose, in psychological expression, and in the arrangement of their drapery.134 But it
must be emphasized that the similarity is not primarily a matter of both
works having been conceived by the same artist, nor did it result simply
from a desire to set up a harmonious echo between the two statues. Rather,
it was created in response to an anomalous situation with which Bernini was
confronted when it came to the final execution of his figure.
In its present form the statue represents Longinus as if standing at the
foot of the Cross, at the moment when, having pierced Christs side, he suddenly recognizes Christs divinity and is converted. He looks up enraptured
and thrusts his arms out as if in emphatic imitation of Christs pose upon
the Cross.135 The fact is, however, that Bernini did not originally plan to
represent St. Longinus in this fashion. We have a record of the figure he first
intended to pair with St. Andrew in one of the scenes in the vault of the
chapel in the grotto that was meant for Longinus (Figs. 65, 66).136 These
frescoes, as we have noted, were carried out under Berninis direction mainly during 1630 beginning in January, almost immediately after the four
statues were commissioned and 1631, with the final payments coming
in January, 1633. That the scene dates from early in the campaign is indicated by the fact that the upper niche does not yet show the decoration
executed subsequently also on Berninis design, whereas the design for this

1646). The painters influence is evident in Berninis work as early as the St. Bibiana
162426) in the Church of Santa Bibiana, which is related to the figure of St. Cecilia in
Domenichinos fresco in San Luigi dei Francesi, showing St. Cecilia before the judge (Borea,
Domenichino, Pl. 29).
133
Duquesnoys only other monumental figure, the St. Susanna in Santa Maria di Loreto,
is profoundly different in conception (see p. 164 below).
134
Bernini repeated the knot of drapery at the left in the Countess Matilda (Fig. 75) and
in the Christ of the Pasce Oves Meas in Saint Peters. In light of the documentation concerning the genesis of the St. Andrew, the view of the relationship between Bernini and
Duquesnoy suggested by Nava Cellini (Duquesnoy e Poussin, 45, 59 n. 47) should be reversed. (See also n. 174 below, and Addenda.)
135
Kauffmann has, in my opinion rightly, revived this interpretation of Berninis figure
(cf. his Berninis Tabenakel, 233; Berninis Hl. Longinus, 369).
136
The scene anticipates the transferral of the relic to this pier, and is inscribed on the
painted frame: In hoc conditorium Urbano VIII Pont. Max. iussu, solemni pompa Ferrum
Lancea infertur; cf. Torriggio, Sacre grotte vaticane, 209.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page81

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

141

decoration, in which the twisted columns support triangular pediments,


does appear in one of the frescoes of the Veronica chapel (Figs. 67, 68). This
shows Bernini kneeling before the pope and presenting his drawing for the
reliquary niches.137 Work on the upper niches began in 1633, shortly after
the paintings were finished, and it is likely that this sketch dates from toward the end of the campaign in the grotto, that is, the late summer of
1632.
The Longinus depicted in the fresco already shows basic elements of the
final solution. The figure is oriented toward its right, holding the spear in
the extended right hand, head tilted to the side and upward. A huge cloak
envelops the shoulders and sweeps forward across the hips. The most notable differences from the final work are the right foot raised on the helmet
and the left hand placed across the breast. The figure would thus have been
more self-contained and passive than the present Longinus, rather more akin
in mood, though less so in pose, to the St. Andrew. Above all, it is clear that
at this stage in the figures development there was no hint of the Crucifixion
simile. In fact, at the time this version was planned to accompany the St.
Andrew, the baldachin was to be topped not by a cross and globe but by the
Resurrected Christ.
These original relationships were evidently based upon a specific tradition in which Andrew and Longinus had long been closely linked. The
tradition centred at Mantua, where in the Church of SantAndrea is preserved the relic of the Precious Blood of Christ, which Longinus was
supposed to have collected from the wound he had made in Christs side
with his lance.138 Longinus, who according to one tradition was a native of
Mantua, and was ultimately martyred there, brought the Precious Blood
with him after the revelation of Christs divinity at the Crucifixion.139
Andrew was associated with the relic by virtue of the fact that on two sep-

137
The fresco is inscribed: Sacellum Beatae Veronicae cum tribus aliis Urbanus VIII extruendum iubet; cf. Torriggio, Sacre grotte vaticane, 200 f.
138
Attention was first called to the Mantuan tradition in this context by Kauffmann,
Berninis Tabernakel, 233 f., and Berninis Hl. Longinus, 365; its quattrocento manifestations have been studied by M. Horster, Mantuae Sanguis Preciosus. WRJb, 25, 1963,
151 ff.
139
On Longinus legends, cf. Acta sanctorum, Antwerp, 1643 ff., s.v. March 15. The
most important compilation of the Mantuan traditions is Donesmondi, Dellistoria ecclesiastica di Mantova; the view that Longinus was Mantuan is maintained by G. Magagnati, La
vita di S. Longino martire cavalier mantoano . . . , Venice, 1605, preface.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page82

142

64. Bernini, Apotheosis of St. Andrew. Rome, SantAndrea al Quirinale.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page83

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

65. Saint Peters, vault of


southeast grotto chapel
(originally dedicated
to St. Longinus).
Transferral of the Lance
of St. Longinus,

66. Detail of Fig. 65.

143

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page84

144

67. Saint Peters, vault of southwest grotto chapel (dedicated to St. Veronica).
Bernini Presenting the Design for the Reliquary Niches to Pope Urban VIII.

68. Detail of Fig. 67.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page85

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

69. Mantua, SantAndrea, Ancona of Chapel of the Precious Blood.

145

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page86

146

arate occasions, in 804 and 1049, when it had been hidden and its whereabouts forgotten, he had appeared miraculously to bring about its
rediscovery. The two saints were also linked through the Holy Lance at
Saint Peters which, having been hidden from the Saracens at Antioch, was
recovered in 1098 upon another apparition of the apostle.140
This Mantuan tradition had given rise to numerous representations in
which the two saints were paired.141 In most of these, and in images showing Longinus paired with other saints (cf. Fig. 70), the figures are depicted
in relation to the relic itself. In the chapel of SantAndrea that belonged to
the Confraternity of the Precious Blood and the Order of the Redeemer, the
wooden ancona decorating the altar wall has carved figures of Sts. Andrew
and Longinus in the attic zone; flanking the altar niche below are twisted
columns decorated with eucharistic vine scrolls (Fig. 69).142 Berninis general concept is foreshadowed by another work in the Mantuan tradition,
which pairs Longinus with St. Barbara:143 the title page of a poetic life of St.
Longinus published in 1605 (Fig. 70).144 The engraving, signed by
Wolfgang Kilian, shows the two saints standing before a frontispiece with a
pediment whose sides have a scroll-like curve. St. Longinus, who has
thrown off his military garb, holds the lance in his right hand and extends
his left; St. Barbaras right hand is thrown across her breast. They look up
140
J. Bosio, La trionfante e gloriosa croce, Rome, 1610, 121; Severano, Memorie sacre, 1,
161; cf. Kauffmann, Berninis Tabernakel, 233.
141
Many are mentioned and reproduced in P. Pelati, La Basilica di S. Andrea, Mantua,
1952 (cf. Pls. 58, 83, 87, 92, 113 f.).
142
The ancona is ascribed to G. B. Viani and datable ca. 1600 (cf. E. Mariani and C.
Perina, Mantova. Le arti, III, Mantua, 1965, 179, 372, 693, and the bibliography cited
there).
143
The Church of Saint Barbara in Mantua was the ducal chapel, and a portion of the
Precious Blood had been transferred there (Donesmondi, Istoria ecclesiastica, II, 354).
144
Magagnati, La vita di S. Longino; on Magagnati cf. Ianus Nicius Erythraeus (G. V.
Rossi), Pinacotheca, Cologne, 1645, 168 f., and E. A. Cicogna, Illustri muranesi richiamati
alla memoria . . . Venice, 1858, 17 f. The poem describes the moment of Longinus conversion as follows (p. 7):
Onde qual suole Aquila altera, il guardo
Nel Sol di Verit sicuro assisa
E rapito il contempla, e homai comprende
Luommorto vivo Dio, gi chiaro scorge
Viva la vita haver la Morte estinta,
Onde esclam con voce alta e sonante
Veramente di Dio questi era il Figlio.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page87

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

147

worshipfully toward the reliquary of the Precious Blood, which is held by


two putti. The whole arrangement strikingly anticipates that at Saint
Peters, even to the pairs of winged putti who display the papal and apostolic insignia from the horizontal entablatures between the scrolls of the
baldachin (Fig. 59). Of particular interest also are certain examples that
seem to reflect a great controversy of the 1460s, concerning whether the
blood Christ shed at the Crucifixion was reunited to His body at the
Resurrection; if it was, relics of the blood could not be venerable.145 A famous engraving by Mantegna (Fig. 71) shows Andrew and Longinus
flanking the Resurrected Christ exactly the juxtaposition originally
planned for the crossing of Saint Peters, where the saints were to look up
toward the figure of Christ on the baldachin between them.146
There was good reason to refer to this Mantuan tradition beyond the
simple fact that it provided precedence for linking Andrew and Longinus.
Pius II had held a solemn disputation on the subject of the Precious Blood
in 1462, and though no final decision was made, his sympathy was entirely with those who affirmed its venerability.147 It was also Pius II who, in the
same year, acquired the head of St. Andrew and had built for it the tabernacle at the entrance to Old Saint Peters. This fact is duly recorded in the
inscription above St. Andrews niche and in the frescoes of his chapel in the
grotto.148 It is also possible that the reference to Mantua was of more than
religious and historical significance. With the death of Vincenzo II Gonzaga
in December, 1627, and the extinction of the main Gonzaga line, the already vexed question of the succession to the Duchy of Mantua became
critical. The papacy was directly threatened, and this was one of Urban
145
Cf. Pastor, III, 286 ff.; Donesmondi, Istoria ecclesiastica, II, 11 ff. On the possible
repercussions of this dispute in the Sistine Chapel and Raphaels Disputo, cf. respectively
Ettlinger, The Sistine Chapel, 83 f., and F. Hartt, Lignum Vitae in Medio Paradisi. The
Stanza dEliodoro and the Sistine Ceiling, AB, 32, 1950, 116 n. 6.
146
On the engraving see G. Paccagnini, et al., Andrea Mantegna, Venice, 1961, 199.
Mantegna also depicted the two saints twice at SantAndrea in Mantua, in the tondo of the
pediment and in the atrium; in the latter case they were shown with the Ascension of Christ
above the portal (ibid., and Donesmondi, Istoria ecclesiastica, II, 49). After closing the dispute in 1462 Pius II had ordered that the relic be shown each year on Ascension Day
(Donesmondi, Istoria ecclesiastica, II, 16).
147
Cf. Pastor, III, 286 ff.
148
Pastor, III, 258 ff. For the inscription, see Forcella, Iscrizioni, VI, 148 n. 148. The
scenes depicting Pius IIs reception of the head are described in Torriggio, Sacre grotte vaticane, 222 ff.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page88

148

VIIIs most pressing concerns during the period in which the statues were
being planned. He decreed two extraordinary universal jubilees in the interests of peace, in April, 1628, and October, 1629. But his conciliatory
efforts were futile and events soon led to a conflict that was one of the major
episodes of the Thirty Years War.149
But most important, surely, was the fact that the Mantuan tradition
made it possible to relate Andrew and Longinus in a meaningful way to the
baldachin and altar, and to the other saints in the crossing. It introduced a
distinction the significance of which will emerge presently between
the upper part of the baldachin, where Andrew and Longinus focus their attention, and the altar below.
St. Veronica and St. Helen
Despite their obvious stylistic differences it is evident that the two female statues were also conceived as a pair (Figs. 49, 52). This becomes
especially clear when it is recalled that the Helen was to face the Veronica
from the opposite pier (cf. Text Fig. B). Their relationship is with the lower
part of the baldachin rather than its crown, and by their poses, glances, and
gestures, they form a kind of contrapuntal embrace of the crossing. Both
figures stride toward the baldachin in the centre: Veronicas face is turned to
the worshipper approaching from the nave, while her arms extend the Volto
Santo toward the area behind the altar; Helen would have displayed the
Nails in the direction of the nave, while her glance was focused on the worshipper in front of the altar.150 The intensely active role of the Veronica and
149
See R. Quazza, Mantova e Monferrato nella politica europea alla vigilia della guerra per
la successione (162427), Mantua, 1922 (Pubblicazioni della R. Accademia virgiliana, Ser. II,
Misc. no. 3) and La guerra per la successione di Mantova e del Monferrato (162831), 2 Vols.,
Mantua, 1926 (ibid., Misc. nos. 56). On the popes role, cf. Pastor, XXVIII, 201 ff.
150
It will be seen that the actions of the female figures take the spectator into account,
as opposed to the males complete absorption in the miraculous event above. This, too, reflects the relatively more mundane concerns of the non-virgins non-martyrs, as compared
with the male martyrs.
The kind of contrapuntal composition seen in the Veronica and the Helen has its immediate forerunner in Berninis work in the bust of Cardinal Bellarmino in the Ges
(162324); here the face turns with a rapt expression to the worshiper approaching the choir,
while the hands clasped in prayer are directed toward the office at the altar. The space is thus
charged with a dramatic implication that forms the prelude to Berninis conception of the
crossing of Saint Peters. See the comments in my Five New Youthful Sculptures by
Gianlorenzo Bernini and a Revised Chronology of His Early Works, to appear in AB, 50,
Sept., 1968.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page89

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

149

the noble calm of the Helen present, furthermore, a clearly calculated contrast.
The Veronica was, as we have seen, preceded by an early project by
Bernini (Fig. 48); but Mochis highly personal interpretation seems to owe
much to the depiction of Veronica by Pontormo in Santa Maria Novella in
Florence (Fig. 72). Mochi was born near Florence and received his early
training there under the painter Santi di Tito. His strong allegiance to his
Florentine artistic heritage has been emphasized since the earliest biography.151 It is perhaps relevant that Urban VIII was also a native of Florence,
where he received his early education. Mochis reference to Pontormos figure may have been considered appropriate because the painting decorated
the Chapel of the Popes in Santa Maria Novella. It had been executed on
the occasion of the visit of Leo X, another Florentine, in 1515.152 That pope
had shown considerable interest in the Volto Santo, and issued bulls concerning its display.153 Indeed, the pose of Pontormos figure, the drawn
curtains behind, and the accompanying inscriptions seem to allude specifically to the rite of displaying the relic.154 At the same time, important
changes were introduced in the context at Saint Peters. Through the figures
motion and expression the essentially ritualistic character of Pontormos
image is given a dramatic immediacy which suggests that the Passion is actually in progress.
The St. Helen by Bolgi, who was Berninis assistant and close follower,
is undoubtedly a far more accurate imitation of the masters model. The
presence of Berninis guiding mind can perhaps best be appreciated by considering the source of Bolgis statue: a painting of St. Helen by Rubens, his
151
Cf. Passeri, in Hess, Die Knstlerbiographien, 130. The Veronica has been compared
with a figure from an ancient Niobid group (A. Muoz, La scultura barocca e lantico,
LArte, 19, 1916, 133), and with a figure from a painting by Santi di Tito in the Vatican (J.
Hess, Nuovi aspetti dellarte di Francesco Mochi, BdArte, 29, 193536, 309).
152
On the Cappella de Pontefici and its association with no less than four popes, cf. V.
Fineschi, Memorie sopra il cimitero antico della chiesa di S. Maria Novella di Firenze, Florence,
1787, 36; for recent bibliography, J. Cox Rearick, The Drawings of Pontormo, Cambridge,
Mass., 1964, 1, 106.
153
Cf. Collectionis bullarum, II, 374. Awareness in the early seventeenth century of Leos
interest is indicated by the fact that his bulls are quoted by Grimaldi in his treatise on the
Volto Santo, along with a notice from Leos diarist of showings of the relics on Easter and
Ascension Days, 1514 (Opusculum, fols. 69r and v).
154
The inscriptions are transcribed in F. M. Clapp, Jacopo Carucci da Pontormo, His Life
and Work, New Haven, Conn-London, 1916, 124.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page90

150

first dated work, executed in 16011602 while he was in Rome (Fig. 73).155
The massive proportions of the figure and its drapery, the pose and gesture
with extended left arm, the huge cross projecting diagonally out of the picture space have all been transferred to the marble. The most significant
difference is that the heavenward gaze of the eyes has been lowered. But a
number of other changes have been introduced as well: notably, the outer
swathe of drapery is now pulled to one side and joined at the hip, and the
left leg, no longer moving forward, is flexed and to the rear of the right leg.
Both feet are exposed and wear clog-like sandals. In part, as we shall see
presently, these changes may reflect a study of ancient statuary, but the main
inspiration seems again to have come from a work by Rubens: the figure of
St. Domitilla in the right wing of his altarpiece in Santa Maria in Vallicella,
also painted in Rome, in 1608 (Fig. 74).156 Between the time that Bolgi
completed the model of the St. Helen and the time he began the final work,
Bernini repeated the basic formula almost exactly in his figure of the
Countess Matilda on her tomb in Saint Peters (begun 1633; Fig. 75);157 the
similarities here include the arrangement of the drapery at the breast, the facial type, even the coiffure. In the Matilda, however, the positions of the
arms have been reversed, and they are now virtually identical with those of
Rubens St. Domitilla. As with the St. Andrew of Duquesnoy, Bolgis St.
Helen is unique for the artist who executed it, but fits integrally into
Berninis own development.158
Rubens painting of St. Helen hung until the eighteenth century in the
chapel dedicated to her in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme,
whence Urban VIII removed the portion of the True Cross for the fourth
Now in the Hospital at Grasse, France, along with two companion pictures, The
Crowning with Thorns and The Raising of the Cross. Cf. C. Rubens, Correspondance de Rubens,
Antwerp, 1887, I, 41 ff.; M. Rooses, Loeuvre de Pierre-Paul Rubens, Antwerp, 1889, 11, 281
f.; most recently, M. De Maeyer, Rubens in de Altaarstukkcn in het Hospitaal te Grasse,
Gentse Bijdragen tot de Kunstgeschiedenis, 14, 1953, 75 ff.
156
M. Jaff, Peter Paul Rubens and the Oratorian Fathers, Proporzioni, 4, 1963, 209 ff.;
G. Incisa della Rocchetta, Documenti editi e inediti sui quadri del Rubens nella Chiesa
Nuova, AttiPontAcc, Ser. III, Rendiconti, xxxv, 196263, 161 ff.
157
The relationship is so close that, as Wittkower has observed, the Matilda has even
been attributed to Bolgi, though the documents show he was responsible only for secondary
details (Art and Architecture in Italy 16001750, 2nd ed., Harmondsworth, etc., 1965, 201).
158
The St. Helen is Bolgis only piece of monumental religious statuary. Cf. V.
Martinelli, Contributi alla scultura del seicento. V. Andrea Bolgi a Roma e a Napoli,
Commentari, 10, 1959, 137 ff.; A. Nava Cellini, Ritratti di Andrea Bolgi, Paragone, 13,
no. 147, 1962, 24 ff.
155

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page91

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

151

crossing pier in Saint Peters. Santa Croce has the most ancient and hallowed associations with the mother of Constantine.159 It was founded in the
Sessorian palace, which had belonged to her, and she was supposed to have
installed the chapel that bears her name in her own chamber. The church
possesses besides three remaining fragments of the True Cross a nail,
thorns from the crown, and the Title of the Cross, which Helen was believed to have brought back from Jerusalem.160 Part of the appeal Rubens
work held, therefore, probably lay in what might almost be called the authenticity of its location. This may also be the explanation for the marked
similarities, in figure type, pose, and drapery arrangement, between Bolgis
St. Helen and an authentic classical prototype still existing in Santa Croce,
over the same altar that Rubens painting once decorated (Fig. 76). When
the painting was removed toward the middle of the eighteenth century, it
was replaced by an ancient statue restored (chiefly the head and arms) to
represent St. Helen in a kind of composite imitation of Rubens and Bolgi.
There is good reason to identify the figure now on the altar with a statue of
the Empress Helen that had been found in a mid-sixteenth century excavation in the garden behind the church.161
Still more important as a key to the relevance of Rubens painting for the
program at Saint Peters are the Solomonic columns of Saint Peters that appear in the background. They are employed in such a way under the
arches of a larger building, with no sign of a superstructure and with a drape
hanging from the architrave that might easily suggest a kind of tabernacle. Their presence in the picture is explained by a tradition current at the
time the crossing of Saint Peters was being planned, according to which it
was precisely the Empress Helen who had obtained them in Jerusalem.162
Shown thus with the columns, Helen is represented as if she were actually in Jerusalem. In fact, this topographical identification is explicit in the
very name of the basilica, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. The identification,
moreover, was not merely metaphorical. When Helen returned to Rome,
R. Krautheimer, Corpus basilicarum christianarum Romae, Vatican, 1, 1937, 165 ff.
Rubens includes the Crown of Thorns and Title of the Cross, Bolgi includes the Nails,
and the Title appears in the relief of the reliquary niche above. On the relics in Santa Croce
see B. Bedini, Le reliquie sessoriane della Passione del Signore, Rome, 1956.
161
On the statue in Santa Croce, presumably an earlier work reused in the second quarter of the fourth century, see my note, An Ancient Statue of the Empress Helen
Reidentified(?), AB, 49, 1967, 58 ff.
162
Panciroli, Tesori nascosti, 532.
159
160

70. Wolfgang Kilian, title page of G. Magagnati,


La Vita di S. Longino, 1605.

71. Mantegna, Sts. Andrew and Longinus with the Resurrected Christ,
engraving. London, Victoria and Albert Museum.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page92

152

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page93

153

72. Pontormo, St. Veronica. Florence, Santa Maria Novella, Chapel of the Popes.

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

73. Rubens, St. Helen. Grasse, Hospital


(formerly in Rome, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme).

74. Rubens, Sts. Nereus, Domitilla, and Achilleus.


Rome, Santa Maria in Vallicella (photo: Alinari).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page94

154

76. Ancient statue restored as St. Helena. Rome,


Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Chapel of Saint Helen.

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

75. Bernini, monument of Matilda of Tuscany.


Rome, Saint Peters (photo: Alinari).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page95

155

77. Bernini, bozzetto for St. Longinus. Cambridge, Mass.,


Fogg Art Museum.

78. St. Longinus, drawing after Bernini.


Bassano, Museo Civico.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page96

156

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page97

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

79. M. Ferrabosco, Project for ciborium.


(From Architettura di S. Pietro, pl. 27).

80. Detail of Fig. 79.

157

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page98

158

according to the legend, her ship was loaded with the earth from under the
Cross that Christ had bathed with his blood. This venerable earth she
placed in the lower part of her room, and it thus underlies the pavement of
the chapel dedicated to her, of which Rubens painting was the altarpiece.
The story is told in a long inscription in majolica tiles lining the passageway that leads to the chapel. It celebrates a miraculous rediscovery of the
Title of the Cross in 1492, which was the occasion for a major restoration
of the chapel preceding the one for which Rubens painting was made. The
inscription explains not only the meaning of the chapel, but also its implication for Saint Peters:
This holy chapel is called Jerusalem because St. Helen, mother of
Constantine the Great, returning from Jerusalem in the year of our Lord
321, having rediscovered the insignia of the Lords victory, constructed
it in her own chamber; and having brought back in her ship holy earth
of Mount Calvary upon which the blood of Christ was poured out for
the price of human redemption, and by the power of which entrance to
the Heavenly Jerusalem was opened to mortals, she filled it to the lowest vault. For this reason the chapel itself and the whole basilica and all
Rome deserved to be called the second Jerusalem, where the Lord for the
strength of its faith wished to be crucified a second time in Peter, and
where it is believed that the veneration of one God and the indeficient
faith, by the prayers of the Lord and the favour of Peter, will remain
until the last coming of the judging Lord in Rome, the sublime and
mighty and therefore the truer Jerusalem.163
The process of what might be called topographical transfusion of
Jerusalem to Rome is here clearly delineated, and it is linked specifically to
the second sacrifice in the person of St. Peter.
In imitating Rubens picture, and creating the same juxtaposition of St.
Helen and the Solomonic columns, Bernini was continuing the topograph163
SACRA VLTERIOR CAPPELLA  DICTA HIERVSALEM  Q, BEATA HELENA
MAGNI CONSTANTINI MATER  HIEROSOLYMA REDIENS  ANNO  DOMINI  CCCXXI: DOMINICI TROPHEI INSIGNIIS REPERTIS: IN PROPRIO EAM
CVBICVLO EREXERIT: TERRAQ, SANCTA MONTIS CALVARIAE NAVI INDE ADVECTA SVPRA QVAM CHRISTI SANGVIS EFFVSVVS FVIT REDEMPTIONIS
HVMANAE PRAECIVM: CVIVSQ, VIGORE IN CELESTEM HIERVSALEM MORTALIBVS ADITVS PATVIT: AD PRIMVM VSQ, INFERIOREM FORNICEM

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page99

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

159

ical transfusion to Saint Peters itself. When we recall the passage in Tiberio
Alfarano quoted near the beginning of this study (Section II, p. 101 above),
identifying the setting of the tomb and altar at Saint Peters with that of the
Temple, the cycle of associations is closed.
From all these considerations it is evident that for Bernini the crossing
of Saint Peters had a specific topographical meaning. Both in a real and in
a figurative sense it was Jerusalem, the place where salvation was achieved
and is continually renewed. This ultimately is the meaning of the baldachin
and its crown and of the figures in the piers. The women concentrate upon
the Passion and sacrifice at the altar, the men upon the resurrection and redemption above, as if at the very time and place that the events occurred.164

REPLEVERIT  EX QVO SACELLVM IPSVM ET TOTA BASILICA AC VNIVERSA


VRBS: SECVNDA HIERVSALEM MERVIT APPELLARI  APVD QAM [SIC] ET DS
AD ILLIVS ROBVR FIDEI: IN PETRO ITERVM CRVCIFIGI VOLVIT  VBIQ, VNIVS
DEI VENERATIO AC FIDES INDEFICIENS: ET DOMINI PRAECIBVS ET PETRI
FAVORE: AD VLTIMVM VSQ DI IVDICANTIS ADVENTVM IN VRBE SVBLINI
ET VALENTE AC INDE VERIORE HIERVSALEM: CREDITVR PERMANSVRA 
For the rest of the inscription, cf. Forcella, Iscrizioni, VIII, 187. See now I. Toesca, A
Majolica Inscription in Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, in Essays in the History of Art Presented
to Rudolf Wittkower, London, 1967, 102 ff.
164
This vertical distinction may also be reflected in the ornaments of the upper reliquary
niches in the piers (Figs. 5356).The panels of the socle zone beneath the twistcd columns
contain (with certain exceptions; see n. 121 above) symbols of the Passion (crown of thorns
and crossed reeds, gauntlets and lantern, bag of coins, scourges, hammer and tongs, nails and
loincloth, ewer and basin), while above, on the frieze of the entablature, are (besides
Barberini bees) paired dolphins with scallop shells, early emblems of salvation.
Berninis interpretation of the crossing as a whole is foreshadowed by the sacrament altar
of Clement VIII in the Lateran, which we have seen was also an important part of the prehistory of the baldachin (see pp. 110 f. above). In niches flanking the altar, on the back and
lateral walls of the transept end (partially visible in Fig. 42), are four monumental statues of
Old Testament personages who prefigure the sacrament and the priestly sacrifice (Aaron,
Melchisadek, Moses, Elijah). All four figures look toward the altar as if to witness the enactment of the sacrament. The figure on the lateral wall at the right strides toward the altar, in
a motion anticipating that of Mochis Veronica (Fig. 42A).
Of considerable interest in this context, also, are the medals of Clement VIII struck in
commemoration of the sacrament, which show the altar. In one of these (cited n. 81 above)
the structure is shown normally, with the silver reliquary relief of the Last Supper situated
high on the wall above the ciborium. In a second medal, the scene is enlarged to fill the
whole space within the altar (Buonanni, Num. pont., II, Fig. XII; examples in the Bibl. Vat.
and the Bibl. Nat.). The structure of the altar itself thus serves as the large upper room
(Mark 14:15; Luke 22:12), with the Last Supper actually taking place inside.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page100

160

The Development of the Longinus


When it was determined to replace the Resurrected Christ by a cross and
globe, traditional symbols of the universal dominion of Christianity, this
original plan for the crossing was no longer tenable. Bernini dealt with the
new situation, typically, by exploiting it, finding a solution that expressed
his underlying point of view even more vividly than before. He interpreted
the cross not simply as an emblem of the Church, but as an allusion to a
real event. The sacrifice was now represented twice, in effect, at the altar and
above the baldachin, and the Andrew and Longinus were now to be related
to the same theme as were the Veronica and Helen. It happened that the
Andrew might easily be understood as an analogue of the Crucifixion.
Andrew was martyred by crucifixion, and one of the most familiar episodes
of his legend was his having fallen to his knees to worship the cross as he
was being led to his death.165 Thus, although the pose was derived from the
apotheosis image of Domenichino, no change was required for the figure to
carry the new meaning: that is, not enthrallment at the sight of the
Resurrection, but imitation of the Crucifixion. In fact, the executed figure
is identical with the full-scale model done while the baldachin was still to
be crowned by the Risen Christ.166 The only difficulty presented by St.
Andrew was the relic. St. Andrews head, alone among the relics involved,
had no reference to the Passion. This may explain one of the most remarkable of all the anomalies presented by the crossing: in the reliquary niche
above Duquesnoys statue is represented not the head of St. Andrew, but his
cross (Fig. 54).167
Seen in this light, the motivation for the change in the Longinus becomes clear. The original pose, in contrast to Andrews, could not be
interpreted as referring to the Passion, and a radical reworking of the figure
was necessary. This process must have taken place within a relatively short
period between the execution of the fresco in the grotto chapel, probably in
the first half of 1630, and the beginning of the full-scale model in the summer of 1631. Two intermediate stages have been preserved. In a bozzetto in
165
A survey of St. Andrew iconography will be found in H. Martin, Saint Andr, Paris,
1928; H. Aurenhammer, Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie, Vienna, 1959 ff., 132 ff.
166
An engraving after Duquesnoys model, dated 1629, is reproduced by Fransolet, Le
S. Andr de Duquesnoy, Pl. IV opp. p. 247.
167
Perhaps this is also the explanation for the fact that the altarpiece in the grotto chapel
represents Andrew worshiping the cross rather than his actual martyrdom, as in the case of
St. Longinus.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page101

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

161

the Fogg Museum, the figure has been brought very close to the St. Andrew
(Fig. 77; cf. Fig. 50).168 Both arms are now extended, and the drapery, instead of being joined at the neck, is knotted under the left elbow, resulting
in a cascade of folds at the left hip and in the diagonal sweep across the right
leg. The drapery at the right side practically duplicates the corresponding
portion on the St. Andrew. The right foot is lowered and straightened, resting now on the shield, rather than the helmet, which has been shifted to lie
beside the left foot.
In some respects, however, the bozzetto is farther removed from the St.
Andrew than the painted version (Fig. 66). The figure is tall, slim, wiry, and
lithe. The knotting of the drapery creates taut, energetic lines of force in
contrast to the loosely falling folds in the St. Andrew. The flat placement of
the right foot gives the figure a second solid support, as against Andrews
tilted foot with toes barely touching the ground. The drapery at the figures
right and the strips of the epaulettes suggest a wind-caught movement.
Above all, the right arm, which in both the painted study and in the St.
Andrew is relaxed, is now thrust outward vigorously. In other words, while
bringing the figure closer iconographically, as it were, Bernini introduces elements of an active dynamism that contrasts with the gentle receptivity of
the St. Andrew.
A drawing at Bassano, which seems to reflect a sketch or model by
Bernini, probably represents an alternative solution at a slightly later stage
(Fig. 78).169 The drapery is thrown open at the front and the agitated, broken folds intensify the idea of a sudden burst of revelation, barely suggested
in the bozzetto. The shield has been removed, and certain details of the
arrangement of the drapery at the figures right and the long, billowing
edges of folds at the left are retained in the final work.
The executed statue (Fig. 51) unites elements from both these antecedents. Bernini returns to the mass of drapery knotted in front of the
168
Height 52.7 cm.; Acq. no. 1937.51. First published by R. Norton, Bernini and Other
Studies, New York, 1914, 46 no. 2, Pl. XII; acquired by the Fogg Art Museum in 1937. The
bozzetto was analyzed by Kauffmann, Berninis HI. Longinus, 369 ff. The gilding may be
original; the full-scale model of the Longinus was coloured (Pollak, no. 1774), but evidently
the models of the other figures were not.
169
The drawing was first published as an original by C. Ragghianti, Notizie e letture,
Critica dArte, 4, 1939, XVI Fig. 5; and later by L. Magagnato, ed., Catalogo della Mostra di
disegni del Museo Civico di Bassano da Carpaccio a Canova, Venice, 1956, 40 no. 35. The view
that it follows a Bernini study is here adopted from Wittkower, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, The
Sculptor of the Roman Baroque, 2nd ed., London, 1966, 197.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page102

162

body as in the terra cotta. But instead of being pulled into thin lines of tension, the drapery is crumpled into violent disarray, recalling but going far
beyond the sketch. The right foot is flat on the ground while the martyrs
helmet and the hilt of his sword are at his left. Perhaps most important is a
new element: the hipshot pose of all the earlier studies is straightened and
stiffened, greatly augmenting the effect of electric excitement. It may be said
that whereas in the original version the saint would have played a passive
role in the Resurrection, he now plays an active role in the Passion. In this
way, while creating a near counterpart of the St. Andrew, Bernini depicts
through Longinus a contrasting religious experience. Though implying participation in Christs sacrifice rather than mourning over it, the contrast is
analogous to that between Veronica and Helen.
In sum, the substitution of the cross and globe for the Resurrected Christ
atop the baldachin had no effect on three of the figures, but it led Bernini to
interpret St. Longinus in a new way. The figure, though isolated and freestanding, is portrayed in its traditional narrative context.170 This very fact
indicates, however, that Berninis attitude toward the crossing as a whole remained unchanged: he still conceived of it as if it were the site of a dramatic
action, a second Jerusalem in fact, with Christ really present at its centre.171
170
It is perhaps significant that whereas the sources for the other figures were in more or
less isolated representations of the saints, the closest parallels for Longinus are in scenes of the
Crucifixion (cf. those by Giulio Romano and Lorenzo Lotto cited by Kauffmann, Berninis
HI. Longinus, 367). Wittkower has observed a similarity between Longinus head and that
of the Borghese Centaur in the Louvre (Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 37).
171
Symptomatic of this active interpretation of the crossing are the inscriptions in the
books held, along with swords, as the attributes of St. Paul by pairs of putti on the north and
south sides of the baldachin (cf., Fig. 59). (Putti on the east and west sides hold the tiara and
keys of St. Peter. These groups, in effect, replace the statues of the two apostles parts of
both of whose bodies were supposed to be preserved at Saint Peters that were intended
to adorn the balustrade of the confessio; see n. 111 above.) The books are open and each
contains an inscription on four pages, only partially visible from the floor. On an occasion
when the baldachin was being dusted one of the workmen transcribed the inscriptions for
me as follows (the portions I was able to decipher confirm his readings):

North:

FRA
TRE
IVST
IFIC

ATI
EX  E
DE  P
CEM

LECT
EPIST
B  PAVLI
AD

ROMA
NOS
FRA
EXI

South:

FRA
EXI
QU
NO

SUM C
/
DIGNA

LECTICO
EPLAE
B.PAVLI
APLI A

ROMA
NOS
FRA:
TRES

(partially visible in Fig. 59)

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page103

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

163

VI. Conclusion
We have spoken repeatedly of a program for the crossing of Saint
Peters. It has by now become obvious that this term is at best an approximation for an evolutionary process that took place over a considerable
period and that was never fully realized. There is no evidence to suppose
that all the details of the crossing were worked out in advance as a general
scheme. The first steps in the reorganization of the relics were taken early in
1624, at the time the new baldachin was begun. Thereafter the two major
elements of the plan, the baldachin and the decoration of the piers, developed pari passu, each undergoing basic changes long after work began. Even
before the models were finished early in 1632, the form of the crown of the
baldachin was being altered. And by the time the statues themselves were
nearing completion later in the decade, ideas had so changed that they were
not even installed in the positions for which they were intended.
Nevertheless, the crucial period for the gestation of a plan that encompassed the entire crossing was probably between June of 1627, when it was
decided to decorate all four niches, and December of 1629, when, the relic

Though fragmentary and garbled, the inscriptions clearly refer to two passages in Pauls
Epistle to the Romans: Iustificati ergo ex fide pacem habeamus per Dominum nostrum Iesum
Christum (5:1); Existimo enim quod non sunt condignae passiones huius temporis ad futuram
gloriam quae revelabitur in nobis (8:18).
The appropriateness in this context of selections from the message to the Romans is evident. It is remarkable, however, that the texts are not quoted alone, but are accompanied by
the prefatory phrase Lectio epistolae beati Pauli apostoli ad Romanos. Fratres:, which occurs in
the missal, as if the liturgy were actually in progress. Both passages are quoted in succession
in the Roman missal as alternate readings for the Common of the Martyrs (Missale romanum, Rome, 1635, Commune sanctorum, xvf.). The content of the passages also bears
witness to the basic conception of the crossing that we have described, referring on the one
hand to justification by faith, on the other to the sufferings (passiones) of this world. This
distinction seems to echo that between the theological and temporal realms implicit in the
references to the unity of the faith and the unity of the priesthood in the inscriptions on the
friezes below the four pendentives: southwest, HINC VNA FIDES; northwest, MVNDO
REFVLGIT; northeast, HINC SACERDOTII; southeast, VNITAS EXORITVR. These inscriptions, in turn, are subsumed beneath the inscription carried out under Paul V on the
base of the dome, referring to the foundation of the church: TV ES PETRI . . . (Matthew
16:1819). See Figs. 1, 53, 54, 59. (For documents for the dome inscription see Orbaan,
Abbruch, 34, 35, 42, 45; 1 am uncertain of the date of the pendentive inscriptions, but presumably they were added after the time of Urban VIII.)

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page104

164

of the True Cross having been acquired, models of the four statues were ordered. It was then, or shortly thereafter, that Bernini must have supplied the
participating artists with their instructions.172 A crucial question, to which
no very precise answer can be given, is how detailed these instructions were.
Mochi (15801654) was much older than Bernini (15981680), a fully
matured artist with a long series of monumental works to his credit. The
Veronica is so deeply imbued with his personality that one can imagine his
having received no more (but also no less) than a general orientation concerning the pattern of relationships to be portrayed.173 The case with
Duquesnoy (15941643) and Bolgi (16051656) was different. Both had
worked under Bernini on details of the baldachin, but Duquesnoy had
theretofore produced only a single life-size work,174 Bolgi none. One may
suppose that Bernini gave them much more explicit advice. The assumption
that their figures are more or less accurate reflections of Berninis ideas is
confirmed by the documentary and stylistic evidence presented earlier, and
172
We know that under Clement VIII, Cardinal Baronio supplied the subjects for the altarpieces in Saint Peters (Baglione, Vite, 110 f.), but there is no evidence for such an adviser
for the work under Urban VIII. The documents indicate that the pope himself played an active part in the planning.
173
Bernini seems to have agreed with those who criticized the movement of Mochis figure as improper; at least, he made clever use of the criticism in his crushing answer to Mochi,
who had joined the chorus blaming Bernini for the cracks that had appeared in the dome:
Bernini felt extremely compassionate toward the forced and belabored agitation of the
Veronica, since the defect was caused by the wind coming from the cracks in the dome, not
the inadequacy of the sculptor (L. Pascoli, Vite de pittori, scultori, ed architetti moderni, 1st
ed. Rome, 173036; facsimile ed. Rome, 1933, II, 416).
174
A Venus and Cupid, now lost (M. Fransolet, Franois du Quesnoy sculpteur
dUrbain VIII 15971643, Acadmie royale de Belgique, Classe des Beaux-arts, Mmoires, Ser.
II, IX, 1942, 99 f.).
The problem of the relative chronology of Duquesnoys St. Andrew and St. Susanna (see
recently D. Mahon, Poussiniana. Afterthoughts Arising fromthe Exhibition, GBA, 60,
1962, 66 ff.; K. Noehles, Francesco Duquesnoy: un busto ignoto e la cronologia delle sue
opere, AAntMod, no. 25, 1964, 91; Nava Cellini, Duquesnoy e Poussin, 46 ff.) is greatly
facilitated by the knowledge that the design of the St. Andrew approved by the Congregation
in June, 1628, was Berninis, not Duquesnoys (see p. 122 above). All the early biographies
of Duquesnoy state that he owed the commission for the St. Andrew to the success of the St.
Susanna. However, the first document mentioning him in connection with the latter work
is a payment for marble in Dec., 1629 (execution of the figure did not come until 163133),
whereas he had begun the full-scale model of the St. Andrew by May, 1629 (p. 122 above).
If the biographers story is true, the success of the St. Susanna must have been based on a
model of some sort. But this need not have been made before 1628, as has been maintained,
but only before May, 1629.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page105

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

165

by the fact that, as we have also pointed out, the Saint Peters statues are in
many respects quite untypical of their work as a whole.
Once it is recognized that the basic conception of the figures must have
been Berninis, what becomes striking is their diversity of mood, psychological as well as stylistic. It is tempting to explain these variations on the
basis of chronology. Certainly the St. Andrew reached its definitive form
first, when the model was finished in November, 1629. But with the acquisition of the True Cross in April, 1629 (a month before Duquesnoy
began work on his model), all the constituents of the program were known,
and it would be naive to presume that Bernini did not begin thinking of
them in relation to one another. He must have had a good idea of what he
wanted by the time the commissions were awarded at the end of that year.
Except for the changes in the Longinus necessitated by the substitution of
the cross and globe for the Risen Christ, whatever subsequent development
took place at the hands of the individual artists must have started from a
nucleus provided then.
Thus, while an evolutionary process undoubtedly took place, the essential differences among the statues cannot be explained simply on this basis.
Instead, they bear witness to Berninis capacity to adapt his expressive
means to a particular interpretation of the figure. In each case, as we have
seen, that interpretation was conditioned partly by a specific tradition or
traditions, partly by the role the figure was to play in the overall program of
the crossing. The figure of St. Helen is classical in form and shows emotion
with noble restraint, not primarily because it was designed at a certain moment, nor because it was executed by Bolgi, but because it represents the
empress mother of Constantine contemplating Christs Passion.
Apart from the appearance of many motives and devices that recur later
in Berninis work, much of the chronological significance of the crossing in
his development lies precisely in this expressive range. Psychological drama
had been one of Berninis chief interests from the beginning, but this had
generally taken the form of relatively simple and strident contrasts. Here,
the contrasts remain, but the variations are richer and subtler. These obserDuquesnoy claimed, according to Sandrart, that the St. Andrew was delayed because
marble was deliberately withheld (by Bernini); cf. A. R. Peltzer, ed., Joachim von Sandrarts
Academie der Bau-, Bild- und Mahlerey-Knste von 1675, Munich, 1925, 233. The documents show that only Bolgi, Mochi, and Bernini himself were affected by delays in the
delivery of marbles (Pollak, Nos. 1722f.); Duquesnoy in fact received his marble and began
working long before the others (p. 124 above).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page106

166

vations have a corollary in the realm of style, and help to explain a phenomenon such as the appearance, on the one hand, of violently broken
drapery in the Longinus, and, on the other, of a pronounced classicism in
the Helen. These apparently contradictory innovations are in fact enrichments of Berninis formal vocabulary, just as the emotions the figures
display are enrichments of his expressive range. The crossing of Saint Peters
marks a vast widening, or, better, maturing, of Berninis vision.
In the last analysis, however, the chronological importance of the crossing may lie less in the diversity of the individual elements than in the
common bond by which they are related. In Saint Peters, for the first time,
Bernini treats a volume of real space as the site of a dramatic action, in
which the observer is involved physically as well as psychologically. The
drama takes place in an environment that is not an extension of the real
world, but is coextensive with it. And because the statues act as witnesses,
the observer is associated with them and hence, inevitably, becomes a participant in the event. In this way, Bernini charged the space with a
conceptual and visual unity so powerful that it overcomes every change in
plan and disparity of style.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page107

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

167

Appendix I
Checklist of projects for Baldachins, Ciboria, and Choirs in the apse of Saint
Peters under Paul V and Gregory XV (16051632).
As far as possible the entries pertaining to structures over the tomb are given
first (nos. 115), to those in the choir second (nos. 1627). Within this division
the order is roughly chronological, except that entries related to the same project
are listed together. No. 28 includes projects submitted under Urban VIII in competition with Bernini.
1. Project for a tabernacle in the crossing and a choir screen in the apse, anonymous
drawing. Bibl. Vat., Arch. Cap. S. P., Album, Pl. 4 (Alfarano, De basil. vat.,
ed. Cerrati, 25n., Fig. 3 opp. p. 48; W. Lotz, Die ovalen Kirchenrame des
Cinquecento, RmJbK, 7, 1955, 72 ff., 73 Fig. 47; J. Wasserman, Ottaviano
Mascarino and His Drawings in the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, Rome,
1966, 66 no. 234) (Fig. 29).
Plan for the completion of Saint Peters with an oval atrium. Shows a
screen with an altar flanked by two columns at the entrance to the apse; two
groups of four columns, each group supporting a cross groin, flank the altar in
the crossing. The total of ten columns suggests that the ancient spiral columns
were intended (cf. n. 27 above). Cerrati associates the plan with a manuscript
project by the architect Frausto Rughesi, a connection that has rightly been rejected by Lotz. Lotz attributes the drawing to Ottaviano Mascarino and dates
it before 1606. The attribution to Mascarino is rejected by Wasserman. A date
at the beginning of Paul Vs reign that is, 1605/1606 seems probable,
since, as far as we know, the idea of a tabernacle over the tomb and a choir
screen with altar in the apse did not appear before that time.
2. Project for a ciborium in the crossing, ca. 1620, drawing by Borromini, Vienna,
Albertina, Arch. Hz., Rom, Kirchen, no. 1443 (Fig. 14).
The drawing proposes a ciborium with a polygonal cupola supported by
straight columns over the tomb, to which a portal below gives entrance. Four
allegories of virtues stand on the attic. The absence of lateral wings shows that

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page108

168
it was intended for the crossing. The absence of an altar indicates that the high
altar was to be located in the apse, where presumably the ancient spiral
columns would be used.
The project seems certainly to date from early in Pauls reign, since the
confessio built during the middle years is not taken into account. In that case
the sheet would be a copy by Borromini of an earlier project (omitting the portion beneath the pavement), devised perhaps at the time the arrangements for
the tomb and high altar were first being debated, that is, 16051606. The author of the project was doubtless Carlo Maderno, architect of Saint Peters and
Borrominis early mentor. The redrawing may have been made at the end of
Paul Vs reign, when we know the question was reopened. It would thus be
contemporary with another drawing by Borromini (Fig. 28; no. 26 below) of
a project under Paul V, also presumably Madernos, for a ciborium in the apse,
of which a model was actually built. It is conceivable, however, that the present redrawing was made a few years later when, in competition with Bernini,
it seems another idea of Madernos was revived (see n. 55 above).
Barring the unlikely possibility that, in the original scheme, Maderno contemplated having ciboria with cupolas both over the tomb and in the choir, it
is reasonable to associate this project with the one reported by Fioravante
Martinelli, in which Maderno would have decorated the high altar with spiral
columns and a canopy (see pp. 83 f. and n. 53 above).
Finally, it should be noted that the design closely anticipates Borrominis
later projects for the ciborium and confessio in the Latern (cf. Portoghesi,
Borromini nella cultura europea, Figs. 263 ff.).
3. Model of baldachin over the tomb, 1606. Cf. pp. 80 f. above.
4. Canonization of Francesca Romana, 1608, fresco. Bibl. Vat., Galleria di Paolo V
(Taja, Descrizione, 456; Siebenhner, Umrisse, 309 n. 224) (Fig. 19).
From a series carried out under Paul V. Shows the baldachin of Paul V essentially as in no. 7, though without temporary decorations.
5. Canonization of Carlo Borromeo, 1610, engraving by Giovanni Maggi. Bibl.
Vat., Coll. Stampe (Figs. 2, 24).
The apparatus for the canonization was designed by Girolamo Rainaldi,
and is described in M. A. Grattarola, Successi maravigliosi della veneratione di
S. Carlo, Milan, 1614, 218 ff. (A payment to Rainaldi for designs, probably for
the canonization, is recorded in September, 1610; Pollak, Ausgewhlte Akten,
79 no. 40 not December as given in Orbaan, 79). The strands of lilies
wound around the staves are mentioned by Grattarola (p. 229), who notes that
medallions with images of the saint were placed above both the east and the
west faces of the baldachin. The medallions appear only on the east face here
and in the anonymous engraving of the event (no. 6); they are not shown in
the Vatican fresco (no. 7). Grattarola does not mention the angels flanking the
medallions in Maggis print, and they are not shown in no. 6.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page109

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

169

6. Canonization of Carlo Borromeo, 1610, anonymous engraving (Fig. 3).


Differs from no. 5 in that the kneeling angels flanking the medallion atop
the baldachin are omitted here. Also, this print shows tasselled canopies above
the upper reliquary niches in the western piers, which are omitted by Maggi.
This view corrects the misleading impression given by Maggi that the placards
with standing figures of the saint were hung in the upper niches; in fact, they
were suspended from the crown-shaped chandeliers. Finally, this engraving
omits the dome of the ciborium in the choir, which Maggi includes.
7. Canonization of Carlo Borromeo, 1610, fresco. Bibl. Vat., Galleria di Paolo V
(Taja, Descrizione, 460; Siebenhner, Umrisse, 309) (Fig. 20).
Shows the baldachin of Paul V with strands of lilies wound around the
staves.
8. Interior of Saint Peters, ca. 1610, engraving by Giovanni Maggi.
Shows the baldachin of Paul V with the four angels, essentially as in nos.
5 and 6. The supports are decorated with spiral windings which, although
there are no lilies, suggest a connection with the canonization of Carlo
Borromeo.
This is one of a series of ten prints by Maggi illustrating major Roman
churches. The first state of these engravings is known only from a set of modern post cards of very poor quality, published by a Roman antiquarian
bookshop, now defunct. Subsequent printings of the engravings are known,
though with some lacunae and various alterations (Rome, Bibl. Vitt. Em.,
18.4.c.23, dated 1651; in these sets the old baldachin and background have
been cancelled and replaced by Berninis baldachin in its final form. The Santa
Maria Maggiore print has been published (see n. 106 above), as has that of San
Lorenzo fuori le mura (A. Muoz, La basilica di S. Lorenzo fuori le mura,
Rome, 1944, ill. on p. 71). The engravings were discussed by G. Incisa della
Rocchetta (Due quadri di Jacopo Zucchi per Santa Maria Maggiore, Strenna
dei Romanisti, 10, 1949, 290 f. n. 2), to whom I am most grateful for lending
me his set of the precious post cards.
9. Medal of Paul V, 1617. Bibl. Vat., Medagliere (Buonanni, Num. pont., II, 506
f.) (Fig. 21).
The obverse of the medal is inscribed with the thirteenth year of Pauls
reign (which began on May 29, 1617, the anniversary of his coronation); it was
doubtless struck to commemorate the opening of the confessio (Pastor, XXVI,
402; cf. Siebenhner, Umrisse, 308). Torriggio, Sacre grotte vaticane, 37,
records that several of the medals were inserted alongside the commemorative
inscription in the confessio, which is dated 1617 (Forcella, Iscrizioni, VI, 144
no. 529). The elaborate engraving after the medal usually reproduced
(Buonanni, Num. templ. vat., Pl. 48), apart from the other changes, shifts the
viewpoint and places special emphasis on the baldachin.
10. Longitudinal section of Saint Peters, 1618, vignette on the engraved map of

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page110

170
Rome by Matthus Greuter (Fig. 4).
Gives a view of the baldachin of Paul V, and a sketchy plan of a ciborium
and screen in the choir. The ciborium is partially cut off at the bottom of the
poorly preserved map of 1618 in the Bibl. Vitt. Em., Rome (reproduced in A.
P. Frutaz, Le piante di Roma, Rome, 1862, II, Pl. 286), but appears complete
in the 1625 reprint in the British Museum.
The visible north wing of the screen is represented in the plan as though
it were a straight, uninterrupted wall. The ciborium has fourteen columns
arranged in pairs roughly in a circle, except that four columns form a straight
line at the front.
The design shown here cannot be identified with any other ciborium project
known to me.
11. Canonization of Ignatius of Loyola, et al., 1622, drawing. Vienna, Albertina,
Arch. Hz., Rom, Kirchen, no. 780 (Fig. 22).
Unfinished. Details of the temporary installation are virtually the same as
in nos. 14 and 15, for which it is evidently a preparatory drawing. The main
difference from our point of view is that the baldachin still appears to be that
of Paul V; the staves are shown straight and unadorned. No angels are depicted at the base.
12. Canonization of Elizabeth of Portugal, 1624, anonymous engraving. Bibl. Vat.,
Arch. Cap. S. P. (Fig. 23).
Inserted in a manuscript diary of Saint Peters by Francesco Speroni
(Diarium Vaticanum Anni Iubilaei MDCXXV, 1626, MS. D 14, kept in the
Chapter Archive in the new sacristy; cf. Pollak, 96, 635). The print is a variant
of Fig. 30 (see p. 93 above). The differences are minor, except that the present
version shows the baldachin of Paul V, rather than Berninis early project. This
is particularly odd in view of the fact that the baldachin begun under Gregory
XV had been built by October, 1624 (no. 13). The anomaly is perhaps to be
explained by assuming that the engraving was done, in anticipation of the canonization, before the latter baldachin was actually erected and before Bernini
had fixed the design of his project. In fact, the day of the canonization was evidently not yet determined, since in the inscription below, a blank space
appears where 22 is added in Fig. 30; the latter also adds various decorative
details that are absent here.
13. New model for a baldachin, built 16221624.
Discussed above, pp. 88 f. A payment on June 22, 1622, to the woodworker G. B. Soria is quoted by Pollak (Ausgewhlte Akten, 107), who reports
the latest payments, the last on October 11, 1624 (Pollak, nos. 35, 984 ff.).
The payments in fact form a continuous series beginning June 18, 1622 (Arch.
Fabb. S. P., I Piano, Ser. 1, Vol. 236, Spese 162123, and Vol. 240, Spese
162324). Hence there can be no question that the same work was involved.
The payments are authorized by Carlo Maderno.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page111

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

171

The baldachin is described in a document published by Pollak, no. 35.


This account carries the date 1621, which has been interpreted as an error for
1624, when the final payment was made (Pollak, 17 n.1). The date probably
indicates, however, that it was intended to begin construction in 1621 (cf.
Siebenhner, Umrisse, 318), though payments do not actually start until
June, 1662. The work may well have been put off until after the quintuple
canonization in March, 1622. It seems likely, in any event, that the plan to rebuild the model dates from before the end of Paul Vs reign (d. January 28,
1621); this was certainly the case with its counterpart, the ciborium in the
choir, for which also the final accounting was made only under Urban VIII
(no. 27).
This baldachin is described by Buonanni (Num. templ. vat., 127) as follows: Nihil tamen Paulo regnante effectum est, sed postquam Urbanus VIII.
Pontificiae Dignitatus Thiaram accepit anno 1623, umbellam firmis hastis sustentatam decoravit, quas Hieronymus Romanus suo scalpro foliato opere exornavit,
& anno 1625. Simeon Obenaccius Florentinus auro circumtexit.
14. Canonization of Ignatius of Loyola, et al., March 12, 1622, engraving by
Matthus Greuter. Rome, Archive of Santa Maria in Vallicella (Fig. 5).
P. Tacchi-Venturi, in Canonizzazione dei santi Ignazio di Loiola, 62 n. 3,
first called attention to this poorly preserved print, of which our Fig. 5 is a detail. Practically identical with no. 15, except that this is inscribed Superiorum
permissu Romae 1622 Matthae Greuter exc. cum Privilegio in the frame of the
cartouche with the inscription below the central panel. Also, the canopies
above the reliquary niches appear more clearly here, and the rectangular edges
of the figural representations in the niches are indicated. According to the inscription, the decorations for the canonization were designed by Paolo
Guidotti. A preparatory drawing is in Vienna (Fig. 22; no. 11).
15. Canonization of Ignatius of Loyola, et al., 1622, anonymous engraving (Fig. 6).
Reproduced initially, without a source, by C. Clair, La vie de Saint-Ignace de
Loyola, Paris, 1890, Pl. following p. 422; after him by P. Tacchi-Venturi, in
Canonizzazione, Pl. opp. p. 56 (cf. pp. 62 ff.), and Mle, Concile, Fig. 57 (cf.
p. 100).
I have been unable to find a copy of this print, which is evidently a variant of no. 14.
16. Project for a choir screen with an altar, anonymous drawing. Windsor Castle,
no. 5590 (Fig. 34).
Kindly brought to my attention by Howard Hibbard. A transverse section
of Saint Peters through the transept. Shows a screen across the apse in the form
of a triumphal arch with three openings. Two allegorical figures recline in a segmental pediment above the central arch, which contains an altar. Four angels
holding candelabra stand on an attic above the main entablature; these provide
precedence for the standing angels on Berninis baldachin and on no. 28c. The

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page112

172

17.

18.

19.

20.

use of a flat screen without a domical ciborium over the altar parallels the Uffizi
project attributed to Maderno (no. 25). Probably dates from the beginning of
Paul Vs reign.
Project for a baldachin with spiral columns, by Carlo Maderno.
Described by Fioravante Martinelli; cf. above, pp. 83 f., 88, 95 ff. n. 53.
Martinelli notes that this project was intended for the high altar. It was probably to be placed in the choir, since spiral columns are included, as in nos. 18,
19, 20, etc. The baldachin may well have been meant to accompany Madernos
project for a ciborium with straight columns over the tomb where no altar was
envisaged (Fig. 14; no. 2); if so, it would date ca. 16051606.
Drawings by Ludovico Cigoli for a ciborium in the choir, 16051606. Uffizi,
A2635 (680  475 mm.), 2639r and v (Figs. 25, 26).
Discussion of these drawings (two plans and an elevation) was an important contribution by Siebenhner, Umrisse, 310 ff.; cf. V. Fasolo, Un pittore
architetto: Il Cigoli, Quaderni dellIstituto di Storia dellArchitettura, no. 1,
1953, 7 nn. 4, 6.
Cigoli envisaged an octagonal, domed ciborium placed slightly in front of
the apse, supported by ten spiral columns, two pairs at the front corners, three
at each of the rear corners; a balustraded screen would have extended back in
concave arcs to the corners of the apse. Siebenhner (p. 316) assumed that
Cigolis ciborium was the one of which a model was actually built. But the
gratings in the base and the floor around the ciborium show that Cigoli
favoured shifting the tomb along with the high altar, a proposal that was rejected (see the Avviso quoted n. 16 above).
Model of ciborium over the high altar in the choir, 1606.
Discussed pp. 80 ff. above. Enough of the superstructure of the centrepiece appears in Maggis engraving (Figs. 2, 24) to show that it was polygonal.
Probably there were pairs of columns at the corners, and the centrepiece was
flanked by wings with others. We know that this ciborium used spiral columns,
and in 1635 we are told that there were ten of them (see the quotations n. 27
above). The reconstructed model of 16221624 (cf. no. 27) had ten spiral and
four additional straight columns. Two very similar projects are known (Fig. 27,
no. 20; Fig. 79, no. 23; Appendix II) in which all the columns are spiral, some
of them evidently imitations of the originals. It is possible that the 1635 reference is to the reconstructed model of 16221624 (cf. no. 27), which certainly
had ten spiral columns, rather than the original of 1606, which may thus have
had more. Nevertheless, for independent reasons neither no. 20 nor no. 23 can
be identified with the model of 1606, though they may well reflect it. The centrepiece also seems to be echoed in no. 28c (Fig. 35). (See Addenda and Fig.
28A.)
Project for a ciborium, anonymous. Vienna, Albertina, Arch. Hz., Rom,
Kirchen, no. 767 (Fig. 27).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page113

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

173

The centrepiece recalls that in the model actually built (Fig. 24; no. 19),
though the details of the dome are different. The project is also extremely close
to that of Ferrabosco (Fig. 79; no. 23; Appendix II), and shows what the latter
must have been like before the alterations made under the influence of
Berninis first project. Two figures, evidently Peter and Paul, stand on the attic.
21. Model for a choir stall in the apse, 1618.
Adi 20 8bre 1618. Conto delli lavori fatti per servitio della R: a Fabrica di
S. Pietro fatti da m Gio: Battista Soria.
....
Per haver fatto il modello, per il Choro da farsi in S. Pietro, fatto dAlbuccio
scorniciato di noce, fatto tr ordini per li Canonici et Beneficiati, et Chierici
et in pezzi da disfar tutto, con il Baldacchino fatto con grand.ma diligenza
mta15
(Arch. Fabb. S. P., I Piano, Ser. 1, Vol. 14, Materie diverse, fols. 232r, 233v).
The woodworker G. B. Soria built a model for a choir stall of three levels,
with a baldachin, presumably for the papal throne; the stall was designed to be
dismountable, which indicates that it was intended for the main apse. The
model is probably to be identified with the project for a choir, also dismountable and with three levels, by Martino Ferrabosco, recorded in his book on
Saint Peters (no. 22). The model is probably further to be identified with one
mentioned in an invoice submitted by Soria early in Urban VIIIs reign: Per il
primo modello fatto per le sedie del coro che si diceva fare nela Tribuna
 20 (Pollak, 18 no. 35; on the date of the document see above, no.
13).
22. Project for a choir stall in the apse, by Martino Ferrabosco (Ferrabosco,
Architettura di S. Pietro, Pls. XXVIII, XXIX; cf. Appendix II).
The plan and elevation show three rows of seats, the perspective view only
two. The caption explains that the project was intended to permit shifting the
sacristy from its place on the north side of Madernos nave, where it proved unsuitable, to the place intended for the canons choir on the south. The stalls
were to be dismountable; the reason given for this varies slightly between the
manuscript version of the caption . . . acci potessero [le sedie] servire per
le funtioni Pontoficie nelli giorni solenni, et ordinariam.te p il Clero . . . (Bibl.
Vat., MS. lat. 10742, fol. 374r) and the printed version . . . accioch
listesso luogo potesse servire ancore per le Funzioni Pontoficie nelle Festivit
pi solenne . . . The project is probably to be identified with a model for a
dismountable choir with three rows of seats built in 1618 (no. 21).
Though Ferraboscos project was never carried out, it is still the practice in
Saint Peters to erect a temporary choir in the apse when necessary (see n. 43
above).
23. Project for a ciborium, 16181620, by Martino Ferrabosco (cf. Figs. 79, 80).
Ferraboscos project is discussed in Appendix II. A likely assumption is that

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page114

174
it was initially prepared to accompany his scheme for a choir in the main apse,
which can be dated with good reason to about 1618 (see no. 21). A terminus
ante quem of 1620 is provided by the intended publication date of Ferraboscos
volume on Saint Peters. Discounting the alterations made to the design later
in imitation of Berninis project, it is very close to the anonymous study in the
Albertina, Vienna (Fig. 27; no. 20), which may be taken as a general guide to
Ferraboscos original intentions. Both projects probably reflect the model of
1606 (Fig. 24; no. 19). The main difference, apart from details of decoration,
is Ferraboscos addition of an attic storey on the wings.
24. Project for choirs in the crossing and apse, 1620, by Papirio Bartoli (S. Scaccia
Scarafoni, Un progetto di sistemazione della confessione di San Pietro in
Vaticano antecedente al Bernini, Accademie e biblioteche dItalia, 1, 192728,
no. 3, pp. 15 ff.; cf. most recently H. Hibbard and I. Jaffe, Berninis Barcaccia,
BurlM, 106, 1964, 164 n. 21, and the bibliography cited there) (Fig. 12).
Bartolis Discorso, richly illustrated, is known in various manuscript copies
in Rome: Bibl. Vitt. Em., MS. Fondi Minori 3808 (to which our citations
refer), and Bibl. Vat., MS. Barb. lat. 4512, fols. 1643. Bartoli proposed constructing a pontifical choir in the crossing, immediately behind and including
the confessio and high altar, in the form of a navicella, or boat. In the apse he
contemplated a coro de canonici. The tabernacle over the high altar was to be a
ships mast with billowing sail, executed in bronze and decorated with reliefs of
the Passion foggia della Colonna Traiana (Discorso, int. 1, fol. 5r). The seats
in the pontifical choir were to be collapsible, to permit a view into the navicella when it was not in use.
The date of the project, 1620, is provided by a passage in which Bartoli
estimates that it could be completed in four years, in time for the jubilee of
1625 (ibid., fol. 23r). The illustrations, engraved by Matthus Greuter, were
completed only in 1623, by Bartolis nephew. In one of these (ibid., fol. 88),
the Barberini coat of arms was added to the ships rudder, doubtless with a view
to submitting the project to Urban VIII in competition with Bernini; the case
thus closely parallels that of Martino Ferraboscos project (Appendix II).
25. Project for choirs in the crossing and apse, attributed to Carlo Maderno. Florence,
Uffizi, Gab. dei disegni, 265A (Fig. 13).
Shows a choir installation with two altars in the apse; a flat screen in front
includes ten (spiral?) columns. In the crossing immediately behind the confessio (shown in its final form) is a rectangular, colonnaded enclosure, presumably
also a choir. The altar at the tomb inside the enclosure is shown underground,
and no tabernacle appears above. The project may be dated after the completion of the confessio in 1617 (n. 35 above); the scheme as a whole is closely
analogous to that devised by Papirio Bartoli in 1620 (no. 24).
26. Project for a ciborium, ca. 1620, drawing by Borromini. Vienna, Albertina,
Arch. Hz., Rom, Kirchen, no. 766 (Fig. 28).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page115

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

175

Can be identified with the model painted by G. B. Ricci, who submitted


his account early in the reign of Urban VIII (no. 27). The drawing shows ten
twisted columns and four additional straight columns (omitting the surface
decoration on all of them). The inscription on the frieze shows that the project was designed before Paul Vs death (January 28, 1621). The exact time of
Borrominis arrival in Rome is not certain. Heretofore, his presence in the city
has not been attested before March, 1621, when he appears in the documents
of SantAndrea della Valle (N. Caflisch, Carlo Maderno, Munich, 1934, 141 n.
102). Howard Hibbard recently found his name listed among the workmen at
Saint Peters toward the end of 1619 (November 23December 6) well before
Paul Vs death; Arch. Fabb. S. P., I Piano, Ser. I, Vol. 218, Stracciafogli
161622, fol. 57v. We may also note that the scarpellino Leone Garua, with
whom Baldinucci reports that Borromini lived when he came to Rome, was
killed in a fall at Saint Peters on August 12, 1620: Die 12 Augusti [1620] M.r
Leo Garovius de Bisone longobardus Carpentarius cecidit ex fabrica S.ti Petri dumetiretur et statim obijt sed prius recepit extrema- untione- eius corpus fuit sepultus in hac nr-a eccl.a (Rome, Arch. Vicariato, S. Giov. Fior., Liber Defunct.
160026, fol. 61v).
Though Borrominis authorship of the drawing is unquestionable, it is not
likely, if only because of his extreme youth and subordinate position, that he
was responsible for the project. Most probably, the drawing, like no. 2 (Fig.
14), was made for Carlo Maderno who, as architect of Saint Peters, signed
Riccis invoice for work on the model.
27. Reconstructed model for a ciborium in the choir, ca. 16221624.
Described in an account of work by the painter G. B. Ricci, undated but
submitted in the reign of Urban VIII (Pollak, p. 12). The document makes it
clear that this model was a reconstruction of the earlier one (no. 19); it included a lantern, an octagonal cupola (fatt a scaglione con 8 cartellini
scorniciato), four apostles on the cornice, four frontispieces with the papal
arms, an inscription with the popes name in the frieze, four oval windows, figurative decorations in the triangles of the four arches. In addition, Ricci says
he made four columns with fluting and floral decorations, and fourteen
pedestals. Candelabra stood on the architrave above the columns, and there
was a balustrade around the altar. From another source we know the model had
ten of the original spiral columns (see n. 27 above).
The model is recorded in the drawing by Borromini in Vienna (Fig. 28;
no. 26). This bears Paul Vs name in the frieze, which shows that it was designed before his death in January, 1621. Execution was delayed, as in the case
of the new baldachin model over the tomb (no. 13), and probably for the same
reasons. The account containing the description includes other work by Ricci
begun much earlier; payments to him for cartoons of the choir stuccos occur
as early as May, 1621 (cf. n. 71 above).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page116

176
28. Projects made in competition with Bernini, ca. 1624.
A. Anonymous project for a baldachin. From Modo di fare il tabernacolo.
See n. 55 above.
B. Project by Teodoro della Porta.
Two months before payments to Bernini begin, Teodoro della Porta, the
son of Guglielmo, in a letter to the Congregation dated May 12, 1624, says
that he will make a disegno e modello del Baldachino e suo sostentamento per
lAltar magg(io)re di S. Pietro che haver la simetria, e decoro che conviene secondo le bone regole dellarte dellArchitettura senza far ingombro et
impedimento alla veduta della celebratione (Pollak, no. 1052). In a letter dating before January 1, 1624, he complains bitterly against provisional works in
Saint Peters, et in particolare nellAltare magg(io)re che stato fatto e rifatto
quattro volte diversam(en)te con molta spesa sempre buttata via per modo di
provisione come hora segue medemam(en)te (Pollak, 71 no. 60).
I tentatively identify a drawing in Vienna (Fig. 35; no. 28c) with Della
Portas project.
C. Project for a ciborium, 16231624. Vienna, Albertina, Arch. Hz., Rom,
Kirchen, X-15 (H. Egger, Architektonische Handzeichnungen alter Meister, I,
Vienna-Leipzig, 1910, 12 Pl. 29, with attribution to M. Ferrabosco) (Fig. 35).
A domed ciborium resting on spiral columns, closely similar to the centrepieces in nos. 1820, 23, 26 (Figs. 2628, 79). The main differences from
the other designs are that the lateral wings are absent here, as is also the drum
between the attic and the cupola. Angels are shown standing on the attic above
the columns.
I suspect that the drawing is a kind of pastiche based on the earlier projects and incorporating certain of Berninis ideas. The absence of the lateral
wings shows that it was intended as a free-standing structure in the crossing,
doubtless for the high altar. But only under Urban VIII was Paul Vs decision
to move the high altar to the apse rescinded. The project must therefore date
either from the very beginning of Pauls reign, before the decision was made,
or from that of Urban. That the latter is the case is strongly suggested by the
design itself. The absence of the drum above the attic creates a considerably
lower proportion than in any of the other known projects for ciboria, whereas
in the crossing even more height was needed. The most likely assumption is
that the spiral columns shown were not to be the originals but imitations of
them on a bigger scale; enlargement of the whole structure permitted elimination of the drum to achieve the lower proportion required when the
counterbalancing effect of the wings was lost. The design thus deals with the
same aesthetic problem, by similar means, as does Berninis baldachin (see
above, p. 97), but in the form of a conventional domed ciborium. A further
point is that the angels on the superstructure serve no function whatever (not
even to hold candelabra, as in no. 16), as if they were taken over from Berninis

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page117

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

177

project and deprived of their raison dtre.


If the argument presented here is correct the attribution to Ferrabosco
falls, since he died before Urban VIII was elected (Beltrami, Ferabosco, 24).
A possible alternative candidate is Teodoro della Porta, who early in 1624 complained of Berninis project and offered to design a baldachin according to the
good rules of the art of architecture without obstruction or impediment to the
view of the service (see no. 28B). Interestingly enough, the lantern has an
onion-shaped crown which suggests the curvature of the final crown of
Berninis baldachin.
D. Project by Agostino Ciampelli.
Mentioned by Fioravante Martinelli; cf. p. 95 and n. 53 above.
E. Project by Martino Ferrabosco.
Revised version of the original project; cf. no. 23 and Appendix II.
F. Project by Papirio Bartoli.
Originally planned in 1620; cf. no. 24.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page118

178

Appendix II
Martino Ferraboscos engraved project for the
Saint Peters ciborium
I have omitted from consideration in the body of this paper a project for the
Saint Peters ciborium that has played an important role in discussions of the history of the monument since the late seventeenth century. This is a design (Fig. 79)
recorded in a volume of engravings, plans, elevations, and projects for Saint Peters
by Martino Ferrabosco, published in 1684 by Giovanni Battista Costaguti.175 The
title page of the 1684 edition says that the work was first issued in 1620, and although the engraving of the ciborium bears the arms of Urban VIII (elected August
6, 1623) 1620 has been taken as the terminus ante quem. Ferraboscos activity in
Rome is documented with certainty from February, 1613.176 He was buried on
August 3, 1623, during the conclave that elected Urban VIII.177
Knowledge of designs such as Cigolis and the model of the ciborium in the apse
(Figs. 2, 24, 26) makes it clear that the engraved project is not nearly so original as
had been thought. The domed central feature, the projecting colonnaded wings,
the spiral columns are all derived from earlier sources. But the engraving also shows
certain elements that closely parallel Berninis first baldachin. The spiral columns
in the engraving are specifically of the sacrament type; on the underside of the
dome, clouds with rays that may emanate from a dove of the Holy Spirit are visible; the lantern of the dome is covered by a pergola-like cupola with open ribs, and
this supports a crowning figure of the Risen Christ. The caption to the plate in the

Ferrabosco, Architettura, Pl. XXVII.


Information H. Hibbard. Cf. Beltrami, Ferabosco, 23; U. Donati, Artisti ticinesi a
Roma, Bellinzona, 1942, 405 ff. The plan of a wooden model for a circular confessio projected by Ferrabosco is reproduced in Buonanni, Num. templ. vat., Pl. 45; cf. Beltrami,
Ferabosco, 28, Fig. 4. Assuming the attribution is correct, Ferrabosco must have been in
Rome at least by 1611, when Madernos confessio was begun (cf. n. 35 above).
177
Beltrami, Ferabosco, 24.
175
176

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page119

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

179

1684 volume says explicitly that the design was Ferraboscos, that it was shown to
Urban VIII before he built the bronze baldachin, and that comparison with the latter shows it influenced Berninis design.178 Filippo Buonanni in 1696 reproduces
the project, and adds that the pope rejected it because it occuppied too much
space.179
There is no reason to doubt that a design by Ferrabosco existed and that it was
shown after his death to Urban VIII. Bernini had other competition as well.180 But
no copy of the 1620 edition of the Architettura has ever been found.181 In fact, there
was no 1620 edition, at least not in the form of a published book. This is evident
from a draft for the preface and captions to the Architettura preserved in a manuscript of materials by and pertaining to one Carlo Ferrante Gianfattori (alias
Ferrante Carli), whom Paul V had appointed to write a history of the basilica to accompany Ferraboscos engravings.182 This draft is in a uniform hand, but it is clear
from the phraseology that the preface was written first by Ferrabosco himself, after
Paul Vs death (January 28, 1621).183 Appended to the preface is the following statement: Questopera f lasciata da Martino Ferrabosco imperfetta ridotta a fine a
spese di Mons. Costaguti con disegno dAndrea Carone.184 In a passage elsewhere
Gianfattori says of Ferrabosco: iamque universum opus per vices et intervalla distractum ad umbilicum fere perduxerat, cum brevi morbo terris, eripitur.185
It is therefore certain that no 1620 edition was actually published, and that the
work was not altogether complete when Ferrabosco died. Since the engraving of the

Ibid., 27: Disegno di Ferrabosco. Questo ornamento stato fatto da Urbano VIII . . . al
quale prima di far lopera f fatto vedere il presente disegno, in qualche parte imitato, come
dallopera medesima si riconosce.
179
Fuerat etiam Pontefici oblata alia ornamenti idea, in qua collocabantur columnae
vitineae, quibus olim Divi Petri Confessio extrinsecus ornabantur . . . sed cum Templi Aream
nimis in longum protensa inutiliter occuparet, ineptam extimavit. (Buonanni, Num. templ. vat.,
130.)
180
See the competing projects listed in Appendix I, no. 28.
181
Cf. L. Schudt, Le guide di Roma, Vienna-Augsburg, 1930, 155; but see n. 186 below.
182
Bibl. Vat., MS. lat. 10742, fols. 370 ff. The preface was published in part (and with
some errors in transcription) by H. Egger, Der Uhrturm Pauls V, Mededeelingen van het
nederlandsch historisch Instituut te Rome, 9, 1929, 94 f. Cf. also the relevant passage in a manuscript biography of Paul V by G. B. Costaguti the elder in the Costaguti archive, published
by Pastor, XXVI, 492.
183
Ho final.te p gr del S.o Dio tiratala fine, e distribuite le tavole in pi parti . . . havendo fatte vedere alc.e delle pti tavole alla S.M. di Paolo Vo le qli erano in sua vita finite, gli
piacquero in modo, che command si attendesse al fine, e volse che fossero vestite dhistoria
da persona giudicata p lettere, e p guid.o habile tanto carico, f Ferrante Carlo. (Bibl. Vat.,
MS. lat. 10742, fol. 370v.)
184
Ibid. I have been unable to identify Andrea Carone.
185
Beltrami, Ferabosco, 28, n. 6.
178

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page120

180
ciborium bears Urban VIIIs arms it may well have belonged to the unfinished portion.186 The captions in the manuscript draft are similar to, but not identical with
those in the 1684 edition. The draft of the caption for a tabernacle that would have
been included as Plate XXIX shows that it was produced during the early stages of
work on Berninis baldachin; this it praises, and lays no claim to an influence on
Bernini: . . . hoggi dalla S. di N.S.P.P. Urbano 8o si arricchisce di un baldacchino
sostentato da 4 colonne di metallo.187 A probable terminus ante quem for the addition of the papal arms is the death of Mons. Costaguti, Sr. (uncle of the Mons. G.
B. Costaguti, Jr., who finally published the work in 1684) on September 3, 1625.188
By this time, as the engraving of Elizabeth of Portugals canonization in March indicates (Fig. 30; see above, p. 93), Berninis project was public knowledge.
This is precisely the period when Gianfattori was working on his history of the
basilica, which he also left unfinished. It has been shown that his work on the basilica is an outright plagiarism of Jacopo Grimaldi.189 A few years later it was reported

186
There is in the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome a volume, acquired after Schudts
publication (Le guide di Roma, 1930), with a frontispiece identical to that of the 1684 edition but bearing the following inscription: Alla S.ta di N.S. P P Paulo Quinto. Libro de
larchitettura DI SAN PIETRO nel Vaticano FINITO Col disegno di Michel Angelo
BONAROTO ET DAltri Architetti expressa in piu Tavole Da Martino Ferabosco. In
Roma Lanno 1620 NEL VATICANO. Con licenza, e Privilegio. The volume contains
the same plates as the 1684 edition, including the ciborium project with the arms of
Urban VIII! The differences from the 1684 edition are that there are no text or captions,
some of the plates are arranged differently, there is an additional plate (elevation of one
of the little domes and the attic), and two plates that have coats of arms in the 1684 edition are without them here. The volume also contains at the end various other engravings
of the sixteenth and later seventeenth centuries pertaining to Saint Peters. The binding is
stamped with the arms of Cardinal Francesco Nerli (elevated Nov. 29, 1669, d. Nov. 6,
1670; cf. P. Gauchat, Hierarchia catholica medii et recentiores aevi, Regensburg, 1913 ff.,
V, 5).
Ferraboscos engravings, including the frontispiece, are here clearly in their original proof
state, ready for publication. The fact that even here the ciborium bears the arms of Urban
suggests that the plate in its first, pre-Barberini state was unfinished.
The coats of arms in other plates in the 1684 edition were added later, but before the
publication: on Pl. IV, the atrium of Old Saint Peters, the arms of Card. Vincenzo Costaguti
(elevated July, 1643, d. Dec., 1660; Gauchat, Hierarchia catholica, IV, 26); on Pl. V, interior of Old Saint Peters, the arms of Card. G. B. Pallotta (elevated Nov., 1629, d. Jan., 1668;
ibid., 23).
187
Bibl. Vat., MS. lat. 10742, fol. 375v.
188
Moroni, Dizionario, XLI, 263; Pastor, XXVI, 482 n. 2, adds some further information on the elder Costaguti. The second G. B. Costaguti later became cardinal.
189
See Ch. Heulsen, Il circo di Nerone al Vaticano, in Miscellanea Ceriani, Milan, 1910,
264 ff. On Gianfattori cf. also A. Borzelli, LAssunta del Lanfranco in S. Andrea della Valle giudicata da Ferrante Carli, Naples, 1910.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page121

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

181

that Gianfattori was the author of attacks against Bernini concerning the dome of
Saint Peters, and had a mortal hatred of the artist.190
Suspicion that besides the addition of Urbans arms the engraving may have
been altered in imitation of Berninis project receives strong support from three
considerations. A drawing in the Albertina (Fig. 27) shows a project in which the
essential elements are virtually identical with those in the engraving.191 Yet it differs
from the print, apart from the absence of the attic on the wings, in that precisely
the major details which the engraving has in common with Berninis design the
sacramental columns, the open ribbed pergola, the Risen Christ, the Holy Spirit
in the dome are missing. Secondly, the columns in the print are of the sacramental type, implying that all but two were to be newly made. It seems more
reasonable to assume that Ferraboscos original intention, as Buonanni specifically
states,192 was to reuse the original columns, and that their decoration in the engraving was either added (if the print was unfinished), or changed. Finally, and
most significant, the engraving itself shows a crucial reworking: between the central buttresses of the lantern traces of a globe supported on a tapering base are
clearly visible (Fig. 80). Thus, the lantern, the pergola, and the Risen Christ were
all an afterthought.
I would suggest that the engraving was initially a project by Ferrabosco for a
ciborium-screen, perhaps in conjunction with his project for the choir in the main
apse,193 intended to be placed at the entrance to the apse. When Urban was elected
and plans for a permanent structure over the tomb altar in the crossing were developing, the engraving was submitted,194 after having been finished or altered to
accommodate the same symbolism as Berninis baldachin.

Addenda
1. To n. 27 and Appendix I no. 19. In the first volume of his catalogue of the
drawings of Borromini, which has now been published (Francesco Borromini. Die
Zeichnungen, Graz, 1967, 14, col. 1, n. 3), H. Thelen refers to a drawing of the ci-

Fraschetti, Bernini, 71 n. 1: Le scritture che si vedono intorno alla Cupola di San


Pietro derivano da Ferrante Carli, ch nemico del Cavaliere Bernino et che vorrebee vederlo esterminato. (Letter of the Mantuan ambassador, Jan. 3, 1637.)
191
Appendix I, no. 20.
192
Quoted n. 179, above.
193
See Appendix I, nos. 21 ff.
194
And rejected because the wings were an obstruction in the midst of the crossing (cf.
n. 179 above).
190

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page122

182
borium model built in 1606 in the choir of Saint Peters. The drawing (Fig. 28A)
is part of an album dated 16131616 and attributed to the French Jesuit architect
Franois Derand (J. Guiffrey and P. Marcel, Inventaire gnral des dessins du Muse
du Louvre et du Muse de Versailles. cole franaise, V, Paris, 1910, no. 3598; it
should be noted that the attribution to Derand has been challenged by H. von
Geymller, Die Baukunst der Renaissance in Frankreich, Stuttgart, I, 1901, 309 f.,
followed by P. Moisy, Larchitecte Franois Derand, Jsuite lorrain, Revue dhistoire
de lglise de France, 36, 1950, 150 ff.). The drawing shows the elevation and plan
of the centrepiece, and bears the inscription, plan et elevation de la chapelle quon
a fait a St pierre sur le grand autel ou il j a huit coulonnes torse et a chaque coulonne
un tel piedestal.
2. To n. 53. Thelen (Borromini Zeichnungen, 98 f.) and his collaborators determined that the marginal corrections in Fioravante Martinellis manuscript
guidebook were originally written by Boromini himself, whose penciled handwriting, subsequently erased but faintly visible, they were able to decipher beneath the
transcript in ink. In transcribing the original comment on the passage concerning
the baldachin, Martintelli inadvertently omitted from the last sentence, recording
Ciampellis criticism, a phrase which explicitly confirms the view (pp. 95 f. above)
that the fusion of the canopy with the cornices of the columns was part of a deliberate effort to create a hybrid form grammatically execrable comprising
both a baldachin and a ciborium. Borrominis original sentence ran as follows (italics mine): . . . diceua che le baldacchini non si sostiengono con le colone ma con
le haste, et che il baldacchino non ricor(r)a asieme con la cornice dele colone, et in ogni
modo uoleua che lo regessero li angeli.
3. To n. 60. on the Successa medal (Fig. 38) see also Krautheimer, Corpus basilicarum (cited n. 159 above), II, 1, p. 4, n. 1. The doubt expressed by Franchi de
Cavalieri concerning the authenticity of the medal may be dismissed. The question
had been raised in De Rossis time, and the main import of his study was that the
medal, far from being unusual as a type, belonged to a large class of such votive
pendants. The famous ivory casket from Pola, discovered subsequently, on which
the reconstruction of the Constantinian ciborium depends in part, confirms the validity of the structure depicted on the medal, if not also its connection with Saint
Peters. (On the Pola casket, see most recently T. Buddensieg, Le coffret en ivoire
de Pola, Saint-Pierre et le Latran, CahArch, 10, 1959, 157 ff.) The notion that the
medal was found only in 1636 is based on a misreading of Mntriers letter, and
the possibility that it came from the Verano catacomb was offered by De Rossi
purely as a hypothesis, suggested by the representation of the martyrdom of St.
Lawrence that appears on the reverse.
4. To n. 66. According to the calculations of T. C. Bannister, the Constantinian
shrine at Saint Peters itself reproduced exactly the size and shape given in The First
Book of Kings for the Holy of Holies of Solomons Temple (The Constantinian
Basilica of Saint Peter at Rome, JSAH, 27, 1968, 29).

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page123

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

183

5. To n. 114. In a paper delivered at the annual meeting of the College Art


Association of America, January, 1968, Professor Olga Berendsen pointed out an
intriguing precedent for the final version of the crown of the baldachin, in a
catafalque erected in 1621 in Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice, for the obsequies of
Cosimo II de Medici, of which the crown consisted of similarly curved ribs surmounted at the apex by a regal diadem (Orazione di Giulio Strozzi recitata da lui in
Venetia nellesequie del Sereniss. D. Cosimo II. Quarto G. Duca di Toscana. Fatte dalla
Natione Fiorentina il d 25. di Maggio 1621, Venice, 1621, ills. opp. pp. 4, 5, 19).
Dr. Berendsen plans to enlarge upon the analogy in a separate article.
6. To n. 134. Besides Nava Cellini, see Mezzetti, in Lideale classico (cited n. 119
above), 363, and J. Hess, Kunstgeschichtliche Studien zu Renaissance und Barock,
Rome, 1967, 137.

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page124

184

Bibliography of frequently cited sources


Alfarano, T., De basilicae vaticanae antiquissima et nova structura (Studi e testi,
XXVI), ed. M. Cerrati, Rome, 1914.
Armellini, M., Le chiese di Roma dal secolo IV al XIX, 2 Vols., Rome, 1942.
Baglione, G., Le vite de pittori, scultori et architetti (1st ed., Rome, 1642), facsimile ed., ed. V. Mariani, Rome, 1935.
Baldinucci, F., Vita del Cavaliere Gio. Lorenzo Bernino (1st ed., Florence, 1682), ed.
S. Ludovici, Milan, 1948.
Bartoli, P., Discorso sopra una forma di coro per le funtioni ponteficie che si potria fare
nel tempio di S. Pietro in Vaticano che riuscira molto vago, et misterioso e pieno di
devotione, Rome, Bibl. Vitt. Em., MS. Fondi Minori 3808, interni 1 and 2.
Beltrami, G., Martino Ferabosco Architetto, LArte, 29, 1926, 2337.
Borea, F., Domenichino, Florence, 1965.
Brauer, H., and Wittkower, R., Die Zeichnungen des Gianlorenzo Bernini, 2 Vols.,
Berlin, 1931.
Braun, J., Der christliche Altar, 2 Vols., Munich, 1924.
Buonanni, F., Numismata pontificum romanorum quae a tempore Martini V usque
ad annum MDCXCIX, 2 Vols., Rome, 1699.
, Numismata summorum pontificum templi vaticani fabricam indicantia,
Rome, 1696.
La canonizzazione dei santi Ignazio di Loiola Fondatore della Compagnia di Ges e
Francesco Saverio Apostolo dellOriente. Ricordo del terzo centenario XII Marzo
MCMXII. A cura del Comitato romano ispano per le centenarie onoranze, Rome,
1922.
Collectionis bullarum, brevium, aliorumque diplomatum sacrosanctae basilicae
Vaticanae . . ., 3 Vols., Rome, 17471752.
Donesmondi, I., Dellistoria ecclesiastica di Mantova, 2 Vols., Mantua,
16121616.
Ettlinger, L. D., The Sistine Chapel Before Michelangelo, Oxford, 1965.
Ferrabosco, M., Architettura della basilica di S. Pietro . . . posta in luce lanno
MDCXX. Di nuovo dato alle stampe da Mons. Gio. Battista Costaguti . . ., Rome,
1684.
Forcella, V., Iscrizioni delle chiese e daltri edificii di Roma, 14 Vols., Rome,
18691884.
Fransolet, M., Le S. Andr de Franois Duquesnoy, la Basilique de S. Pierre au

LavinIV.Revised:CHAPTER2.qxd13/8/0707:26Page125

BERNINI AND THE CROSSING OF SAINT PETERS

185

Vatican 16291640, B de lInstitut historique belge de Rome, 13, 1933,


227286.
Fraschetti, S., Il Bernini, Milan, 1990.
Grimaldi, J., Instrumenta autentica translationum sanctorum corporum & sacrarum
reliquiarum . . . 1619, 2 Vols., Rome, Bibl. Vat., MS. Barb. lat. 2733.
, Opusculum de sacrosancto Veronicae sudario, de lancea . . ., 1618, Rome,
Bibl. Vat., Archivio del Capitolo di S. Pietro, MS. H 3.
Hess, J., Notes sur le sculpteur Franois Duquesnoy, La revue de lart, 69, 1936,
2136.
, ed., die Knstlerbiographien von Giovanni Battista Passeri, Leipzig-Vienna,
1934.
Kauffmann, H., Berninis Hl. Longinus, in Miscellaneae Bibliothecae Hertzianae,
Munich, 1961, 366374.
, Berninis Tabernakel, MnchJb, 6, 1955, 222242.
Magnuson, T., Studies in Roman Quattrocento Architecture (Figura, IX), Stockholm,
1958.
Il modo di fare il tabernacolo, vero baldachino, Rome, Bibl. Vat., MS. Barb. lat.
4344, fols. 26r and v.
Moroni, G., Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica da S. Pietro sino ai nostri
giorni, 103 Vols., Rome, 18401861.
Nava Cellini, A., Duquesnoy e Poussin: Nuovi contributi, Paragone, 17, no. 195,
1966, 3059.
Orbaan, J. A. F., Der Abbruch Alt-Sankt Peters 16051615, JPKS, 39, 1919,
Beiheft.
, Documenti sul barocco in Roma, Rome, 1920.
Panciroli, O., Tesori nascosti dellalma citt di Roma, Rome, 1625.
Pastor, L., The History of the Popes, 40 Vols., London, 19231953.
Pollak, O., Ausgewhlte Akten zur Geschichte der rmischen Peterskirche
(15351621), JPKS, 36, 1915, Beiheft.
, Die Kunstttigkeit unter Urban VIII, ed. D. Frey et al., 2 Vols., Vienna,
19281931.
San Carlo Borromeo nel terzo centenario della canonizzazione MDCXMCMX
(Periodical published November, 1908December, 1910).
Severano, G., Memorie sacre delle sette chiese di Roma, 2 Vols., Rome, 1630.
Siebenhner, H., Umrisse zur Geschichte der Ausstattung von St. Peter in Rom
von Paul III bis Paul V (15471606), in Festschrift fr Hans Sedlmayr,
Munich, 1962, 229320.
Taja, A., Descrizione del palazzo apostolico vaticano, Rome, 1750.
Torriggio, F. M., Le sacre grotte vaticane, Rome, 1635.

Five New Youthful Sculptures by Gianlorenzo Bernini


and a Revised Chronology of His Early Works*

N 1606 the Archconfraternity of the Piet, proprietor of the Basilica of


San Giovanni dei Fiorentini in Rome, determined to erect a hospital

N.B. A bibliography of frequently cited sources, given short titles in the footnotes, and
a list of abbreviations will be found at the end of this article.
* It gives me great satisfaction to record the debt I have incurred to Professor Italo Faldi
of the Soprintendenza alle Gallerie of Rome. He has facilitated and encouraged my efforts,
often at unconscionable expenditures of his time and energy, in a spirit that can only be
described as fraternal. I deem it a privilege that my contribution may be regarded as an
extension of Faldis own revolutionary work on Berninis early chronology.
The substance of this article was first presented in a lecture delivered at the American
Academy in Rome in January 1996. I am grateful to Professor Frank E. Brown, the
Academys Director, for providing that opportunity. The Marchese Giovanni Battista
Sacchetti, President of the Archconfraternity of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, and Professor
Guglielmo Matthiae, Soprintendente alle Gallerie del Lazio, gave their ready cooperation in
matters concerning the restoration and installation of the busts found at San Giovanni. The
costs of cleaning, restoring, and installing the busts were covered by a contribution from
Washington Square College, New York University; Professor H. W. Janson and Dean
William E. Buckler were instrumental in obtaining the funds. Thanks are due to Prince
Urbano Barberini, who gave his consent nearly a decade ago to my researches in the archive
of the Barberini family, preserved in the Vatican Library; to my wife, Marilyn Aronberg
Lavin, whose labors brought to light the bulk of the documents I shall cite from the
Barberini archive (Mrs. Lavin will soon publish the seventeenth-century Barberini inventories); and to Dott. Carlo Bertelli, Director of the Gabinetto Fotografico Nazionale in Rome,
who, in effect, placed at my disposal that organizations expert personnel and resources.
After this article was set in type a book by C. DOnofrio, Roma vista da Roma, Rome,
1967, dealing in part with the same material presented here, became available to me; the
work is largely polemical and, while it provides useful new information concerning the
period, it contains nothing that affects my conclusions.

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

187

flanking the south side of the church, between it and the Tiber.1 The confraternity had been founded in the fifteenth century, and the hospital, one
of many such national institutions in Rome, was to provide charitable aid
and hospitality to Florentines, whether pilgrims or permanent residents in
the Holy City, in need of assistance. Construction of the hospital began in
December 1607.2 It was a fairly imposing structure of three stories, with a
main central entrance and a balconied window above, flanked on either side
by two smaller doorways.3
The funds for the construction and maintenance of the hospital were to
come chiefly from donations made by members of the Florentine community in Rome. The three important donors in the first half of the seventeenth century, all of whom were honored by the confraternity with
commemorative monuments closely related to one another in type and in
physical location. The first of the three was Antonio Coppola, who is
described in his commemorative inscription as an eminent surgeon.4
Coppola died on February 24, 1612, at the age of seventy-nine, having
willed worldly goods to the hospital.5 He was the first person to do so, and

1
M. M. Lumbroso and A. Martini, Le confraternite romane nelle loro chiese, Rome, 1963,
164 ff.; Rufini, S. Giovanni de Fiorentini, 6 ff., 2425, G. Moroni, Dizionario di erudizione
storico-ecclesiastica, Rome, 1840 ff., 11, 29697.
2
ASGF, Busta 310, Scritture diverse Spettanti alla V. Chiesa Compagnia della Piet et
Ospedale di S. Gio. deFiorentini, fol. 120.
3
The faade of the hospital is shown in a mid-eighteenth-century engraving inscribed
Barbault del. and D. Montagu sculp. (Rome, Palazzo Venezia library: Roma. XI. 38. IX
2). The faade of the church, by Alessandro Galilei, was built in 173334 (cf. Rufini,
3435). A photograph showing the central portal of the hospital during the demolition
(1937) is in the Gabinetto Fotografico Nazionale, Rome (E. 21746).
4
See note 6 below for the inscription.
5
A copy of Coppolas will (along with that of Antonio Cepparelli) is found in ASGF,
Busta 606; it is notarized May 30, 1611, by Bartolomeus Dinus, notary of the Camera
Apostolica.
On February 19, 1612, five days before he died, Coppola also gave the funds for building the Cappella della Madonna in the transept to the right of the high altar in San
Giovanni. The contract for the chapel, with Matteo Castelli, was signed on August 30, 1612,
and on June 3, 1614, Simone Castelli accepted final payment for the work. (Documents,
including a signed drawing by Castelli, in ASR, 30 Notai Capitolini, Not. Bart. Dinius,
Busta 24, fols. 6768, 440 ff.; cf. Rufini, 59 ff. Photograph of the drawing: Gab. Fot. Naz.,
Rome, E. 42132).

188

in recognition of this signal benefaction the confraternity determined to


erect an appropriate inscription and a marble portrait bust in the hospital.6
The second benefactor with whom we shall be concerned was Antonio
Cepparelli. A member of a noble patrician family of Florence, he died on
April 18, 1622, at the age of sixty-five, having also left a legacy to the hospital.7 The confraternity again decided to record its appreciation in the form
The inscription reads as follows:
ANTONIO . COPPOLAE . FLORENTINO
CHIRVRGO . INSIGNI
QVI . PRIMVS . OMNIA . SVA . BONA
XENODOCHIO . RELIQVIT
EIVSDEM . XENODOCII . DEPVTATI
QVIBVS . MANDATA . TESTAMENTI . EXECVTIO
OPTIMO . BENEFACTORI . POSVERE
ANNO . M . DC . XIIII . MENSE . IVNII
VIXIT ANNIS LXXIX
OBIIT . DIE . XXIIII . FERRVARII
M . DC . XII
(Forcella, VII, 16, No. 30).
Coppola was buried in the nave of the church, where his tomb inscription, which he had
prepared six years before his death, is still to be seen:
D.O.M
ANTONIVS . DE . COPPOLIS
CHIRVRGVS . FLORENTINVS
ANNOS . NATVS . LXXIII
CASVM . FVTVRE [sic] . MORTIS
ANIMO . REVOLVENS
VIVENS
MONVMENTVM . POSVIT
ANNO . SALVTIS . M . DCVI
OBIIT . DIE . XXIIII . FEBRVARII
M . DC . XII
AETATIS . SVAE . LXXVIIII
(Ibid., No. 29).
7
Cepparellis death is recorded in the Libri dei Morti of the parish of SS. Celso e
Giuliano, where he had died in the Inn of the Sign of the Cat:
A di 18 Aprile. Antonio Cepparello gentilhomo fiorentino di eta di anni 70 incirca
alla Camera locanda della insigna della gatta doppo ri.i tutti li ss.ti sacramenti et raccoman.ne di anima mori et fu septto a S. Giovanni di fiorentini
(Rome, Archivio del Vicariato, SS. Celso e Giuliano, Morti dal 1617 al 1624, fol. 98r), and
in that of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini (ibid., San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, Liber III
Defunct. ab Anno 1600 ad 1626, fol. 63v).
Cepparelli was born on March 27, 1557 (Florence, Archivio dellopera del duomo,
Maschi dal 1542 al 1561, Lettere A G, fol. 37v).
6

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

189

of a portrait bust and accompanying inscription.8 Both the record of the


deliberations of the confraternity on this occasion and the inscription itself
specifically state that the new monument was made in emulation of that to
the earlier Antonio (see Appendix, Doc. 20). This provision was carried out
literally, since the two monuments were similar in form and were installed
next to each other in a room in the hospital, and since, as we shall see, the
same artist executed the busts.
The third benefactor was Pietro Cambi, who died in 1627, to whom the
hospital also dedicated a portrait bust and inscription. The bust, which

The commemorative inscription in the hospital, now lost, is recorded:


ANTONIO . CEPPARELLO
PATRITIO . FLORENTINO
HOSPITALE
PIAE . AEMVLATIONIS
ALTERIVS . ANTONII
MONVMENTVM
STATVIT
ANNO . FVNDATAE . SALVTIS . M . DC . XXII
(Forcella, VII, 21, No. 46).
Cepparelli was also buried in the nave of the church, with the following inscription, still
extant:
D. O. M.
ANTONIO CEPPARELLO
CLARA NATALIVM NOBILITATE
FLORENTIAE GENITO
ILLVSTRI PIETATIS EXEMPLO
ROMAE EXTINTO [sic]
XENODOCHIVM NATIONIS
AETERNAE MEMORIAE TVMVLVM
REDDIDIT
A QVO MAXIMI PATRIMONII
CVMVLVM ACCEPIT
CETERISQVE
QVI . HVIVS . MAGNANIMITATEM
PIE . AEMVLATI
POSTERIS . DOCVMENTVM
RELIQVERINT
SIBI . MONVMENTVM . MERVERINT
AN . SAL . MDCXXII
(Forcella, VII, 21, No. 47).
8

190

repeats the form of the Coppola portrait, was executed during 16291630
by Pompeo Ferrucci (Fig. 10).9
The location of the monuments is given in a manuscript description of
the churches and pious institutions in Rome written toward the middle of
the seventeenth century by Giovanni Antonio Bruzio. Bruzio copied the
inscriptions, and noted that the memorials were in the hospital, at the side
overlooking the Tiber, above the door leading to the balcony; the monument to Coppola was in the center, that to Cepparelli on the right, and that
to Pietro Cambi on the left.10 In 1876 the inscriptions were polished by
Forcella, who also records the existence of the portraits. Their authorship
seems to have been quite lost to history; they are not mentioned by
Berninis biographers, and he is not named on the few occasions when they
appear in Roman guidebooks.11
In 1937 the hospital was demolished to make way for the present structure.12 The three busts and the inscription commemorating Coppola were
salvaged and deposited in the sub-basement of the church by some far-

Docs. 24 ff. The inscription to Cambi, now lost, bore the date 1627; it is transcribed
in Forcella, VII, 24, No. 5. On Ferrucci, cf. V. Martinelli, Contributi alla scultura del
Seicento; II. Francesco Mochi a Piacenza; III. Pompeo Ferrucci, Commentari, 3,1952, 44 ff.
10
Sono poi nel do ospedale dalla parte che risponde sopra il Tevere sopra la Porta,
-p la quale sentra nella Renghitia queste memorie sotto i busti fatti di marmo dei
mentovati Benefattori, e prima nel mezzo parimente intagliata in marmo . . . [Coppolas
inscription] . . . a man destra . . . [Cepparellis inscription] . . . a man sinistra . . . [Cambis
inscription] . . . (BV, ms Vat. lat. 11888, fol. 321v).
On Bruzio, cf. C. Huelsen, Le chiese di Roma nel medio evo, Florence, 1927, xlvii ff.
Two balconies appear in various views made at the end of the century by Vanvitelli,
showing the back of the hospital and church (G. Briganti, Gaspar van Wittel, Rome, 1966,
illus. 83, 85, 9697; cf. 202 ff., Nos. 89 ff.
11
Baldinucci includes in the list of works appended to his biography of Bernini, Teste
fino al num. di 15
luoghi diversi (Vita, 179). The memorials are mentioned, without
indication of authorship, by C. B. Piazza, . Eusevologio romano; overo delle opere
pie di Roma, Rome, 1698, 126; C. L. Morichini, Deglistituti di pubblica carita e distruzione
primaria in Roma, Rome, 1835, 65; A. Nibby, Roma nellanno
MDCCCXXXV111, Parte Seconda Moderna, Rome, 1841, 157.
12
ASGF, unnumbered volume concerning the new building; cf. fascicules labeled
Licenza abitabilit (documents dated November 5, 1937) and Cerimonie sulla Posa della
prima Pietra e della inaugurazione uffiziale del nuovo fabbricato (May 1938).
9

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

1. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of Antonio Coppola,


Rome, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini
(photo: David Lees, Rome).

191

192

2. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of Antonio Coppola.


Rome, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini (photo GFN).

193

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

3. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust


of Antonio Coppola (detail).
Rome, San Giovanni dei
Fiorentini (photo GFN).

4. Roman Portriat.
Rome, Museo delle Terme.

194

sighted individual, who also took the precaution of writing the subjects
names on the busts in pencil, making the identifications positive.13
13
Over-all heights of the busts: Coppola 67 cm.; Cepparelli 70 cm.; Cambi 74 cm.
During their stay in the basement, at some point when the walls and ceiling were redecorated, the busts were heavily splashed with whitewash. Wherever it touched, the whitewash
left the marble surface irrevocably discolored. Otherwise, the busts are almost perfectly preserved, the only exceptions being the missing left ear of Coppola and left tip of Cepparellis
collar. Photographs of the busts before cleaning, with the areas of whitewash covering the
penciled names removed, are in the Gab. Fot. Naz., Rome.
The key to the discovery, which took place in September 1966, was a 4-volume manuscript catalogue of the archive compiled by Giuseppe Tomassetti (Catalogo delle Posizioni,
Pergamene e Scritture esistenti nellArchivio dei Pii Stabilimenti di S. Giovanni della
Nazione Fiorentina, compilato negli anni 18771879; cf. Rufini, 29). The alphabetical
index, under Bernini, refers to the payments for the bust of Cepparelli (cf. Parte Ill.
Ospedale e Consolato, 103). I first became aware that the Coppola monument had existed
from the reference to it in the decree of the confraternity commissioning that to Cepparelli
(Doc. 20). In turn, the existence of both of them in the nineteenth century, as well as that
to Cambi, was confirmed by the entries in Forcellas Iscrizioni (notes 6, 8, 9 above), where
the busts are also mentioned. Tomassettis index refers to the payments for the Cambi bust,
but the Coppola monument seems to have escaped him entirely.
The portraits came to light when, upon my inquiry, Commendatore Massimiliano
Casali, secretary of the Confraternity, recalled seeing certain busts in the basement years
before, and led me to them. Professor Faldi saw to their removal from the basement and to
their cleaning and restoration. This was carried out by Signor Americo Bigioni, restorer at
the excavations at Ostia. The procedure was as follows: (1) In order to avoid possible corrosion the original iron hooks in the backs of the busts of Coppola and Cambi (photographs
in the Gab. Fot. Naz., Rome), which had been held in place by a filling of lead, were replaced
by bronze rings. (2) The busts were washed and the hard calcium deposits of the whitewash
were removed with a scalpel. (3) To remove greasy dirt the surface was cleaned with alcohol,
carbon tetrachloride, and acetone. (4) The busts were then treated with a transparent acrylic
polymer consolidant, trade name Pantarol. (5) To eliminate the blanched effect left by the
chemical solvents and restore a certain lucidity to the surface, a final coating of natural
beeswax was applied.
Though I am not qualified to judge from a technical point of view, the visual results of
stages 35 are to my mind unfortunate. The beeswax combined with the Pantarol gave the
white-grey Carrara marble a yellowish cast and satinlike texture. I am also not convinced that
it was necessary to remove the original iron hooks, since the lead filling had effectively prevented corrosion at the point of insertion into the marble.
In January 1967 the busts of Coppola and Cepparelli were permanently installed on the
piers flanking the entrance to the sacristy of San Giovanni. They were placed on two consoles, contemporary but certainly not the originals, that were also found in the basement
storeroom. The original inscription honoring Coppola was placed under his portrait, and
under that of Cepparelli a copy with the text taken from Forcella. The bust of Cambi was
placed in the archive of the confraternity.

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

195

The first reference to the Coppola bust (Figs. 13, 79) occurs in a
record of the meeting of the confraternity on March 8, 1612, about two
weeks after his death. Let four scudi be paid for the bust (casso) of wax
made for the head of the said Messer Antonio Coppola and let Piero Paolo
Calvalcanti along with Signor Francesco Ticci commission the sculptor
Bernini to make the marble head of the said Messer Antonio Coppola, to
be placed in the hospital. (Doc. 1). Four months later the bust must have
been finished, for at the meeting of the confraternity on July 16, 1612, the
following action was taken: A check was issued to pay the sculptor Bernini
that which is due him for the marble head of Messer Antonio Coppola, and
the amount was left blank, and an order was given to Signor Andrea
Pasquali that he along with Signor Francesco Ticci try to pay as little as possible. (Doc. 2). The price had been settled a month later when, on August
10, 1612, fifty scudi were paid to Pietro Bernini, to cover the entire cost of
the bust (Doc. 4). During August and September payments were made for
a gesso mold of Coppolas head and for his painted portrait (Docs. 3, 5).
According to the inscription the monument was installed in June 1614; the
inscription itself was not actually paid for until the end of the following year
(Doc. 6).14 The reason for this delay was probably that the hospital was not
yet completed during 16131614, as payments to various workmen show.15
These records are of considerable interest even apart from the fact that
they help to identify the author of the bust and fix very precise dates for its
A fourth bust was also found in the basement, where it still remains; it is a curiously
archaizing work, sixteenth-century in type, but with a complex and asymmetrical treatment
of the drapery that suggests a later period. It is perhaps to be identified with a bust of
Antonio Altoviti recorded by Forcella along with a commemorative inscription, dated 1698;
the location, whether in the hospital or in the church, is not given (Forcella, VII, 35,
No. 83).
14
The number of letters specified in the stonecutters bill (Doc. 6a) corresponds to that
in the preserved inscription, i.e., 225. The present dimensions (835 x 560 mm.) are smaller
than those mentioned (43/4 x 41/2 palmi = 1059 x 1003 mm.), indicating that the inscription
was cut down, probably when the other monuments were added to form a group. The
dimensions of the Cambi inscription were 780 x 353 mm. (31/2 x 17/12 palmi; cf. Doc. 28).
Roman palmo = 223 mm.
15
One payment may perhaps refer to the railing of the balcony of the room in which the
monuments were installed (see note 10 above): p avere rimesso sotto lo ispidale el chancello
chon mia ranpini echiodi eseghato la ispaliera delli ufiziali che si divida in 2 pezi erimesso le
banche atorno che erano chavate p el fiume 1 (Conto di lavori fatti p servizio dello
ispidale di san giovanni de fiorentini fatti dalli 20 di aprile 1613 insino alli 22 di febraro
1614); ASGF205, near the beginning of the volume. Other payments to muratori and
scarpellini for work during 161214 occur in the same volume.

196

execution March to July 1612. The references to wax and gesso forms
show that the portrait was based on a death mask made before Coppola was
interred. The order to pay for the portrait (Doc. 2) has two features that are,
in my experience, unique. The decree provides that a blank check
(mandato in bianco) be issued; this is the first time I, at least have encountered a bank draft of this kind in payments of the period. Furthermore, the
representatives of the confraternity are ordered to try to pay as little as possible. This, too, is new to me, and indicates that the price for the bust had
not been agreed upon in advance. Both these exceptional features suggest
that the circumstances of the commission were unusual. In 1612 Pietro
Bernini was fifty years old and one of the leading sculptors in Rome, having recently completed two major papal commissions.16 The confraternity
would scarcely have been in a position to deal with an artist of Pietro
Berninis stature in the manner implied by the blank check and the order to
pay as little as possible especially for a commission that had already been
accepted and carried out. On the other hand, this is exactly what one would
expect if the person who actually executed the work was a minor.
Gianlorenzo Bernini was born on December 7, 1598.17 At the time of the
commission of the Coppola bust his age was thirteen years and three
months. We know of several other instances during the following years in
which the father, acting as an agent, received the payments for work done
by his prodigious son.18
Even apart from the peculiarities of the financial arrangements, however,
and even if the bust itself were not preserved, we could deduce which
Bernini carved it. Pietro Bernini never made portrait busts. None are men-

16
The Assumption of the Virgin (160710) and the first version, now lost, of the
Coronation of Clement VIII for the chapel of Paul V in Santa Maria Maggiore (see note 37
below).
17
Berninis birthdate is recorded by Baldinucci and Domenico Bernini; Fraschettis effort
to find the baptismal record in Naples was fruitless (Bernini, 2 n. 1).
18
We shall discuss two such occasions below (pp. 246 and 265): the angels for Sant
Andrea della Valle, 1618, for which Gianlorenzo later received a retrospective payment on
his own (Doc. 17a); and one of the payments for the bust of Cepparelli, 1622, made out to
Gianlorenzo and signed for by Pietro (Doc. 22b). In later years, at Saint Peters, Pietro
became simply an administrator for work done under his sons direction (Pollak, II, passim;
cf. H. Hibbard and I. Jaffe, Berninis Barcaccia, BurlM, 106, 1964, 169), and received a
number of payments on behalf of Andrea Bolgi (Muoz, 459). Cf. also the case of the portrait of Cepparelli by Pompeo Caccini, whose son accepted the payment (below, note 120).

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

197

tioned in the sources, none are recorded in the documents throughout his
long life, and none are preserved.19 A portrait presumably by him does exist,
which we shall consider shortly (cf. Fig. 12 and note 37; but it is of a very
special kind, and later than the bust of Coppola. The documents alone
would thus confront us with the choice either of imagining the bust to be
a work of the father, who never before and never afterward did a thing of
this kind, or of assuming it to have been in fact executed by the son, who
became one of the greatest portrait sculptors of all time and concerning
whom the early sources consistently tell us that it was precisely his amazing
precocity as a portraitist that brought him his first, childhood fame.20 We
have no less than three monuments executed jointly by the son and the
father before Pietros death in 1629, and in each case it was the son who did
the portrait bust, while the father was responsible for the accompanying figures.21 A significant point also, is that the bust of Antonio Cepparelli,
ordered by the confraternity a decade later with the specific intention of
emulating the first memorial, was commissioned from Gianlorenzo. Finally,
documentary evidence for Gianlorenzos authorship of the Coppola bust is
afforded by a payment made by the confraternity in May 1634 (Doc. 29).
A woodworker was then paid for installing in the basement of the hospital
two terra-cotta portraits, doubtless the preparatory models for the busts of
Coppola and Cepparelli. The document makes no distinction in the
authorship of the terra cottas, saying that both were by the hand of
Bernini. The workman was paid for the bases, iron clamps, etc., made for
maintenance of the two clay heads made by the hand of Bernini, which are
kept under the hospital. . . .22
The portrait of Coppola is an unforgettable image of an emaciated old
man with sunken cheeks and cavernous eye sockets. The spidery fingers
cling without force or tension to the drapery that envelops the figure like a
shroud. Here, the difference between life and death has been obliterated. It
is the figure of a man in suspended animation, emotionless and timeless, yet
For the bibliography on Pietro see Pope-Hennessy, Catalogue, 122. Significantly
enough, the one portrait bust attributed to him in a seventeenth-century (French) source,
that of Cardinal de Sourdis in Bordeaux, is actually the work of Gianlorenzo (see note 100
below).
20
Discussed below, pp. 202 ff.
21
See the works for Cardinal de Sourdis in Bordeaux, the tomb of Cardinal Dolfin in
Venice, and that of Cardinal Bellarmino in the Ges, discussed below.
22
Unhappily, I found no trace of the two models.
19

198

with the penetrating effect that only the spectre of death can have upon the
living.
The bust is a challenge to the very notion of juvenilia, by which we
mean works displaying characteristics attributable to the artists youth
alone, independent of his own personality or the period in which he lived.
The stiff posture, the relatively small head poked on the long, barrel-like
torso cut in an arc at the bottom elements such as these lend the bust a
quality of abstraction common in childrens art that might, conceivably,
lead one to suspect it was the work of an adolescent It would also have to
be admitted, however, that the portrait owes much of its disquieting effect
to these same elements. A somewhat analogous problem is raised by the fact
that the bust was made from a death mask. It might be argued that the mask
made possible a greater degree of realism than would have been attainable
otherwise. But the spectral quality of the image as a whole cannot be
explained in this way, since it depends as much on the pose and composition as on Coppolas physical features. Bernini seems to have been caught
by the idea of infusing in what is ostensibly the portrait of a living person
some of the deathliness of a corpse.23
If it is astonishing, to say the least, that a thirteen-year-old could conceive and execute an image of such affective power, it is equally disconcerting to realize that the work constitutes an important innovation in the history of modern portraiture. In the course of the sixteenth century in Rome
there had developed an austere, classical tradition of portraiture characterized, especially toward the end of the century, by compact, tightly drawn silhouettes, hard surfaces and sharp edges, and psychological effects of an
often aggressive intensity (cf. Fig. 6).24 Although this type continued well
into the first quarter of the seventeenth century, after about 1600 there is
evidence of a tendency to mitigate its severity, with softer textures and more
relaxed facial expressions.25 The Coppola bust takes its point of departure
from this phase of the development. With its closed outline and simple,
almost geometric shapes it adheres closely to the classical tradition (which,
indeed, Bernini never entirely forsook). In other respects, however, it
The underlying attitude is essentially the same as that which led Bernini in later years
to develop his famous speaking likenesses to preserve the vitality of the living.
24
The development is made sufficiently clear in Grisebachs Rmische Portratbsten der
Gegenreformation, cf. 19 ff.; it should be borne in mind that Grisebachs survey is confined
almost exclusively to portraits made for tombs, and omits papal portraits entirely.
25
Ibid., 2324, 150.
23

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

199

reflects a spirit fundamentally different from that which had prevailed in


Rome in the wake of the Counter Reformation.
To begin with, the form of the bust, cloaked around the shoulders with
the right hand emerging to grasp the edge of the drapery at the front, is
based on an authentically classical portrait type that had developed from
Greek representations of philosophers, poets, and orators (Fig. 4).26 It has
been thought that Bernini revived this ancient formula a good many years
later, in his portrait of Giovanni Vigevano in Santa Maria sopra Minerva
(Fig. 46); later still he used it again, with variations, in the bust of Thomas
Baker in the Victoria and Albert Museum.27 The device is one of several
Bernini adopted in his lifelong concern with the problem of suggesting the
missing parts of the body.28 Yet, he always avoided an effect of arbitrary
truncation; in the Coppola portrait the curvature and rounded forward
edge of the lower contour assure that the observer perceives the bust as an
ideal, self-sufficient form, not as a kind of fragment.29
Bernini was not the first to study this ancient portrait type. His interest
in it had been anticipated in two busts of members of the Pio da Carpi family in Santa Trinit dei Monti in Rome, made in the latter part of the sixteenth century (Figs. 5, 6).30 There is, however, a profound difference in the
B. M. Felletti Maj, Museo nazionale romano. 1 ritratti, Rome, 1953, 149, Fig. 297; cf. K.
Schefold, Die Bildnisse der antiken Dichter Redner und Denker, Basel, 1943, 9293, 10203. The
motif also occurs frequently in the portraits on ancient sarcophagi and funereal reliefs.
27
Cf. Wittkower, 1953, 2021, who was the first to emphasize the dependence on
Roman prototypes. On the dating of the bust of Vigevano, see below; on the Baker bust,
Wittkower, 1966, 208, No. 40, Pl. 64.
The formula was also adopted by Giuliano Finelli for his bust of Michelangelo
Buonarroti, Jr., in the Casa Buonarotti in Florence. We may note that this portrait must have
been made during Buonarrotis visit to Rome in 1630 (A. Nava Cellini, Un tracciato per
lattivit ritrattistica di Giuliano Finelli, Paragone, 1960, No. 131, 19), as is evident from a
letter written on December 28 of that year by Finelli to Buonarroti, acknowledging the latters praises: . . . e se i Pittori, e gli scultori e i gentilli.mi sono ritornati a rivedere il ritratto,
e gli sono mostrati invidiosi si assicuri da scritore, che gli sono, che hano la vera emulatione
all Originale . . . (BLF, MS Buonarroti 42, No. 910).
28
On this point, see Wittkower, 1953, 21.
29
Contrast Baccio Bandinellis bronze bust of Cosimo I de Medici recently published by
Heikamp (Pls. 45, 47, 48), which gives something of the effect of an ancient statue fragment; in the draft of a letter to the Duke, Bandinelli anticipates the objection that it seems
incomplete by suggesting that arms and legs might easily be added (Heikamp, 58).
30
Grisebach, 100 ff. Professor James Holderbaum called my attention to the fact that the
bust of Cardinal Pio da Carpi is a documented work, 156768, by Leonardo da Sarzano (A.
Bertolotti, Artisti Subalpini in Roma nei secoli XV, XVI e XVII, Bologna, 1884, 102;
26

200

interpretation of the classical formula. In the earlier works it is used for


what might be called ulterior motives. Cardinal Pios hand is extended in a
gesture that invites the beholder to prayer at the altar, and the hand of
Cecilia Orsini holds a rosary that serves to demonstrate her piety. In
Berninis portrait there are no such ulterior motives. Although Coppolas
dress is modern, the purely expressive significance of the classical device,
which creates a mood of contemplative introspection, is understood and
retained. Coppola is psychologically disarmed, so to speak, and this feeling
of intimacy is one of the factors that most clearly distinguish the bust as a
new departure. The fresh and unvitiating approach to the art of antiquity,
also, is characteristic of Berninis early work, as we shall have occasion to
observe again.
While the study of antiquity played an important role in the conception
of the Coppola bust, many aspects of its style can also be traced to Berninis
father. This may be seen from a comparison with Pietro Berninis relief of
the Assumption of the Virgin in the sacristy of Santa Maria Maggiore in
Rome (16071610), a work that had itself made an important contribution
to the transformation of Roman sculpture in the first decade of the century
(Fig. 27).31 Here we find similarly flat, angular folds of drapery that establish linear patterns of movement; beards and hair that are not described in
detail but are treated as coherent masses from which tufts emerge; and most
especially, an extraordinary bravura of technique with daring perforations
and undercuttings that create an intricate play of shadows and emphasize
the fragility of the stone (cf. Fig. 3).
Yet the Coppola bust has none of the outr visual and expressive effects
of Pietros relief. An initial insight into the peculiar stylistic quality of the
portrait is suggested by the scarcely perceptible deviation of the head to the
left of the central axis; at the same time, the eyes turn slightly to the right.
Optical refinements of this kind, exquisite in their subtlety, pervade the
whole work. At some point in his life Coppola must have received a blow
to the cranium, and a special fall of light is necessary to study the complex
configuration of the depression it left in his forehead (Fig. 7). The rings
cf. W. Gramberg, review of Grisebach, ZfK, N.F., 6, 1937, 50). Cecilia Orsinis bust must be
a decade later; she died in 1575.
Miss Ann Markham has called my attention to Holbeins portrait of Hermann
Hildebrandt Wedigh in Berlin, dated 1533, which may be derived from the same classical
bust type, though here the left hand is included as well (Hans Holbein d. J., Klassiker der
Kunst, BerlinLeipzig, n.d., Pl. 98).
31
See the documents in Muoz, 46667.

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

201

around the irises of the eyes are not sharp and clear, but irregular and
tremulous. The lachrymal ducts at the corners of the eyes are not reproduced in their actual shape, but their watery sparkle is faintly suggested by
two small drill-holes.32 The transition from skin to hair and to the tufted
mass of the beard is practically invisible. The tiny mounds on the buttons
of Coppolas garment are only vaguely separated from the larger spheres
below (Fig. 9). The fingernails are barely defined. The marble is nowhere
brought to a high polish, but is abraded to give a slightly granular texture;
light, instead of being reflected, is broken up by the crystalline structure of
the surface, and the result is a veiled effect, smooth yet soft and translucent.33
This particular kind of optical refinement, the muted impressionism, as
I am tempted to call it, seems to have been Gianlorenzos creation; it introduced a new attitude toward sculptural form, and marks a significant stage
in the young Berninis development.
Finally, it should be emphasized that the innovations we have noted in
the Coppola bust the suggestion of a whole rather than a severed body,
the psychological intimacy, and the effect of solid form dissolved by light
are closely interconnected. Together they serve to establish a direct, unselfconscious relationship between the spectator and the subject.
32
This device occurs, with the holes drilled much more deeply, in Pietros Assumption
relief (the right eye of,the Virgin, Fig. 26, and the right eye of the angel facing right in the
embracing pair to the left of center, Fig. 28), where it is doubtless meant to accent the corner of the eye from a distant viewpoint. (The relief was originally intended for the outside
faade of the Cappella Paolina.) Such drill-holes often appear singly in Roman imperial
sculpture, and in this form they were well known in the early seventeenth century
(Grisebach, 59, 61; cf. also Fig. 29). But I have found no precedent for their use in pairs.
Gianlorenzo used the device again in the Santoni bust (Fig. 11; see below).
33
Pietros Assumption relief provides an interesting illustration of the experimentation
with surface textures passed on from father to son. Pietro left the surface without the final
polish; the parallel hatchings of a fine-clawed chisel, the next to last stage in the execution,
are visible uniformly throughout (Figs. 26, 27, 28). This device also must have served to
strengthen the forms seen from afar. In establishing the final payment for the work, which
had already been installed in the sacristy, the appraisers offered a higher sum to be paid when
Pietro gave it its final polish so that it would not collect dust and blacken with time, a procedure that evidently was not carried out. Ironically, the situation was almost duplicated
years later when Gianlorenzo used the same technique for his figure of St. Longinus in Saint
Peters (Wittkower, 1966, Pl. 43). A reference to this treatment is apparent in a petition submitted in 1642 by Francesco Mochi requesting that weekly dusting of his figure of St.
Veronica be discontinued; the statue being finished in all its parts, dust has no place to
attach itself (Pollak, II, 451, No. 1754).

202

One of the most important implications of the Coppola bust for our
understanding of Berninis development is that it confirms the early biographers accounts of his precocious genius.34 Filippo Baldinucci and
Berninis son, Domenico, report in their biographies of the artist that his
first work in Rome was the portrait of Monsignor Giovanni Battista
Santoni in Santa Prassede (Fig. 11). Baldinucci says that Bernini executed
the bust shortly after he completed the tenth year of his age, and
Domenico Bernini mentions it in connection with works made when his
father was ten. It was owing to the succcess of this portrait, we are told, that
the boy was introduced to the Borghese pope Paul V in whose presence he
drew a head. This was the beginning of his fabulous career.35
The earliest date that modern writers have been willing to assign to the
bust of Santoni is 1613, and usually 16151616 is given.36 Comparison
34
A portrait that must have been made almost simultaneously with that of Coppola is
mentioned by Domenico Bernini (p. 20). He reports that before Monsignor Alessandro
Ludovisi (later Pope Gregory XV) left Rome to take up the archbishopric of Bologna, he had
Gianlorenzo carve his bust. Ludovisi became archbishop of Bologna in March 1612.
35
Baldinucci, 7475, La prima opera, che uscisse dal suo scarpello in Roma fu una testa
di marmo situata nella chiesa di S. Potenziana [he correctly lists it as in Santa Prassede in his
catalogue, p. 176]; avendo egli allora il decimo anno di sua et appena compito. Per la qual
cosa . . . (continues the account of the meeting with Paul V). Domenico Bernini, 8 ff.,
recounts the meeting with Paul V first, and then continues (p. 10), Haveva gi egli dato
principio a lavorare di Scultura, e la sua prima opera f una Testa di marmo situata nella
Chiesa di S. Potenziana, & altre picciole Statue, quali gli permetteva let in cui era di dieci
anni, e tutte apparivano cos maestrevolmente lavorate, che havendone qualcheduna veduta
il celebre Annibale Caracci, disse, Esser egli arrivato nellarte in quella picciola et, dove altri
potevano gloriarsi di giungere nella vecchiezza.
In his journal of the artists visit to France in 1665, Chantelou reports Bernini himself
as relating that the episode with Paul V took place when he was eight years old, and that the
work which aroused the Popes interest was a head of St. John (evidently a confusion with
Giovanni Battista Santonis Christian names); cf. Chantelou, 84.
Santonis name is often mistakenly given as Santori. The cause of the error lies with the
consistorial acts, the decrees of the papal consistory which include appointments of bishops
and from which the various published episcopal lists are compiled; these, however, are copies
made from the original sources, now lost, after the consistorial archive was founded by
Urban VIII. In these acts the name is spelled with an r, doubtless a copyists error. The correct spelling appears in the inscription of the Santoni monument itself (see below, note 40)
and in all the contemporary documents, such as those concerning the elder Santonis nunciature in Switzerland, which include letters bearing his own signature (cf. P. M. Krieg, Das
Collegium Helveticum in Mailand nach dem Bericht des Nuntius Giovanni Battista
Santonio, Zeitschrift fr schweizerische Kirchengeschichte, 25, 1931, 112 ff.) and in Cardinal
Ottavio Bandinis original nomination of the younger Santoni to the bishopric of Policastro
(BVAS, Acta Miscell., vol. 98, fol. 331).

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

203

with the Coppola bust shows that there are many similarities, as, for example, the use in both cases of the double drill-holes at the corners of the eyes.
There is a further similarity between the two works in that the bust of
Santoni also owes a considerable debt to ancient portraiture. In the powerful sideward thrust of the head, the knitted eyebrows and penetrating grimace, and in the peculiar treatment of the hair and beard which envelop the
face with tightly packed nodules of light and dark, it recalls the familiar
busts of the emperor Caracalla.37 Santonis locks, moreover, though different in form from those of Coppola, have a similarly gentle, granular texture,
and depart radically from the meticulously defined and polished strands or
curls typical of sixteenth-century portraits in Rome.
Nonetheless, despite its similarities to the bust of Coppola, that of
Santoni is clearly earlier. The sharp features and somewhat exaggerated grimace have many sixteenth-century precedents, as do the small cut of the
torso and the polished skin. In general, the soft impressionism of which we
have spoken is here less developed, and it is evident that essentially
Baldinucci and Domenico Bernini were right. In fact, I think it can be
shown that the date specified by Baldinucci, early 1610, was exactly right.38
Here I follow the lead of Grisebach, who suggested that investigation of the
life of Giovanni Battista Santonis nephew, Giovanni Antonio, who ordered
the work, might reveal the occasion for the commission long after the
sitters death and hence its date.39 The elder Santoni, who had died in
1592, had been bishop of Tricarico. The inscription on the monument says

36
The earlier dating is that of Fraschetti, 11; cf. Wittkower, 1966, 17374, No. 2
(161516). The frame of the Santoni monument is exactly copied in another funeral inscription in Santa Prassede, commemorating a man who died in 1614 (Forcella, II, 509,
No. 1537).
37
An analogous facial expression appears on the head of Clement VIII in Pietro Berninis
relief of the Popes coronation on his tomb in Santa Maria Maggiore (Fig. 12). There was a
time when, because of this similarity, I thought the Popes head might have been the work
of Gianlorenzo, and this may indeed be the case. But the relief dates 161214 (cf. Muoz,
46970), that is, after the bust of Coppola. I now suppose Pietro was here taking a leaf from
his sons book. An earlier version of the Coronation relief is mentioned in documents of
161112 (Muoz, 469).
38
Although Bernini had lived ten years on December 7, 1608, he did not cease being ten
years old, i.e., he did not complete the tenth year of his age (cf. note 35 above) until his
eleventh birthday in December 1609. This way of reporting a persons age is still common
in Italy.
39
Grisebach, 152.

204

that it was erected in his honor by his nephew, who is himself described as
bishop of Policastro.40 The younger Santoni was named bishop on April 26,
1610, and he must have ordered the memorial to celebrate his achievement
of the same rank as his uncle.41 The bust would thus have been carved early
in 1610, just as Baldinucci says.
Another work that must be dated much earlier than heretofore is the
under life-size group of the Amalthean goat suckling the infant Jupiter and
a satyr, in the Villa Borghese in Rome (Fig. 15). Since it was first identified
thirty years ago, it has been universally recognized as one of Berninis earliest works, and has generally been placed close to the Santoni bust c. 1615.42
This dating seemed to find confirmation with the discovery in the Borghese
archive of a carpenters invoice, dated August 18, 1615, which includes a
base for the group.43 The bust of Coppola now rules out so late a date. There
are certain analogies with the Santoni bust (compare the hair on the goats
projecting leg with that above Santonis forehead),44 but the skin is here even
harder and more highly polished, and the transitions between forms still
sharper. There are also awkward passages; the satyrs left hand is out of
drawing (Fig. 13), and the goats turned-under right front hoof is shown
incongruously flat and concave (not visible in Fig. 15). In fact, the documents provide good reason to suppose that the Borghese group dates perhaps half a year earlier than the Santoni portrait. In the same invoice of
1615, the woodcarver who made the base for the Amalthean Goat listed a
base for a comparable group of Hellenistic inspiration, also still in the Villa
Borghese, by an unknown sculptor of the period, showing three sleeping
putti (Fig. 14).45 In this case, however, a payment is preserved for the purchase of the group, in June 1609.46 Evidently it was acquired for one purSee Forcella, II, 507, No. 1530.
K. Eubel, Hierarchia ecclesiastica, Padua, 1913 ff., II, 284.
42
R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle gallerie italiane, Vita artistica, I, 1926, 6566; cf.
Wittkower, 1966, 173, No. 1. The attribution to Bernini is based on a reference to it as
Berninis first famous work, in J. von Sandrarts Teutsche Academie of 1675, ed. A. R. Peltzer,
Munich, 1925, 285.
43
Faldi, 1953, 146, Doc. XII.
44
Cf. Wittkower, 1966, 173, who also emphasizes the similarities to the putto heads in
the frame of the Santoni monument.
45
Faldi, 1954, 1314, No. 6; cf. 14, Doc. III. The group, of which many duplicates are
known (partial list in Faldi), seems to be by the same hand as the groups of wrestling putti
in the Doria Gallery attributed to Stefano Maderno (see below).
46
Ibid., 14, Docs. I, II.
40
41

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

205

pose in that year and then was put on a base of its own six years later. There
is little doubt in my mind that Berninis group formed part of the same decorative program and that it, too, was made early in 1609.47 The work may
well have been among the picciole Statue which Domenico Bernini
appends to his reference to the Santoni bust, saying that his father made
them at the age of ten, and that they were seen and much admired by
Annibale Carracci.48 In that case, the dates would correspond perfectly,
since Carracci died in July 1609.
In 1961 Antonia Nava Cellini published a life-size figure of a little boy
with a delicious smile and two buck teeth, who is seated astride a dragon,
pulling its mouth apart (Figs. 1618).49 A hole runs from the bottom
through the mouth of the dragon, showing that it was intended as a fountain, and there are one or two rust stains indicating that it may have been
used as such for a time. Nava Cellini attributed the work, which is now in
a private collection in New York, to Pietro Bernini, and supposed, very reasonably, that the sculpture had been made for the Borghese family, one of
whose emblems is a winged dragon. She suggested a relatively late date,
about 1620, and observed, significantly, that the father was here working
under the influence of the son.
Documents from the Barberini family archive, now in the Vatican
Library, indicate that the work is by Gianlorenzo, not Pietro Bernini. The
group corresponds exactly to the description of a sculpture that appears
repeatedly in the inventories of the Barberini family art collections throughout the seventeenth century. It is mentioned in 1628 as having come from
the house of Don Carlo Barberini, brother of Maffeo Barberini, who had
become Pope Urban VIII in 1623: Un putto a sedere sopra un drago moderno al nat[ura]le.50 In an inventory begun in 1632 by Nicol Menghini it

47
It is worth noting that in October 1609 the Pope purchased a considerable collection
of antique sculptures that had belonged to the sculptor Tommaso della Porta (cf. Pastor,
XXVI, 448).
48
Quoted in note 35 above.
49
Unopera di Pietro Bernini, Arte antica e moderna, 1961, 288 ff.
50
BVAB1, fol. 28, Diverse statue venute di Casa dellEcc.mo S.r D. Carlo, the entry
dated July 28, 1628. The house referred to here was the palace in the Via dei Giubbonari;
it had originally belonged to Maffeo, who gave it to his brother shortly after his election to
the papacy (BVAB, Ind. II, Cred. II, Cas. 29, Mazz. IX, Lett. C, No. 3, Seconda donazione
fatta da Papa Urbano VIII al IEccsm.o D. Carlo Barberini, Sept. 22, 1623). The brothers
are later reported as having built the Giubbonari palace jointly (cf. Pastor, XXVIII, 30). As

5. Leonardo da Sarzano, Bust of Cardinal Pio da Carpi.


Rome, Santa Trinit dei Monti (photo: Bibl. Hertziana, Rome).

6. Bust of Cecilia Orsini. Rome, Santa Trinit dei Monti


(photo: Bibl. Hertziana, Rome).

206

7. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of Antonio Coppola (detail).


Rome, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini (photo: GFN).

8. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of Antonio Coppola (detail).


Rome, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini (photo: GFN).

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

207

9. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of Antonio Coppola (detail).


Rome, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini (photo: GFN).

10. Pompeo Ferrucci, Bust of Pietro Cambi.


Rome, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini (photo: GFN).

208

11. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of Giovanni Battista Santoni.


Rome, Santa Prassede (photo: Foto Unione, Rome).

12. Pietro Bernini, Coronation of Clement VIII (detail).


Rome, Santa Maria Maggiore (photo: Alinari).

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

209

210

13. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Amalthean Goat (detail). Rome, Galleria Borghese


(photo: GFN).
14. Three Sleeping Putti. Rome, Galleria Borghese (photo: Alinari).

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

15. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Amalthean Goat.


Rome, Galleria Borghese (photo: Alinari).

211

212

16. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Boy with Dragon.


New York, private collection (photo: L. A. Foersterling, St. Louis).

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

213

17. Gianlorenzo Bernini,


Boy with Dragon (detail).
New York, private collection
(photo: L. A. Foersterling,
St. Louis).

18. Gianlorenzo Bernini,


Boy with Dragon (detail).
New York, private collection
(photo: L. A. Foersterling,
St. Louis).

214

19. Gianlorenzo Bernini,


Boy with Dragon (detail).
New York, private collection
(photo: L. A. Foersterling,
St. Louis).

20. Hercules Killing the Serpents.


Rome, Museo Capitolino
(photo: Anderson).

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

21. Attrib. to Stefano Maderno, Three Wrestling Infants.


Rome, Palazzo Doria (photo: GFN).

215

216

is listed as Un putto qual tiene un drago alto palmi 21/2 fatto dal Cavalier
Bernini.51 Two and one-half palms is 55.7 cm.; this is precisely the height
of the New York piece. In 1632, Bernini was overseeing the last stages of
construction of the Barberini palace, and Menghini, himself a sculptor, was
administrator of Cardinal Francesco Barberinis sculpture collections.52
The latest entry is in an inventory of the Popes grand nephew Cardinal
Carlo Barberini, made in 1692, in which the figure is identified as Hercules:
Un ercoletto intiero sedere sopra un Drago, che con una mano li rompe
la bocca.53 In the margin next to this entry the following note was added:
Donato Filippo V. Re di Spagna da S[ua] E[ccelenza] in occ[asi]one della
Leg[atio]ne di Napoli. The event alluded to here is the arrival in Naples in
1702 of Philip V of Spain. The Kings arrival was an important occasion,
and Pope Clement XI named Cardinal Carlo Barberini as his legate extraordinary to go to Naples and welcome the visitor.54 The Cardinals legation
we shall see, the sculpture was in all probability commissioned by Maffeo, remaining in the
Giubbonari palace until it was transferred to Cardinal Francesco Barberini, the Popes
nephew, in 1628.
51
BVAB2, fol. 7v. This entry was published by Pollak, I, 334, No. 960, and the connection with the work published by Nava Cellini was made independently by M. and M.
Fagiolo dellArco, Bernini, 1967, Schedario, No. 3. The sculpture is also listed in the inventory of 1651: Un altro Putto del naturale, che tiene un Drago -p la Bocca alto p.mi 21/2
(BVAB3, fol. 1).
52
On Menghini, cf. Pollak, 1, 3, 164; 11, 131, 499 ff. To the list of his works given in
Thieme-Becker (XXIV, 389) should be added a lost marble relief of the dead Christ surrounded by angels in San Lorenzo in Damaso commissioned by Cardinal Francesco
Barberini (A. Schiavo, Il palazzo della Cancelleria, Rome, 1964, 99, 103) and a bust of St.
Sebastian on a gray marble base in San Sebastiano fuori le Mura, popularly attributed to
Bernini, but which is very likely identical with a sculpture by Menghini mentioned in the
1692 inventory of Cardinal Carlo Barberini: un busto di un S. Sebastiano con pieduccio di
bigio antico del Menghini (BVAB4, fol. 262). Cardinal Francesco Barberini had been
responsible for the new altar of St. Sebastian in the basilica (G. Mancini and B. Pesci, San
Sebastiano fuori le mura, Le Chiese di Roma illustrate, No. 48, Rome, n.d., 37, cf. 69,
Fig. 20).
53
BVAB4, fol. 242. The work is mentioned by the Swedish architect Nicodemus Tessin
the younger in the diary of his second visit to Rome (168788) as follows: . . . ein
Christkindlein mit dem dracken von einem discipel vom Cav. Bernini (Siren, 168). Tessins
references to Berninis work in the Palazzo Barberini are generally rather garbled: he lists
Mochis bronze equestrian statuette of Carlo Barberini as by Bernini (ibid., 165), Berninis
St. Sebastian (see below, p. 231 f.) as by Giorgetti (p. 167), the two putti by Gianlorenzo
from the Barberini chapel in SantAndrea della Valle (see below, pp. 232 ff.) as by Pietro
Bernini (p. 167).
54
Cf. Pastor, XXXIII, 2829, with bibliography; Bottineau, 250 ff.

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

217

and the ceremonies held in Naples are described in many reports and dispatches, published and unpublished. These include lists of the numerous
sumptuous gifts from the Pope and from the Cardinal legate himself, and
foremost among the latter was Berninis little putto with dragon. In
Cardinal Carlos own official report of the legation, we find Una statuetta
rapresentante un Ercholetto che sbrana il serpente in eta puerile opera del
s[igno]r Cavaliere Lorenzo Bernini.55 A member of the Kings suite says in
a published account that the Cardinal inoltre presentogli unaltra bellissima statua, che rappresenta unErcole, che spezza un serpente, scolpita in
finissimo marmo bianco similmente dun sol pezzo, per mano del
Bernini.56 I have found no subsequent trace of the sculpture until the first
decade of the present century, when it appeared in a private collection in
Paris as by an anonymous French sculptor of the eighteenth century. How
it came about that this once so prestigious work lost its identity and disappeared remains a mystery.57
Equally mysterious is the destination and meaning of the piece. It is
clearly based on the classical motif of the infant Hercules killing the snakes,
for which the dragon has been substituted (Fig. 20).58 It must surely have
had something to do with the Borghese, and we may question where a
BV, MS Barb. lat. 5638, Legatione del Card: Carlo Barberini al R di Spagna Filippo
V. LAnno 1702, fol. 174, Notta delli regali fatti da s.e. nella Cita di Napoli in ochasione
della sua Legatione al R Filippo Quinto.
56
A. Bulifon, Giornale del Viaggio dItalia dell Invittissimo e gloriosissimo Monarca Filippo
V. Re delle Spagne e di Napoli, etc., Naples, 1703, 171. Other references to the gift are found
in BV, MSS Barb. lat. 5638, fol. 288v, 289; 5041, fol. 38v; 5408, fol. 21; MS Urb. lat. 1701,
fol. 38v, 39; BVAS, MS Bolognetti 64, p. 486; F. Biandini, Descrizione della solenne legazione
del Cardinale Carlo Barberni a Filippo V . . . , Rome, 1703, ed. P. E. Visconti, Rome,
1858, 81.
57
Bottineau, 250 n. 274, connected the work given by Cardinal Carlo Barberini to
Philip V with that described in the Barberini inventory entry published by Pollak, and states
that he found no reference to it in the Spanish kings inventories.
In 1905 the sculpture was purchased from the Gallerie Semp in Nice (now defunct) by
the Baron Lazzaroni, who kept it in his house in Paris. On the Barons death in 1934 it was
brought to Rome and in 1955 it was sold to a Florentine art dealer. (Information from Sig.
Torre, administrator of the Lazzaroni properties, Palazzo Lazzaroni, Via dei Lucchesi 26,
Rome.) It was acquired by the American collector in 1966.
58
The classical theme has been treated at length by O. Brendel, Der schlangenwrgende
Herakliskos, Jdl, 47, 1932, 191 ff. On the piece in the Capitoline, of which the right arm
and snake and right foot are restorations, cf. H. Stuart Jones (ed.), A Catalogue of the Ancient
Sculptures Preserved in the Municipal Collections of Rome. The Sculptures of the Museo
Capitolino, Oxford, 1912, 12829.
55

218

connection with the Barberini can be found. A clue, at least, seems to be


provided by a poem written by Maffeo Barberini before he became pope. It
appears in the first edition of his poetry, printed in Paris in 1620.59 The
poem is about a bronze dragon that stood in the Borghese garden, and its
theme that this dragon is not a fearful monster who stands guard, but a
tamed host who welcomes the visitor to the delights of the garden:
I do not sit as guardian, but as a host to those who enter.
This villa is not more accessible to its owner than it is to you.
Later in the poem there is a reference to Hercules, through the Hydra.
The idea of the Borghese garden as a habitat of the tamed and gentle dragon
seems, indeed, to have been a theme basic to the conception of the villa. A
poem specifically linking this idea to Hercules and the garden of the
Hesperides is printed on the verso of the title page of Manillis description
of the villa in 1650:
Here in the garden of the Hesperides
the guardian dragon does not assail in anger
the wandering Hercules. . . .
Here, tired from his journey
And from so many noble labors,
Reposes Alcides [Hercules]. . . .60
59
Ill mi et Rev mi Maffaei S.R.E. Card. Barberini S.D.N. Signaturae Iustitiae Praefecti etc.
Poemata, Paris, 1620, 68:
Draco aereus in fronte laureti, in viridario
Illustrissimi Cardinalis Burghesij
Non sedeo custos, adsto venientibus hospes,
Non magis haec Domino, qum tibi Villa patet.
Hic requiem captare licet, passimque vagari,
Aris hc haustu liberiore frui,
Nec species animu turbet metuenda Draconis,
Non ego, quae flammis Hydra perempta cadat.
Non ego sum Python, feriant quem spicula; lauros
Ecce mihi credit Cynthius ipse suas.
60
J. Manilli, Villa Borghese fuori di Porta Pinciana, Rome, 1650:
Qui dHesperio Giardino
Drago custode non assale irato
Hercole peregrino:

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

219

We have also the testimony of the official biographer of Urban VIII that
the Borghese garden was one of Maffeo Barberinis favorite haunts before he
became pope; he often foregathered there with his learned friends to discuss
art and literature.61 One can easily imagine him commissioning such a
sculpture as an allusion to the pleasures of the Borghese garden, where wild
nature had been dominated.
The sculpture belongs to the same category of genre or quasi-genre
groups inspired by Hellenistic art of which the Amalthean Goat provides an
example (Fig. 15). Works of this kind, in fact, enjoyed a veritable revival in
Rome around the turn of the seventeenth century; besides the three sleeping putti mentioned earlier (Fig. 14), we may note a pair of groups of three
wrestling putti attributed to Stefano Maderno in the Palazzo Doria in
Rome62 (Fig. 21) and two closely related groups of Bacchic putti, one of
which bears the initials of Pietro Bernini (Figs. 22, 2425; cf. also Fig. 23).63
Sculptures of this kind have a common stylistic denominator in that the
figures create complex interweaving forms that move outward in all directions. By contrast, Berninis groups seem clear and unencumbered. A single,
dominant entry into the world of the sculpture is provided by a member
that projects into the spectators space. From this point the eye is led in a
spiral movement back into the composition, where a transverse axis, in one
In quest HORTO beato,
Di Gioue lalto Augel fatto consorte
Amico arride le BORGHESIE porte.
Qui stanco dal camino,
E da tante sue nobili fatiche
Riposa Alcide, in queste piagge apriche.
61
A. Nicoletti, Della vita di Urbano Ottavo, I, BV, MS Barb. lat. 4730, 532; cf. Pastor,
XXIX, 422.
62
The attribution to Maderno is due to Riccoboni, 14243 (cf. Fig. 184 for an illustration of the group not reproduced here); the attribution is rejected by A. Donati, Stefano
Maderno scultore 15761636, Bellinzona, 1945, 5556.
63
The groups, whose present whereabouts is unknown, are mentioned by A. De
Rinaldis, LArte in Roma dal Seicento al Novecento, Bologna, 1948, 205, as having been in the
hands of the Roman dealer Sangiorgi. One (Figs. 2425), which bore the initials PBF on
the base, was published by Faldi, 1953, 144, Fig. 7. The other work (Fig. 22) came from the
Palazzo Cardelli, where it was seen by Fraschetti (431 n.), who identified it with an entry in
an inventory taken in 1706 of Berninis palace; it was reproduced in Galerie Sangiorgi.
Catalogue des objets dart ancien pour lanne 1910, 26 (where the Cardelli provenance is mentioned and the dimensions 90 x 85 cm. given). Cf. A. Santangelo, Gian Lorenzo Bernini
(attr.): Baccante, BdA, 41, 1956, 36970.

220

22. Attrib. to Pietro


Bernini, Bacchic group.
Whereabouts unknown
(from Galerie Sangiorgi).

23. Fountain in the garden


of the Palazzo Farnese,
Caprarola, drawing
(detail).
Paris, Bibl. Nat.

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

24. Pietro Bernini,


Bacchic group.
Whereabouts unknown
(photo: lent by
Italo Faldi).

25. Pietro Bernini,


Bacchic group.
Whereabouts
unknown
(photo: lent by
Italo Faldi).

221

222

26. Pietro Bernini, Assumption of the Virgin (detail). Rome, Santa Maria Maggiore
(photo: Alinari).
27. Pietro Bernini, Assumption of the Virgin (detail). Rome, Santa Maria Maggiore
(photo: Alinari).

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

27. Pietro Bernini, Assumption of the Virgin. Rome, Santa Maria Maggiore
(photo: Alinari).

28. Pietro Bernini,


St. John the Baptist
(detail).
Rome, SantAndrea
della Valle (photo:
David Lees, Rome).

223

224

30. Gianlorenzo Bernini, St. Sebastian. Lugano, Thyssen-Bornemisza


Collection.

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

31. Gianlorenzo Bernini, St. Lawrence. Florence, Contini-Bonacossi Collection


(photo: GFN).

32. Gianlorenzo Bernini,


St. Lawrence (detail).
Florence, ContiniBonacossi Collection
(photo: GFN).

225

226

case the two figures of Jupiter and the satyr, in the other the puttos torso,
establishes a definite vertical plane facing the observer frontally. Strikingly
similar, also, is the cross-torso movement of the right arm of both the infant
Jupiter and the putto. Here, again, Bernini had some difficulty in rendering the infantile hand; the little finger of the puttos left hand is scarcely
articulated (Fig. 19), and that of the right hand seems flat and boneless.
Despite these analogies with the Amalthean Goat, it is evident that the
Boy with the Dragon is substantially later. A difference in date is suggested,
to begin with, by the analogies with the comparable works by Berninis
father. The Amalthean Goat, on the one hand, is related to Pietros signed
Bacchic group (Figs. 24, 25) in subject matter, in the conception of the figures and facial types (though Gianlorenzos are not so bulging fat), and in
aspects of technique such as the polished surfaces and the treatment of hair
and vine leaves. A relatively early date for Pietros sculpture is indicated by
its close similarity to a lost fountain group in the garden of the Palazzo
Farnese at Caprarola, where Pietro had worked at the beginning of his
career, which must have been made shortly before 1578 (Fig. 23).64 On the
other hand, the physical type of the Ercoletto, particularly the head, presupposes the angels in Pietros Assumption relief of 16071610 (Fig. 28, cf.
especially the head turned toward the left at the far left). At the same time,
the pudgy and expressively distorted forms of Pietros angels have been
greatly refined. With its impish but graceful smile and heavy overhanging
eyelids that veil the eyes, the putto displays, in even more sophisticated fashion, the kind of psychological intimacy and technical subtlety found in the
Coppola bust. (Compare, for example, the delicate striations and soft tufts
that mark the emergence of the hair from the head, Fig. 1; and the perforated locks in the back at the base of the skull, Fig. 3) Moreover, the stiffMr. Loren Partridge, who is writing a dissertation (Harvard University) on the Palazzo
Farnese at Caprarola, has brought to my attention the records of this fountain, whose theme
and composition were very similar to those of the signed Pietro Bernini group a goat
being milked by several putti (one of whom, evidently the infant Hercules, held a snake).
The fountain is recorded in a description of a papal visit to the palace in 1578 (J. A. F.
Orbaan, Documenti sul barocco in Roma, Rome, 1920, 386), in an anonymous drawing in
the Bibl. Nat., Paris, which Mr. Partridge has generously allowed me to publish (Fig. 23),
and in a painted vignette in the palace attributed to Antonio Tempesta (photo: Gab. Fot.
Naz., Rome, E. 57825). Pietro Bernini is said by Baglione, 304, to have gone to Caprarola
under Gregory XIII (157285), working there for a summer. Though Baglione mentions
only his activity as a painter, it is tempting to see in the fountain an early work by Pietro
himself (born 1562), or at least the prototype for his other groups of this kind.
64

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

227

ness of pose that marked both the figures in the Amalthean Goat and the
Coppola bust is here replaced by an easy, flowing movement.
A likely date for the work is suggested by a comparison of the treatment
of the boys hair with that of the figure of John the Baptist which Pietro
Bernini executed for Maffeo Barberini as part of the decorations in the family chapel in SantAndrea della Valle in Rome (Fig. 29). Fundamentally,
they are very different; the hair of the fathers work consists almost entirely
of circular curls with deep drill-holes at the center of each whorl, whereas
in the sons there are no circular curls and practically no drill-holes.
Nevertheless, the frothy effect created by fragile undercuttings and continuous, wavy grooves on the surface is similar in both, and they must be very
close in date.
Heretofore, we have had no firm date for Pietro Berninis statue of the
Baptist; but documents in the Barberini archive, which contains many
records of the decoration of the chapel, make it possible to fix the period of
execution with some accuracy. The commission for a statue of the Baptist
had originally gone to Nicol Cordier, the French sculptor working in
Rome;65 Cordier died, however, in November 1612, leaving the figure only
blocked out. Pietro Bernini probably began work in the latter part of 1613,
when he was given credit for the unfinished block which he agreed to accept in
partial payment for the new figure of the Baptist he was to execute in another
piece of marble; the sculpture was finished and set in place by May 1615.66

65
Cordiers contract, dated October 17, 1609, is preserved (BVAB5, No. 80). Cordier
received an initial down-payment of 50 scudi on the same date (BVAB6, p. 8). Another
payment of 50 scudi was made to Cordiers heirs on June 15, 1613 (BVAB7, p. XXXI).
66
Pietro Bernino deve dare Scudi Sessanta di mta che -p tanto sie Contentato di Pigliare
un Pezzo di Marmo abbozzato da Niccolo cori detto Franciosino -p fare un San Gio: Batta et
detti Scudi Sessanta di mta Sono -p a buon conto delli 300 che sie contentato della fattra di
una Statua di San Gio: Batta che far deve in un altro pezzo di Marmo. . . . (BVAB7, p. 126;
undated, but the entry is repeated on p. 31 of the same volume, immediately following the
payment of June 1613 to Cordiers heirs, cited in the preceding note.)
Pietro received final payments of 200 and 40 scudi respectively on May 25 and June 20,
1615 (BVAB9, p. 24). A workman was paid on May 5, 1615, for installing Pietros Baptist
in the chapel (BVAB 8, p. 4).
A recollection of these events occurs in Fioravante Martinellis manuscript description of
Rome (c. 1662; see Bibliography), p. 17. In a marginal addition to the text it is stated that
Pietro continued and finished the work begun by Cordier: fu principiato dal franciosino
Nicol Cordiere, ma p difetto di morte f seguitata e terminata [by Pietro Bernini]. Though
possible, it seems unlikely that Pietro failed to adhere to the original intention (see the

228

Thus, a date about 1614 seems most likely for Gianlorenzos Boy with the
Dragon.67
preceding note) of using a different piece of marble. The same thing happened a few years
later, as we shall see, when he again accepted a piece of marble in partial payment for the
four putti for the side doors of the chapel, which were carved from a different block (see
below).
67
What must have been a closely related work by Gianlorenzo is recorded in various inventories of the Ludovisi collection: Un Puttino di marmo bianco, qual piange che una vipera l
morsicato alto p.i 22 [sic] in Circa con un balaustrato di marmo bigio alto p.i 4 et un piedistallo di marmo bianco che in ogni facciata vi un quadretto di marmo mistio (BVASABL,
Prot. 611, No. 43, Con segna di massaritie, statue, e Pitture della Vigna di Porta Pinciana a
Gio. Ant.o Chiavacci Guardarobba, dated November 2, 1623, p. 45); Un puttino di marmo
piangente sedere in una mappa di fiori morzicato d una vipera, sopra una base di marmo
mischio mano del Cavalre Bernino (January 28, 1633, published by T. Schreiber, Die
antiken Bildwerke der Villa Ludovisi in Rom, Leipzig, 1880, 31); Un Putto moderno opra del
Sig.r Cavalier Bernino, siede tr lHerba morso da un serpe (BVASABL, Prot. 611, No. 56,
Inventario di tutte le Massaritie, Quadri, et altro, che sono nel Palazzo del Monte posto nella
Villa Porta Pinciana che era del Cardinal del Monte, al pnte dellEcc.mo Pnpe Don Nicol
Ludovisi, April 28, 1641, fol. 46v); n2. putti uno del Bernino, e laltro dellAlgardi long. p.mi
2,. di marmo (my transcription) (before 1644, first published by L.-G. Plissier, Un inventaire
indit des collections Ludovisi Rome [XVIIe sicle], Mmoires de la Socit nationale des antiquitaires de France, 6th ser., 3, 1893, 200; on the date cf. K. Garas, The Ludovisi Collection of
Pictures in 16331, BurIM, 109, 1967, 287 n. 3).
According to Bellori a companion piece for this sculpture, a boy riding on a tortoise and
playing a reed pipe, was one of Alessandro Algardis first works in marble; Bellori also gives
allegorical interpretations of the two works: Fecevi [i.e., Algardi, for the Villa Ludovisi] dinventione un putto sedente di marmo, appoggiato ad una testudine, e si pone li calami alla
bocca, per suonare, inteso per la sicurezza; di cui simbolo la testudine, e linnocenza del
fanciullo, che suona, e riposa sicuro. Questo gli f fatto fare dal Cardinale, per accompagnamento di un altro putto, che duolsi morsicato da un Serpente ascoso fr lherba, inteso
per la fraude, e per linsidia; e si qui descritto per essere delle prime cose, che Alessandro
lavorasse in marmo; benche fuori del leccellenza. (G. P. Bellori, Le vite de pittori, scultori et
architetti moderni, Rome, 1672, facs. ed. Rome, 1931, 389.) In fact, Algardis piece, which
is now lost, is mentioned along with Berninis in the Ludovisi inventories cited above (except
that of 1623). Algardi was paid for his sculpture on December 24, 1627: E a di 24 di
Dicembre 50 m.a pagati ad Alessandro Algardi scultore per prezzo di un Puttino di
Marmo fatto -p nro serv.o, et messo in da Vigna (BVASABL, Libro Mastro B, 162529,
p. LXI). Cf. Y. Bruand, La Restauration des sculptures antiques du Cardinal Ludovisi
(16211632), MlRome, 68, 1956, 413.
Berninis Putto morsicato has recently come to light, and was acquired by the Staatliche
Museen, BerlinDahlem; the publication by U. Schlegel (Zum Oeuvre des jungen Gian
Lorenzo Bernini, Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen, 9, 1967, 274 ff ) appeared after the present
article had gone to press. Though Schlegel fails to identify the sculpture with that mentioned
in the 1633 Ludovisi inventory which she quotes, she ascribes it to Gianlorenzo.
But she regards it as contemporary and forming a pair with the Boy with a

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

229

Two closely related works follow, the St. Lawrence on the Grill in the
Contini-Bonacorsi Collection in Florence, and the St. Sebastian in the
Thyssen collection in Lugano (Figs. 3032).68 Larger in scale than the genre
groups, yet under life-size, they form a kind of transition to the monumental series for Scipione Borghese that begins at the end of the second decade
of the century. Both show the soft, translucent treatment of the marble
found in the Coppola bust and the Boy with the Dragon, and the beards in
particular have the same emergent tufts as in the portrait. Clearly, no great
interval can separate the St. Lawrence and the St. Sebastian, though the
jagged, irregular locks of the former, which recall the treatment of the satyrs
hair in the Amalthean group, suggest that it is the earlier of the two. The St.
Lawrence belonged to Leone Strozzi, a wealthy Florentine living in Rome,
and both Baldinucci and Dominico Bernini record that Bernini made it
during his fifteenth year, that is, in 1614.69 This dating has been universally
Dragon, and she follows Nava Cellinis attribution of the latter work to Pietro Bernini, as well
as the date c. 1620. There can be little doubt that the Berlin figure, crying and defeated by
his adversary, is a kind of antitype to the smiling and victorious putto in New York; and to
my mind, the analogies in compositional system, etc., show that both works were conceived
by the same artist. However, in view of the differences in provenance, in dimensions (Boy
with Dragon: 55.7 high x 52 x 41.5 cm. [the height and width were given incorrectly by
Nava Cellini] vs. 44.8 high x 43.6 x 28.5 cm. for the Berlin piece), as well as in function (the
Berlin piece has no hole and therefore could not have been used as a fountain), it is unlikely
that they were made as a pair. Moreover, the differences in execution indicate a distinct time
lapse between the two sculptures. In particular, the treatment of the hair of the Berlin putto,
with soft, swirling locks marked by parallel striations, is extremely close to that of the
cherubs in Sant Andrea della Valle, of 1618 (see below, and Figs. 38, 39); this suggests a date
of c. 1617 for the Berlin sculpture, whereas we have seen that the Boy with a Dragon probably dates from about 1614.
68
Wittkower, 1966, 174, Nos. 3, 4, where they are dated 161617, 161718
respectively.
69
Baldinucci, 7778, D. Bernini, 15. The figure appears in a Strozzi inventory dated July
8, 1632: Un San Lorenzo sopra la graticola moderno (Florence, Archivio di Stato, Carte
Strozziane, Quinta Serie, Filza 786, Tomo XXXIV, Atti fatti per leredit del Sig. Leone
Strozzi, fol. 8v).
Baldinucci reports that the St. Lawrence was made for Leone Strozzi; according to
Domenico Bernini Gianlorenzo made it to honor the saint whose name he bore, and Strozzi
acquired the work subsequently. It may be more than coincidence that at the time Maffeo
Barberini was decorating his family chapel in SantAndrea della Valle (see below), Leone
Strozzi was preparing his family chapel across the nave in the same church, the second chapel
on the right (the bronze copies of Michelangelo sculptures that decorate the altar wall are
inscribed with the date 1616; cf. S. Ortolani, S. Andrea della Valle Le Chiese di Roma illustrate, No. 4, Rome, n.d., Fig. 20). Among the members of the Strozzi family buried in the
chapel was a well-known Cardinal Lorenzo Strozzi, named after the same saint (died 1571,

230

rejected by recent writers; but I no longer see any reason for doing so, especially since there is independent evidence to suggest that the St. Sebastian
was made in the following year. Here I take up a hypothesis offered by
Rudolf Wittkower that the St. Sebastian may have been executed in connection with the niche-like shrine commemorating that saint which adjoins
the main Barberini chapel, the first on the left in SantAndrea della Valle.70
The main chapel, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, was built over
the apse of an earlier church honoring the martyr, at the point where his
body was supposed originally to have been discovered. In the small adjoining chamber, which is recessed into the interior faade of the present
church, this fact is recorded by a painting by Domenico Passignano of the
recovery of the martyrs body and a lengthy inscription bearing the date
1616. Berninis St. Sebastian was owned by the Barberini, and was first
inventoried in 1628 along with the Boy with the Dragon.71 Although there
is no reference to the figure in the documents concerning the chapel, it is
tempting to suppose that Bernini undertook the work, perhaps on his own
initiative, having in mind the space now occupied by Passignanos
painting.72
Of particular significance is the fact that the St. Sebastian shrine was not
at the outset part of the plan for the chapel. No mention of it is made in
the original contract of 1604 with the marble workers, nor does the painting of St. Sebastian appear in Passignanos contract of the same date, which
includes only his works for the main chapel illustrating the life of the

inscription in Forcella, VIII, 261, No. 652). We shall discuss presently the possibility that
Berninis St. Sebastian was made with the Barberini chapel in mind, before the decoration
was completed, but was then kept in the Barberini private collection; something of the sort
may have happened in the case of the St. Lawrence.
70
Wittkower, 1966, 174.
71
Un San Bastiano minore del naturale legato ad un tronco posto a sedere frezzato con
suo scabellone minore dellaltri (BVAB1, fol. 28. In the case of the St. Sebastian, as in that
of the Boy with the Dragon, the attribution to Bernini first occurs in 1632 in Menghinis
inventory: E piu un San Bastiano di palmi 41/2 alto fatto dal Cavaliere Bernini (BVAB2,
fol. 7v; cf. Pollak, I, 334, No. 960).
72
St. Sebastian: 99 cm. high (Aus der Sammlung Stiftung Schloss Rohoncz, Catalogue,
CastagnolaLugano, 1949, 96, No. 418); height of Passignanos picture: c. 180 cm. Cf.
Wittkower, 1966, 174.

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

231

Virgin.73 On the other hand, Passignanos picture was paid for in October
1617, and it must have been in place for the inauguration of the chapel in
December 1616.74 If Bernini did conceive his figure for the same location,
1615 would thus be a very likely date. This would be the first of no less than
five works by Gianlorenzo that were intended for the chapel but were then
kept in the Barberini private collection.
A further point of interest for the date, and perhaps even for the formal
conception of the St. Sebastian, is suggested by the block of marble roughed
out by Cordier as a John the Baptist and accepted as a down-payment for his
own figure by Pietro Bernini. Judging from the payments, Cordiers figure
must have been about one-third complete.75 It is not clear from the documents exactly when the block was transferred to the Bernini studio, but it
was certainly there by June 1615.76 This corresponds to the presumed date
of execution of the St. Sebastian, and it seems possible that the block was
cut down and adapted by the younger Bernini. The St. Sebastian is unusual,
if not unique, in that the saint, instead of standing bound to a tree or column, is shown reclining upon a rocky base.77 Such a setting is appropriate
73
The Capitoli with the marble workers, dated November 29, 1604, stipulates that the
wall on the faade side, which contained a spiral staircase, be sealed: et perche da una
banda dove hora e la lumaca, la porta v murata dovria detta porta essere incrostata di
mischio . . . (BVAB5, No. 80, fol. 4).
Passignanos contract is found in BVAB5, No. 79. Cf. O. Pollak, Italienische
Knstlerbriefe aus der Barockzeit, JPKS, 34, Beiheft, 1913, 30 ff.
74
On October 27, 1617, Passignano received 100 scudi for la Tavola di San Bastiano
messo nella Cappelletta piccola di San Bastiano annessa alla Cappella grande di Santo
Andrea della Valle . . . (shortly after increased to 160 scudi; BVAB9, p. XXIII).
On the dedication, cf. Pastor, XXVIII, 32; a plenary indulgence for the chapel was
decreed on December 7, 1616 (BVAB5, No. 82).
75
We noted that Cordier and his heirs received a total of 100 scudi; the price for the
work stipulated in Cordiers contract was 300 scudi. See above, note 65.
76
One of the entries of the final payment of June 20, 1615, to Pietro (see note 66 above)
shows that Cordiers block had been delivered to him by then: . . . a m. Pietro Bernini
Scultore Scudi quarta di mta che Insieme un marmo bianco Sbozzato gia dal q. Niccolo Cori
et fattolo condurre nella sua Casa di Santa Maria Magg.re et Aprezzatolo di Sessanta di mta
Sono il re.o delli di Trecento che haver doveva . . . -p la Statua di San Gio: Batta che ha fatto
p
- la Cappella di Santo Andrea della Valle . . . (BVAB8, p. VI).
77
Painted depictions of St. Sebastian seated in isolation appear in the Caravaggio school
in the early seventeenth century: cf. a St. Sebastian in Prague by Carlo Saraceni (T.
Gottheimer, Rediscovery of Old Masters at Prague Castle, BurIM, 107, 1965, 606, Fig. 12;
A. Moir, The Italian Followers of Caravaggio, Cambridge, Mass., 1967, II, 135); the St.
Sebastian with an Executioner in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, attributed to

232

to John the Baptist as an allusion to his sojourn in the desert; Pietro


Berninis own St. John is seated on a rocky throne, as is the Baptist later
made by Francesco Mochi, hoping to replace Pietros figure.78 All five of the
other statues in the chapel are also more or less seated,79 so it is practically
certain that Cordiers figure was shown thus as well. It may be that
Gianlorenzo, whether by choice or necessity, retained the seated posture
and rocky formation in utilizing Cordiers unfinished work.
Toward the end of the second decade the young Berninis style began to
undergo a profound change. This is perceptible in the third and fourth of
the new works to be discussed here.80 On February 7, 1618, Pietro Bernini
signed an agreement with the then Cardinal Maffeo Barberini to make four
cherubs to be placed on the lateral arches of the Barberini chapel (Doc. 9).81
The agreement says that the four cherubs were to be made from newly quarried white marble to be supplied by Pietro, and they were to be approximately 1.11 m. high. Pietro then goes on to state that, having himself
already made the terra cotta models of the cherubs, nude with various flourishes (svolazzi) of drapery, he promises to execute the sculptures before July
1619, by my own hand, and by the hand of my son, Gianlorenzo. In par-

Bartolomeo Schidone, who died in December 1615 (Moir, I, 242; II, Fig. 312); and
Honthorsts St. Sebastian of c. 1623 in the National Gallery, London (J. R. Judson, Gerrit
van Honthorst, The Hague, 1959, 8889). I have found none, however, in which the saint is
shown seated on a rocky base, and which certainly precedes Berninis figure.
78
Cf. W. Mller, Johannes der Tufer in der Hofkirche zu Dresden, JPKS, 47, 1926,
112 ff. See below, note 85.
79
Mary Magdalene by Cristoforo Stati; St. Martha by Francesco Mochi; St. John the
Evangelist by Ambrogio Buonvicino; portraits in niches in the St. Sebastian shrine of the
Popes brother Carlo, attributed to Mochi (Martinelli, 1951, 231), and uncle Mons.
Francesco, by Stati.
80
As far as I can see, documented collaboration between father and son begins in the
intervening years, 161617, notably, in the pair of herms from the Borghese garden, executed AprilJuly 1616, in which Gianlorenzo is said by an early source to have carved the
baskets of fruits and flowers (V. Martinelli, Novit berniniane. Flora e Priapo, i due
Termini gi nella Villa Borghese a Roma, Commentari, 13, 1962, 267 ff. see the just comments of Wittkower, 1966, 270). To this period also belong, in my view, the splendid,
under life-size figures of the Four Seasons in the Villa Aldobrandini at Frascati, discovered
and soon to be published by F. Zeri; here the underlying conception of the figures appears
to be Pietros while Gianlorenzo participated in the final execution.
81
This document and Doc. 12 were found independently and are alluded to by C.
DOnofrio, Note berniniane 2. Priorit della biografia di Domenico Bernini su quella del
Baldinucci, Palatino, 10, 1966, 206 caption.

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

233

tial payment, he accepts a piece of white statuary marble.82 This is the first
document so far known in which Gianlorenzo is mentioned. The fact that
Pietro bound himself legally, in a written guarantee, to employ his son in
executing the final sculptures bears witness to the truly fabulous appeal of
the young prodigys work. A few months later, in a letter we shall discuss
presently, Maffeo Barberini himself speaks even more eloquently to the
same point.
Pietro promised to furnish the sculptures in eighteen months. In fact,
they were finished and mounted in place within six months, by July 1618
(Doc. 12). Subsequently, in inventories of the Barberini collections a pair of
life-size cherubs by Gianlorenzo Bernini is variously listed, starting in 1632
in the inventory by Menghini: Eppiu dui petti [putti] del Naturale a sedere
con un pannino che li cingie fatti dal Cavalier Bernini.83 The inventory of
1651, also made by Menghini, explains that these cherubs had once decorated the papal chapel: Due Putti, che erano sul frontespitio della
Cappella di Papa Urbano al naturale alti p.mi 4.84 It would seem, therefore,
that two of the cherubs were made by Gianlorenzo and were subsequently
removed from the chapel, as a souvenir of his work there. Of the cherubs
presently in the chapel the two on the left are clearly of somewhat later date
and replace those that had been removed (Fig. 34). There is good reason,
stylistic as well as documentary, to suppose that they were executed about
1629 by Francesco Mochi (cf. Fig. 35).85
82
Baldinucci, 153, says that works by Luigi Bernini, Gianlorenzos brother, were also to
be seen in SantAndrea della Valle; there is no evidence for this in the documents for the
Barberini chapel I have seen.
83
BVAB2, fol. 7v; cf. Pollak, I, 334, No. 960.
84
BVAB3, fol. 1. The figures are mentioned by Tessin, Jr., as by Pietro Bernini: Zweij
kinder von marmer von dess Cav. Bernini vatter (Siren, 168). They appear in the inventory
of 1692: Due puttini di marmo bianco a sedere con gambe in cavalcate (BVAB4, fol. 245);
and they were still in the palace in 1755: due Angeli moderni ([G. Monti] Nuova descrizione
di Roma antica e moderna, Rome, 1755, 220).
85
I reproduce for comparison one of the putti on the bases of Mochis equestrian statues
in Piacenza. According to Passeri, Pope Urban commissioned Mochi to make a St. John the
Baptist for the Barberini chapel (ultimately brought to Dresden, see above, note 78) to
replace that by Pietro Bernini; this must have been after his return from Piacenza in 1629
(cf. Passeri-Hess, 133 and n. 1). In fact, in a document dating sometime after 1628, a marble block for a St. John for the chapel in SantAndrea della Valle is recorded, which must certainly have served for Mochis figure (Pollak, I, 22, No. 86). The same document includes
another block also for the Barberini chapel, to be used for a putto.
For the preceding observations, see Martinelli, 1951, 231 and n. 1, who also attributes
these two putti to Mochi (miswriting right for left). Martinelli, following P. Rotondi,

234

33. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Cherub over the right-hand pediment.


Barberini chapel, SantAndrea della Valle, Rome (photo: David Lees, Rome).
34. Attrib. to Francesco Mochi, Cherubs over the left-hand pediment.
Barberini chapel, SantAndrea della Valle, Rome (photo: Museo Vaticano).

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

35. Francesco Mochi, Putto.


Piacenza, base of
Farnese monument
((from Dedalo, 5, 192425, 115).

36. Gianlorenzo Bernini,


Cherub over the
right-hand pediment.
Barberini chapel, SantAndrea
della Valle, Rome
(photo: David Lees, Rome).

235

37. Pietro Bernini, Angel. Rome,


Palazzo Quirinale,
Cappella Paolina (photo: GFN).

236

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

237

38. Cherub over the


right-hand
pediment (detail).
Barberini chapel,
SantAndrea
della Valle, Rome
(photo: David Lees,
Rome).

39. Cherub over the


right-hand
pediment (detail).
Barberini chapel,
SantAndrea
della Valle, Rome
(photo: David Lees,
Rome).

238

40. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Neptune and Triton.


London, Victoria and Albert Museum.

239

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

41. Gianlorenzo Bernini,


Flight from Troy (detail).
Rome, Galleria Borghese
(photo: GFN).

42. Gianlorenzo Bernini,


Flight from Troy (detail).
Rome, Galleria Borghese
(photo: GFN).

43. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of Camilla Barbadori.


Copenhagen, Statens Museum for Kunst.

44. Tomaso Fedeli after Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of Antonio


Barberini. Rome, SantAndrea della Valle
(photo: F. Rigamonti, Rome)

240

45. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Flight from Troy (detail).


Rome, Galleria Borghese (photo: GFN).

46. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of Giovanni Vigevano.


Rome, Santa Maria sopra Minarva (photo: GFN).

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

241

47. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of Cardinal Dolfin.


Venice, San Michele allIsola (photo: Bhm, Venice).

48. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of Cardinal Escoubleau de Sourdis.


Bordeaux, Muse des Beaux-Arts (photo: Giraudon, Paris).

242

49. Nicol Cordier, Bust of St. Peter. Rome, San


Sebastiano fuori le Mura (photo: GFN).

50. Attrib. to Alessandro Vittoria, Bust of Gaspare Contarini.


Venice, Santa Maria dellOrto (photo: Alinari).

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

243

244

On the basis of these facts, it might be assumed that the son executed
one pair and the father the other. The two cherubs on the right (Figs. 33,
36, 3839), however, are not in the style of Pietro Bernini. In designing the
models for the figures Pietro must have repeated the formula of his angel in
the Pauline chapel of the papal palace on the Quirinal hill, which he had
made a year before (Fig. 37).86 But the cherubs are composed in such a fundamentally different way that we must entertain the possibility that they,
too, were executed by Gianlorenzo. Whereas the body of Pietros angel is
twisted and extended laterally so as to conform to a flat, frontal plane, the
SantAndrea cherubs are organized in depth, and the lower legs project forward over the edge of the pediment. We have observed this method of composition in Gianlorenzos work before, and, indeed, in their poses and the
rhythmic movement of their bodies the cherubs are closely similar to the
Boy with the Dragon.
An analogous point can be made concerning the physical types of the
figures. The angels in Pietros Assumption relief (Fig. 28) have bloated bodies and faces, with strange, withdrawn glances. They contrast markedly with
the sweet, open visages much more classical in feeling of
Gianlorenzos infantile types, which we have seen developing in the
Amalthean Goat and the Boy with the Dragon. The SantAndrea cherubs
continue this development toward lither and more extroverted types. Yet,
they are subtly differentiated one from the other so as to form a counterpoint of mood and action. The right leg of the left-hand cherub is drawn
up tightly, and its diminutive, catlike features seem to be mimicked in the
crinkling drapery folds; its mischievous liveliness and intensity recall the
Boy with the Dragon. The cherub on the right has a more expansive grace of
pose and countenance, and more easily flowing drapery; its emotional
awareness has a direct descendant in the figure of Ascanius in the Flight
from Troy group in the Borghese Gallery (Figs. 4142). Gianlorenzo, we
now know, received payment for this sculpture in October 1619, little more
than a year after the SantAndrea cherubs were finished.87 The comparison
Studi intorno a Pietro Bernini, Rivista dellInstituto di archeologia e storia dellarte, 5, 1936, 361
n. 8, further rejects the attribution of the right-hand putti to Pietro Bernini (Muoz, 451).
The cherubs on the left pediment are substantially larger (left 94 cm. high, right 90 cm.)
than those on the right (left 70 cm., right 75 cm.).
86
Pietro received payments for the Quirinal angel during the second half of 1616, and
final payment in January 1617 (Muoz, 470).
87
Faldi, 1953, 141.

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

245

is so close as to justify in itself attributing the cherubs to Gianlorenzo. The


kind of contrapuntal balance created by the cherubs was to characterize
Berninis paired figures ever after; indeed, he seems consciously to have
echoed them toward the end of his life, at the opposite end of the psychological scale, in the mourning angels for the Ponte SantAngelo, which are,
so to speak, the alter egos of the pair in SantAndrea.
The drapery of both cherubs, caught by a wind and twisted into billowing, spiral folds, reflects the svolazzi of the models by Pietro Bernini mentioned in the agreement to execute the figures in marble. They may be
taken, pars pro toto, as an indication of the stylistic relation between father
and son, since we can form a good idea of what Pietros drapery flourishes
must have been like from the spiral folds that embellish his works both
before and afterward (Figs. 28, 37);88 they are invariably small, flat,
cramped, and angular in conformation. In the SantAndrea cherubs, by
contrast, the twisted drapery ends project dramatically out into the surrounding space, in different directions. Such great, turbulent swirls become
a hallmark of the succeeding sculptures by Gianlorenzo; they occur repeatedly in the Neptune and Triton from the Villa Montalto in Rome, of about
16201621 (Fig. 40), in the Pluto and Prosperine of 16211622, and in the
Apollo and Daphne of 16221624.
Finally, from the technical point of view also, the cherubs occupy an
important place in Berninis early development. On the one hand, the soft,
granular treatment of the surfaces again recalls the Boy with the Dragon. At
the same time, they display many features that we shall see taken up and
developed in the sculptures that follow. There is little of the veiled, blurry
effect found in the earlier work; it is as though an object seen through a
photographic lens, previously slightly diffused, is being brought into focus.
The hair no longer consists of continuous, undulating waves but of separate, clearly defined locks whose shapes are marked by concentric striations.
Evidently, working from his fathers models, Gianlorenzo made all four
cherubs this, I suspect, in accordance with Maffeo Barberinis own wish.
Pietros collaboration, envisaged in the contract, must have consisted in
helping his son bring the work to its speedy conclusion. Two of the figures
were then dismounted and became put of the Barberini private art collec88
In the Assumption relief spiral drapery ends are seen at various points about the large
angel placed diagonally at the right. See also the drapery of the allegory by Pietro at the right
side of the Dolfin monument in Venice, 162122 (below, note 100).

246

tion, and are now lost. The other two were left to adorn the chapel. It is significant of the value attached to them that the two allowed to remain in the
chapel were those on the right, the more advantageous position, readily visible to the visitor as he enters the church.
The father, it will be noted, continued in 1618 to receive payment,
regardless of the sons contribution. On the other hand, Gianlorenzo himself acknowledged the final quittance for his labors, in April of the following year, 1619. He was then paid fifty scudi for his bust of Maffeo
Barberinis mother (which we shall consider presently) to be placed in the
chapel, by which payment the Cardinal also discharged the remainder of his
obligation to Gianlorenzo for all the works that he may have made for me
together with his father up to the present day (Doc. 17a). The works
covered retroactively in the last phrase can only have been the cherubs. The
consideration was a token one (but the more significant therefore) since the
sum was the same as had been paid seven years before for the bust of
Antonio Coppola alone. The document is of further interest because it
marks Gianlorenzos first appearance independent of his father; it is also the
first recorded payment to him, and he is given the title of Scultore.
This last circumstance suggests what is the probable explanation for the
peculiar terms of the contract and for the retroactive recognition of
Gianlorenzos work; namely, that at the end of 1618 or early in 1619
Gianlorenzo had been admitted to the marble workers guild. Until he
became a member of the Universit dei Marmorari he was still an apprentice, not yet a maestro. There is no record of precisely when he was enrolled in the organization, to which he became much attached, and to
which he made handsome gifts later in his life.89 There are several pieces of
evidence, however, which taken together tend to confirm the date suggested
by the payments. One is a letter written from Rome to Florence in 1674,
when the question arose whether the unfinished Piet of Michelangelo now
in Florence Cathedral, which had until shortly before been in Rome, was fit
to be installed in the Medici chapel in San Lorenzo. The writer of the letter
defends the piece and in support quotes Berninis praise of it, which he
reports as follows: But that which Bernini told me, I know is most true,
and it is this: that the Christ, which is almost completely finished, is an inestimable marvel, not only in itself but because Michelangelo made it when
89

148.

Cf. A. M. Bessone Aurelj, I marmorari romani, Milan, etc., 1935, 196; Fraschetti, 102,

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

247

he was past seventy years old; and that he [Bernini] having come of age, and
consequently become a master, because he had become one at an early age,
had studied it continually for months and months.90
Bernini thus acknowledges his special debt to the body of Christ in
Michelangelos work, having made a careful study of it at the time he
became a maestro; this, he says, occurred when he was a giovinotto.
Normally, admission to the Roman guilds took place between the ages of
twenty and twenty-five.91 Assuming the earlier date, he would have been
admitted following his twentieth birthday in December 1618. The reason
for this passionate interest in Michelangelo is suggested by another, equally
remarkable letter, written on October 12, 1618, by Maffeo Barberini to his
brother Carlo, who was then in Florence. In a postscript Maffeo says: The
Cavaliere Passignano once told me that Michelangelo Buonarroti still
possessed here, toward the Palazzo dAlessandrino, a statue begun by
Michelangelo, and that he might be parted from it. If it can be obtained
cheaply through Passignano, I would take it because the son of Bernini,
who is having a great success, would finish it.92 The passage testifies to the
phenomenal success Gianlorenzo was then having, and in particular to the
favor he enjoyed with Maffeo Barberini. It also reveals the hitherto
unknown fact that there was in Rome, owned by Michelangelos grandnephew, an unfinished work by or at least attributed to the master which,
perhaps most astonishing of all, the young Bernini was considered capable
of completing.93 It is reasonable to associate this project for finishing one of
Michelangelos works with the study of the earlier artist Bernini said he

Ma quello che ha detto il Bernino a me, so ch verissimo, et questo: che il Cristo


ch quasi finito tutto, una maraviglia inestimabile, no solo per se, ma per averlo fatto
Michelagnolo dopo laver passato let di 70 anni; e chegli uomo fatto, e consequentemente
maestro, perch cominci ad esserlo da giovinotto, vi aveva studiato s mesi e mesi continui.
Letter of Paolo Falconieri, November 17, 1674 (C. Mallarm, Lultima tragedia di
Michelangelo, Rome, 1929, 80).
91
See A. Martini, Arti mestieri e fede nella Roma dei Papi, Bologna, 1965, 49.
92
Mi disse una volta il S.r Caval.r Passignani che al Sr Michelangelo Buonarrti restava qui
verso il Palazzo dAless:no una statua comincta gi da Michelangelo, et che ne Sarebba fatto
fuori. Se si puo haver -p buon mercato sotto mano col mezo del medmo Passig:no la piglierei
lo
ta
-p che il fig. del Bernino che fa g riusc. la -p fetionerebbe. (BV, MS Barb. lat. 10078, fol.
75v) The letter was discovered independently by C. DOnofrio, who alludes to it in Un
dialogo-recita di Gian Lorenzo Bernini e Lelio Guidiccioni, Palatino, 10, 1966, 129.
93
The problem of identifying the work in question will be discussed by the writer in a
separate essay. Suffice it to say here that the most likely candidate seems to be the
90

248

undertook at the time he became maestro. In that case, the date of Maffeo
Barberinis letter, October 1618, would coincide with the other evidence
suggesting that Bernini was admitted to the marble workers guild at the
end of that year or early in the next, whereupon he became eligible to
undertake and receive payment for work in his own name.
We have been able to define in the works discussed so far a significant
phase in Berninis development between 1612 and 1618, that is, roughly
between his thirteenth and nineteenth year. It was a period of soft, impressionistic technique and psychological subtlety that emerged from the rather
strained expressiveness of the earliest efforts, and led to the monumental
drama of the groups made in the early 1620s.
The moment of change found in the SantAndrea cherubs is represented
in portraiture by the bust of Maffeo Barberinis mother, Camilla Barbadori,
recently discovered in the Statens Museum in Copenhagen (Fig. 43).94
Bernini was paid for this work, as we have noted, in April 1619, and he was
to install it in the Barberini chapel in SantAndrea. It was followed by a
companion bust of Camillas husband, Antonio, for which Bernini received
payment, under the same terms, in February 1620 (Doc. 18). Toward the
end of the decade, probably as part of the same campaign that included the
removal of the cherubs, the busts were also transferred to the Barberini private collection. They first appear there in an inventory entry of December

much-debated Palestrina Piet, which was in fact owned by the Barberini, though
Michelangelos authorship of the work is not thereby guaranteed.
The similarity of the legs of Berninis St. Sebastian to those of Christ in the Florentine
Piet has been emphasized (Wittkower, 1966, 174), and we may note the equally marked
resemblance between the overall pose of Berninis figure and that of Christ in the Palestrina
Piet. It is tempting to imagine the St. Sebastian as a kind of prospectus that led to the
extraordinary idea of having the young Bernini complete an unfinished work by
Michelangelo.
Among the possible sources for the St. Sebastian, incidentally, should be considered the
Louvre Piet by Annibale Carracci, as suggested recently by D. Posner, Domenichino and
Lanfranco: The Early Development of Baroque Painting in Rome, in Essays in Honor of
Walter Friedlaender, Marsyas, Suppl. Vol. II, New York, 1965, 144 n. 44. We may add that
the painting, which was in San Francesco a Ripa in Rome, was engraved by P. Aquila, with
a dedication to Bernini; cf. Mostra dei Carracci, ed. G. C. Cavalli, etc., Exhib. Cat., Bologna,
1956, 256, No. 112.
94
Martinelli, Commentari, 1956, 23 ff. It was dated 162627 by Martinelli and
Wittkower (1966, 19293, No. 24c); A. Nava Cellini proposed 1622 (Una proposta ed una
rettifica per Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Paragone, 17, 1966, No. 191, 2829).

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

249

4, 1628, with yellow marble bases added (indicating they had originally
been placed in oval or circular niches).95 To replace the busts, oval medallions of porphyry with relief copies had been made early in 1627 (Fig. 44),
and these were installed in 1629 along with commemorative inscriptions in
the narrow passageway connecting the Barberini chapel with that adjoining
toward the east.96
In the bust of Camilla everything has become sharp and clear. The surfaces are smoothly polished; contours and incisions are rendered with a new
precision. The pose is strictly frontal, the drapery of the widows weeds falls
in nearly straight, symmetrical folds that veil the shoulders. There is a tense,
almost geometric abstraction that indicates a reaction against the earlier
softness and vagueness. A similar quality of strained rigidity combined with
smooth purity of shape and line pervades the Flight from Troy, which, as we
noted, was paid for in the fall of the same year, 1619.
The commission for the Flight from Troy may well have been the reason
for the delay in executing the bust of Antonio Barberini. This work has not
yet come to light, but to judge from Tommaso Fedelis copy on the porphyry relief medallion (Fig. 44) it provided a striking, and probably deliberate, contrast to the companion portrait of Camilla. As opposed to the
symmetrical arrangement of the earlier work, the shoulders were wrapped
in a cloak whose broken, irregular folds must have obscured the relationships between shoulders, arms, and torso.
The significance of these differences becomes evident in what seems to
have been Berninis next portrait, the bust of Giovanni Vigevano in Santa
Maria sopra Minerva (Fig. 46). A number of factors conspire to indicate a
95
BVAB1, fol. 28 (cited by Fraschetti, 140 n. 2, with a wrong date). The yellow
marble bases were paid for on March 31, 1629 (cf. Fraschetti, 140 n. 3, where the year is
omitted).
96
The porphyry reliefs of Antonio and Camilla were inventoried in the Barberini collection respectively in March and June 1627 (Fraschetti, 142 n. 1). They were paid for in
July 1627: A di 30 Lug. [1627] 75 mta in cro a Tommaso Fedeli scultore per sua mani~
fattura della testa lavorata in porfido basso rilievo ritratto della S ra Camilla madre di Sua Sta
come -p la stima fatta dal Bernino (BVAB, Arm. 86, Card. Franc., Libro Mastro A, 162329,
p. 170); Martinellis attribution of the reliefs to Tommaso Fedeli is thus confirmed
(Commentari, 1956, 25).
On July 28, 1626, Ferdinando Ruccellai, proprietor of the adjoining chapel, confirmed
the concession which he had made to Maffeo Barberini many years before of the passageway between the two chapels (BVAB5, No. 83). For the inscriptions under the medallions,
dated 1629, see Forcella, VIII, 266, Nos. 66869.

250

date of about 1620 for the Vigevano bust.97 The treatment of the mustache
and beard is extremely close to that of the head of Aeneas (Fig. 45). The
arrangement of the drapery seems to reflect that of the lost portrait of
Antonio Barbadori. As a terminus ante quem, we have the testimony of
Vigevanos will, drawn up in May 1622, in which he stipulates that he is to
be buried in his tomb newly made in the Minerva.98
Bernini here takes up again the classically inspired motif of the right
hand protruding through the enveloping drapery, which he had introduced
in the bust of Coppola. There are fundamental changes, however. The torso
is cut off at a higher level, and there is no hint of the existence of the right
arm beneath the drapery.99 The hand now grasps the drapery firmly, squeezing it into a cascade of deep, complicated folds. These folds, instead of running directly out to the edge, cartwheel fashion, seem constrained to follow
the semicircular curvature of the silhouette. The result of these devices is a
cramped effect, which makes us miss the forms that are not there. At the
same time, the vigorous gesture and slightly parted lips (compare the lips of
Ascanius and Aeneas, Figs. 42, 45) help to suggest an inner animation.
It will be seen that two complementary factors are involved at this stage
in the development of Berninis portraiture. Though the bust of Coppola
demonstrates that he was concerned virtually from the outset with the
problem posed by the truncated human body, he now seeks to make the
observer aware of the missing parts by emphasizing their absence. This negative effect, in turn, is enhanced by the now smoothly polished surfaces and

97
I return, in effect, to the date originally proposed by Reymond, 58, followed by
Wittkower, 1953, 21; Wittkower later shifted the bust to 161718 (1966, 17475, No. 5).
98
Il mio corpo voglio, che sia sepolto nella Chiesa di Sta Maria della Minerva di
Roma nella mia sepoltura fatta di novo.
Item per ragione di legato, et in altro miglior modo lascio alla Sig.a Laura Catani
mia socera la mia sepoltura Vecchia, essistente nella detta Chiesa della Minerva,
appresso alla detta Nova, dandoli faculta di posser levare la mia inscrittione che
nella lapide, et apporvi la sua nella qual sepoltura gi vi sepolto il quond Gioseffe
suo marito.
(ASR, 30 Notai Capitolini, Ufficio 28, Testamenti, Vol. 3 [Not. Vespignanus],
fol. 87)
For the inscription placed by Laura Catani on the earlier tomb slab, cf. Forcella, I, 476, No.
1848. Vigevano died in 1630; for the inscription on his tomb, ibid., 493, No. 1908.
99
The obscuring of a crucial part of the anatomy by an intricate mass of drapery became
one of Berninis most effective devices; see the St. Teresa and, in portraiture, the busts of
Francesco dEste and Louis XIV, where it serves to disguise the truncation of the body.

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

251

clearly defined details, which serve to intensify the physical presence of the
figure.
In the two portraits that follow, Bernini begins to exploit the positive
implications of this approach. Both works, the bust of Cardinal Giovanni
Dolfin on his tomb in San Michele allIsola in Venice and that of Cardinal
Escoubleau de Sourdis in Bordeaux (Figs. 47, 48), are parts of joint enterprises carried out by father and son. While Gianlorenzo made the patrons
portrait, Pietro executed accompanying figures: two female allegories for
the Venetian cardinals tomb, a Virgin and an angel of the Annunciation for
the French prelate.100 There is good evidence, albeit circumstantial, for dating the portraits. Giovanni Dolfin, who had lived for many years in Rome,
returned finally to Venice in May 1621, where he died the following year;101
the bust must have been made shortly before his departure, i.e., early in
1621. Cardinal de Sourdis had come to Rome early in the spring of 1621,
and he left to return to France by July 1622;102 in all likelihood the portrait
was done toward the end of his stay.
In these works Bernini developed a distinctive, bow-shaped lower edge
which became characteristic of nearly all his portraits during the first half of
Both busts are listed in Baldinuccis catalogue of. Berninis works (p. 176). Pietro
Berninis allegories of Faith and Hope on the Dolfin tomb are mentioned by Baglione, 305.
The sculptures for De Sourdis are mentioned in 1669 by Charles Perrault, who attributes
the bust as well as the Annunciation figures to Pietro; Gianlorenzos authorship of the portrait is obvious and has never been questioned since the sculptures were published by
Reymond, 45 ff. See Wittkower, 1966, 182, Nos. 14, 16.
Illustrations of Pietros figures may be found conveniently in Venturi, Vol. X, 3, 92021.
The architect of the Dolfin tomb is unknown; it is illustrated as a whole in V. Meneghin, S.
Michele in Isola di Venezia, Venice, 1962, I, Pl. 65 facing p. 353; cf. 34041.
101
See Ciaconius, IV, cols. 357-58. Dolfins departure from Rome in May 1622 is mentioned in B. G. Dolfin, I Dolfin (Delfino) patrizi veneziani nella storia di Venezia dall anno
452 al 1923, Milan, 1924, 156; cf. Martinelli, Ritratti, 2728.
A letter written by Dolfin to Pope Gregory XV from Venice on September 25, 1621,
begins: Essendo piaciuto al Sig.re Dio di farmi capitare in Venetia lunedi prossimo passato
con perfetta salute, giudico mio debito darne riverente conto alla Santita Vra . . . (BV, MS
Barb. lat. 8785, fol. 4).
102
De Sourdis was not present at the conclave that elected Gregory XV (February 8,
1621; cf. Ciaconius IV, cols. 465 ff.), but he is mentioned in a diary of the papal master of
ceremonies as participating in a ceremony on April 25, 1621 (P. Alaleone, Diarium die 30
Octobris ad diem 2 Maij 1622, BV, MS Barb. lat. 2817, fol. 427). His departure from Rome
is established by a letter written by him to the Pope from Bordeaux on July 17, 1622: Son
giunto per la gra di Dio alla mia Chiesa con salute; et nel passar da Toloso vi trovai S. M.ta
Christma. . . (BV, MS Barb. lat. 7952, fol. 96).
100

252

51. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of Monsignor Pedro de Foix Montoya.


Rome, Santa Maria di Monserrato, Spanish Seminary
(photo: GFN).

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

253

52. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of Monsignor Francesco Barberini.


Washington, National Gallery.

53. Gianlorenzo Bernini,


Bust of Monsignor
Francesco Barberini
(view from beneath showing
displacement of shoulders).
Washington, National
Gallery.

254

54. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of Antonio Cepparelli,


Rome, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini
(photo: GFN).

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

255

55. Gianlorenzo Bernini,


Bust of Antonio Cepparelli,
Rome, San Giovanni
dei Fiorentini
(photo: GFN).

56. Attributed to Nicol


Cordier, Bust of a member of the
Aldobrandini family,
Rome, Santa Maria sopra
Minerva
(photo: GFN).

256

57. Benvenuto Cellini,


Bust of Cosimo I de Medici.
Florence, Bargello
(from Camesasca, Tutta
lopera dell Cellini, pl. 26).

58. Gianlorenzo Bernini,


Bust of Antonio Cepparelli,
Rome, San Giovanni dei
Fiorentini
(photo: GFN).

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

59. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of Antonio Cepparelli,


Rome, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini
(photo: GFN).

257

258

30. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of Cardinal Bellarmino.


Rome, Church of the Ges (photo: GFN).

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

61. Gianlorenzo Bernini,


Bust of Antonio Cepparelli,
Rome, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini
(photo: GFN).

62. Giovanni da Valsoldo,


Bust of Cardinal Albani,
Rome, Santa Maria del Popolo
(photo: GFN).

259

260

the 1620s, and which he employed, with variations, repeatedly thereafter.


The line flares upward and outward to form a sharp angle where it joins the
lateral profiles. This outward flare tends to increase with succeeding works
so that the point of intersection pierces the surrounding space in marked
contrast to the compact, self-contained silhouette of the earlier busts.103
Since the cut-off edge of the arms is relatively lower, more of the drapery
hanging from the shoulders appears, giving an apronlike suggestion of hollowness. Most important, the elegant, soaring curve has an effect of buoyancy that emphasizes the emptiness below. As a result the observer is made
aware of the absent arms and body, hence is encouraged to imagine their
existence. At the same time, a sense of fragmentation is avoided by the
regularity of the curve itself.
Bernini had first used the formula some years before, in the under
life-size bust of Paul V in the Borghese Gallery.104 There, however, the curve
rises more vertically, and the compactness of the outline is maintained.
Although the motif has a variety of possible forerunners, the elegance
and tension of Berninis curves seem most closely anticipated, curiously
enough, by the springlike scrolls that form the lower edges of Nicol
Cordiers busts of SS. Peter and Paul in San Sebastiano fuori le Mura
(Fig. 49).105 Whatever the specific prototypes, it seems likely that Berninis
interest in the device was revived by the peculiar nature of the Dolfin commission. In his will, Dolfin had stipulated that his tomb imitate those of the

103
An important role in this development, which culminates in the lateral flourishes of
the busts of Francesco dEste and Louis XIV, is played by the late (probably posthumous)
portraits of Paul V and the busts of Gregory XV (162122). Wittkower, 1966, 17576, No.
6(2), 17980, No. 12; Martinelli, Ritratti, 13 ff. The increasing breadth of Berninis portraits
has been observed by Rinehart, 442.
104
Wittkower, 1966, 172, No. 6 (1).
105
Venturi, X, 3, Figs. 53839. These were commissioned by Scipione Borghese and paid
for in 1608 (see the documents published by I. Faldi, La scultura barocca in Italia, Milan,
1958, 80). Cordier, in fact, seems to have been one of the most important influences on Berninis early development (on the St. Sebastian, see p. 231 f. above; on the Cepparelli bust, see
p. 265 ff. below). The bust of Camilla Barbadori should be compared with Cordiers head
of Luisa Deti in the Aldobrandini chapel in Santa Maria sopra Minerva (Venturi, x, 3, fig.
527; cf. Martinelli, Commentari, 1956, 28), and the Flight from Troy is inconceivable without Cordiers King David in the Cappella Paolina at Santa Maria Maggiore (Venturi, X, 3,
Fig. 534). There are echoes of Cordiers St. Sebastian in the Aldobrandini chapel (ibid., Fig.
533) in Berninis David (the armor) and St. Longinus.

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

261

Contarini family in Santa Maria dellOrto in Venice.106 And in fact, the bust
of Gaspare Contarini, attributed to Alessandro Vittoria, has a lower silhouette of this basic type (Fig. 50).107
The Dolfin and De Sourdis portraits also show an increasing crispness
and precision in the treatment of details. Whereas Dolfins hair and beard
106
October 29, 1612: . . . se ci [i.e., death] aver in Roma voglio che il mio corpo sia
posto nella chiesa di san Marco di Roma, et poi in ogni caso voglio che si trasporti Venezia,
et si sepelischi nella chiesa di san Michel di Murano delli Monaci dellordine Camaldulense,
nella quale voglio, che linfrascritto mio herede sia tenuto, et debbia far fare quanto prima
un deposito tra le doi colonne di detta chiesa, nellistessa forma, che sono li doi depositi delli
sig.ri Contarini nella Chiesa della Madonna dellhorto in Venetia. (ASR, 30, Not. Cap. Uff.
10, Not. Franc. Micenus, fol. 281.)
Architecturally, there is a resemblance between the Dolfin tomb (cf. note 100 above) and
that of the Contarini (cf. F. Cessi, Alessandro Vittoria architetto e stuccatore [15251608],
Trento, 1961, 52, Pl. 40, with an attribution to Vittoria). The Dolfin tomb, moreover, conforms to a common Venetian type in that it frames the entrance to the church, with the sarcophagus placed high above. This may help to explain the design of the next tomb with
which the Berninis were involved, that of Cardinal Bellarmino in the Ges (see below); in
this case the architect is known Girolamo Rainaldi, who shortly afterward also seems to
have designed the Sfondrato tomb in Santa Cecilia, in which the same formula is repeated
(Bruhns, 31314, Fig. 235; for the correct date, cf. Martinelli, Contributi alla scultura del
seicento: IV. Pietro Bernini e figli, Commentari, 4, 1953, 148 n. 22).
107
Cf. Cessi, Alessandro Vittoria scultore (15251608). II Parte, Trento, 1962, 22 ff.
The significance of this fact becomes apparent when it is realized that the Dolfin bust
inaugurates a long dialogue that Bernini maintained with Venetian sculpture. The next
major advance in what I should call the positive approach to implied form took place toward
the end of the 1620s, in Berninis portraits of the Venetian cardinals Agostino and Pietro
Valier, now in the Seminary in Venice (for the date, see below at the end of this note). Here,
the busts are still broader and fuller, and the drapery is more complex and active; the result
is an uncanny illusion of hollowness, hence the imagined existence of the rest of the body.
The closest precedents for Berninis broad, voluminous torsos are in fact Venetian, and
particularly the portraits of Vittoria. More over, the fronts of Vittorias busts often have elaborate draperies arranged and cut so as to give a hollow, apronlike effect that anticipates
Bernini. Thus, an important aspect of the development of Berninis portraiture, in which he
moves away from the severe, tightly drawn silhouettes of Roman tradition, seems to reflect
Venetian influence (for a Florentine component, see below, pp. 266 f.). It can hardly be coincidental that two essential stages in this development, those represented by the Dolfin and
Valier busts, were reached in works made for Venetian patrons.
It should be emphasized that the comparisons with Vittorias portraits are never very precise; the relationship was one of spirit rather than detail. There are more specific connections
with Vittoria in Berninis works other than portraiture; compare Berninis figure of Daniel
in Santa Maria del Popolo with that by Vittoria in San Giuliano, Venice (Venturi, X, 3, Fig.
93, to which, however, should be added that in Rubenss painting now in Washington, GBA,
January 1966, Suppl., 50, Fig. 196), and Berninis St. Jerome in the Cathedral of Siena with
that by Vittoria in the Frari (Venturi, X, 3, Fig. 71).

262

have a flamelike quality reminiscent of the Vigevano bust, the hair and
beard of De Sourdis are defined by thin parallel incisions.108 What had been
abstract and generalized is now becoming minute and specific.
In the final group of works we shall discuss, one of which is the new portrait of Antonio Cepparelli in San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, Bernini seems
to draw the logical conclusions from the approach he had taken two or
three years before; the group may be said to mark the climax and end of his
early development. The first in the series is the portrait that adorns the
tomb of Monsignor Pedro de Foix Montoya, now in the Spanish seminary
in the Via Giulia, but originally in the Spanish national church of San
Giacomo degli Spagnuoli in Piazza Navona (Fig. 51). Montoya died in
1630, but it has always been recognized, for stylistic reasons, that the bust
must have been made substantially earlier.109 Documents from the archive
of the Confraternity of the Resurrection, which was the proprietor of San
Giacomo, provide evidence for a precise date.110 The minutes of the meetings of the confraternity record that in September 1622, Montoya peti-

The date of c. 1627 for the Valier busts proposed by Wittkower (1966, 194, No. 25) on
stylistic grounds can be supported by documentary evidence. The Vatican Library contains
some 32 letters written by Pietro Valier between March 1624 and February 1629 (he died
in Padua in April 1629). The letters were all written from north Italy and form a continuous series without significant interruptions, except for a period of a year between May 1626
and May 1627. Precisely during this period, on September 14, 1626, there is a letter by
Valier written from Rome. (1624:.March 13, June 1, 15, 30, August 29, October 20 [three],
November 16, December 26; 1625: March 3, August 23 [three], December 12, 20; 1626:
February 5, May 30, September 14 [from Rome]; 1627: May 29, October 15 [two]; 1628:
January 1, February 8, 15, 18, December 15, 18, 25, 31; 1629: February 1). Cf. BV, MSS
Barb. lat. 7794, 7797, 8781.
I share Wittkowers view that the two Valier busts are contemporary.
108
In this respect Bernini seems again to return to the early bust of Paul V, where the hair
and beard are also defined by fine parallel lines.
109
A terminus ante quem is provided by an anecdote recounted by Baldinucci, Domenico
Bernini, and Bernini himself (see note 114 below), according to which the bust was seen by
Cardinal Maffeo Barberini before he became Pope Urban VIII (August 3, 1623).
Cf. Wittkower, 1966, 181, No. 13, where the date 1621 is proposed.
110
A history of the confraternity and its benefactors is given by Fernndez Alonso
(279 ff.; on Montoya, cf. 31920), to whom I am indebted for facilitating my work in the
archive. The archive is housed in the library of the Instituto Espaol de Estudios Eclesiasticos, Via Giulia 151.

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

263

tioned for permission to found a chaplaincy.111 He was, in turn, permitted


to erect his sepulchral monument in the church. In December 1622 the
confraternity decreed that construction of the tomb might not begin until
the contracts of the donation were executed.112 The act of the donation was
drawn up in January 1623; in it the location of the tomb is established, and
the church undertakes to care for the portrait, which seems to have been
already extant, and the rest of the monument in perpetuity.113 The bust was
therefore most probably made at the end of 1622.114
September 16, 1622: Le. yo el secretario un memorial, que decia como Mons.r Pedro
de Foix Montoia quiere fundar e esta Iglesia una Capellania anidiendo un Capellan mas y
cometieren. a los SS.a Bernardo de Cegama, y D.r Botnete y D. Pedro de Alarcon p.a que con
los SS.s Adm.res traten. del modo de esta fundacion con e dho mons.r (AIEE1191, fol. 91).
112
December 28, 1622: Quese concluia en el negocio de la Capellania de Mons.r Pedro
de Foix Montoia conforme a su memorial y a la relacion qhuzieron los SS.a. Adm.es. que es
la contenida en dho memorial qse me entrego y que en materia de comenar a fabricar en
su sepultura no pueda hazer cosa alguna hasta quese hagan los instrumentos dela dha fundacion (ibid., fol. 93v).
113
January 29, 1623:
Iten convenerunt quod dictus R.mus D. Petrus in dta ecclesia in eo loco qui est a latere effigiei Petri de Chacon possit construere suum sepulcrum cum ornamento pro
ut ipsi R.mo Dno Petro suis expensis bene visum fuerit cum facultate etiam apponendi in terra unum lapidem cum sua inscriptione etiam si corpus suum fuerit
repossitum in pariete vel etiam si extra Urbem defunctus et in quacumq. ecclesia
extra Urbem sepultus fuerit quern locum nomine pt ae eccliae ipsi Dni deputati
dto R.mo D. Petro liberum, et immunem concesserunt.
Iten erit obligata dicta ecclia quod si ptus locus in quo apponenda est effigies,
et sepultura aliquo casu seu eventu fuerit mutandus ad aliam partern dare in pta
ecclia alium locum ad effectum apponendi dictam effigiem ornamentum et sepulturam talem, et aeque bonum uti erat primus et manutenere, ac conservare ptam
effigiem et ornamenturn semper, et perpuo pro ut fuerit finita, et perfecta, ita quod
si fuerint rupta vel collapsa in partem, vel in totum teneatur dicta ecclesia illa reficere.
(Act notarized by Thomas Godover, AIEE635, No. 120, foll. 8990. The act was ratified
by the confraternity on September 10, 1623; ibid., No. 121, fol. 98.)
114
From Montoyas testament, dated May 27, 1630 (he died three days later), we learn,
that work on the tomb was still in progress: Item mando que la sepoltura donde a de estar
mi cuerpo enterrado sea en el muro de la dicha Santa Iglesia del Seor Santiago donde a de
estar el Deposito, que tengo hecho, y en tierra, al pie de la dicha Sepoltura, se ponga una
piedra, y en ella, o. en la que a de estar en la pared donde a de estar el cuerpo, se ponga esta
memoria, con las demas, que dejo instituidas y dotadas en la dicha Santa Iglesia de Seor
Santiago de Nuestra Naion Espaola (ibid., No. 148, fol. 4; for the inscriptions a short
one above the sarcophagus, a long one on the wall below the monument cf. Forcella, III,
247, No. 612).
111

264

What had remained of generalized abstraction in Berninis treatment of


form seems here to have disappeared, leaving only the impression of tight,
vivid precision. We feel confronted directly by reality, and the very sharpness of focus adds to the quality of inner tension and vitality the figure conveys. The hair consists entirely of fine, closely set lines that intensify the
effect of wiry tautness. While the drapery is in the main symmetrical, the
edge of the cloak (mantelletta) at Montoyas right is folded back.115 This is
counterbalanced in a dynamic, asymmetrical fashion by the bowed sash at
the waist, placed slightly to the right of center. The folds of the cloak hanging from the chest project forward, apronlike, and suggest an empty space
behind. There Bernini introduces the bow that falls startlingly over the
pedestal.116 By these devices, which work now in a positive rather than a
negative way, he encourages the mind to imagine that the body continues
below the waist.
The portrait of Monsignor Francesco Barberini (the uncle of Maffeo),
now in Washington, D.C., must have been conceived within a very short
time after the bust of Montoya (Fig. 52).117 The drapery arrangement of
According to Baldinucci, 76, and Domenico Bernini, 16, the bust was already in place
when Maffeo Barberini saw it; but the evidence of Montoyas testament seems to accord with
Berninis own recollection that Montoya left the bust in the artists studio for a long time
(Chantelou, 10203).
In a marginal note added to the manuscript of Fioravante Martinellis Roma ornata 63,
the architecture of the tomb is attributed to Orazio (not Niccol) Turriani; cf. Hibbard,
1965, 237 n. 64.
We may note here that the busts of the Anima Beata and Anima Dannata, originally in
San Giacomo degli Spagnoli, now in the Palazzo di Spagna, have no connection with
Montoya (Wittkower, 1966, 177, No. 7). They were left to the church by one of the benefactors, Fernando Botinete, who died in October 1632, and are listed in an inventory of
1680 (AIEE, Busta 1333, Invent de la yglesa y Sacrist que Sirvio hast. el Ao de 1680,
foll. 133 ff., cosas differentes de Sacristia, cf. fol. 134v: Mas dos Estatuas de Marmol blanco
del Bernino, con sus piedestales de jaspe, son dos testas que rapresentan la una la anima en
gloria, y la otra anima en pena & las quales vienen con lo quedejo el D.or Botinete a la
Iglesia). On Botinete cf. Fernndez Alonso, 32223.
115
Bernini seems to have borrowed this motif from the bust of Martino Azpilcueta in
SantAntonio de Portoghesi, where the folded-back edge serves to reveal the insignia on the
vest below (cf. Grisebach, 145).
116
The bow is carved from the same block of marble as the bust; the pedestal and flanking scrolls are a separate piece.
117
The bust is listed by Baldinucci, 176, and in 1627 in the inventory of Cardinal
Francesco Barberini (BVAB1, fol. 27; cf. Fraschetti, 140 n. 1); also in 1635 in Menghinis
inventory (BVAB2, fol. 23; cf. Pollak, I, 334, No. 961).

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

265

Montoya is here repeated almost exactly, including the folded-back right


edge of the mantelletta. A different kind of rhythm is established, however,
by the heads turning to the right, while the pleated surplice protruding
from beneath the central opening of the cloak moves on a diagonal from
upper left to lower right. Most important, Bernini here introduces a slight
displacement of the shoulders; the left shoulder is forward with respect to
the right (Fig. 53).118 There is thus a subtle but insistent hint of movement.
The surface of the marble also is treated with greater ease and fluidity than
in the Montoya bust, and is given a somewhat porous luster.
The first reference we have to the bust of Antonio Cepparelli is on April
23, 1622, five days after his death, when the Confraternity of the Piet
determined to commission it from Bernini (Figs. 5455, 5859, 61). The
record is of interest, as we noted, because it refers to the earlier memorial to
Coppola: And let there be made a statue of marble with an inscription to
the said Signor Antonio to be placed in the hospital, like that of Coppola,
and Signor Girolamo Ticci was told to speak to the sculptor Bernini, that it
be made as soon as possible (Doc. 20).119 Berninis first payment of
twenty-five scudi was ordered in August the same year (Doc. 22a). The
receipt itself is preserved, and is also a fascinating document; it is made out
on the front to Gianlorenzo, while on the back it is signed by his father,
Pietro, acting as his agent (Doc. 22b).120 There seems then to have been
some delay, since Gianlorenzo received his final payment of forty-five scudi
only at the end of the following year, in December 1623 (Doc. 23).121 The
It is dated 1626 by Wittkower (1966, 19192, No. 24b), whereas Pope-Hennessy
(Catalogue, 127, Pl. 144) proposes 162425. The tendency to date the work too late, despite
its close similarity to the Montoya, presumably arose from the deceptive fact that it first
appears, along with the busts of Maffeos mother (which was also dated too late), father, and
niece, in the 1627 inventory. I hereby emphatically retract the doubt I once expressed
whether the bust is completely autograph (review of Wittkower, in AB, 38, 1956, 259).
118
The displacement may be gauged by the view from beneath showing the position of
the shoulders in relation to the base.
119
On June 21, 1622, the painter Pompeo Caccini was paid for making a portrait of
Cepparelli, recalling the portrait of Coppola that had been painted by Cosimo Dandini
(Docs. 21, 5). Caccini, a Florentine, seems not to be otherwise documented in Rome
(Thieme-Becker, V, 338).
120
Cf. also Doc. 22c. An analogous case was that of Pompeo Caccinis portrait of
Cepparelli, for which Pompeos son collected the money and signed the receipt (Doc. 21b).
121
The pattern of Berninis prices for portraits should be noted: 50 scudi for that of
Coppola (1612) and those of Camilla Barbadori and Antonio Barberini (161920), 70 scudi
for that of Cepparelli.

266

last reference in the documents is that of 1634, quoted earlier, concerning


the installation of the terra-cotta models for the two portraits by Bernini
(Doc. 29).
In composing the bust of Cepparelli, Bernini seems to have had in mind
a portrait attributed to Nicol Cordier of a member of the Aldobrandini
family, in the Aldobrandini chapel in Santa Maria sopra Minerva (Fig.
56).122 The resemblance includes not only details of costume and composition, notably the leather vest and the cape flung asymmetrically from the
front of the left shoulder to the back of the right, but also the physiognomical structure of the head and the handling of features such as the eyelids and cheeks. The choice of this asymmetrical prototype is significant,
and in interpreting it Bernini brought into play and made explicit the innovations that had been hinted at in the busts of Montoya and Francesco Barberini. The myriad wrinkles in the drapery are smoothed and simplified.
The portion of the cape covering the left shoulder hangs in straight folds
that form an insistent diagonal down the side of the chest, recalling the
turned-back edges of Montoyas and Barberinis mantellette. The edge of the
cape visible above the right shoulder is bent up so that instead of creating a
closed outline it slices the air like a fin.123 The edge of the cape returns to
view, in the form of a bent fold that moves diagonally across the lower right
part of the chest. This motif is a descendant of the diagonal folds underlying the arms of Coppola and Vigevano; though here it appears through the
armpit and does not interrupt the wide-flaring, bow-shaped lower silhouette, it anticipates the sideward-streaming masses on which the busts of
Francesco dEste and Louis XIV seem to float. Cepparellis cape thus creates
a series of asymmetrical but counterbalancing diagonal accents that rotate
around his body. Within this halo of motion, the head is turned markedly
to the right and inclined downward, and the right shoulder is thrust forward, the left back.
The drapery arrangement and the suggestion of movement make it possible to discern what now became an important new source of inspiration
for Berninis portraiture. In both respects the Cepparelli bust reveals a close
study of Florentine portraits of the preceding century, especially those of
The attribution to Cordier is due to Riccoboni, 112. For the costume see also the bust
of Michele Cornia in Santa Maria in Aracoeli, also attributed to Cordier (Venturi, X, 3,
Fig. 544).
123
Cf. the turned-up folds of drapery behind the shoulders of Francesco dEste and
Louis XIV.
122

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

267

Benvenuto Cellini. In the famous bronze bust of Cosimo I deMedici in the


Bargello, the cloak similarly weaves from the front of the left shoulder
behind the back, and reappears in front at the lower right side (Fig. 57).124
The Florentines also had introduced an element of movement in their
busts, apart from the turn of the head, by showing one arm forward and the
other back.125 This, too, is a device that Bernini subsequently adopted,
though in radically altered form.126 It is important to observe, however, that
in the Barberini and Cepparelli busts there is no such overt action; the arms
hang vertically and nothing disturbs the figures ideal composure. On the
other hand, Bernini creates a more profound vitality by actually shifting the
relationship between the shoulders. And in the Cepparelli portrait he took
a giant step beyond even the bust of Monsignor Barberini in addition to
the displacement of the shoulders, the torso itself is rotated slightly to the
left. There are thus no straight axes, either in the horizontal or vertical
An analogous drapery arrangement occurs in Cellinis bust of Bindo Altoviti in the
Gardner Museum, Boston (see the illustrations in E. Camesasca, Tutta lopera del Cellini,
Milan, 1962, Pls. 66, 67).
Admittedly, it is difficult to assume that Bernini knew the Cosimo I bust firsthand, since
it was on the island of Elba from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century; however, a marble
replica attributed to Cellini himself has recently come to light (W. Heil, A Re-discovered
Marble Portrait of Cosimo I de Medici by Cellini, BurlM, 109, 1967, 4 ff.). The bust of
Altoviti was in Rome until the nineteenth century.
125
Cf. besides Cellini's portraits, that by Bandinelli of Cosimo I cited above, note 29. In
describing their busts of Cosimo, Cellini speaks of having given his lardito moto del vivo,
and Bandinelli of l moto suo . . . che distende uno braccio alu[n]chando la mano da pacifichare e popoli (quoted by Heikamp, 5758).
126
Moving arms occur first in the portraits of Urban VIII and Richelieu (cf: Wittkower,
1966, 14). In these cases it is the lower rather than the upper part of the arm that seems to
shift under the drapery; the device thus not only suggests movement, but also serves the illusionistic purpose of alluding to the lower extremities of the arms.
Berninis deep response to Florentine sixteenth-century sculpture in the early 1620s is
evident from the relationships, often noted, between his Neptune and Triton from the Villa
Montalto and Stoldo Lorenzis Neptune fountain in the Boboli garden; between the Rape of
Prosperine and Giambolognas Rape of the Sabines (though in fact Berninis direct source
seems to have been a small bronze Rape of Prosperine by Pietro da Barga in the Bargello); and
between the Apollo and Daphne and Battista Lorenzis Alpheus and Arethusa, now in The
Metropolitan Museum, New York. Cf. B. H. Wiles, The Fountains of the Florentine Sculptors
and Their Followers from Donatello to Bernini, Cambridge, Mass., 1933, 102; P. Remington,
Alpheus and Arethusa: A Marble Group by Battista Lorenzi, BMMA, 25, 1940, 61 ff.; I.
Lavin, Bozzetti and Modelli: Notes on Sculptural Procedure from the Early Renaissance
through Bernini, in Stil und berlieferung in der Kunst des Abendlandes. Akten des 21.
Internationalen Kongresses fr Kunstgeschichte in Bonn 1964, Berlin, 1967, III, 102.
124

268

planes. Perhaps for the first time in the history of the sculptured bust, the
whole body is conceived as if it were in motion. The figure has something
of the romantic air of a dashing cavalier. Yet, the movement is relaxed, and
the face, with its melancholy, world-weary expression (in his will Cepparelli
speaks of an illness with which he was afflicted)127 conveys the vaguely tragic
impression of a great reservoir of human energy that is past maturity.128
The final work we shall discuss is the portrait of Cardinal Roberto
Bellarmino in the Ges, which originally formed part of a large monument
placed in the apse of the church to the left of the main altar (Fig. 60). This
is one of the instances when the portrait was made by the young Bernini,
while the two flanking allegories were carved, partly or entirely, by the

Item: voglio che il Corpo mio morendo a Roma di questo male . . . (ASGF, Busta
606, Testament of Cepparelli, April 12, 1622, Not. B. Dinius, p. 3). On May 31, 1622, the
confraternity paid 3 scudi to Madonna Lena, a Bolognese, of the Inn at the Sign of the Cat,
where Cepparelli died (see note 7 above), for her services to him during his last illness:
. . . a ma lena bolognese Camera locanda alla gatta quanto lei ha da havere -p del q. Sig.r
Antonio Cepparelli metre stato in casa sua amalato, et -p tt.o servitio che lei pretende haverli
fatto nella malattia (ASGF205, middle of volume, 130 written on back).
128
Some further points concerning the Cepparelli bust should be noted. The form of the
cartouche on the base is close to that on the busts of Cardinal Dolfin, and more particularly,
because the ends are bent around the corners, to those of Cardinal de Sourdis, Francesco Barberini, and the early bust of Urban VIII (Wittkower, 1966, Pl. 32; also the disputed bust of
Antonio Barberini the elder, ibid., Fig. 30).
The surface of the Cepparelli bust has a gentle luster (somewhat marred by the discoloration caused by the coating of whitewash) that recalls the bust of Francesco Barberini and
looks forward to that of Cardinal Bellarmino. In this respect it is paralleled by that of Carlo
Antonio dal Pozzo recently rediscovered and published by Rinehart, 437 ff., though there,
to judge from photographs, the polish is more uniform. There is also a marked resemblance
in the physiognomies of the heads (Dal Pozzo had died in 1607); in the slightly parted lips;
in the treatment of hair, beards and collars; and in the shape of the silhouette. The two works
must be virtually contemporary.
The bulging pupils, which lend a powerful climax to the forward thrust of Cepparellis
head, have no real duplicates in Berninis portraits. He used rounded, convex pupils again in
various forms, however (Wittkower, 1966, Pls. 36, 61, 83, 91, Fig. 53). Instances of unique
or individualized treatment of the pupils are not unusual in Berninis work; e.g., the eyes of
Anchises and those of Gabriele Fonseca (ibid., Pls. 15,116).
A faintly incised line may be seen running vertically along the central axis at the back of
the Cepparelli bust (Fig. 61). It seems possible, especially in the absence of any horizontal or
vertical axes in the bust itself, that the incision served as a reference line for measurements
taken in the course of execution.
127

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

269

father and another assistant.129 When the apse of the Ges was renovated
toward the middle of the nineteenth century, the tomb was dismantled, a
door inserted, and the portrait given an entirely new framework; the allegorical figures were lost.130
It has heretofore been possible to date the portrait only within relatively
wide limits. Bellarmino died on September 17, 1621, and we know from a
contemporary dispatch that the monument was not unveiled until August
3, 1624.131 Documents in the Jesuit archive now make the situation clear,
and show that the portrait has a most remarkable history. In his testament
Bellarmino had expressed the wish to be buried without pomp in the common grave of his Jesuit brothers. The general of the order complied with the
wish, but only for one year, at the end of which time he ordered that the
famous jurist and theologian, who was renowned for his ascetic piety and
was already being proposed for canonization, be provided with a fitting
memorial. His body was exhumed on September 14, 1622, and resealed in
a casket of lead.132 A diary of the church subsequently records that on
129
Cf. Wittkower, 1966, 182, No. 15. Baglione, 305, attributes the allegories (Religion
and Wisdom) to Pietro without distinction. Baldinucci, 76, 177, and Domenico Bernini,
16, attribute Religion to Gianlorenzo. Passeri, 247, speaks generically of Giuliano Finelli as
Pietros assistant in the work on the tomb. Fioravante Martinelli, 68, describes the work as
follows (I include the marginal corrections in parentheses): La statua della Religione, e della
Sapienza figure in piedi di marmo intorno al deposito del Card. Roberto Bellarmino (et il
suo ritratto) sono di Pietro Bernino, e del Cav.r Gio. Lorenzo (suo figlio, ma una di d.e figure fu lavorato sotto di lui da giuliano finelli Carrarino).
A seventeenth-century drawing of the tomb in its original form survives (illus. in
Fraschetti, 35; Bruhns, Fig. 237). The tomb is faintly visible in the painting by Andrea
Sacchi of the interior of the Ges, now in the Museo di Roma (1639; Pecchiai, Pl. IX opp.
p. 88).
130
On the restoration, cf. Pecchiai, 210 ff.
In the diary of the work on the apse the following references to the allegories are found,
under the date August 1621, 1841: Disfatto il Monumento del Ven: Card. Bellarmino, e
il suo Busto con le due statue laterali portate nelloratorio della Compa della B. Morte
(ARSI5, fol. 1); Furono traslocate da d.o Oratorio al Magazzino di S. Venanzio le due statue
che ornavano il Mausoleo del Ven. Card.e Bellarmino (ibid., fol. 5). The church of San
Venanzio, which stood near Piazza Santa Maria in Aracoeli, was recently demolished (M.
Armellini, Le chiese di Roma dal secolo IV al XIX, Rome, 1942, 1, 675 ff.); 1 have found no
trace of the warehouse mentioned.
131
Pollak, I, No. 332. G. Gigli refers to the tomb in describing, ex post facto, the death
of Bellarmino and the decorations in the Ges for the canonization of saints Ignatius of
Loyola and Francis Xavier (March 1622; Diario Romano, ed. G. Ricciotti, Rome, 1958, 54,
59).
132
The story is first told in published form by Fuligatti, 347 ff. Cf. also ARSI1, 2, 3.

270

August 3, 1623, the new sepulchre was begun;133 Berninis portrait must
therefore have been made during the twelve-month period between that
date and the unveiling in August 1624.
The sources also shed considerable light on Berninis conception of the
portrait. When the corpse was exhumed in 1622 a careful account of the
event was kept. It records that the body was found in part undecayed; the
head and torso were preserved intact, along with the arms and hands.134 This
fact is of great significance because bodily incorruption was one of the
important signs of divine grace. The body was reinterred at once, that is,
before Berninis portrait was made. The casket remained unopened thereafter until the dismantling of the tomb in the nineteenth century. Again a
record was kept, and it states that when the body was exposed it was found
in cardinals garb and in the same pose that Bernini had given the figure.135
It is clear, therefore, that the peculiar cut and pose of Berninis portrait
long to the waist and including arms and hands in an attitude of prayer
were intended as a specific reference to the grace of incorruptibility that was
accorded the future saint.136 The pious gesture and worshipful expression are
also intended to dramatize Bellarminos saintliness, in death no less than in
life. Berninis portrait was thus conceived as an instrument of propaganda
in the Jesuit orders campaign to achieve canonization for one of its most
illustrious members.
From the stylistic point of view Bellarmino seems to epitomize the development we have been tracing. The vivid precision of the Montoya is there,
but as in the Cepparelli the edges are not quite so sharp, the transitions
easier and more relaxed. It is as though in this series of portraits pent-up
tensions had been released. The Bellarmino, indeed, presents a veritable
counterpoint of movement: the hands forward, body and head to the left,
and shoulders inclined. Bernini here takes up once more the lead provided
August 3, 1623: Si comincio la sepoltura del Card.e Bellarmino (ARSI4, fol. 43v).
Il corpo era parte intiero parte corrotto. Il capo et il busto erano intieri con gran parte
delle braccia et mani. Il rimanente erano ossa con de nervi . . . La sera vestito con tonicella
pianeta stola et mani polo di taffetta pavonazzo fu collocato in una cassa di cipresso con
fodera di piombo et posato a sepellire . . . (ARSI2; cf. Fuligatti, 348).
135
. . . entro cassa di piombo non sigillata venne riconosciuto con gli abiti Cardinalizi e
nellattegiamento che presenta il Busto di marmo che soprastava nella nicchia del d.o
Monumento (ARSI5, August 1621, 1841, fol. 2v). Cf. Pecchiai, 210.
136
Bellarmino was finally canonized only in 1930; for a recent bibliography and summary of the controversies concerning his views on the temporal authority of the pope, cf.
Lexikon fr Theologie und Kirche, Freiburg, 1957 ff., II, cols. 160 ff.
133

134

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

271

by the bust of Cardinal Pio da Carpi in Santa Trinit dei Monti (Fig. 5);
Bellarminos head and glance are inclined toward the worshiper approaching the choir from the crossing, while the joined hands are directed toward
the office taking place at the altar. At the same time, the motif of the
deceased shown in an attitude of prayer had a long prior history in sepulchral art; an example that Bernini certainly studied was the bust of Cardinal
Albani in Santa Maria del Popolo, where the hands are frontal while the
head turns toward the altar (Fig. 62).137 But Cardinal Pio, does not actually
worship, and Cardinal Albani has no relation to the observer.
Thus, Berninis figure is not intended simply as a didactic invitation to
the visitor, on the one hand, nor as a kind of figural equivalent of an
inscribed prayer, on the other. Rather, Bellarmino is shown in a specific and
intensely personal moment of spiritual communication.138 Traditions that
had served mainly to record the aspect of what was dead are fused in order
to recreate the spirit of what was once alive.
* * *
The material assembled here coincides with a natural phase of Berninis
career, that is, from its inception until the year 1621 when Maffeo
Barberini, as Pope Urban VIII, became his chief patron. Yet, the discussion
can in no sense lay claim to being a comprehensive treatment of his development during this period, if only because a number of the most important
works have been left out of account or mentioned but incidentally. I refer
especially to the series of monumental sculptures commissioned by
Scipione Borghese at the end of the second and the beginning of the third
decade, the chronology of which has been established by Faldi, and to the
papal portraits (Paul V and Gregory XV), concerning which I have nothing
to add to the fundamental investigations of Martinelli and Wittkower.
Thus, although the works we have discussed offer a spectacle of creativity,

137
By Giovanni da Valsoldo. Albani had died in 1591; the date of the monument, situated on the north face of the easternmost pier on the south side of the nave, is unknown.
Cf. Bruhns, 290.
138
In a sense, the Bellarmino portrait is a prelude to the crossing of St. Peters (on which
Bernini began working in June 1624), where the whole space is conceived as the site of a dramatic action taking place at the altar, to which the sculptured figures respond (I. Lavin,
Bernini and the Crossing of Saint Peters, New York, 1968.

272

probably without parallel in the history of art, by a youth between roughly


his tenth and twenty-fifth year, it should be borne in mind that we have
dealt with only a fragment of what he actually achieved.

Appendix of Documents
(Multiple versions of the same document have been listed alphabetically under the
same number.)
Bust of Antonio Coppola
1.

March 8, 1612 (AGSF651, fol. Iv):


Si paghi -p il casso di cera fatto -p la testa del do m. Ant.o Coppola di quattro
et che Piero Paulo Cavalti sia con il sr Fran.o Ticci -p far fare al bernino scultore la testa di Marmo del detto m. Ant.o Coppola da mettersi nel'spedale.

2.

Ju1y 16, 1612 (ibid., fol. 2v):


Fu fatto un mandato di pagare a
Bernini scultore di pagare quello
che deve havere -p la testa di marmo di m. Ant.o Coppola e fu fatto il mandato
in bianco, e fu dato ordine al sr Andrea Pasquali che sia con il Sr Franc.o Ticci,
che veda di far pagar meno che si puo.

3.

August 4, 1612 (ASGF430, p. 49 right):


E deve Dare addi 4 di Agosto quattro di m.ta pag. franco Scachi -p tant.
pag.to -p Il s.r Ticci Cesare Rugg.r -p sua mercede -p Havere fatto Il Capo
di gesso della testa del detto qlll Ant Coppola _________________ 4

4a.

August 10, 1612 (ibid.):


E Addi 10 di Agosto Cinquanta di m.ta Pag.ti Pietro Bernini scultore e -p
suo ordine s.r ticci porto franc.o Scachi cont. -p Intera Valuta della testa di
Marmo della Detta B. M. -p tenere nel spedale _________________ 50

4b.

August 10, 1612 (ASGF, Busta 369, Entrata et Uscita 1606 1624,
Part 2, p. 19):

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

273

Adi 10 di agosto 1612 Pagati a m. pietro bernini e per lui tiro contanti a
francescho schachi loro cassiere schudi Cinquanta -p la valuta di una testa di
marmo fatta -p la B memoria di m. antonio Coppola ______________ 50
5a.

September 3, 1612 (ASG F-205, before middle of volume):


Adi 3 di Sett.re 1612. in Roma. M. Gio: Franc.o Giannozzi Camarlingo del
N'ro Hospitale Pagherete m. Cosimo Dandini Pittore di cinque di m.ta -p
l'intiera valuta del ritratto del N'ro M. Ant.o Coppola che con sua ric.ta
saranno ben pag.ti e Poneteli al conto solito Dio vi guardi di cinque di mta
And.a Pasquali Dep.to
Ascanio sordonati Dep.to
Io Cosimo dandini sopd.to ho ricevuto
li detti cinque scudi di 14 di set 1612 Cosimo dandini Mano -p-p a

5b.

September 14, 1612 (ASGF430, p. 49 right):


E Addi 14 detto cinque di mta pagti Cosimo dandini Pittore -p cont.
-p Valuta del Ritratto fatto della detta B. M. __________________ 5

6a.

November 16, 1615 (ASGF205, toward middle of volume):


Misura dl epitafio fatto nel spedale di saa Gio: dela natione fioreetina da
mro Simone Castelli long pl 4 3/4 alto pl 41/2 fa pl 211/4 agiuli 4 il po monta
_____________________________________________________ 840
-P aver intagliato litere n.o 225 a b 4 luna mota ____________________ 9
Somma in tutt.o scudi dicisette b quaranta ___________________ 1740
Filippo Breccioli mu -p-p
Ha hauto abo coto da me Seb.no Guidi -p 1 . . . fatta all'hospitale delle
. . . di 1615 ____________________________________________880
[verso]
M. franc.o Rochi nr.o Camarl.o pagharete a m. Simone Castelli Scarpellino
sedici b 80 m.t se li fanno pag.re -p pagmto -p l'epitaffio e altro conforme il retroscritto Conto che con sua ricta vi si farano . . . Adi 16 di 9bre 1615
Camo del Palagio deput.us
Arcagelo Cavalcati dep.to
[illegible signaturel . . . proved.re
io simone castello o ricuto scudi sedici e baiochi otota quali . . . saldi del retroscrito io simone castelo mano propria questo di 12 dicembre 1615

274
6b.

December 1, 1615 (ASGF651, fol. 19):


fu fatto maad.to di pag.re a m. Simone Castelli scarpell.o sedici b otanta
to
1e
o
-p pagm. -p l'epitaffio et altro conforme il conto sotto il q. fattoli il md
____________________________________________________ 1680

7.

May 10, 1634: see Doc. 29 below.

Four Cherubs for the Barberini Chapel


8a.

February 5, 1618 (BVAB8, p. XLII):


Sig.r Ruberto Primo Piaccia a V.S. pag.re a m. Pietro Bernino Scultore Scudi
Settanta cinque m.ta Sono -p a buon conto di quattro putti di Marmo che mi
deve fare -p Serv.o della mia Cappella di Sant Andrea della Valle ______ 75

8b.

February 5, 1618 (BVAB9, p. 104):


Pietro Bernino Scultore deve dare Addi 5 di Febbro di Settanta cinque m.ta
pag.ti con mand.o diretto al Sig.r Ruberto Primo -p a buon conto della fattura
di quattro putti di Marmo bianco che mi fa -p Serv.o della mia Cappella di
Sant Andrea della Valle _____________________________________ 75

8c.

February 5, 1618 (ibid., p. CI):


E addi 5 di Febb.ro di Settentacinque m.ta pag.ti a Pietro Bernino Scultore -p a
buon conto di quattro putti che fa di Marmo -p Serv.o della mia Cappella di
Sant Andrea della Valle _____________________________________ 75

9a.

February 7, 1618 (BVAB5, No. 80):


Havendo io Pietro Bernino Scultore et Statuario habitante In Roma, convenuto et pattuito con L'III.mo Sig.r Card.le Barberino, di farli quattro putti di
mio marmo popio Bianco nuovo, che devono andare, sopra li frontespitij
delle -p te laterali della Sua Cappella di Sant Andrea della Valle, li quali quattro putti devono essere di altezza di palmi cinque l'uno Inc.a Et a questo fine,
essendo da me di gi stato fatto li Modelli di Terra di detti quattro putti, Nudi
con alcuni Suolazzi di panni, etc. Di qui, che io Pietro Bernino, Sud.to
pometto di fare et fornire di mia mano et di mano di Gio: Lorenzo mio fig.lo
-p tutto Giugno Milleseicento-dicianove li detti quattro putti, et mi obligo che
sieno lustrati et finiti con ogni diligentia, et -p che li Sud.i Modelli di Terra
non Sono ridotti all'Intera perfettione, ne Studiato nella forma che Si

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

275

Studiera nel farli di Marmo, pometto di pfetionarli In ogni miglior forma, et


lavoro rivisto da periti da Elegiersi da d.o III.mo Sig.r Card.le et
Contrafacendo, quanto di Sopra et agiudicandosi da periti non ess.re l'opera
conforme alla Sud.a pomessa, volgio essere Tenuto ad ogni danno et Interesse,
che S. S.III.ma ne potessi patire, ne havessi patito, et di piu mi obligo ancora
di far Condurre li sud.l quattro putti di Marmo a mie popie Spese nella Sud.a
Sua Cappella di Sant Andrea della valle, et assistere a quelli artefici che li
Collocheranno Sopra li frontespitij delle -p te laterali della Sud.a Cappella,
accio venghino, posare agiustam.te et bene. Et -p pezzo de sud.i quattro putti
ho ric.to da S. S. Ill.ma un pezzo di Marmo bianco Statuario di dua Carrettate
Incirca, et di piu mi doverra dare Scudi Centosettantacinque di mta di g.li dieci
do
to
ma
-p . a Conto delli quali questo giorno, ne ho ric. da S. S. Ill. un Mandato
r
ta
diretto al Sig. Ruberto Primo di Scudi Settantacinque m. et il restante che
sono scudi Cento m.ta mi doverranno essere da S. S. Ill.ma liberam.te et Senza
eccettione alcuna pagati ogni volta che io li dia finiti et pfetionati li Sud.i
quattro putti di Marmo et -p osservatione di quanto di sopra, detto, mi
obligo In forma Camere etc. questi di 7 di febbraro 1618 In Roma
Io pietro bernini Affermo prometto mi obligo e giuro di osservarequanto di
sopra si contiene et in fede del vero o di mia propria mano sottoscritto la presente qstto di e anno suddetto lo pietro bernini mano propria.
9b.

February 7, 1618 (BVAB10, fol. 2):


Nota che si e fatto una scritta con Pietro Bernino Scultore, che faccia quattro
putti di Marmo Bianco Novo del Suo -p-prio -p metterli in su li frontespitij delle -p
te laterali della Cappella di Sant Andrea della Valle alti palmi Cinque quali li deve
dare finiti -p tutto Giugno 1619 et li deve dar Condi a Sue spese Inda Cappella,
et -p pezzo si e Convenuto darli un pezzo di Marmo Bianco di dua Carrettate Inca
et di pui Scudi Cento Settantacinque m.ta a Conto de quali se li e consegnato un
Mando di 75 diretto al Sig.r Ruberto Primo et li altri Scudi Cento Se li
doverranno pagre come dia finiti li Sudi quattro putti di Marmo bianco. [In margin] Roma Fatti detti putti et Collocati nella Capella dove andavano.

10a. February 21, 1618 (BVAB8, p. 43):


A Pietro Bernini Scultore Scudi ventinove mta buoni a Spese che Si fanno in
fabricare et ornare una Cappella In Sant Andrea della Valle. Sono -p la meta
di di 58 m.ta che costo un pezzo di Marmo bianco di quattro Carrettate Inc.a
che fu Compo da m. Gio: Bellucci fattore della fabrica di San Pietro fino
sotto di il 11 Agosto 1611 del qal Marmo della Meta ne fu fatto la Statua di
Mons.re Fran.co Barberini da m. Cristofano Stati Braccianese et l'altra meta fu
cond.o a Casa dell' Ill.mo Sig.r Card.le Barberino, il quale Si e poi Conseg.to al

276
Sud.o m. Pietro a Conto di quattro putti di Marmo Bianco che mi deve fare
o
a
-p Serv. della Sud. Cappella _________________________________ 29
10b. February 21, 1618 (BVAB-9, p. CIII):
E addi d.o [February 21, 1618] di Ventinove m.ta che tanto si Valuta un pezzo
di Marmo bianco Statuario che si e Consegnato a Pietro Bernino Scultore et
e la meta di un pezzo di Marmo Grande di quat-tro carettate In circa che fu
compo da Gio: Bellini fattore della fabrica di San Pietro -p di 58 m.ta fino
Sotto li 11 di Ag.o 1611 ____________________________________ 29
10c. February 21, 1618 (ibid., p. 104):
E addi 21 do [February] di ventinove m.ta che tanto Si valuta un pezzo di
Marmo bianco Statuario di dua Carrettate In Circa consegnatoli
[ie. Pietro Bernini] qui In Casa che lo fece -ptare a Casa Sua _________ 29
11a. May 28, 1618 (BVAB8, P. L):
Sig.r Ruberto Primo Piaccia a V. S. pag.re a m. Pietro Bernino Scultore Scudi
Cinquanta m.ta Sono -p a buon conto delli quattro putti di Marmo bianco che
mi fa -p Serv.o della mia Cappella di Sant Andrea della Valle _________ 50
11b. May 28, 1618 (BVAB9, p. 104):
E addi 28 Magio di Cinquanta mta pag.li con Mandato diretto al s.r Ruberto
Primo _________________________________________________ 50
11c. May 28, 1618 (ibid., p. CVX):
E addi d.o [May 28] di Cinquanta m.ta pag.ti a Pietro Bernino Scultore -p a
buon conto di quattro putti di Marmo bianco che mi fa -p Serv.o della mia
Cappella di Sant' Andrea della Valle ___________________________ 50
12a. July 7, 1618 (BVAB8, p. LII):
Sig.ri Provisori del Sacro Monte di Pieta piacera alle Sig.rtie v'rePag.re a m.
Pietro Bernino Scultore Statuario Scudi Cinquanta mta Sono -p resto del pezzo
con lui Convenuto di quattro Putti di Marmo bianco che mi ha fatto et fattoli Condurre a Sue Spese conforme a che era obligato nella mia Cappella di
Sant Andrea della Valle quali Sono Stati Collocati Sopa li Fronte Spitij delle
-p te laterali della detta Cappella _______________________________ 50

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

277

12b. July 7, 1618 (BVAB9, p. 104):


Addi 7 di Lug.o di Cinq.ta m.ta pag.li con mand.o diretto al Sacro Monte di
Pieta -p re.to delli Sud.i quattro putti di Marmo bianco, che ha fatti et fatti condurre nella mia Cappella di Sant Andrea della Valle, quali sono Stati Collocati
Sopa li Fronte Spitij delle -pte laterali della detta Cappella ___________ 50
12c. July 7, 1618 (ibid., p. CXXV):
E addi 7 d.o [July] di Cinquanta m.ta pag.ti a m. Pietro Bernino Scultore -p re.o
del pezzo di quattro putti di Marmo che ha fatto -p Serv.o della mia Cappella
di Santo Andrea della Valle __________________________________ 50
12d. (July 7, 1618) (ibid., p. 103):
E di Dugentoquattro m.ta buoni a m. Pietro bernino Scultore Sono
-p pezzo delli quattro putti di Marmo bianco che sono Sop
- a le -p te
laterali della Sud.a Capella che posano Sop
- a li Fronte Spitij di esse
-p te __________________________________________________ 204
(Summary of previous payments.)
12e. (July 7, 1618) (ibid., p. CIIII):
Pietro Bernino di contro deve Hav.re Scudi Dugentoquattro m.ta Sono -p pezzo
di quattro putti di Marmo Bianco che ha fatti et Collocati nella mia Capella
di Sant' Andrea della Valle Sop
- a li Fronte Spitij delle -p te laterali ____ 204
(Summary of previous payments)
13.

October 19, 1618 (ibid., p. 103):


Addi 19 di Ottobre di Uno b 90 m.ta buoni a m. Fausto Poli m'ro di Casa
pag.ti alli che hanno messo li perni et spanghe che tengono li Sud.i 4 putti
______________________________________________________ 1.90

14.

December 22, 1618 (ibid.):


Addi 22 Xbre di Uno b 771/2 m.ta pag.ti con mando diretto al Sacro Monte di
Pieta a m'ro Antonio Lucatelli ferraro -p otto Spanghe di ferro, che ha date
1
-p tenere li quattro putti di Marmo messi Sop
- a le -pte laterali ______ 1.77 /2

15.

December 31, 1618 (ibid.):


E addi 31 d.o [December] di Sei M.ta buoni a m'ro Bat'ta Scala

278
Muratore Sono -p havre messo In opera li Sudi quattro putti di Marmo bianco
________________________________________________________ 6
16.

April 26, 1619: See Doc. 17a, below.

Busts of Camilla Barbadori and Antonio Barberini


17a. April 26, 1619 (BVABII, p. 5):
Sig.ri Provisori del Sacro Monte di Pieta Piacera alle Sig.rie v're Pag.re a mr Gio:
Lorenzo bernino Scultore Scudi Cinquanta m.ta Sono -p una Testa di Marmo
bianco che mi ha fatto della B. M. della Sig.ra Camilla mia Madre. quale la
deve far Condurre a Sue Spese nella mia Cappella di Sant Andrea della Valle
o
-p Collocarla nel Luogho che li Sara destinato et Sono ancora -p rs di tutti li
re
lavori che mi possi hav. fatto Insieme con Suo padre fino a q.to giorno
_______________________________________________________ 50
17b. April 26, 1619 (BVAB12, p. XXXVII):
E addi 26 do [April] sdi Cinquanta m.ta pag.ti a Gio: Lorenzo Bernino Scultore
ra
-p una Testa della B. M. della Sig. Camilla mia Madre che mi ha fatto
_______________________________________________________ 50
17c. (April 26, 1619) (ibid., p. 40):
Una Testa di Marmo Bianco della B. M. della Sig.ra Camilla mia madre In
mano a Gio: Lorenzo Bernino deve dare Addi 26 di Aprile di Cinquanta M.ta
pag.ti con mand.o diretto al Sacro Monte di Pieta al Sud.o Gio: Lorenzo
Bernino Scultore Sono -p pezzo di detta Testa di Marmo che mi ha fatto, qale
la deve far Condurre a Sue spese nella mia Cappella di Sant Andrea della Valle
-p Collocarla nel luogho che li Sara destinato _____________________ 50
18a. February 22, 1620 (BVAB11, p. 14):
Sig.ri Provisori del Sacro Monte di Pieta piacera alle Sig.rie v're Pag.re a m. Gio:
Lor.zo Bernino Scultore Scudi Cinquanta m.ta Sono -p pezzo d'una Testa di
Marmo Bianco che mi ha fatto della B. M. del Sr Ant.o mio P're qale la deve
far condurre a Sue Spese nella mia Cappella di Sant Andrea della Valle et
Collocarla nel Luogho che li Sara destinato ______________________ 50

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

279

18b. February 22, 1620 (BVAB12, p. 40):


o
E addi 22 di Febraro di 50 m.ta pag.ti con mand.o diretto come Sop
- a al Sud.
r
o
-p una Testa di Marmo bianco della B. M. del s. Ant. Mio Pre quale deve far
condurre come Sop
- a _______________________________________ 50

18c. February 22, 1620 (ibid., p. LIIII):


E addi do [February 22] di Cinquanta M.ta pag.ti a Gio: Lor.zo Bernino
Scultore -p la Testa di Marmo bianco della B. M. del S.r Anti mio P're che mi
ha fatto _________________________________________________ 50
19.

March 31, 1629: Payment for yellow marble bases; see note 95, above.

Bust of Antonio Cepparelli


20.

April 23, 1622 (ASGF651, fol. 57 right):


E pi si faccia fare una statua di marmo co inscrittione a detto s. Ant. e mettere nello spedale come quella del Coppola, e fu detto al s. Girolamo Ticci
che ne parlassi al Bernino scultore che si facessiquanto p.a

21a. June 21, 1622 (ibid., fol. 58 right):


A Popeo Caccini pittore -p il ritratto del s. Ant. Cepparelli bo: me: ____ 6
21b. June 21, 1622 (ASGF-205, middle of volume):
Mag.eo m. Santi Vannini no Camarlengho piacere pagare m. Pompeo
Caccini pittore scudi sei mt.a quali sono -p prezzo del ritratto del s. Ant.o
Cepparelli bo: me: che co una riceuta saranno ben pagati dal nro spedale li 21
di Giugno 1622 6
Horatio Falconiere Sup.o
joorlando Cosini di put.o
Io Jaco Caccini ho riceu.to
li sopra detti danari -p il
Sud.o Pompeo mio padre
22a. August 7, 1622 (ASGF651, fol. 60 left):
Al s. Cav.re Gilorenzo bernini -p a bon conto della statua che deve fare del s.
Ant.o Cepperelli in marmo fu fatto m.to _________________________ 25

280
22b. August 7, 1622 (ASGF205, middle of volume):
Mag.eo m. Santi Vannini nr Camarlengho piacere al S.r Cav.re Gio: lorenzo
bernini scudi venticinque mta. quali sono a bon conto della testa di marmo
che deve fare del ritratto del S.r Ant.o Cepperelli che con una riceuta saranno
ben pagati Dal Nr Cong.e li 7 di Agto 1622 ____________________25mta
Hor Salco n sup.re
Fran.co Scacchi Depto
Domenico Migliari De Putato
Seb.no Guidi p.re
[verso]
Io pietro bernini scultore ricieuto li detti scudi venticinq.e contanti oggi li 13
d'agosto in fede o scritto la precedente di mano -p-p a
Io pietro bernini mano propria
22c. September 24, 1622 (ASGF430, p. CX):
E adi 24 di 7bre venticinque di mta pag.ti con mando a m. Pietro schultore
-p la testa fatta di Marmo ____________________________________ 25
23a. December 23, 1623 (ASGF651, fol. 64 right):
Al do [Sebastiano Guidi] scudi quaranta cinque fattili pagare da Ticci al Cav.re
bernini -p la statua di marmo fatta del s. Ant.o Cepparelli benefattore e messo
nello spedale sono -p resto _________________________________ 45
23b. December 23, 1623 (ASGF205, toward middle of volume):
Mag.eo Lorenzo Cavotti nr.o Cam.o piacere pagare a m Sebno Guidi nr Provre
scudi quaranta cinque tali fattli pagare da Ticci al s. Cavre Bernini -p la statua
di marmo fatta a Sr Ant. Cepparelli e posto nel nostro spedale -p memoria del
benefitio havuto da lui che con rict.o saranno ben pagati Dal Nr Cong.r li 23
di Xbre 1623
45 -p resto
Piero Landi, deput.to
no
Io Seb. Guidi ho
rito quanto sopra
Seb.no Guidi Prov.re
23c. December 23, 1623 (ASGF430, p. 118):
E adi detto [December 23, 1623] quarantacinque m.ta -p resto della statua
fatta di d.o Ceparello _______________________________________ 45

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

281

Bust of Pietro Cambi


24.

January 2, 1629 (ASGF207, near beginning of volume):


M. Santi Vannini no Camarl. pag.te al m.o Pomp.o ferucci scudi dodici di m.ta
quali seli fanno pag.re a buon conto della testa di Marmero fatta -p Mettere nel
n.o sped.le -p Memoria del q. Pietro Cambi Beneffattore, che con Riceuta ne
darete deb.to a d.a Redita dal d luogo il di 2 di Genaro 1629 in Roma 12 m.ta
Antonio Resti dept.o
io pompeo ferrucci oriceuti li sopradetti iscudi dodici
questo di detto
io pompeo mano -p-p
Carlo Aldobrandi scr.

25.

July 17, 1629 (ibid., near beginning of volume):


M. Santi Vannini fornaro nro Camarl. pag.te al m. Pompeo ferrucci scultore
scudi Quindici m.ta seli fanno pag.re buonc.to della testadi marmero che fa -p
la Memoria del q. pietro Cambi B. M. -p mettere nell'no sped.le In
Confformita dello Stabilim.to fatto dalla Cgn'e il
di del pass.to che con
o
riceuta ne darete debito alla sua Redita, dal d. luogo il di 17 di Luglio 1629
in Roma
15 Mta
Ant. Rest Depto
Lorenzo Cavotti De putato
io pompeo ferrucci o ricieuto li sopradetti iscudi quidici questo di detto
io pompeo ferrucci mano -p-p a
Carlo Aldobrandi scr.

26.

December 1, 1629 (ibid., near beginning of volume):


M. Santi Vannini fornaro no Camarl pag.te al m.o Pompeo feruci scudi dieci
di m.a quali sel fano pag.re a buon conto della testa di Marmero che fa del q.
Pietro Cambi -p mettere nel no sped.le che con riceut. ne darete debito al
Conto della sua Redita, dal d Spedle Il di pro di Xbre 1629 In Roma
10 Mta
Ant.o Resti depto
lorenzo Cavotti Deputato
Io pompeo ferruci oricieuto li sopradetti iscudi dieci a buo conto de ritratto
questo di di 14 di dicembre 1629
Io pompeo ferruci mano -p-p
Carlo Aldobrandi scr.

282
27.

March 7, 1630 (ibid., near begnning of volume):


M. Santi Vannini fornaro no Camarl. pag.te all mo Pompeo ferucci scultore
dieci di m.ta quali seli fanno pag.re -p resto della testa di Marmero fatta del q.
Pietro Cambi messa nel no sped.le che c Ri-ceuta ne darete debito alla detta
Redita dal d spd.le il di 7 di Marzo 1630 In Roma
10 mta
Fran.co Scacchi Depto
io pompeo ferruci o ricieuto li sopradetti iscud dieci di moneta -p resto come
sopra questo di lo daprile 1630 io pompeo ferrucci mano -p -pa
Carlo Aldobrandi scriv.

28.

May 8, 1630 (ibid., near beginning of volume):

M. Santi Vannini no fornaro no Camarl pag.te mo Simone Castelli


scarpellino Cinque di mo.ta quali seli fanno pagare -p una pietra di Marmo
longa p.mi 31/2 larga pi 17/12 grossa 1/3 c lt'e intagliate Messa nel n'ro spedale
sotto la testa di Marmo del q. Pietro Cambi cosi daco con il S. Sebbastiano
Guidi che c riceuta ne darete deb.o a spesa di d.a Eredita di d Cambi, dal nro
sped.le il di 8 di Maggio 1630 In Roma
5 Mta
Fran.co Scacchi deptto
Felice Sellori deputato
Io Simone Castelo orecuto li sopra scriti scudi cinque per sado di deta pietra
chome di sopra li deti dinari pagarete a francesco osalano che sarano bene
pagati se co altra receputa questo di 17 Maggio 1630
io simone castelo mane propria
Carlo Aldobrandi scr.
Models of Busts by Bernini
29.

May 10, 1634 (ibid., slip numbered 1648 for year 1634):
M. Santi Vannini fornaro nro Camarl. pag.te a Alessandro Bracci
falegniame dua b 60 quali sono -p pg.to del pn'te Conto delle basse
Inpernature di ferro et altro fatte -p Mantenim.to delle due teste di Creta fatte
di Mano del Bernino, che si tengono sotto lo spedale, che con ricevuta ne
darete deb.o a spesa straord., dal d.o lugo il x Maggio 1634

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

283

Bibliography of Frequently Cited Sources


Baglione, C., Le vite de' pittori scultori et architetti, Rome, 1642, facs. ed.V. Mariani,
Rome, 1935.
Baldinucci, F., Vita del Cavaliere Gio. Lorenzo Bernino, Florence, 1682, ed. S.
Ludovici, Milan, 1948.
Bernini, D., Vita del Cav. Giovan Lorenzo Bernino, Rome, 1713.
Bottineau, Y., L'Art de cour dans l'Espagne de Philippe V 17001742, Bibliothque
de l'cole des hautes-tudes hispaniques, 29, Bordeaux, 1960.
Bruhns, L., Das Motiv der ewigen Anbetung in der rmischen Grab-plastik des
16., 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts, RmJbK, 4, 1940, 255 ff.
Chantelou, P. Frart de, Journal du voyage du Cavalier Bernin en France, Paris, 1885.
Ciaconius, A., Vitae et res gestae pontificum romanorum, Rome, 1677.
Faldi, I., Galleria Borghese. Le sculture dal secolo XVI al XIX, Rome, 1954.
, Note sulle sculture borghesiane del Bernini, BdA, 38, 1953, 140 ff.
Fernndez Alonso J., Santiago de los Espaoles y la Archiconfrada de la Santsima
Resurreccin de Roma hasta 1754, Anthologica Annua, Publicaciones del
Instituto Espaola de estudios eclesiasticos, 8, 1960, 279 ff.
Forcella, V., Iscrizioni delle chiese e d'altri edificii di Roma dal secolo XI fino ai giorni
nostri, Rome, 1869 ff., 15 vols.
Fraschetti, S., Il Bernini, Milan, 1900.
Fuligatti, C., Vita del Cardinale Roberto Bellarmino, Rome, 1624.
Grisebach, A., Rmische Portrtbsten der Gegenreformation, Leipzig,
1936.
Heikamp, D., In margine alla Vita di Baccio Bandinelli del Vasari, Paragone,
1966, No. 191, 51 ff.
Hibbard, H., Bernini, Baltimore, 1965.
Martinelli, Fioravante, Roma ornata dall'Architettura, Pittura, e Scoltura, c. 1662,
Rome, Bibl. Casanatense, MS 4984.
Martinelli, V., Contributi alla scultura del seicento: I. Francesco Mochi a Roma,
Commentari, 2, 1951, 224 ff.
, Novit berniniane: I. Un busto ritrovato: la Madre d'UrbanoVIII;
2. Un Crocifisso ritrovato?, Commentari, 7, 1956, 23 ff .
, I ritratti di pontefici di G. L. Bernini, Quaderni di storia dell'arte, 3, Istituto di
Studi Romani, Rome, 1956.
Muoz, A., Il padre del Bernini. Pietro Bernini scultore (15621629), Vita dArte,
4, 1906, 425 ff.
Passeri, G. B., Die Knstlerbiographien von Giovanni Battista Passeri, ed.
J. Hess, Vienna, 1934.
Pastor, L. von, The History of the Popes, London, 1923 ff., 40 vols.
Pecchiai, P., Il Ges di Roma, Rome, 1952.
Pollak, O., Die Kunstttigkeit unter Urban VIII, Vienna, 192831, 2 vols.

284
Pope-Hennessy, J., Italian High Renaissance and Baroque Sculpture, London, 1963,
3 vols.
Reinhart, S., A Bernini Bust at Castle Howard, BurIM, 109, 1967, 437 ff.
Reymond, M., Les sculptures du Bernin Bordeaux, Revue de l'art ancien et moderne, 35, 1914, 45 ff.
Riccoboni, A., Roma nell'arte. La scultura nell'evo moderno dal quattrocento ad oggi,
Rome, 1942.
Rufini, E., S. Giovanni de' Fiorentini, Le Chiese di Roma illustrate, No. 39, Rome,
1957.
Siren, O., Nicodemus Tessin d.y:s Studieresor, Stockholm, 1914.
Wittkower, R., Bernini studies II: The Bust of Mr. Baker, BurIM, 95, 1953,
19 ff.
, Gian Lorenzo Bernini: The Sculptor of the Roman Baroque, 2nd ed., London,
1966.

List of Abbreviations
AIEE:

ARSI:
1.

2.
3.
4.
5.
ASGF:

Archivo Instituto Espaol de estudios eclesiasticos


Busta 1191: Congreg.nes generales y Particul. desde el Ao de 1616 hasta
el Ao de 1627
Busta 635: Diverso Instrumentos original: que estan extendidos en el
Lib. A desde el num.o 101 hasta el n.o 150
Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu
Archivio della Postulazione Generale, Atti concernenti Santi,Beati,
Venerabili e S.S. di Dio, fasc. 499, int. I. Relatione dell'Infermit, e
morte dell'Illmo Sig.r Card.e Bellarmino scritta dal P. Minutoli all'Illmo
Sig.r Card.e Farnese 23 Nov. 1621.
Idem., fasc. 500, int. 2. (Untitled description of the exhumation of
Bellarmino's body written September 14, 1622, by Giacomo Fuligatti.)
Idem., fasc. 502. Deposiz.e del Fr. Gius.e Finali d.a Comp.a fatta nel Proc.
Aplico di Roma li 14 Giug.o 1627. (Cf. p. 115.)
Hist. Soc. 23. Diarii 16101655.
Fondo Gesuitico, Busta 1227, fasc. 4. No. 82-I-9. (Diary of the nineteenth-century restorations.)
Rome, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, Archivio della Confraternita della
Piet
Busta 205. Filza de'Mandati e Registri degli Esattori 16061628
Busta 207. Filza de'Mandati e Ricapiti degl' Esattori Dal Numo 9 al
Num. 13. Dall'Anno 1629 al 1641
Busta 430. Libro Mastro 16061624

FIVE EARLY BERNINIS

ASR:
BLF:
BV:
BVAB:
1.

2.

3.

4.
5.
6.

285

Busta 651. Cong.ni 16121613


Archivio di Stato, Rome
Biblioteca Laurenziana, Florence
Biblioteca Vaticana, Rome
Biblioteca Vaticana, Archivio Barberini
Arm. 155. . . . Inventarij . . . della Guardarobba dell'Ill.mo S.r Cardinale
[Francesco] Barberini . . . cominciato alli 10. Decembre 1626. e finito alli
15 Gennaro 1627. da Federigo Soleti computista. (Entries continued to
be made in this volume through 1631.)
Ind. II, Cred. V, Cas. 67, Mazz. LXXXII, Lett. I, No. 3. Inventario delle
statue et altre robbe che si ritruovano oggi nel Antigaglia Del Emm.o Sig.
Cardinale Francesco Barbberino amministrate da me Nicolo Menghini
(The listings in this volume begin on March 25, 1632; since the section
on fol. 7v in which Bernini sculptures are mentioned is not otherwise
dated, they were presumably entered at that time. Entries continued
through 1640. Another copy: Ind. II, Cred. VI, Cas 77, Mazz. CIII, Lett.
O, No.56.)
Ind. II, Cred. V. Cas. 80, Mazz. CIX, Lett. P, No. 96. Statue di marmo
riconosciute dall' Em.mo Sig.r Card.le Fran.co Barberini nel Palazzo alle
Quattro Fontane -p proprie dell' Ecc.mo Sig.r Prn'pe Prefetto parte in una
Stanza Terrina, e parte nelle stanze della Galleria di d.o Palazzo alla pza
del Sig.r Auditore Matthia Nardini, del S.r Piersimone Marinucci, del S.r
Nicolo Menghini, e d'altri qsto di 12 Giugno 1651.
Arm. 155. Inventario della Guardarobba dell' Eminmo Sig.r Card. Carlo
Barberini 1692
Ind. II, Cred. IV, Cas. 50, Mazz. LI, Lett. D (Miscellaneous docu-ments
concerning the Barberini chapel in Sant'Andrea della Valle.)
Arm. 2, Cardinal Maffeo, Giornale di entrate ecclesiastiche A,
16081625
Ibid., Cardinal Maffeo, Libro di entrate ecclesiastiche A, 160814
Ibid., Cardinal Maffeo, Giornale di entrate ecclesiastiche B, 161519
Ibid., Cardinal Maffeo, Libro di entrate ecclesiastiche B, 161518
Ibid., Cardinal Maffeo, Libro di ricordi D, 161723
Ibid., Cardinal Maffeo, Giornale di entrate ecclesiastiche C, 161923
Ibid., Cardinal Maffeo, Libro di entrate ecclesiastiche C, 161923
Biblioteca Vaticana, Archivo Segreto

7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
BVAS:
BVASABL:
Biblioteca Vaticana, Archivio Segreto Archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi
GFN: Gabinetto Fotografico Nazionale (Rome)

286

Addenda
Doc. 3bis

August 4,1612 (ASGF369, Part 2, p. 19):


Pagati al sigr francescho schachi schudi quattro -p francescho ticci quali
sono -p il Casso di gesso della testa del sig.r antonio Coppola __ 74

Doc. 22d.

September 24, 1622 (ibid., facing p. 63):


e piu a di 24 di 7 bre pagato venti cinque a m. pietro schultore
come a parte -p uno mandato __________________________ 25

Doc. 23d.

December 23,1623 (ibid., p. 68):


Al detto scudi quaranta cinque per resto de la statua fatta al s.antonio
cepereli ___________________________________________ 45

VI

Berninis Death

REMARKABLE picture of Berninis death emerges from the biographies by Filippo Baldinucci and the artists son, Domenico. They mention two works of art in this connection. One is Berninis Sangue di Cristo
composition engraved by Franois Spierre, which can be dated to the year
1670 (Fig. 1). The Crucified Christ is shown with the Virgin, God the
Father and a host of angels, suspended above a sea formed by the blood
pouring from His wounds. Two texts referring to the blood of Christ are
inscribed at the bottom of the print, one from Pauls Epistle to the Hebrews,
The blood of Christ, who offered himself without spot to God, will purge
our conscience, the other from St. Maria Madalena de Pazzi, I offer you,
eternal Father, the blood of the incarnate word; and if anything is wanting
in me I offer it to you, Mary, that you may present it to the eternal Trinity.
The second work is a bust of the Savior, the last sculpture by Berninis hand.
He began it in his eightieth year in 1679, and willed it to his friend and
patron, Queen Christina of Sweden (cf. Figs. 914). It was more than lifesize (103 cm. high) and represented Christ with His right hand slightly
raised, as if in the act of blessing. Bernini evidently attached particular
importance to this divine simulacrum, which he called his favorite and to
which he devoted all the forces of his Christian piety and of art itself ; in
the Savior he summed up and concentrated all his art. Although technically weak, it demonstrated for him the triumph of disegno over the physical depredations of old age. Both works were regarded by contemporaries
as extraordinary achievements, even for Bernini, and fitting capstones to the
artists extraordinary career.

288

No less impressive than these creations, however, was the manner of


Berninis passing not the fatal illness as such, normal for an octogenarian, but the way in which he approached his own end. His attitude toward
dying, his thoughts and actions in preparation for it, which only culminated during his final weeks, led Baldinucci to remark that Berninis death
seemed truly like his life. This may be simply a biographers banal protestation of his heros Christian piety. Yet the aptness of Baldinuccis comments
about Berninis life and art in other contexts suggests that he perceived
something more in his subjects demise.
The purpose of the present essay is to demonstrate that Baldinuccis perception was indeed correct. Berninis death was in more than the usual sense
like his life; it was, in fact, a kind of artwork, diligently prepared and carefully executed to achieve the desired effect. The Sangue di Cristo and the
bust of the Savior were not simply pious works by an old man of genius and
faith, but were intended to illustrate specific aspects of Berninis art of
dying. His preparations for death and the works he made in anticipation of
it may thus be understood as intimately related and mutually illuminating
parts of his artistic legacy.
Since various details of Baldinuccis and Domenico Berninis descriptions
will be referred to subsequently they are printed here together, in translation:1
1
The translation from F. Baldinucci, Vita del Cavaliere Gio. Lorenzo Bernini, Florence,
1682, ed. S. S. Ludovici, Milan, 1948, 132, 13437, is taken with slight modifications from
that of C. Enggass, The Life of Bernini by Filippo Baldinucci, University Park, Pa., and
London, 1966, 66 f, 6872; the translation from D. Bernini, Vita del Cav. Giovan. Lorenzo
Bernino, Rome, 1713, 167, 16977, is my own. See also S. Fraschetti, Il Bernini, Milan,
1900, 422 ff, who summarizes Berninis testament and an inventory of his possessions. Some
further notices are in V. Martinelli, Novit berniniane. 3. Le sculture per gli Altieri,
Commentari, X, 1959, 224 ff. The Bernini family tomb slab in Santa Maria Maggiore (of
later date since the arms bear a crown of nobility), and what is evidently the artists sword of
knighthood, found in the tomb in 1931, are reproduced in C. DOnofrio, Roma vista da
Roma, Rome, 1967, Figs. 69, 135.
We may add the following: Venerdi 15 di Novembre il Cavaliere Bernino f soprafatto
da morbo apopletico, e perci f subito communicato, e si mand a prendere la
Benedizzione dal sommo Pontefice: dicono essere nellet di ottantatre anni; Il Cavaliere
Bernino tuttavia vive, ma giorni, siano hore. Giovedi 28 di Novembre pass allaltra vita
il medesimo Cavalier Bernino e fl poi esposto solennemente nella Basilica Liberiana, nella
quale Monsig.r suo figlio Canonico, essendo stato esposto con 60 torcie. Dicono ascendere
il suo avere seicento, e pi mila scudi (Rome, Archivio di Stato, Carte Cartari Febeo, busta
87, fols. 273v, 267v f ); Qui anco passato all altra vita di Indispos.ne di febre il sr. Cav.re
Gio. Lorenzo Bernino famoso scultore, et Architetto sepolto nella Basilica di S. Maria Mag.re
con superbo funerale, et ha lasciato Herede con Institutione di Primog.ra il Sig.r Paolo

BERNINIS DEATH

289

Filippo Baldinucci
Bernini was already in the eightieth year of his life. For sometime
past he had been turning his most intense thoughts to attaining eternal repose rather than to increasing his earthly glory. Also, deep
within his heart was the desire to offer, before closing his eyes to this
life, some sign of gratitude to Her Majesty the Queen of Sweden, his
most special patron. In order, therefore, to penetrate more deeply
into the first concept and to prepare himself better for the second, he
set to work with the greatest intensity to create in marble a halflength figure, larger than life-size of Our Savior Jesus Christ.
This is the work that he said was his favorite2 and it was the last
given the world by his hand. He meant it as a gift for the monarch,
but in this intention he was unsuccessful. The Queens opinion of,
and esteem for, the statue was so great that, not finding herself in circumstances in which it was possible to give a comparable gift in
exchange, she chose to reject it rather than fail in the slightest degree
to equal the royal magnificence of her intention. Bernini, therefore,
as we will relate in the proper place, had to leave it to her in his will.
In this divine simulacrum he put all the forces of his Christian piety
and of art itself. In it he proved the truth of his familiar axiom, that
the artist with a truly strong foundation in design need fear no
diminution of vitality and tenderness, or other good qualities in his
technique when he reaches old age; for thanks to this sureness in
design, he is able to make up fully for those defects of the spirits,
which tend to petrify under the weight of years. This, he said, he had
observed in other artists . . .
And while the city of Rome was preparing to acclaim him on the
propitious outcome of the restoration and strengthening of the
palace [the Palazzo della Cancelleria], Bernini had already begun to
lose sleep, and his strength and spirits were at such a low ebb that
within a brief time he was brought to the end of his days.
Bernino suo figliolo, e grossi legati Mons.r Bernino, et altri suoi figli e fig. le e varij Busti,
e statue sue alla M.t della Reg.a di Suetia, et al S.r Card.l Altieri oltre li Ieg.i Pij ascendenti
le sue facolt a sopra 300m scudi (Rome, Bibl. Corsini, Avvisi, vol. 1755, 38. C. 2, fol. 123r,
November 30, 1680).
2
Berninis use of the term beniamino may have been a play on the meaning of the
Hebrew name of the right hand.

290

1. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Sangue di Cristo, engraving by F. Spierre,


473 x 290mm, frontispiece of F. Marchese, Unica speranza del peccatore,
Rome 1670, Vatican Library.

BERNINIS DEATH

2. The Death of Moriens, woodcut from Dellarte del ben morire,


Naples 1591. New York Public Library.

3. Gianlorenzo Bernini,
The Intercession of Christ and
the Virgin,
drawing, 229 x 205mm.
Leipzig, Museum der
bildenden Knste,
Graphische Sammlung
(from Brauer and Wittkower,
Zeichnungen des Gianlorenzo
Bernini, pl. 128).

291

292

But before speaking of his last illness and death, which to our eyes
truly seemed like his life, we should here mention that, although it
may be that up until his fortieth year, the age at which he married,
Cavalier Bernini had some youthful romantic entanglements without, however, creating any impediment to his studies of the arts or
prejudicing in any way that which the world calls prudence, we may
truthfully say that his marriage not only put an end to this way of living, but that from that hour he began to behave more like a cleric
than a layman. So spiritual was his way of life that, according to what
was reported to me by those who know, he might often have been
worthy of the admiration of the most perfect monastics. He always
kept fixed in his mind an intense awareness of death. He often had
long discussions on this subject with Father Marchesi, his nephew
who was an Oratorian priest at the Chiesa Nuova, known for his
goodness and learning. So great and continual was the fervor with
which he longed for the happiness of that last step, that for the sole
intention of attaining it, he frequented for forty years continuously
the devotions conducted toward this end by the fathers of the Society
of Jesus in Rome. There, also, he partook of the Holy Eucharist twice
a week.
He increased the alms which he had been accustomed to give
from his earliest youth. He became absorbed at times in the thoughts
and in the expression of the profound reverence and understanding
that he always had of the efficacy of the Blood of Christ the
Redeemer, in which, he was wont to say, he hoped to drown his sins.
He made a drawing of this subject, which he then had engraved and
printed. It shows the image of Christ Crucified, with streams of
blood gushing from his hands and feet as if to form a sea, and the
great Queen of Heaven who offers it to God the Father. He also had
this pious concept painted on a great canvas which he wanted to have
always facing his bed in life and in death.
His time then came; I do not know whether I should say expected
because of his great loss of strength or because of his yearning for the
eternal repose that he had so long desired. He was ill of a slow fever
followed at the end by an attack of apoplexy which took his life.
Throughout it all he was very patient and resigned to the Divine
Will. Nor did he as a rule converse about anything but his trust in it.
His words were so striking that those in attendance, among whom

BERNINIS DEATH

293

Cardinal Azzolino did not disdain to find himself often, marveled


greatly at the concepts that divine love suggested to him. Among
these the following is worthy of remembrance. He urgently implored
Cardinal Azzolino to supplicate Her Majesty the Queen to make an
act of love to God on his behalf He thought, as he said, that that
great lady had a special language which God understood, while God
used a language with her that she alone could understand.
The thought of that final step which was always present in his life
had suggested to Bernini many years before his death the idea of asking Father Marchesi to assist him at his deathbed in all that he had
to recall at that time. And since he feared that in the final extremity
he might not be able to use his voice, which did in fact happen, he
wished to be able to communicate with Father Marchesi by certain
gestures and external motions which he had worked out to express
the innermost feelings of his heart. It was a marvelous thing that,
although Bernini could speak only brokenly during his illness as a
result of the inflammation in his head, and that later, as a consequence of the new attack, he lost almost all power of speech, Father
Marchesi always understood him. He gave such suitable replies to his
proposals that they sufficed to lead him with admirable calm to his
end.
Berninis last breath was drawing near when he made a sign to
Mattia de Rossi and Giovan Battista Contini, his architectural assistants. Speaking as well as he was able, he said jokingly, while pointing to a precision instrument adapted to pulling heavy weights, that
he was surprised that their invention would not serve to draw the
catarrh from his throat. When his confessor asked about his souls
state of calm and whether he was fearful, he replied, Father, I must
render account to a Lord who in His goodness, does not count in
half-pennies. Later because of the apoplexy his right arm and whole
right side were paralyzed and he said, It is good that this arm which
has so wearied itself in life should rest a bit before death.
Meanwhile, Rome wept at her great loss. Berninis house was
filled by a continual flow of men of high rank and people of every
station seeking news and wishing to visit him at the end. Her
Majesty the Queen of Sweden, many cardinals, and ambassadors of
princes came or sent messages at least twice a day. Finally, His
Holiness sent his benediction, after which, at the beginning of the

294

twenty-eighth day of the month of November of the year 1680, at


about midnight, after fifteen days of illness, Bernini went to that
other life. He was eighty-two years old less nine days.
In his will Bernini left His Holiness the Pope a large painting of
Christ by his own hand. To Her Majesty the Queen of Sweden he left
the beautiful marble image of the Savior, the last work by his hand,
of which we have spoken; to the Most Eminent Cardinal Altieri, a
marble bust-length portrait of Clement; to the Most Eminent
Cardinal Azzolino, his most kind protector, a similar bust of
Innocent X, his supporter. Not having anything else in marble he left
Cardinal Rospigliosi a painting by his own hand. He most strictly
enjoined that his beautiful statue of Truth be left in his own house.
It is the only work by his chisel that remains the property of his
children.
It would take too long to tell of the sorrow that such a loss
brought to all Rome. I will only say that Her Majesty the Queen,
whose sublime intellect knew through long experience the subtle
gifts of so great a man, paid extraordinary tribute to him. It seemed
to her that with Berninis death the world had lost the only begotten
child of virtue in our century. On the day of Berninis death the Pope
sent a noble gift to that Queen by means of his privy chamberlain.
The Queen asked the chamberlain what was being said in Rome concerning the estate left by Bernini. When she learned that it was worth
about four hundred thousand scudi, she said, I would be ashamed if
he had served me and had left so little.
The pomp with which the body of our artist was borne to the
church of Santa Maria Maggiore where his family had their burial
place, corresponded to the dignity of the deceased and the capabilities and love of his children, who ordered a most noble funeral and
distributed both candles and alms on a grand scale. The talents and
pens of the learned were exhausted in the composition of eulogies,
sonnets, lyric poems, erudite verses in Latin, and the most ingenious
vernacular poetry was written in praise of Bernini and publicly
exhibited. All the Roman nobility and the ultra-montane nobility
then in the city gathered together. There was, in short, a crowd so
numerous that it was necessary to postpone somewhat the time for
the interment of the body. Bernini was buried in a lead coffin in the
previously mentioned tomb, with a record of his name and person.

BERNINIS DEATH

295

Domenico Bernini
But by now near death and at the decrepit age of eighty, the Cavaliere
wished to illustrate his life and bring to a close his practice of the profession he had conducted so well till then, by creating a work with
which a man would be happy to end his days. This was the image of
our Savior in half figure, but larger than life-size, with the right hand
slightly raised in the act of blessing. In it he summarized and condensed all his art; and although the weakness of his wrist did not correspond to the boldness of the idea, yet he succeeded in proving what
he used to say, that an artist excellent in design should not fear any
want of vivacity or tenderness on reaching the age of decrepitude,
because ability in design is so effective that it alone can make up for
the defect of the spirits,which languish in old age. He destined this
work for the very meritorious Queen of Sweden who, being unable
to compensate its value, chose rather to refuse it than descend from
her royal beneficence. But she was constrained to accept it two years
later, when the Cavaliere left it to her as a legacy . . .
Before beginning our narration it is well to turn back the discourse somewhat, and demonstrate how singular the goodness of life
was in the Cavaliere Bernini, and with what union of Christian maxims he rendered notable the many beautiful gifts of his soul. He was
a man of elevated spirit who always aspired to the great, not resting
even at the great if he did not reach the greatest; this same nature carried him to such a sublimity of ideas in matters of devotion that, not
content with the ordinary routes, he applied himself to those which
are, so to speak, the shortcut to reach heaven. Whence he said that
in rendering account of his operations he would have to deal with a
Lord who, infinite and superlative in his attributes, would not be
concerned with half-pennies, as they say; and he explained his
thought by adding that the goodness of God being infinite, and infinite the merit of the precious Blood of his Son, it was an offense to
these attributes to doubt Forgiveness. To this effect he had copied
for his devotion, in engraving and in paint, a marvelous design which
shows Jesus Christ on the Cross with a Sea of Blood beneath, spilling
torrents of it from his Most Holy Wounds; and here one sees the
Most Blessed Virgin in the act of offering it to the Eternal Father,
who appears above with open arms all softened by so piteous a spec-

296

tacle. And he said, in this Sea his sins are drowned, which cannot be
found by Divine justice except amongst the Blood of Jesus Christ, in
the tints of which they will either have changed color or by its merits obtained mercy. This trust was so alive in him that he called the
Most Holy Humanity of Christ Sinners Clothing, whence he was
the more confident not to be struck by divine retribution which,
having first to penetrate the garment before wounding him, would
have pardoned his sin rather than tear its innocence. He was wont for
many, many years before his death often to discourse at length with
learned and singular priests; he became so inflamed with these ideas
and the subtlety of his thought ascended so high, they were amazed
how a man who was not even a scholar could often not only penetrate the loftiest mysteries, but also propose questions and provide
answers concerning them, as if he had spent his life in the Schools.
Father Giovanni Paolo Oliva, General of the Company of Jesus, said
that discourse with the Cavaliere on spiritual matters was a professional challenge, like going to a thesis defense. Nor did he nurture
these noble thoughts in his soul without fruit, but he continually
practiced virtue with solid works. For the space of forty years he frequented every Friday the devotion of the good death in the Church
of the Ges, where he often received Holy Communion at least once
a week. For the same long space of time, each day after finishing his
labors he visited that Church, where the Holy Sacrament was
exposed, and left copious alms for the poor. Besides giving many
dowries to poor unmarried girls during the year, he always contributed one on Assumption Day, and obligated his children to six
more in his will. To gain merit by avoiding gratitude he even distributed copious alms through one of his servants, with the obligation not to reveal the benefactor. Although the practice of philanthropy was, so to speak, born and raised with him, yet in the last
years of his life he took it so much to heart that, not considering
himself sufficiently able to find the poor, he gave charge, and funds,
to many religious to pass on the aid. And because he loved secrecy in
such works, we may judge that he made many more of them than we
have notice of. From some notices he kept in a volume of household
finances we learn that, having three months before his death placed
two thousand scudi in a prayer-stool, only two hundred were later
found there; he ordered his children also to use these in a pious work,

BERNINIS DEATH

297

with clear indication that what remained was to make a similar exit.
In a letter written from Paris he orders his son, the Monsignore, to
double the amount of alms he had left instructions to give because
God is a Lord who will not be won over with courtesy. Often during the year he took his family to some hospital, where he wanted his
small children to follow his example in comforting the sick, presenting them with various confections he kept ready for the purpose. It
was an amazing thing for a man employed in so many important
occupations devoutly to hear Mass every morning, to visit the Holy
Sacrament everyday, to recite every evening on his knees the Crown
and Office of the Madonna, and the seven Penitential Psalms, a custom he constantly maintained until his death. When he then saw
himself approaching death he thought of and discussed nothing else
than this passing; not with bitterness and horror, as is usual with the
aged, but with incomparable constancy of spirit and using his memory in preparation for doing it well. To this end he had continuous
conferences with Father Francesco Marchese, priest of the Oratorio
of San Filippo Neri in the Chiesa Nuova at Rome, son of his sister
Beatrice Bernini, a person venerable for the goodness of his life and
noteworthy for his doctrine, of whom the Cavalier availed himself to
assist at his death. And he said, that step was difficult for everyone
because everyone took it for the first time; hence he often imagined
himself to die, in order by this exercise to habituate and dispose himself to the real struggle. In this state he wanted Father Marchese to
suggest to him all those acts usually proposed to the moribund, and
doing them he arrived, as if in preparation, at that great point.
Assuming also that, as is usual, words would fail him at the extremity of life, and he would suffer the anguish of one who cannot make
himself understood, they worked out a special way in which he could
be understood without speaking. With such precautions, with his
soul completely reinforced, he finally reached the proof.
We have already said how debilitated and strained he was left
from undertaking the restoration of the Palazzo della Cancelleria.
Whence he finally fell ill with a slow fever, to which was added at the
end an attack of apoplexy that took his life. Through the whole
course of the illness, which lasted fifteen days, he wanted a sort of
altar set up at the foot of his bed, on which he had displayed the picture of the Blood of Jesus Christ. What were the colloquies he held

298

now with Father Marchese, now with other religious who stood by,
concerning the efficacy of the most precious Blood and the confidence he had in it, can rather be conjectured than reported. For none
of those present could help bursting into tears on hearing with what
firmness of sentiments he then spoke, of whom neither the burden
of age and sickness, nor powerful enemies, had been able to obfuscate that clarity of intellect which always maintained itself equal and
great in him to the last breath of his life. Realizing that he could no
longer move his right arm because of the aforementioned attack of
apoplexy, he said, it is only right that even before death that arm rest
a little which worked so much in life. To Cardinal Azzolino, who
honored him with several visits in those days, he said one evening
that he should implore in his name Her Majesty the Queen to do an
act of love of God for him, because he believed that that great Lady
had a special language with God to be well understood, while God
had used with her a language which she alone was capable of understanding. The Cardinal did his bidding, and received from the
Queen the following note.
I beg you to tell the Cavaliere Bernini for me that I promise to
use all my powers to do what he desires of me, on condition that he
promises to pray God for me and for you, to concede us the grace of
His perfect love, so that one day we may all be together with the joy
of love, and enjoy God forever. And tell him that I have already
served him to the best of my ability, and that I will continue.
Meanwhile his house was a continuous flux and reflux of the
most conspicuous personages of Rome; they came or sent word, with
sentiment no less distinguished from the common convention, than
was distinct and particular in each of them his esteem and regret to
lose so great a man. Finally speech failed him, and because he felt
exceedingly pressed by the catarrh, he made a sign to the Cavaliere
Mattia de Rossi and to Giovanni Battista Contini, who, together
with Giulio Cartari and all his pupils stayed always by his bed, as if
amazed that they could not recall a method of drawing the catarrh
from his breast; and with his left hand he strained to represent to
them an instrument designed to lift exceptional weights. As he had
agreed with Father Marchese before taking ill on the method of making himself understood without speaking, it astonished everyone
how well he made himself understood with only the movement of his

BERNINIS DEATH

299

left hand and eyes a clear sign of that great vivacity of spirits,
which did not yield even though life withdrew. Two hours before
passing he gave the benediction to all his children, of whom, as has
been said, he left four boys and five girls. Finally, having received the
blessing of the Pope, who sent it through one of his chamberlains,
early on the twenty-eighth day of November of the year 1680, the
eighty-second of his life, he expired. The great man died as he had
lived leaving it doubtful whether his life was more admirable in deeds
or his death more commendable in devotion.
In his testament he left the Pope a most beautiful picture by
Giovanni Battista Gaulli representing the Savior, his last work in
marble; to the Queen, the Savior itself by his hand; to Cardinal
Altieri, the portrait of Clement X; to Cardinal Azzolino that of
Innocent X; and to Cardinal Giacomo Rospigliosi a picture also by
his hand, having nothing else at home in marble other than the
Truth, which he left in perpetuity to his descendants.
Mourning for the loss of this man was universal in the city of
Rome, which recognized its majesty greatly enhanced by his indefatigable labors; and as was his life so also was his death the subject of
many ingenious compositions at the Academies. The following day,
when the Pope sent a gift to the Queen, she asked the chamberlain,
What was being said concerning the legacy of the Cavaliere Bernini?
And having received the reply, About four hundred thousand scudi,
she added, I would be ashamed if he had served me and left so little.
His body was exposed with pomp in the Basilica of Santa Maria
Maggiore, with a funeral, distribution of wax, and charities to the
poor; attendance was so great that the burial was postponed till the
following day. He had already prepared the tomb for himself and his
family in that church, and he was placed in it in a lead box, with an
inscription giving his name and the day of his death.
* * *
Two major themes stand out in the biographers accounts, the devotions
concerned with death sponsored by the Jesuits,and the ministrations of the
artists nephew, the Oratorian priest Francesco Marchese. We shall first consider these factors in relation to Berninis death and the Sangue di Cristo
composition, and then discuss the bust of the Savior.

300

1. The Ars Moriendi and the Sangue di Christo


Bernini and the Jesuit Ars Moriendi
The idea of preparing for death received the widest possible currency in
the late fifteenth century through the Ars Moriendi. This was one of the
most popular publications of the period, reprinted throughout Europe in
dozens of editions, translations and adaptations.3 It was specifically an
instruction manual in the art (crafte or cunnynge, as it was often rendered in English) of dying well, that is, the method of achieving salvation
during the final hours of life. In its extended version, the only one used in
Italy, the work is divided into six parts.4 The first is a commendation of
death in which the reader is urged, when the time comes,to give up willingly and gladly, without any grudging or contradiction. Part 2, the real
core of the work, is devoted to the wily temptations used by the devil in his
ultimate struggle with God for the soul of the dying man, and the countering responses offered by morienss guardian angel. The essential character of
the book, which was determined by its divulgatory purpose, lies in the relation between the text and the pictures in this and the following section. The
five temptations (against Faith, to Despair, Impatience, Vainglory and
Avarice) and the responses to them, are each described and illustrated in a
woodcut, in which moriens is shown on his deathbed alternately beset by
devils and rescued by angels. Part 3 is devoted to the Interrogations, a series
of questions posed to the dying man which, answered rightly, will help to
assure his salvation. This section is accompanied by an eleventh woodcut
showing the death scene, with the soul of the deceased received by his
guardian angel (Fig. 2).5 Text and illustrations thus proceed pari passu, and
are independent of yet complementary to one another. Part 4 contains an

3
In general, cf. A. Tenenti, Il senso della morte e lamore della vita nel Rinascimento, Turin,
1957, 80 ff. In particular, M. C. OConnor, The Art of Dying Well, New York, 1942, with
an exhaustive list of manuscripts and editions; R. Rudolf, Ars Moriendi, Cologne, 1957. For
a recent discussion of the early illustrations, see H. Zerner, Lart au morier, Revue de lart,
XI, 1971, 730.
4
OConnor, Art of Dying Well, 157, n. 313.
5
Reproduced from Dellarte del ben morire . . . Opera . . . rivista . . . e . . . corretta . . . da
Tomaso Costo . . ., Naples, 1591; the latest illustrated Italian edition I have found is Larte del
ben morire, Rome, 1596.

BERNINIS DEATH

301

Instruction to the dying man, which is that he should take Christs death
on the Cross as his model. Part 5 gives instructions to those present, such
as not to deceive moriens with false assurances of his recovery, or to give
precedence to medical over spiritual aid in their ministrations. The dying
man must also have before him holy images, especially the Crucified Christ
and the Virgin. Chapter 6 provides prayers to be said by a faithful friend.
It is evident that Berninis death was in many respects a literal enactment
of the Ars Moriendi. His prodigal charities, which displayed his ultimate disdain for the things of this world; his patient, indeed willing acceptance of
the inevitable; the very scene of the end conjured up by the biographers
accounts including the pious image by his bed and the colloquies with
Father Marchese all seem to fulfill the recommendations of the Ars
Moriendi. The imagery of the Sangue di Cristo composition, the Crucifixion
with the Virgin Mary and the angels, especially the guardian angel, recalls
that of the early illustrations. Even the use of a special sign language to communicate without speech belongs in this context, since its purpose no doubt
was to enable Bernini to respond to the crucial interrogations.6
To find an echo of the Ars Moriendi in the late seventeenth century is in
itself remarkable since the impetus of the original work in Italy was by then
long spent, although it was never forgotten. But no less significant are the
differences in Berninis death from that envisaged in the Ars Moriendi: style
in the Art of Dying Well had changed considerably. Some of these differences were personal to Bernini, while others reflect more general developments in the Ars Moriendi tradition.
Apart from editions of the Ars Moriendi itself, a number of Italian works
of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, for which it served more
or less directly as the model, give a measure of its immediate influence.7
Such, for example, are the De modo bene moriendi written about 1480 by
Pietro Barozzi, Bishop of Padua and chancellor of the university there, published in Venice in 1531, and the Dottrina del ben morire by one Pietro di

6
Also known as Anselms questions (cf. J. P. Migne, Patrologiae cursas completus, Paris,
1844 ff, Series latina, CLVIII, cols. 685 ff ), the interrogations had been a standard part of
the ritual of death until they were omitted in the official Ritual Romanum of 1614; but they
continued to be popular (e.g., V. Auruccio, Rituario per quelli, che havendo cura
danime . . ., Rome, 1615, 49 ff, reprinted 1619, 1624, 1625), and OConnor, Art of Dying
Well, 31 ff, esp. 35, records a number of instances of their use into the nineteenth century.
7
For what follows, see ibid., 172 ff, and Tenenti, Senso della morte, 112 ff, 330 ff.

302

Lucca, published at Venice in 1515.8 The intimate connection between text


and pictures that characterized the original Ars Moriendi determined the
very structure of its most famous emulation in Italy, the sermon preached
in Florence by Savonarola on All Souls Day in 1496, published afterwards
with the title Predica dellarte del ben morire.9 The sermon develops around
three images, illustrated as woodcuts in the published editions,which
Savonarola exhorted his listeners to have painted for themselves. The first
of these is a reminder of the Last Judgment, a grandiose composition representing Heaven and Hell, which the still-healthy listener was urged to
keep in his room and look at frequently, while he thought of death and said
to himself, I might die today. The second picture shows the man sick in
bed, with death as a skeleton knocking at his door. The third scene shows
the man now on the point of death, with the skeleton seated at the foot of
his bed.
A common tendency may be discerned in these treatises. Savonarola is
concerned not only with death as such and the immediate preparations for
it, but also with the healthy man, to whom his first image is directed. The
same concern is evident in the works of Pietro Barozzi and Pietro di Lucca.
Thus the Art of Dying was extended into a life-long process, and contemplation of death and preparation for it became in themselves a kind of art
of living well. In the course of the sixteenth century the literature devoted
to the art of dying diminished, and ultimately almost disappeared.10 In the
early seventeenth century, however, there was a great revival of interest in
the theme, which centered at Rome in the Jesuit order.11 Two factors were
particularly significant in this revival, both of which incorporate the tendency to extend the preparations for death back from the deathbed to
include the individuals whole life.
One was the publication in 1620 of the De arte bene moriendi by
Roberto Bellarmino, the great theologian for whose tomb in the Ges, the
mother church of the Jesuits, Bernini carved the portrait two years later.12
On Barozzi, cf. Dizionaria biografico degli italiani, Rome, 1960 ff, VI, 510 ff.
M. Ferrara, Savonarola, 2 vols., Florence, 1952, II, 66 ff. For the text, cf. Girolamo
Savonarola. Prediche sopra Ruth e Michea, 2 vols., ed. V. Romano, Rome, 1962, II, 362 ff.
10
Tenenti, Senso della morte, 321.
11
For the vast Jesuit literature on death, see the listings in A. De Backer and C.
Sommervogel, Bibliothque de la Compagnie de Jsus, 12 vols., Brussels, 18901960, X, cols.
51019; also E. Mle, Lart religieux aprs le concile de Trente, Paris, 1932, 206 ff, J. De
Guibert, La spiritualit de la Compagnie de Jsus, Rome, 1953, 384 ff.
12
R. Bellarmino, Opera Omnia, 12 vols., Paris. 187074, VIII, 551 ff.
8
9

BERNINIS DEATH

303

Bellarminos treatise is divided almost equally into two parts, of which only
the second is devoted to the preparations for death at the time it comes near.
Here he follows the Ars Moriendi tradition closely, including the temptations of the Devil (where he cites Pietro Barozzi among his sources), and the
ministrations of the faithful friend. Part I, on the other hand, deals with
remote preparations for death, which include practice of the theological and
moral virtues, and the sacraments beginning with Baptism and ending with
Extreme Unction. Bellarmino devotes most of the book to these central acts
of faith, and places particular emphasis on the Eucharist, the greatest of the
sacraments, in which is contained not only copious grace but also the very
author of grace. In contrast to Savonarolas exhortation to the constant contemplation of death, the keynote for Bellarmino is provided by his title to
the opening chapter, He who would die well, should live well.
The second major factor in the Ars Moriendi revival, a direct outgrowth
of Bellarminos concern with the subject, was the foundation of the
Confraternity of the Bona Mors at the Ges.13 The congregation differed
from earlier such organizations devoted to death in that it was not conceived primarily to carry out an act of mercy, that of burying the dead, but
to institute a program of devotions and exercise through which its members
might assure themselves the benefits of a good death. The essence of its spiritual program is evident from the organizations full name, Congregazione
del Nostro Signore Ges Cristo moribondo sopra la Croce e della
Santissima Vergine Maria sua Madre Addolorata, detta della Buona Morte.
The congregation was founded in 1648 by Vincenzo Caraffa, who was then
praepositus generalis of the Society of Jesus, of which the principal activity
was regular Friday devotions to the Crucified Christ and His wounds, to the
Sorrows of the Virgin, and to the Eucharist. A great altarpiece, now lost,
showing the Crucified Christ and the Mater Dolorosa was painted for the
congregation and unveiled before the High Altar of the church each
Friday.14 The Bona Mors was a phenomenal success, and by the end of the
century branches had been established throughout Europe.

13
A thorough history of the organization has yet to be written. Cf. A. LHoire, La congrgation de Notre-Seigneur Jesus-Christ mourant en Croix et de la Trs Sainte Vierge, Sa Mre
participant a ses douleurs dite de la Bonne Mort, Paris, etc., 1904; G. B. Piazza, Opere pie di
Roma, Rome, 1679, 684 ff; P. Pecchiai, Il Ges di Roma, Rome, 1952, 314.
14
Piazza, Opere pie, 685 f, and Manni, Breve ragguaglia, 100 f (cited in the following
note).

304

From Bellarminos treatise and the foundation of the Bona Mors a continuous tradition was established at the Ges, in which Bernini directly participated. In 1649 the first moderator of the congregation, Giovanni
Battista Manni, published a volume describing its Friday devotions, and
subsequently brought out several illustrated works concerned with death.15
The confraternitys second moderator during Berninis lifetime was one
Giuseppe Fozi. In 1669, in connection with the canonization of Maria
Maddalena de Pazzi in that year, Fozi put into print a life of the saint that
had been left in manuscript by one of her early biographers, the Jesuit
Virgilio Cepari.16 Since Bernini, as his son reports, attended the devotions
of the Bona Mors for forty years, he must have participated from its very
inception. In the true spirit of the revived Ars Moriendi, preparation for
death became for him a life-long process. The basic imagery of his Sangue
di Cristo composition was clearly inspired by the congregations invocation
of the Crucifixion and the sorrowing Virgin, and its particular devotion to
the Eucharist. Bernini himself explained that he made the work as a personal votive offering for the benefit of the world at large;17 this may well
15
A list of moderators is in the Archive of the Ges: Catalogus Moderatorum Primariae
Congregationis sub invocatione D. N. G. C. in Cruce moribundi ac Beatissima Mariae Virginis
ejus Genetricis Dolorosae vulgo Bonae Mortis ab ejus Fundatione anno 1648 ad annum 1911.
G. B. Manni, Breve ragguaglio e pratica instruttione degli esercitii di piet cristiana che si
fanno nel Giesu di Roma ogni venerd mattina, e sera, per la divotione della Bona Morte da
ottenersi per li meriti della Passione, & agonia di Cristo in Croce: e de dolori della sua Madre
Santiss. sotto la Croce, Rome, 1649; idem, Varii, e veri ritratti della morte disegnati in immagini, ed espressi in essempij al peccatore duro di cuore, Venice, 1669; idem, La morte disarmata,
e le sue amarezze raddolcite con due pratiche, per due acti importantissime, luna del ben morire,
e laltra dajutare i moribondi, Venice, 1669.
Cf. De Backer and Sommervogel, Bibl. de la Compagnie, V, cols. 500, 502. Manni was
later closely involved in the negotiations for the decorations of the Ges (see n. 32 below);
Pecchiai, Il Ges, 113 ff.
16
Vita della Serafica Verg. S. Maria Madelena de Pazzi Fiorentina . . . Scritta dal Padre
Virgilio Cepari della Campagnia di Gies. Et hora con laggiunta cavata da Processi formati per la
sua Beatificazione e Canonizatione del Padre Giuseppe Fozi . . ., Rome, 1669. Cf. De Backer and
Sommervogel, Bibl. de la Compagnie, II, 957, III, 914. Among Fozis othcr works is one on
priestly assistance to the dying, Il sacerdote savio, e zelante assistente a moribondi, Rome, 1683.
17
1671. Il Sig. Cavalier Bernino dice che havendo in vita sua fatti tanti disegni per
Pontefici, R, Prencipi, uole sigillare con farne uno gloria dellofferta che si f al Padre
Eterno del pretiosissimo Sangue di Christo; stanto jn questo pensiro gli parso, che si possi
prgare la gloriosissima Vergine, a fare lej per noi, Padre Thologhi, et altri spirituali. Jl
pensiero gli parso bellissimo, molto utile per tutti; stante questo h fatto il presente disegnio, et in sua presnza lh fatto intagliare per poterne dare molti, mandarne per Jl

BERNINIS DEATH

305

have been in fulfillment of the members obligation to assist others to


obtain a good death.
Giuseppe Fozi, in preparing the biography of Maria Maddalena de
Pazzi, must certainly have become familiar with the passage, cited on the
Sangue di Cristo engraving, in which she invokes the Holy Blood and the
intercession of Christ and the Virgin; he must have noted its striking correspondence to the dedication and devotions of the Bona Mors, and he may
have originally brought it to Berninis attention.
Father Francesco Marchese
The son of Berninis older sister, Beatrice, was born in 1623. He became
a priest of the Oratorio, the order founded by St. Philip Neri with its headquarters in the building by Borromini adjoining Santa Maria in Vallicella.
Father Marchese is described as very learned, a fervid and assiduous executor of the rules and obligations of the order, to which he added his own
severe application to studies sacred and profane.18 He is best known as a
zealous opponent of the Quietist leader Miguel de Molinos, whose downfall he was instrumental in bringing about during Molinoss trial by the
Inquisition in the 1680s; an important manuscript volume of the materials
he gathered against Molinos still exists in the Vallicella library.19 Apart from
four other works which he left unpublished at his death in 1697, the standard bibliography of Oratorian authors lists no fewer than twenty-one
books by Marchese, which bear a strongly individual stamp and display a
remarkable development. They are mainly of two kinds, biographies of
saints and devotional works. While they do indeed show a formidable
knowledge of sacred and profane history and literature, they are neither
scholarly reconstructions of the past, nor abstract theological speculations.
Of the three works Marchese published before 1670 (the significance of
mondo a gloria del Sangue di Christo; a dispatch to the court of Modena, first published by
F. Imparato, Documenti relativi al Bernini e a suoi contemporanei, Archivia storica dellarte,
III, 1890, 142 f, then by Fraschetti, Bernini, 420, n. 2.
18
Marchese di Villarosa, Memorie degli scrittori filippini o siano della Congregatione dell
Oratorio di S. Filippo Neri, Naples, 1837, 16870; pt. 2, Naples, 1842, 70. C. Gasbarri,
Loratorio romano dal cinquecento al novecento, Rome, 1962, 177 ff.
19
Cf. L. von Pastor, The History of the Popes, 40 vols., St. Louis, Mo., 193852, XXXII,
447 ff; Marcheses role in the process against Molinos is described at length in P. Dudon, Le
quitiste espagnol Michel Molinos (167896), Paris, 1921, passim; also M. Petrocchi, Il
Quietismo italiano del seicento, Rome, 1942, 66, n. 32, 102, 193 ff.

306

which date will emerge presently), the first was a vast compilation in three
volumes of prayers to the Virgin gathered from an incredible variety of
sources and so organized as to provide devotions for every day of the year;20
the second was a book of meditations on the Stigmata, and the third a life
of the Spanish mystic, St. Pietro dAlcantara.21 They are thus eminently
practical and edifying works, and focus primarily on the mystical nature of
piety. This was characterized by Marchese not in quietistic terms of passive
contemplation, but as a process of active, passionate devotion. This gifted
nephew, at once learned and intensely concerned with the welfare of the
human spirit, must have provided an ideal counterpoint for Berninis own
reflections on death and salvation the faithful friend of the Ars
Moriendi. Although Marchese was the man of letters, their conversations
must have been truly reciprocal: witness Giovanni Paolo Olivas remark
that talking to Bernini on spiritual matters was like discoursing with a
professional.
In 1670 Father Marchese published two books which have as their central theme the efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ to save the sinner who
repents before he dies. The message of one is stated in its title, Unica speranza del peccatore che consiste nel sangue del N. S. Gies Cristo. The other
book, entitled Ultimo colpo al cuore del peccatore, is conceived as the final call
to the hard of heart to accept the gift of grace offered by the Crucifixion. A
third work by Marchese, published posthumously, belongs explicitly to the
genre of the Ars Moriendi; the Preparamento a ben morire is a spiritual guide
to salvation through penitence, devotion to the Eucharist, invocation of the
Virgin, the saints and angels, and through prayer.22
Many of the most striking aspects of Berninis death are elucidated in the
writings of Father Marchese. The Unica speranza, an octavo volume of two
hundred pages, was actually written to accompany the Sangue di Cristo
print; Marchese states this in the preface, where he describes the design and
20
Diario sacro dove sinsegnano varie pratiche di divotione per honorare ogni giorno la
Beatissima Vergine raccolte dallhistorie de santi, e beati correnti in ciascun giorno dell anno e
dalle vite daltri servi di Dio . . ., 3 vols., Rome, 165558.
21
Il divoto delle sacre stimmate di S. Francesco, Rome, 1664; Vita del B. Pietro dAlcantara,
Rome, 1667.
22
Unica speranza del pecatore che consiste nel sangue del N. S. Gies Cristo spiegata con
alcune verit, con le quali sinsegna allanima un modo facile dapplicare a se il frutto del medesimo sangue . . ., Rome, 1670; Ultimo colpo al cuore del peccatore, Rome, 1670; Preparamento
a ben morire opera postuma del Vener. Servo di Dio Francesco Marchesi preposto della
Congregatione dellOratorio di Roma . . ., Rome, 1697.

BERNINIS DEATH

307

urges him who desires salvation either to fix his eye upon the image, or to
read the text.23 The print in turn served as the frontispiece to Marcheses
book.24 The Sangue di Cristo and the Unica speranza were thus conceived
together as complementary parts, text and illustration, of a modern Ars
Moriendi. It is in the light of this specifically propagatory function that the
original format of Berninis work, a drawing intended to be engraved, may
be understood.
The text of the Unica speranza helps clarify the meaning of Berninis
image, both in itself and as part of a sequence of ideas leading to salvation.
The substance of the work lies in fifteen truths formulated by Father
Marchese.25 The first three describe the unhappy condition of the sinner in
Sangue di Gies Crocefisso al Cuore di chi legge . . . Ah che lhuomo carnale non penetra le cose superne, e che da Dio prouengono: perci farle meglio capire, linfinita carit
del Signor Iddio h ora con particolar prouedimento disposto, che da mano di divoto artefice
sia delineata lImagine del Salvatore Crocefisso, grondante Sangue in tanta copia, che se ne
formi un ampio mare, e che per mani della Beatissima Vergine Maria conforme al pio sentimento di S. Maddalene de Pazzi io sia del continuo offerto alleterno Padre favore de peccatori, (per la cui esplicatione si composto il presente libro) affinche con tali mezzi agli
occhi dellhuomo carnale rappresentati, il tuo cuore sia pi facilmente disposto udire, e ad
ubidire suoi celesti ammaestramenti. Apri adunque lorecchio del cuore, mentre fissi locchio alla diuuta imagine, leggi questi fogli.
24
Copies with the engraving are in the Vatican Library and the British Museum. The
print has heretofore been known only separately (Bernini also distributed it so; cf. n. 17
above), and its connection with Marcheses book was unsuspected. The composition has
been variously related to Molinos Guia espiritual and Father Olivas sermons (W. Weibel,
Jesuitismus und Barockskulptur in Rom, Strassburg, 1909, 10 ff; Lanckoronska, Decoracja, 71,
n. 110 [cited in n. 32 below]; R. Kuhn, Gian Paulo Oliva und Gian Lorenzo Bernini,
Rmische Quartalschrift, LXIV, 1969, 229 ff ).
25
I quote here the fifteen truths, which constitute chapter headings in the book: 1. Lo
stato del Peccatore in questo secolo molto infelice, e prima per la perdita de beni naturali.
2. Lo stato del Peccature in questo mondo assai pi infelice per la perdita de beni spirituali. 3. Lo stato del Peccatore nellaltro secolo sar infelicissimo, e irreparabile. 4. LUnico
rimedio asopradetti mali il Sangue pretiosissimo di Gies Christo, il quale ne h ottenuta
la rimissione di tutte le colpe. 5. Il Salvatore ardentemente brama di farne partecipi del suo
Sangue. 6. Il frutto del Sangue du Christo con gran facilit si comunica allanime mediante
i Santissimi Sacramenti. 7. Lhuomo con grandissima facilit pu riceuer il frutto del Sangue
di Christo, e ottener il perdono delle colpe, e prima col Sacramento della Penitenza. 8. E
facilissima cosa partecipare della virt del Sgue di Gies Christo mediante il Sacramento
dell Eucharistia. 9. Il tesoro del Sangue di Christo facilmente si ottiene collacquisto
dellIndulgenze. 10. Non sono le operationi nostre buone, ne le penetze, ma il Sangue di
Gies Christo, che sodisf alle nostre colpe. 11. Il Sangue del Redentore conferisce somma
quiete allanima nelle sue imperfettioni. 12. Dalle mani della Madonna Santissima sofferisce, e si dispensa il tesuro del Sangue di Christo. 13. Chi uiue diuuto del Sangue di
23

308

the world and in the hereafter. The fourth truth is that the sole remedy for
the sinners ills is the Precious Blood of Christ, and the fifth is that the
Savior ardently desires the sinners participation in His Blood. Here a
lengthy passage is devoted to expressing the universal efficacy of the
Eucharist, through the metaphor of the Blood of Christ as an infinite sea
that covers the world. Marchese relates the concept to that of the Blood as
a fountain and as a river; he cites a variety of sources, including the prophets
Job (38:11, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?) and Micah (7:19,
and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea), St. John
Chrysostom (Hom. 41 in Ioann., This Blood, poured out in abundance,
has washed the whole world clean), and Maria Maddalena de Pazzi, who
described the era of grace, in which the Incarnate Word sent the Blood of
Christ into this small world, as the second flood, following that of Noah.26
Christo speri di far una buona morte. 14. E difficilissimo, e quasi impossibile ottener il
frutto del Sangue di Christo da chi del continuo non lapprezza. 15. Il Sangue del Redentore
infiamma il cuore del Peccatore ad abbracciare le verit conosciute.
26
I quote the entire passage: Doue sono ora quelle anime timorose, e diffidenti dottener
dal Signore il perdono delle loro colpe? Considerino, che il Sangue del Saluatore paragonato ad vn fonte, il quale non racchiuso, e occulto; ma tutti esposto; di cui ragion in
ispirito il Profeta Zaccaria. In illa die erit fons patens Domui Jacob, & habitoribus Jerusalem in
ablutionem peccatorum. [I.e., Zac. 13:1 In die illa erit fons patens domni David et habitantibus
Jerusalem in ablutionem peccatoris et menstruatae.] Il Sangue sagratissimo del Verbo Diunio
vn fonte, che si spande in abbondanza per tutta la Casa del vero Giacubbe, cio per la Santa
Chiesa: e questo principalmente serue mondar lanima dalle macchie di tutti gli errori. Anzi
che rassembra vn gran flume, che vscito del proprio letto, corre liberamente per le vie, e
giunge ad inondar le case, e da luoghi sotterranei ascende infin alle stanze, oue dimoriamo.
Tale appunto ci si rappresenta limmenso fiume del Sgue Diuinissimo del Redentore: esce
talhora da confini della sua ordinaria, e sufficiente gratia, e con modi speciali d impulsi
interni penetra l interiore del cuore, dentro al quale brama entrare per lauarlo, e purificarlo
da ogni macchia di colpa; e doue troua resistenza, colla forza possente della sua gratia, foramina parat ubi ipse vult [Gilbert of Holland, Serm. 43 in Cant.; Cf. Migne, Patr. lat.,
CLXXXIV, col. 228], si f apertura in quel cuore se chiuso; e indurato nell empiet, fine
d inondarlo cull affluenza della sua infinita misericordia.
Ma dissi poco: non solo il Sangue di Christo vn fonte perenne, vn vasto fiume; ma
forma vn mare profondissimo, e senza termine; anzi forma vn mare assai pi vasto & ampio
dell Oceano: peroche questo sono prescritti i confini dall Autore della natura. Hic confringes tumentes fluctus tuos: ma il Sangue di Gies Christo inonda, e ricopre tutta la faccia
della terra, ne ristretto da alcun lido e confine; impercioche la sua immensa misericordia,
che dispensa senza misura questo Sangue Diuino, non ha verun termine, dimensione.
Quindi , che Santa Maria Madalena de Pazzi hebbe dire, che due volte il Signor Iddio
haueua mandato al Mundo il diluuio: il primo f tempo di No nell inondatione vniuersale della terra, e l altro era stato negli anni della pienezza della gratia [Mand (sono le sue
parole) ancora in questo picciol Mondo il Verbo vmanato il diluuio; e che diluuio questo?

BERNINIS DEATH

309

The succeeding truths assert that the Blood of Christ is communicated easily through the Holy Sacraments, especially Penitence and the Eucharist.
The treasure of the Blood can also be obtained with the assistance of indulgences, but neither good works nor penances actually erase sins, only the
Blood itself. The twelfth truth is specifically related to Berninis composition, and states that the treasure of the Blood is offered and dispensed
through the hands of the Virgin; it is here that the passage from Maria
Maddalena de Pazzi, which in abbreviated form provided the subtitle to the
Sangue di Cristo engraving, is cited in full from the source, Part II, Chapter
6 of Vincenzo Puccinis life of the saint: I offer you, Eternal Father, the
Blood of the humanity of your Word; I offer it to you yourself, Divine
Word; I also offer it to you, Holy Spirit; and if anything is wanting in me,
I offer it to you, Mary, that you may present it to the Most Holy Trinity.27
Marcheses thirteenth truth establishes the relevance of the others to death,
which is that he who lives devoted to the Blood of Christ may hope to die
well.
Other aspects of Berninis death find a context in Father Marcheses
Ultimo colpo. In particular, echoes may be heard here of those aphoristic
vna soprabbondante gratia, e l infusione del Sangue] [Opere, ed. L. M. Brancaccio, Naples,
1643, 15], del quale disse parimente S Gio: Crisostomo: hic sanguis effusus uniuersum abluit
Orbem terrarum. [Hom. in Ioan. 46; Cf. Migne, Patr., Series graeca, LIX, col. 261] Adunque
neIlampio seno di questo mare, anzi di questo diluuio, che si dilata sopra tutta la terra, si
offerisce opportuna occasione qualsiuoglia peccatore di gittare l immenso peso de suoi
innumerabili errori: ne della prontissima volont del Signore in cancellarli pu punto
dubitare, hauendo egli stesso fatto scriuere al suo Profeta Michea. Deponet iniquitates nostras,
& proijciet in profundum maris omnia peccata vestra (Unica speranza, 32 ff ).
The ocean metaphor also occurs in the Ultimo colpo: . . . il Sangue, che se n formato
vn pelago, e vn Oceano immenso, che ricopre tutta la faccia della Terra. Or io con questo
gran diluuio di sangue dourei assorbire, e soffocare tutti voi altri huomini temerarij . . .
(page 26); Animo, Peccatore, alza la mente illustrata dalla fede, e contempla vnampio
mare formato dal Sangue del Redentore, che assai pi vasto, e immenso di quello, che sia
lOceano (page 29). See also in the text below.
27
Vi offerisco, Padre eterno, il Sangue dellvmanit del vostro Verbo; lofferisco voi
stesso, Diuin Verbo; lofferisco anco voi Santo Spirito: e se manca me cosa alcuna,
lofferisco voi, Maria; accioche lo presentiate alla Santissima Trinit (Unica speranza, 83).
The original text read as follows: Tofferisco adunque il sangue del tuo vmanato Verbo;
lo presento te Padre Eterno. Lofferisco te, Verbo; lo presento te Spirito Santo, e se
cosa alcuna ci manca, loffrisco te, Maria, che lo presenti alleterna Trinit, per supplimeto di tutti i difetti, che fossero nell anima mia, e ancora per soddisfazione di tutte le
colpe, che fossero nel corpo mio (V. Puccini, Vita della Madre suor Maria Maddalena de
Pazzi fiorentina, Florence, 1609, 241 ff ).

310

statements of doctrine and belief which Domenico Bernini calls his fathers
shortcut to heaven. For example, in the Ultimo colpo Marchese thus
expresses the notion that it is an insult to Gods magnanimity to doubt His
forgiveness: It would be a manifest injury to the sovereign Goodness to
doubt obtaining from it the remission of our sins, while such efficient
means of reaching it are offered to us. Marchese uses the fiscal metaphor of
God as a beneficent capitalist in His dealings with the sinner, in a long passage in the same work, which concludes, Who would not wish to deal with
such a liberal merchant, who sells his very rich goods at so low a price? The
idea of sins being drowned or tinted to another color in the sea of Blood
also occurs in the Ultimo colpo: Therefore, make therein this happy shipwreck of yourself, and of all sins, precisely in the way that a drop of water
thrown into a river is immediately absorbed by it and transmuted into it.
Do you not see that the benign aura of Divine goodness often lifts its
amorous odes toward you from the breast of this bloody sea, to drown you
in itself, and then, having become all white, to raise you up as high as the
Throne of God, where it illuminates you ?28
Above all, the extraordinary thought of preparing for death by practicing dying must have been a matter of special study by Bernini and his
nephew. In the Preparamento a ben morire Father Marchese devotes no less
than four chapters to exercises of this kind.29 For one of the most important
of them he follows the ancient Ars Moriendi tradition which recommended
contemplation of the Crucifixion and the Virgin at the time of death.
Marchese urges the reader, turned in his heart and with his eyes toward a
Crucifix, to take great confidence in the immense value of the Blood of the
Savior shed for his love, and to offer it by the hands of the Blessed Virgin
28
Si farebbe adunque manifesta ingiuria alla sourana Bont, diffidare dottenere da essa
la rimissione delle nostre colpe, mentre ci si offeriscono mezzi tanto efficaci conseguirla.
Chi non volesse negotiare con si liberal mercante, che si basso prezzo vende le sue ricchissime merci?; Adunque f iui questo felice naufragio di te stessa e di tutte le colpe, in
quella guisa appunto che vna goccia dacqua gettata in vn fiume, resta da esso incontante
assorbita, e in quello trasmutata. Non vedi, che laura benigna della Diuina carit solleua
bene spesso verso di te dal seno di questo sanguinoso mare lde sue amorose, per annegarti
in se, e poi diuenuta tutta candida innalzarti tanto in alto, quto e alto il Trono di Dio, oue
ti sublima? (Cf. Ultimo colpo, 33, 32, 29 f ).
29
Chapters 1114, titled: Assuefarsi morir prima del passaggio dell anima da questo
allaltro Mondo. Farsi ora presente quello, che futuro; e si stima lontano. Figurarsi alle
volte di morire. Ponderar bene lo stato dellAnima nellaltro Mondo (Preparamento a ben
morire, 99137).

BERNINIS DEATH

311

Mary, our most clement advocate, to the Divine Trinity as was often
done by Santa Maria Maddalena de Pazzi in satisfaction of the grave debt
contracted by her with eternal justice.30 It is here, one may suppose, that
the Sangue di Cristo was to serve its primary purpose, as it did for Bernini
himself when he subsequently had the composition painted and placed
before his own deathbed.
The Genesis of the Sangue di Cristo Composition
The essential point of the Sangue di Cristo is that Salvation is achieved
through the sacrifice of Christ, which His mother offers to the Father.31 The
genesis of this deceptively simple concept may best be approached through
a drawing in Leipzig which perhaps represents a prior stage in Berninis
thinking, and which in any case follows a closely related tradition (Fig. 3).32
Rivolto nel cuore, e con gli occhi ad un Crocefisso prenda confidenza grande nel valore immenso del Sangue del Salvatore per suo amore sparso, e per le mani della Beatissima
Vergine MARIA nostra clementissima Auvocata lofferisca alla Divinissima Trinit; sicome
spesso soleva fare Santa Maria Madalena de Pazzis, in sodisfattione del gravissimo debito da
lei contratto con leterna giustitia (ibid., 121).
31
A drawing of the composition in the Tylers Stitchting, Haarlem, bears an old adscription to Bernini, and the license of the papal censor. It is probably by Baciccio according to
H. Brauer and R. Wittkower, (Die Zeichnungen des Gianlorenzo Bernini, Berlin, 1931, 155,
n. 4); J. van Regteren Altena supported the attribution to Bernini (Cristina Queen of Sweden,
exh. cat., Stockholm, 1966, 464, No. 1146; cf. Le dessin italien dans les collections hollandais,
exh. cat., ParisRotterdamHaarlem, 1962, 201 f, No. 166); B. Canestro Chiovenda reaffirms Baciccios authorship Ancora del Bernini, del Gaulli e della regina Cristina,
Commentari, XX, 1969, 223 ff ).
On the various painted versions of the composition, see L. Grassi, Bernini pittore, Rome,
1945, 49 f, Figs. 8182; V. Martinelli, Le pitture del Bernini, Commentari, I, 1950, 103;
Canestro Chiovenda, Ancora del Bernini.
32
Brauer and Wittkower, Zeichnungen, 166 f, Pl. 128, regarded the Leipzig sketch as a
study for the Sangue di Cristo (cf. R. Wittkower, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The Sculptor of the
Roman Baroque, 2nd ed., London, 1966, 257). The precedence of the Leipzig drawing is
doubtful, however, and it may have been made for another purpose: it was evidently the
point of departure for the dome fresco of the Ges, executed 167275 by Baciccio with
advice from Bernini (cf. K. Lanckoronska, Decoracja ko cioa Il Ges na tle rozwoju baroku
w rzymie, Lww, 1936, 19 ff, 51 f; F. Haskell, Patrons and Painters, New York, 1963, 82; R.
Enggass, The Painting of Baciccio, University Park, Pa., 1964, 32 ff, 135 f ).
Presuming a direct connection between the Leipzig sketch and the Sangue di Cristo,
Lanckoronska was led to the conclusion that certain Baciccio drawings related to the latter,
in Dsseldorf and Berlin, were studies for an alternate version of the Ges dome. B.
Canestro Chiovenda suggested, instead, that the Baciccio drawings were preparatory for the
30

312

Christ is shown seated with His back to the spectator on a bank of clouds,
arms extended around a cross; the hands are opened, palms up, in a gesture
of offering to the Father, who appears above with arms outstretched. The
Virgin kneels facing Christ at the right, head inclined, her hands pressing
her breast. Panofsky, who first published the drawing, showed that the composition refers to a late medieval devotional formula, derived from the
Speculum humanae salvationis (Fig. 4).33 This illustrates the intercessional
roles in the process of salvation of Christ, who offers His sacrifice to the
judging Father, and of the Virgin, who offers her motherhood.
What requires emphasis, here is the fact that this theme was central to
the ideology of death in general, and to the Ars Moriendi in particular. It
appears, notably, in the interrogations, where moriens is advised, should
God wish to judge him, to reply thus: Lord, I will place the death of your
son and our Lord Jesus Christ between me and your damnation to the torments; I have no wish to contend with you. And if He should say that you
deserve eternal death, say thus, I place the death of the same Jesus Christ
between you and my demerits, and I offer the merit of His most worthy
passion for the merit I should have and, woe is me, do not yet have. And
add, I also put the death of Our Lord Jesus Christ between me and your
wrath 34 The thought and phraseology of these passages seem to reverberate in that from Maria Maddalena de Pazzi cited on the engraving, and in
mosaic in the dome of the vestibule of the Baptismal Chapel in Saint Peters, a commission
Baciccio received and began but never completed (Cristina di Svezia, il Gaulli e il libro di
appunti di Nicodemo Tessin d. y. [16871688], Commentari, XVII, 1966, 177); it appears
that this hypothesis is substantially correct, since the composition envisaged in the drawings
is reflected in the mosaic subsequently executed by Francesco Trevisani (cf. F. R. DiFederico,
Documentation for Francesco Trevisanis Decoration for the Vestibule of the Baptismal
Chapel in Saint Peters, Storia dell Arte, VI, 1970, 155 ff ).
33
Imago Pietatis, in Festschrift fr Max J. Friedlnder zum 60 Geburtstage, Leipzig,
1927, 294. Cf. J. Lutz and P. Perdrizet, Speculum humanae salvationis, Mulhouse, 190709,
293 ff, Pls. 137 f; D. Koepplin, s. v. Interzession, in Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie,
Rome, etc., 1963ff, II, cols. 346 ff. A further example is a panel ascribed to Bartolomeo di
Giovanni in the Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal (A. Neumeyer, Der Blick aus dem Bilde,
Berlin, 1964, Fig. 16).
34
Se Iddio ti volesse giudicare, di cosi, Signore, io metter la morte del tuo figluolo, e
Signor nostro Giesu Cristo fra me, e il giudizio tuo ai tormenti: con teco non voglio contendere. E se egli dicesse, che tu hai meritato la morte eterna; dirai cos; Io metto la morte
dello stesso Giesu Cristo infra te, e i miel demeriti; & il merito della sua dignissima passione
offerisco per lo merito, che io douerei hauere, e, misero me, non ho ancora. E soggiunga,
Io pongo medesimamente la morte del nostro Signor Giesu Cristo fra me, e lira tua
(Dellarte del ben morire, Naples, 1591, 28).

BERNINIS DEATH

313

Berninis idea, recorded by his son, of the humanity of Christ as the protective Veste de Peccatori.
In the Ars Moriendi itself the invocation had been illustrated paratactically, as it were, by the presence of the Crucifixion with the grieving Virgin
at the deathbed (cf. Fig. 2); the full dedication of the Bona Mors confraternity also juxtaposed the Crucifixion and the Mater Dolorosa with death.
The Speculum humanae salvationis and the Ars Moriendi thus represent two
complementary but distinct conceptions; the one focuses upon the process
of intercession through which salvation is attained, the other upon the sacrificial act which the dying man invokes.
In the Sangue di Cristo engraving these ideas are merged. Bernini was not
the first to combine them. Indeed, striking evidence that he intended the
merger is provided by the fact that a similar line of thought produced what
is in some respects the nearest antecedent for his design. This occurs in a
stained-glass votive window in the cloister of the Cistercian monastery at
Wettingen, Switzerland, dated 1590 (Fig. 5).35 Moriens is shown below giving up the ghost, while the interceding Virgin, Christ Crucified, God the
Father and the Dove are represented above as a cloud-borne apparition. The
chief difference between this and ordinary intercessional scenes is that, as in
the Ars Moriendi, Christ is shown on the Cross; as in the Speculum tradition, however, He points with one hand to the chest wound. The key to
such a depiction evidently lies in the donor: since the historical Crucifixion
is invoked by him, he is the subject of the scene; and since the symbolic
intercession is enacted for him, he is also the object.
This is the context to which the Sangue di Cristo belongs,and its fundamental innovation was the superimposition of the Eucharist as the dominant
theme. Though always present in the ritual of death in the form of the
viaticum, we have seen that the Eucharist had been given new emphasis in
Bellarminos De arte bene moriendi; special devotions to and exposition of the
Sacrament had followed upon prayers to the Crucified Christ and the Mater
Dolorosa in the Friday services of the Bona Mors congregation; for Father
Marchese the Eucharist was the sine qua non of the dying mans aspiration.
In the Sangue di Cristo it is, literally and figuratively, the solution in which
the act of sacrifice and the process of intercession are fused. The result was,
in effect, a new, synoptic presentation of the scheme of salvation, and it
entailed a variety of changes in the old formulations. One important inven35

Lutz and Perdrizet, Speculum, 294.

314

tion concerned the Virgin. Kneeling beneath the Crucifixion, she no longer
presses her breast, but extends her hands to receive and offer the Blood to
God the Father. Shown thus, the figure is a conflation of the interceding
Virgin with the personification of Ecclesia, often represented standing
beneath the Crucifixion holding a chalice to collect the Blood, in allusion to
the sacrificial liturgy of the Mass. From a theological point of view the conflation was wholly justifiable, since Mary intercedes as Mater Domini while
as Mater Ecclesia she expresses the intermediary role of the Church. By having her kneel, and giving her a gesture of offering as well as receiving the
Blood, Bernini was able to make the Virgin intercede through the Eucharist
in conformity with the pious sentiment of Maria Maddalena de Pazzi, as
Father Marchese says in the preface to Unica speranza.36
The most dramatic new feature of the design, however, was the introduction of the Sea of Blood metaphor to portray the universality of redemption. The metaphor had ancient roots: witness Father Marcheses own citations and that from Pauls Epistle to the Hebrews which provided the main
caption for the engraving. The liquidity and universality of the Eucharist
had often been linked, as through the imagery of the Fountain of Life and
the river of blood, to which Marchese refers.37 An example of the latter
On Ecclesia with the chalice, cf. C. Schiller, Ikonographie der christlichen Kunst, 2 vols.,
Gtersloh, 196668, II, 117 ff. As a floating figure the Virgin also recalls the flying angels
that often receive the Blood in chalices in Crucifixion scenes. The Virgin and angels occasionally have upturned hands, but as a gesture of dismay, not in connection with the Blood.
The notion of the Virgin offering the sacrifice is related to that of her priesthood; in a
Flemish engraving of the early seventeenth century she is shown kneeling, cloud-borne,
before an altar, and offering the chalice to God the Father and the Holy Spirit above (G.
Missaglia, et al., La madonna e leucaristia, Rome, 1954, Fig. 102).
The emphasis placed in the Sangue di Cristo and by Father Marchese on the transmission of the offering through the Virgins hands, is based on St. Bernard: Sentimento assai
comune de Santi Padri, e singolarmente di S. Bernardo non dispensarsi a fedeli alcuna gratia dal Signor Iddio, che non passi per le mani della Beatissima Vergine nostra signora
(Unica speranza, 82); compare St. Bernards . . . si quid spei in nobis est, si quid gratiae, si
quid salutis, ab ea noverimus redundare, quae ascendit deliciis affluens, and Forte enim
manus tuae, aut sanguine plenae, aut infectae muneribus, quod non eas ab omni munere
excussisti. Ideoque modicum istud quod offerre desideras, gratissimis illis et omni acceptione
dignissimis Mariae manibus offerendum tradere cura, si non vis sustinere repulsam (De
aquaeductu, Migne, Patr. lat., CLXXXIII, cols. 441, 448).
37
Panofsky also saw the relationship of the Sangue di Cristo composition to the Fons
Vitae and the Christ in the Wine Press (see below); Imago Pietatis, 284. For the relation to
the Fons Vitae, see recently M. Wadell, Fons Pietatis. Eine ikonographische Studie, Gteborg,
1969, 84 f.
36

BERNINIS DEATH

315

whose visionary character anticipates Bernini is a woodcut design by


Botticelli, to which Vasari gives the title Triumph of the Faith (Fig. 6).38 This
depicts an actual vision described by Savonarola in one of his sermons; the
Crucifixion is shown in a circular landscape signifying the world, and the
Blood pours down from the Cross to form a river in which converts to the
faith cleanse themselves of sin. An analogous theme is that of Christ in the
Wine Press, which, in the frontispiece to a Protestant bible of 1641 is
accompanied by the passage from Hebrews cited on the Sangue di Cristo
engraving.39 Yet, none of these texts explicitly identifies the Eucharist as an
ocean, and the idea had not to my knowledge been depicted before. As evident from the very title of Marcheses Unica speranza, it was the desire to
convey the eschatological aspect of the Sacrament, again to relate death and
salvation, that motivated the extension of the metaphor to a universal
deluge.40
A final innovation in the engraving is that the Crucifixion forms the
central focus of the composition and is shown on a diagonal axis viewed
from below, floating in mid-air. The perspective treatment has been related
to the diagonally oriented crosses that had become popular in narrative
scenes of the Crucifixion, probably on the basis of Northern depictions of
the three crosses on Mount Calvary.41 The device helps to create the impression that the observer is an incidental bystander, hence specifically a witness
of the event. But Bernini seems to have been influenced by other, visionary
themes. The arrangement, with God the Father above, recalls depictions of
the Trinity in which the Crucifixion appears aloft, often in sharp perspective. Though Bernini omits the Dove, a reference to the Trinity is implicit
from the text of Maria Maddalena de Pazzi quoted on the print, in which
the sinners ultimate appeal is to the Trinity. The idea of a monumental cross
suspended in foreshortening was familiar from sacramental images illustrating the Exaltation or Triumph of the Cross. An example Bernini certainly
knew was the fresco by Cherubino Alberti in the Aldobrandini
38
The woodcut was first identified with that mentioned in Vasari by Ferrara, Savonarola,
11, 59 ff.
39
Illustrated in Schiller, Ikonographie, II, Fig. 812.
40
Compare a panel of the early fifteenth century by Giovanni di Paolo, in which blood
from the feet of the Man of Sorrows appears to flow on the ground to a group of the Saved
in a scene of the Last Judgment (cf. C. Eisler, The Golden Christ of Cortona and the Man
of Sorrows in Italy, Art Bulletin, LI, 1969, 115, 233, Fig. 18.
41
Van Regteren Altena, Le dessin italien (cited n. 31 above) refers to Crucifixions by G.
B. Castiglione in this connection.

316

4. Filippino Lippi, The Intercession of Christ and the Virgin.


Munich, Alte Pinakothek.

BERNINIS DEATH

5. The Death of Moriens and Intercession of Christ and the Virgin,


stained-glass votive window. Wettingen, Switzerland.

317

6. Sandro Botticelli, Triumph of the Faith, woodcut


(from Ferrara, Savonarola, II, pl. III).

8. The Death of Moriens, engraving by R. de Hooghe


from D. de la Vigne, Spiegel van een salighe Doodt,
Antwerp, 1763 (?) New York Public Library.

318

7. Cherubino Alberti,
Triumph of the Cross.
Rome, Santa Maria sopra
Minerva (photo: GFN).

BERNINIS DEATH

319

320

9. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Study for the Bust of the Savior, drawing,


171 x 254mm. Rome, Gabinetto Nazionale delle Stampe.

10. Gianlorenzo Bernini,


Bust of the Savior.
Norfolk, Va.,
Chrysler Museum
(photo: R. Thornton,
Providence, R.I.).

321

BERNINIS DEATH

11. Gianlorenzo Bernini,


detail of the
Bust of the Savior.
Norfolk, Va.,
Chrysler Museum
(photo: R. Thornton,
Providence, R.I.).

12. Gianlorenzo Bernini,


detail of the
Bust of the Savior.
Norfolk, Va.,
Chrysler Museum
(photo: R. Thornton,
Providence, R.I.).

322

13. Gianlorenzo Bernini,


detail of the
Bust of the Savior.
Norfolk, Va.,
Chrysler Museum
(photo: R. Thornton,
Providence, R.I.).

14. Gianlorenzo Bernini,


detail of the
Bust of the Savior.
Norfolk, Va.,
Chrysler Museum
(photo: R. Thornton,
Providence, R.I.).

BERNINIS DEATH

15. Reconstruction of
Berninis Bust of the Savior
(drawing by Paul Suttman).

16. Gianlorenzo Bernini,


Study for a Monstrance,
drawing, 237 x 163mm.
Leipzig, Museum der
bildenden Knste,
Graphische Sammlungen.

323

17. Leone Leoni, Bust of Charles V.


Madrid, Museo del Prado (photo: Mas).

18. Benvenuto Cellini, Bust of Cosimo I. Florence,


Museo Nazionale del Bargello (photo: Alinari).

324

19. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of Francesco I dEste.


Modena, Museo Estense (photo: Alinari).

20. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of Louis XIV.


Muse de Versailles (photo: Alinari).

BERNINIS DEATH

325

326

21. Louis XIV, engraving by E. Gantrel after a design by P. P. Sevin.


Paris, Bibliothque Nationale.

BERNINIS DEATH

22. The Colonna Claudius,


engraving (from B. de
Montfaucon, Lantiquit
explique, Paris, 1719,
V, Pl. CXXIX).

23. Antique base and


17th-century pedestal
of the Colonna Claudius.
Madrid, Museo del Prado
(photo: Mas).

327

328

chapel, dedicated to the Sacrament, in Santa Maria sopra Minerva, where


the Cross is borne by angels through a circular opening painted in the vault
(Fig. 7).42
In the case of Albertis fresco the foreshortening is calculated for the
spectator approaching the chapel from the front. The angle of vision in
Berninis engraving bears an uncanny resemblance to that from which
moriens sees the Crucifixion in the Ars Moriendi illustrations (Figs. 2, 8).43
One cannot repress the suspicion that the whole image was conceived to be
seen exactly as Bernini saw it, at the foot of his own deathbed. Whereas the
artists of the Ars Moriendi represented the death scene, Bernini isolated the
vision and made the viewer its witness.
2. The Bust of the Savior
The second work mentioned by the biographers, the bust of the Savior,
has been lost since the early eighteenth century.44 It was noted in Queen
Christinas palace by Nicodemus Tessin, Jr. on his visit to Rome in
168788; when Christina died in 1689 she left it to Pope Innocent XI
Odescalchi, and thereafter it was listed in a 1713 inventory of the Palazzo

42
For this fresco, datable 160911, see L. Venturi, Storia dellarte italiana, 11 vols.,
Milan, 190107, IX, pt. 5, Fig. 539; F. Wrtenberger, Die manieristische Deckenmalerei in
Mittelitalien, Rmisches Jahrbuch fr Kunstgeschichte, IV, 1940, 112 ff. See also the examples
by Pietro da Cortona in the sacristy of the Chiesa Nuova, and by Lanfranco in the Cappella
della Piet in Saint Peters (G. Briganti, Pietro da Cortona, Florence, 1962, 205, No. 50).
43
The striking parallel illustrated in Fig. 8 is from David de la Vigne, Spiegel van een
salighe Doodt, with engravings by R. de Hooghe, probably published at Antwerp in 1673 (cf.
J. Landwehr, Romeyn de Hooghe as Book Illustrator, Amsterdam, 1970, 79). De Hooghes
imagery is also closely analogous to that of the chapel of St. Anne and the Beata Ludovica
Albertoni in San Francesco a Ripa, which Bernini designed at this same period; there the
altar painting appears as a devotional picture beside Ludovicas deathbed.
Other scenes of visions of the Crucifixion should be compared as well; e.g., Pietro Liberi,
Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice, before 1660 (F. Zava Boccazzi, La basilica dei Santi Giovanni
e Paolo in Venezia, Padua, 1965, Fig. 113), Luca Giordano, Santa Maria del Pianto, Naples,
166061 (O. Ferrari and G. Scavizzi, Luca Giordano, Naples, 1966, Fig. 94).
44
What is known of its history will be found in Wittkower, Bernini, 265, and B.
Canestro Chiovenda, Cristina di Svezia (cited in n. 32 above), 172 ff.

BERNINIS DEATH

329

Odescalchi.45 Nothing more is known concerning its history.46 A belle


copie of the sculpture was commissioned by Berninis friend and would-be
biographer Pierre Cureau de la Chambre, Abb of Saint-Barthlemy in
Paris, where it was brought soon after the artists death.47 There is no further
record of the copy; the Church of Saint-Barthlemy was destroyed in the
French Revolution.48 Until now the only dependable indication of the busts
appearance has been a preparatory drawing by Bernini in the Corsini collection in Rome (Fig. 9). The drawing suffices to show that it differed
markedly from ordinary representations of its kind: the drapery engulfs the

The descriptions in Tessin and the 1713 inventory are as follows: Im zimber inwendig
vor der andern Antechambre, stehet dass halbe grosse Christbildt von Marmer, welches Cav.
Bernini im Testament Ihr Maijesteten verlassen hat; unter ist die plinthe darvon von zweijen grossen knienden vergulten Engel artig sousteniret, die eine grosse plinthe unter sich
wieder haben (O. Sirn, Nicodemus Tessin d.y:s Studieresor, Stockholm, 1914, 184).
Un busto di Marmo, che rappresenta il Salvatore con una mano, e panneggiamento
scolpito dal Bernini; alto palmi di passetto 4 e due terzi, il suo piedistallo di diaspro di
Sicilia, alto palmo uno et un quarto, largo di sotto due palmi et un quarto, qual busto vien
sostenuto con ambi le mani da due angioli, che sono in ginocchio sopra un gran piede il
tutto di legno dorato, quali assieme col zoccolo son alti palmi nove di passetto (Brauer and
Wittkower, Zeichnungen, 179, n. 1).
Cf. also an Avviso of April 23, 1689, in which the base is said to be of porphyry (E. Rossi,
Roma ignorata Roma, XX, 1942, 215).
46
On the Odescalchi collections, see H. H. Brummer, Two works by Giulio Cartari,
Konsthistorisk Tidskrift, XXXVI, 1967, 106 f.
Wittkower suggested (Bernini, 265) that the Savior may have been taken to Spain in
1724, when a large number of Odescalchi sculptures was bought by Philip V. But it does not
appear in the list of works, ancient and modern, included in the sale (Rome, Archivio
Odescalchi, V.B.1, fasc. 20; cf. Brummer, Two works, 123, n. 12); in fact, it was among the
objects entailed in a fidecommisso by Livio Odescalchi (died 1713), none of which was sold
(Arch. Odescalchi, XI.B.F.4, fasc. 139, Mobili sottoposti dal Test.re D. Livio primo
Odescalcho alle leggi di Maggiorasco . . ., fol. 15r).
47
II na rien fait dpuis quun Ouvrage de devotion dont on verra bien-tost une belle
Copie saint Barthelemy. Cest un Buste dun Christ my-corps avec deux mains [italics
mine] donnant la benediction, par o il a fini sa vie. Il la laiss la Reine Christine de Suede,
qui dit fort obligeamment sa Famille, quand on le luy presenta, que le Cavalier le luy avoit
offert plusieurs foix de son vivant, mais quelle lavoit tojours refus, parce quelle navoit
pas dix-mille escus pour len rcompenser (loge de M. la Cavalier Bernin par M. lAbb
de la Chambre de lAcademie Franoise, Journal des Savans, February 24, 1681, 61).
48
The copy was in Saint-Barthlemy in 1686, but is not mentioned in later descriptions
of the church, which was pulled down in 1792 (Canestro Chiovenda, Cristina di Svezia,
172).
45

330

body, rendering the torso indistinguishable; the head and raised arm move
in opposite directions.49
In the Chrysler Museum at Norfolk, Virginia, is a marble bust of Christ
which corresponds so closely to the descriptions in the sources and the
Corsini drawing that it must be either Cureaus copy or the original (Figs.
1014) .50 In the course of studying the piece my own opinion has shifted
from the former to the latter attribution. Initially the work seems perverse,
not to say repellent. The proportions are curiously awkward; the massive
body, long neck and tapered head lack the classical balance and harmony
with which Bernini usually conceived the human body. The strained and
rather withdrawn pose is a reversal of Berninis predilection for open and
fluid movement. The surfaces of the face and drapery are generalized and
abstract, compared with the tremulous warmth and intimacy and fine differentiation of textures that ordinarily distinguish his autograph works. The
handling of the back, rough-hewn in the body, left unfinished at the head,
shows a degree of neglect almost unprecedented in his busts hardly evidence of the particular care he is reported to have lavished on the Savior.
These seemingly negative factors may actually speak in favor of the
Norfolk sculpture, given the subject and the special circumstances under
which the Savior was created. According to Baldinucci, Bernini himself
described the work as wanting in vivacity and tenderness and other good
I am not convinced (see Brauer and Wittkower, Zeichnungen, 179) that the head at the
right in this drawing is by a later hand; certainly it is not copied after the final work, as is
shown by the differences from the Norfolk marble. An anonymous drawing at Chatsworth
(Wittkower, Bernini, 265) seems unrelated to Berninis Savior.
50
Unpublished. I am indebted to Robert Wallace, author of The World of Bernini,
15981680 (Time-Life Library of Art), New York, 1970, for bringing this work to my attention. Height 93 cm.; width 92 cm. The three last fingers of the right hand have been broken and reattached; otherwise the condition is excellent.
Mr. Chrysler has given me, in litteris, the following account of its provenance. Purchased
in Paris in 1952 from the Vicomte Jacques de Canson (died 1958). De Canson, who knew
of Berninis gift to Queen Christina, reported that the sculpture had never left Italy before
entering his possession; he had received it from a pope (unnamed), to whom it had been
given before his election by Baron Giorgio Franchetti (died 1922), founder of the Galleria
Franchetti at the Ca dOro in Venice. My efforts to verify this account have been almost
fruitless. De Cansons daughter, Mme Jean Deschamps of Evry, remembers the piece vaguely,
and confirms that her father was received in private audiences by Puis XI and XII. Giorgio
Franchettis son, Baron Luigi Franchetti of Rome, has no knowledge of the sculpture but
recalls that his uncle Edoardo Franchetti had contacts with De Canson concerning works of
art. The Vatican secretariat of state was unable to help without more precise information.
49

BERNINIS DEATH

331

qualities of technique, owing to his advanced age. It was, in fact, his right,
working arm that ultimately gave way. One can readily imagine that Bernini
determined to husband his remaining energies, and concentrate on finishing the front. A no less important consideration than the artists physical
state is the ambiguous character of the image itself. A degree of austerity and
abstraction was inherent in the Salvator Mundi theme. We shall see that
Bernini deliberately referred to this traditional iconic type, in order to reinterpret it and achieve a new fusion of Christs heroic and human qualities.
Strongly affirmative, in my estimation, are passages like the subtly modelled
hands and arm and the loosely curling locks of hair, laced with running drill
holes, which are wholly in keeping with Berninis late style and match his
most brilliant technical effects. The very unevenness of quality is more readily understood as the work of a decrepit genius rather than a copyist, especially an able one, who would tend to transform the model uniformly
according to his lights.
Original or copy, the Norfolk sculpture serves to clarify and in some
respects correct the impression of the Savior given by the Corsini drawing,
the differences being due either to the angle of vision in the latter or, more
likely, I suspect, to a development in Berninis ideas between the drawing
and the final execution. The head is not only turned sideways, but upward
as well. The right arm is not extended forward, but held close to the torso;
nor is the gesture a conventional one of blessing, but the hand is raised vertically and the palm is turned slightly outward. Thus, the qualification
implicit in Domenico Berninis description of the gesture, alquanto sollevata, come in atto di benedire, becomes significant. Finally, the marble
makes quite plain what is barely discernible in the drawing and was
observed only by the Abb de la Chambre, namely, that Bernini in fact
included both hands; the wrist and upper part of the left hand are visible
under the right arm, lying against the breast.
The bust was completed by a monumental pedestal,which is described
by Tessin and in the 1713 inventory (cf. Fig. 15) . Under the bust was a base
of Sicilian jasper 28 cm. high and 50 cm. wide at the bottom. This was in
turn held in both hands by two angels who knelt on a large socle; angels and
socle together, which were of gilded wood, measured 198 cm. high. Overall
the work stood about 300 cm., or ten feet high. There is no proof that the
pedestal was made during Berninis lifetime, but there can be no doubt that
it was his invention. The general effect must have been similar to that seen
in a late drawing by Bernini for a sacrament altar, in which angels kneel on

332

the mensa and hold aloft by the base a monstrance containing the Eucharist
(Fig. 16).51
The bust of the Savior belongs typologically to the tradition of independent, bust-length sculptured portraits and images of holy personnages
that emerged in Italy around the middle of the fifteenth century.52 Within
this context the Savior is related to a class of busts in which both arms are
included; the bust appears complete and has a specific histrionic content.
Though common for reliefs and sculptures in niches or attached to architecture, the type is rather rare among independent busts. A few antique
examples are known;53 it was used from the Middle Ages on for reliquaries,
and was revived for ordinary busts by Verrocchio in the quattrocento.54
Characteristically such independent busts in the Early Renaissance were cut
through horizontally at the waist or above, worked fully in the round, and
displayed without a base, or on a low plinth. When in the late fifteenth and
early sixteenth centuries the imperial Roman bust form was revived
51
Brauer and Wittkower, Zeichnungen, 172, Pl. 131 a. Needless to say, the weight of the
bust can hardly have rested on the wooden angels hands; presumably there was some additional, invisible support.
52
Cf. I. Lavin, On the Sources and Meaning of the Renaissance Portrait Bust, Art
Quarterly, XXXIII, 1970, 207 ff.
Among the earliest such portrait busts of holy personages, it seems, is the St. Lawrence
in the Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo, Florence, often attributed to Donatello in the older literature (H. W. Janson, The Sculpture of Donatello, Princeton, 1963, 236 f; M. Lisner, Die
Bste des Heiligen Laurentius in der alten Sacristei von S. Lorenzo, Zeitschrift fr
Kunstwissenschaft, XII, 1958, 51 ff; C. Seymour, Jr., Sculpture in Italy, 1400 to 1500,
Harmondsworth, 1966, 240, n. 21, 246, n. 9).
53
Apart from the famous Commodus in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, I am aware of the
following ancient examples: the so-called Matidia in the Uffizi (G. A. Mansuelli, Galleria
degli Uffizi. Le sculture, 2 vols., Rome, 1958, II, 84, No. 86), a bust of a lady in the British
Museum (A. H. Smith, .A Catalogue of Sculpture in the Department of Greek and Roman
Antiquities of the British Museum, 3 vols., London, 18921904, III, 190 f, No. 190), and
another in the Berlin Museum (C. BImel, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Rmische Bildnisse,
Berlin, 1933, 48 f, No. R 117).
But see also the related material concerning half statues discussed in A. Frantz, H. A.
Thompson and J. Travlos, The Temple of Apollo Pythios on Sikinos, American Journal
of Archaeology, LXXIII, 1969, 410 ff.
54
For bust reliquaries of this kind, see E. Kovcs, Kopfreliquiare des Mittelalters,
Budapest, 1964, Pls. 10, 11, 22, 36, 42.; P. Toesca, Storia dellarte italiana. II. Il trecento,
Turin, 1951, 899 f; J. Braun, Bstenreliquiar, in Reallexikon der deutschen Kunstgeschichte,
Stuttgart, 1937 ff, III, cols. 274 ff, Figs. 810.
The Verrocchio referred to is of course the Lady with Flowers in the Bargello (for which
see now G. Passavant, Verrocchio, London, 1969, 33 f, 180 f ).

BERNINIS DEATH

333

shaped at the bottom, hollowed at the back and set on a tall, narrow base
the two-armed type failed to conform. So far as I know,Berninis Savior
is the first monumental marble bust since antiquity that is hollowed at the
back, stands free on a pedestal, and includes both arms.55 It combines, in an
unprecedented way for a Christian image, the living and dramatic quality
of a narrative figure with the commemorative and idolous quality of a classical bust monument.
The Savior is equally unprecedented in the treatment of the bust form
itself. The crossed arms that conceal the lower torso and the arrangement of
the drapery that envelops the body make the bust seem virtually self-sufficient, that is, not arbitrarily severed. Visually speaking, it is practically
impossible to say whether we are confronted by the upper half of a whole
human being, or a whole being in half-human shape. Furthermore, there
was an obvious reciprocity between the bust and its pedestal: the jasper base
served as an abstract support for a material weight, the bust as such, the
angels served as figurated supports for a metaphorical weight, the image of
Christ.
In the sections that follow we shall explore the background for Berninis
treatment of the bust and its pedestal, and seek to define the religious significance of the work.
The Portrait Bust as Apotheosis
The idea of a reciprocal and explicitly meaningful relationship between
the bust and its support was revived toward the middle of the sixteenth century as part of a general tendency to charge the portrait with significance
beyond that of simply commemorating the individual represented.56 The
cope of Guglielmo della Portas Paul III in Naples (154647) is adorned
55
A possible antecedent is Algardis bust of Paolo Emilio Zacchia in Florence, but its base
is not original (A. Nava Cellini, Per lintegrazione e lo svolgimento della ritrattistica di
Alessandro Algardi, Paragone, 1964, No. 177, 23) and I suspect it was meant to be displayed
without one, perhaps in a niche.
At the beginning of his career, in the portrait of Antonio Coppola in San Giovanni dei
Fiorentini (1612), Bernini had revived the ancient type of bust with one arm showing and
set on a base (I. Lavin, Five New Youthful Sculptures by Gianlorenzo Bernini and a Revised
Chronology of His Early Works, Art Bulletin, L, 1968, 223 ff ).
56
Precedents among busts of the quattrocento type are those with figurated plinths by
Francesco Laurana (see now, G. L. Hersey, Alfonso II and the Artistic Renewal of Naples
14851495, New HavenLondon, 1969, 37 ff ).

334

with an elaborate cycle of allegorical and Old Testament scenes by which


the Pope is invested as the patriarchal harbinger of heaven-sent peace and
wisdom; the strapwork base intended for the bust is inhabited by two
reclining male nudes, a shell and a floral garland.57 The precise meaning of
the base is not certain; presumably it alludes to the underworld and eternity. In any case the bust and base surely complement one another,
although there is no overt expression of a dynamic relationship between
weight and support.
This appears in the work of Leone Leoni, who used the idea to convey
the imperialist program of the Hapsburg dynasty. Leonis bronze Charles V
in the Prado (155355; Fig. 17) is conceived as a victors trophy held aloft
by two allegorical figures and the imperial eagle both devices based on
ancient Roman precedents.58 The torso itself is part of the message; its edges

See the exemplary study by W. Gramberg, Die Hamburger Bronzebste Paul III.
Farnese von Guglielmo della Porta, Festschrift fr Erich Meyer zum 60. Geburtstage,
Hamburg, 1959, 16072, where it is shown that the bases of this and a simplified workshop
version, also in Naples, were exchanged.
Reclining allegories of Ocean and Earth had appeared beneath the medallion portraits
of the deceased on Roman sarcophagi, a type that Michelangelo had earlier adapted in the
Medici Chapel (C. De Tolnay, The Medici Chapel, Princeton, 1948, 66, 166).
58
E. Plon, Leone Leoni sculpteur de Charles-Quint et Pompeo Leoni sculpteur de Philippe
II, Paris, 1887, 289 ff; H. Keutner, Sculpture Renaissance to Rococo, London, 1969, 308, No.
50, suggests that the allegories may represent Mars and Minerva. L. O. Larsson, Adrian de
Vries, Vienna, 1967, 36 ff, has recently studied Leonis bust in connection with the portrait
of Rudolph II made by de Vries in 1603 as a pendant to a version of the Charles V in Vienna.
In fact, I know of no direct prototype for Leonis conception (the Conservatori
Commodus, to which it has been compared, was discovered in the nineteenth century).
Rather, Leoni evidently combined elements from three different antique traditions: the bust
carried on the wings of an eagle (of which an example in the Capitoline had been known
since the fifteenth century; cf. ibid.; also G. Pozzi and L. A. Ciapponi, Francesco Colonna.
Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, 2 vols., Padua, 1964, I, 94, 108 f; A. Roes, Laigle psychopompe
de lpoque impriale, in Mlanges Charles Picard, II, Revue archologique, 1948, 88191; H.
Jucker, Auf den Schwingen des Gttervogels, Jahrbuch des bernischen historischen Museums
in Bern, XXXIXXL, 195660, 26688); the imago clipeata held by standing or flying victories, putti, etc. (cf. recently, R. Winkes, Clipeata imago. Studien zu einer rmischen
Bildnisform, [Ph.D diss., Bonn, 1969, 88 ff ]); and the cuirass trophy with defeated enemies,
often a male and a female, seated back-to-back underneath (G. C. Picard, Les Trophes
romains, Paris, 1957 [Bibliothque des coles franaises dAthnes et de Rome, Fasc. 187];
A. J. Janssen, Het antieke tropaion, Brussels, 1957 [Koninklijke Vlaamse academie voor
wetenschappen letteren en schone Kunsten van Belgie, Klasse der Letteren, Verhandelingen,
No. 27]). An arrangement comparable to Leonis occurs on the cuirass of a pseudo-antique
57

BERNINIS DEATH

335

coincide with the actual edges of an armored corselet, hence nothing is cut
off. This treatment represents an ingenious solution to the problem that
had confronted the Renaissance sculptor when the ideally shaped and supported classical bust form was revived, namely, how to allude to the whole
person of the sitter, an effect achieved automatically by the arbitrary truncation of the Renaissance type.59 Leonis empty cuirass is a visual pun, which
suggests that the bust not only contains the sitter, whom the viewer
inevitably imagines in toto, but is also a self-contained object, a commemorative monument in its own right.60
Other devices had been introduced by Benvenuto Cellini to suggest a
whole, living person. In his cuirassed Cosimo I (154547), Cellini, for the
first time, gave an asymmetrical movement to the arms, and almost completely disguised the cut-off (Fig. 18).61 At the right the amputation of the
arm coincides with the end of the epaulette; at the left the drapery, which
appears folded under itself rather than cut, hides the truncation as it moves
across to the knot at the center. Only the sheer, curving slice of the torso at
the right reminds the observer that the bust is an artificial, abstract thing,
rather than the upper part of a human being.

bust (head ancient) in Venice, perhaps by Vittoria (G. Traversari, Museo archeologico di
Venezia. I ritratti, Rome, 1968, No. 32).
Leonis idea also seems to me inconceivable without the inspiration, stylistic and otherwise, of Bambaias great panoply of trophies in the tomb of Gaston de Foix, formerly in
Santa Marta in Milan (Venturi, Storia, X, 1, Figs. 523 ff; cf. J. Pope-Hennessy, Catalogue of
Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum, 3 vols., London, 1964, II, 542 f ).
59
See the observations in my article cited above, n. 52.
60
Early precedents for the cuirass bust may be the problematic portrait of Alfonso I of
Naples in Vienna (Katalog der Sammlung fr Plastik und Kunstgewerbe. II Teil, Vienna, 1966,
9 f, No. 193; cf. Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien. Meisterwerke, Vienna, 1955, Pl. 68), and
that of Francesco Gonzaga by Gian Cristoforo Romano in Mantua (Venturi, Storia, VI, Fig.
778). A conceit analogous to Leonis allusion to the empty corselet occurs in Francesco
Segalas portrait of Girolamo Micheli (died 1557) in the Santo in Padua, where the bust
appears to rest on an armor stand (Venturi, Storia, X, 3, Fig. 144).
It should be emphasized that the Charles V also owes a considerable debt to the tradition
of reliquary busts (as suggested by J. Pope-Hennessy, The Portrait in the Renaissance,
LondonNew York, 1966, 177).
61
On moving arms, cf. Lavin, Five New Youthful Sculptures, 241 ff, and idem.,
Duquesnoys Nano di Crqui and Two Busts by Francesco Mochi, Art Bulletin, LII, 1970,
140 f. On the Medicean symbolism of the armor of Cellinis bust, see now K. W. Forster,
Metaphors of Rule. Political Ideology and History in the Portraits of Cosimo I de Medici,
Mitteilungen des kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, XV, 1971, 76 ff.

336

Bernini seems to take up Cellinis thought in his portrait of Francesco I


dEste of 165051 (Fig. 19). Here the severed edges of the body are completely hidden by the drapery, which acquires a miraculous dual existence
forming part of the sitters clothing, and enveloping the bust itself.62 The
image may thus be read alternatively as the upper part of a whole person,
or as a bust wrapped in a cloth of honor. The supporting function is also
fulfilled ambiguously: understood literally, the weight is borne by the conventional, abstract base; understood figuratively, it is sustained by an unseen
force that discharges upward through the drapery at the right.
In the portrait of Louis XIV (Fig. 20), made during his stay in Paris in
1665, Bernini developed these devices further, and combined them with the
idea of a bust-base monument that had lain virtually dormant since Leone
Leoni.63 The work must be imagined with the pedestal Bernini proposed for
it, described in Chantelous diary of the artists visit.64 It was to be mounted
On this device, cf. Lavin, Duquesnoys Nano di Crqui, 141, n. 66; it occurs in the
bust of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Jr. made in Rome in 1630 by Guiliano Finelli, Berninis
first assistant. A likely prototype is Cellinis Bindo Altoviti, which was in Rome until the
nineteenth century (E Camesasca, Tutta lopera del Cellini, Milan, 1962, Pls. 6687).
63
Apart from the Rudolph II of Adrian de Vries (above, n. 58) we may mention Bastiano
Torrigianis busts of Gregory XIII and XIV, where the torsos end at the bottom in symbolic
winged motives (cf. Gramberg, Hamburger Bronzebste, 171 f ). Prospero Clementis bust
of Ercole II dEste at Modena stood on a pedestal with an allegorical relief of Patience
(Venturi, Storia, X, 2, Fig. 475; cf. idem, La R. Galleria estense in Modena, Modena, 1882,
105f., Fig. 47).
64
Aprs quils ont t sortis, le Cavalier ma tir part et ma montr un dessin quil a fait
dun pidestal pour poser le buste, et ce pidestal est un globe du monde avec un mot qui dit:
Picciola basa. Il ma demand mon sentiment de cette pense. Je lui ai dit que je la trouvais
grande et noble, donnant juger pour lavenir de grandes choses du Roi. Il a ajout quoutre
le grand quelle porte avec elle, il en tirait un autre avantage: cest que cette boule par sa globulence empcherait quon ne toucht le buste, comme on a coutume de faire en France, quand
on voit quelque chose de nouveau. Je lui ai dit que sa pense se rapporte encore hereusement
la devise du Roi, dont le corps est un soleil avec le mot: Nec pluribus impar, et que ce
pidestal est le plus grand quon pouvait imaginer, mais quil fallait quil y mit son nom, pour
dire que cest lui qui la invent et la fait, afin quon ne pense pas que ce soit le Roi, qui parle
et qui trouve que le monde est une trop petite base pour lui. Il a ajout que ce pidestal ferait
un bel effet, lazur de la mer se distinguant du reste du globe, qui sera de cuivre dor . . .
Lon a parl ensuite du pidestal de son buste. Il a dit ce Sujet labb Buti, que le mot
de picciola basa, lui semblait cadrer mieux que celui de: sed parva, que labb avait trouv,
lequel a soutenu que le mot de base exprimait trop; quaux devises il faut laisser penser. Le
Cavalier a repliqu que basa pour un monde donnait assez penser. Il a ajout quil y faudrait
dessous une espce de tapis de mme matire que le globe, et quil ft maill et orn de
trophes de guerre et de vertus, a llvation dun ou deux pouces, dbordant plus que le
62

BERNINIS DEATH

337

on an enameled copper globe of the world, which in turn rested on a drapery of copper emblazoned with trophies and virtues; the whole was to be
placed on a kind of platform.65 The globe was to bear the inscription
Picciola basa as a punning reference to its physical size, geographical form
and supporting function (cf. Fig. 21).66
In the Louis XIV, the bust, as such, is scarcely perceptible behind the
screen of drapery; only at the left elbow is the viewer free to decide whether
the arm is cut off or continues across the chest, in a vital contrapposto
movement unprecedented in bust portraiture.67 Conversely, the drapery is
globe pour empcher encore davantage, quon ne pt approcher du buste, et quil faudrait
couvrir le tout dun petite courtine de taffetas et le nettoyer de la poussire avec un soufflet
(P. F. de Chantelou, Journal du voyage du Cavalier Bernin en France, ed. L. Lalanne, Paris,
1885, 150, 156).
65
How the bust was to be mounted on the globe is clear from another passage: Le cavalier durant cela tait auprs du scarpelin qui travaillait au pied du buste. Il lui a demand
de quelle qualit tait son marbre. Il lui a rpondu: Cotto. Il est donc, a dit le Cavalier, de
mme que celui du buste (M. Roland Bossard of the Muse de Versailles kindly informs
me that the base is in fact made of a separate piece of the same marble as the bust). . . . Je
lui ai demand, voyant lassiette de ce pied de buste carre, comment elle se pourrait adapter
au globe de la base. Il ma rpondu quon creuserait cette assiette la proportion de la globulence (ibid., 166).
Concerning the platform on which the whole was to rest: Le douzime, jai trouv le
Cavalier dessinant son buste pour y faire le pidestal, quil a projet en forme de globe. Il le
pose comme sur une espce destrade (ibid., 228).
66
The engraving reproduced in Figure 21 (Paris, Bibl. Nat., Cab. des Estampes cote AA
4 Gantrel), which seems to reflect Berninis idea for the Louis XIV, was brought to my attention by Mr. Peter Fusco; cf. A. Dayot, Louis XIV, Paris, 1909, ill. page 80. It bears the inscriptions P. Seuin in. (i.e., Pierre Paul Sevin, 16501710), Gantrel f. (Etienne Gantrel
16461706), Ste. Gantrel ex C. F. R. The bust shown (in reverse) is one at Versailles attributed to Coysevox, c. 1675 (No. 2195, C. Maumen and L. DHarcourt, Iconographie des
rois de France. Second partie, Archives de lart franais, Nouvelle periode, XIV, 1932, 62; cf.
E. Bourgeois, Le grand sicle, Paris, 1896, frontispiece).
67
A likely source for the pose was the portrait attributed to Titian of Pier Luigi Farnese,
now in Naples, which was in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome until 1662 (R. Pallucchini,
Tiziano, Florence, 1969, 286, Pl. 313); cf. also the Julius Caesar of Titians series of the
emperors in the Palazzo Ducale at Mantua (ibid., 341 f, No. 608; E. Verheyen, Jacopo
Stradas Mantuan Drawings of 15671568, Art Bulletin, XLIX, 1967, 6267). The composition was taken up by Bronzino for his portrait of Cosimo I (A. Emiliani, Il Bronzino, Busto
Arsizio, 1960, Pl. 90) and, in reverse, by Giulio Romano for his portrait of Alexander the
Great (F. Hartt, Giulio Romano, New Haven, 1958, 218, Fig. 466.; be it recalled that the
armor Bernini used for the bust was said to have been designed by Giulio Romano, and
given to Francis I by a Gonzaga duke; Chantelou, Journal 49, 151).
On Alexander see further, n. 71 below.

338

now scarcely perceived as clothing, but rather as a kind of magic carpet on


which the image rides.68 Since the ambiguity between person and thing is
now virtually complete, the base plays a new and crucial role. The edge of
drapery at the lower right curls up, revealing the expanding curve of the
support. Instead of a severed body on a base, as in the traditional bust, one
imagines a transition between human and abstract form, as in the traditional herm the one explicitly commemorative ancient portrait type.
This implied but hidden fusion of reality and idea is the visual equivalent
of the metaphorical apotheosis expressed by the superimposition of the
floating bust above the global pedestal.
The globe had often served as the base for imperial portrait busts in
antiquity, in reference to the monarchs apotheosis.69 I know of only one

To my knowledge, the only one who seems to have remarked on this effect of the drapery, albeit negatively, was Charles Perrault: . . . lcharpe, laquelle on donne tant de
louages, nest pas bien entendue. Comme elle enveloppe le bout du bras du Roi, ce ne peut
tre quune charpe quon a mise sur le buste du Roi, et non pas lcharpe qui toit sur le
corps du Roi quand on a fait son buste, parce que cette charpe alors nenvironnoit pas son
bras de la manire quelle lenvironne (P. Bonnefon, ed., Mmoires de ma vie par Charles
Perrault. Voyage Bordeau [1669] par Charles Perrault, Paris, 1909, 63).
The idea recalls the curtains on which portraits of the deceased on ancient sarcophagi
are often borne aloft (F. De Royt, tudes de symbolisme funraire. A propos dun nouveau
sarcophage romain aux Muses Royaux dArt et dHistoire, Bruxelles, Bulletin de lInstitut
historique belge de Rome, XVII, 1936, 16064; W. Lameere, Un symbole pythagoricien dans
lart funraire de Rome, Bulletin de correspondance hellnique, LXIII, 1939, 4385), and
medieval depictions of the soul carried heavenward on swaths of drapery (H. sJacob,
Idealism and Realism. A Study of Sepulchral Symbolism, Leiden, 1954, 121 ff. E. Panofsky,
Tomb Sculpture, New York, [1964], 93). Bernini first revived this motif in his memorial of
Alessandro Valtrini in San Lorenzo in Damaso (Wittkower, Bernini, 210, No. 43; dated
1639 by the inscription), and adapted it frequently thereafter in a variety of ways.
69
On this motif, whose connection with the Louis XIV seems not to have been observed,
see the literature concerning the Conservatori Commodus cited by H. von Heintze, in W.
Helbig, Fhrer durch die ffentlichen Sammlungen klassischer Altertmer in Rom, 4th ed.,
Tbingen, 1963 ff, II, 306 ff, especially S. A. Strong, A Bronze Bust of a Iulio-Claudian
Prince (?Caligula) in the Museum of Colchester; With a Note on the Symbolism of the
Globe in Imperial Portraiture, Journal of Roman Studies, VI, 1916, 2746; H. Jucker, Das
Bildnis im BItterkelch, Olten, 1961, esp. 154, n. 11; T. Hlscher, Victoria Romana, Mainz,
1967, 10, 25, 44, 47. A spheroid object, probably a fruit but easily to be taken for a globe,
also appears under busts of private individuals on sarcophagi (De Ruyt, tudes de symbolisme, 15459). Monumental examples Bernini might have known in Rome are the porphyry columns with projecting imperial busts on globes, now in the Louvre (R. Delbrueck,
Antike Porphyrewerke, BerlinLeipzig, 1932, 52 ff ). The motif was revived from ancient
68

BERNINIS DEATH

339

instance, however, in which the globe and military spoils are combined, the
former resting on the latter. This was a splendid and once famous monument of the Emperor Claudius, excavated in the Via Appia near Rome in
the 1640s (Fig. 22).70 It was displayed on an elaborately carved pedestal in
the Palazzo Colonna in Rome until the year before Berninis trip to Paris,
when it was taken to Spain. The bust has since disappeared, but the base
and pedestal added by the Colonna, which together stand six feet high
(184 cm.), are still to be seen in the Prado (Fig. 23). The Colonna Claudius
showed the Emperor wearing the aegis, looking to the side and slightly
upward, with a radiate crown on his head; the bust was supported on the
outspread wings of the Jovian eagle,which held the globe and the thunderbolt in its claws, and rested in turn on a wide pile of military spoils. Bernini
coins by Leone Leoni in a medal of Charles V (cf. Larsson, Adrian de Vries, Fig. 93). See also
the bust of Cybele in Mantegnas Triumph of Scipio in the National Gallery, London.
In connection with the Louis XIV, Keutner, Sculpture, 325, No. 170, refers to a medal
bearing the date 1661 which shows the King as the Sun God seated on a globe; however, the
medal was made in 1687 (cf. La mdaille au temps de Louis XIV, exh. cat., Paris, 1970, 181,
No. 259). On the other hand, something analogous to Berninis conception had appeared in
a medal of 1664 illustrating the Kings motto Nec Pluribus Impar, where the radiant face of
the sun rises over a terrestrial globe (ibid., 89, No. 123, ill. page 90).; this is the device
referred to by Chantelou (n. 64 above), and the same juxtaposition is made in the engraving
by Sevin and Gantrel (Fig. 21; cf. n. 66 above), where in the center the sun appears above
the bust resting on the globe and the impresa is illustrated in the upper left corner.
70
A. Blanco, Museo del Prado. Catalogo de la escultura. I. Esculturas clasicas, Madrid,
1957, 115 f, No. 225-E, Pl. LXVI. Blanco reports that a copy of the bust, by V. Salvatierra
(17901836), is in the depot of the Prado; my inquiries after it have been in vain. The
engraving of the ancient portions of the monument reproduced here in Figure 22, which
reverses the original, is from B. de Montfaucon, Lantiquit explique, 5 vols., Paris, 1719, V,
Pl. CXXIX.
There has been some confusion concerning the dates involved, arising apparently from
errors in R. Lanciani, La villa castrimeniese di Q. Voconio Pollione, Bullettino della commissione archeologica comunale di Roma, XII, 1884, 196. Pietro Santi Bartoli (16371700)
recorded that the work, to which he refers as la famosa deificazione di Claudin, was found
ne tempi, che il card. Francesco Barberini si trasferi in Francia. and that a cardinal Colonna
brought it as a gift when he transferred to the court of Spain (Memorie, first published in
Roma antica, Rome, 1741, 351; reprinted in C. D. Fea, Miscellanea filologica critica e antiquaria, 2 vols., Rome, 17901836, 1, CCLXIV f.). Lanciani interpolated the date 1654 for
the discovery, probably a misprint for 1645; Antonio Barberini fled to France late in the latter year, Francesco fled in January, 1646 and stayed until 1648. Lanciani also slipped in calling the Colonna cardinal Ascanio (died 1608); in fact it was Girolamo (died 1666), who
went to Spain in 1664 for the wedding of Margarita Teresa and Leopold I (A. Ciaconius,
Vitae et res gestae pontificum romanorum et S.R.E. Cardinalium, 4 vols., Rome, 1677, IV,
col. 568).

340

must have remembered this extraordinary work when he designed the Louis
XIV. The pose is transformed from one of divine inspiration into one of
personal vigor and nobility. The role of the crown is played by the wig,
which recalls the leonine mane of Alexander the Great. The symbolic protection of the aegis and the levitational force of the eagle are embodied in
the shielding, airborne drapery. The globe, instead of symbolizing the heavens, Joves realm, actually represents the earth.71 Whereas Claudius was literally divinized through metaphorical identification with the celestial ruler,
Louis XIV is metaphorically apotheosized by being literally identified as the
terrestrial ruler par excellence.
71
On the sideward turn and upward tilt of the head, see H.P. LOrange, Apotheosis in
Ancient Portraiture, Oslo, 1947, Chap. 2, 19 ff, Heavenward-Gazing Alexander.
Concerning the resemblance to Alexander, it is remarkable that Vasari in speaking of
Giulio Romanos portrait of Alexander (see n. 67 above), and a coin collector who saw
Berninis Louis XIV in progress, both refer to medals of Alexander (Le doyen de SaintGermain est aussi venu, et lui qui est curieux de mdailles a trouv que le buste a beaucoup
de lair dAlexandre et tournait de ct come lon voit aux mdailles dAlexandre,
Chantelou, Journal, 183, also 178). So far as I can see, portraits of Alexander on ancient
coins and medals are always in profile (one exception, much disputed, appeared in 1902, cf.
M. Bieber, Alexander the Great in Greek and Roman Art, Chicago, 1964, 79 f, Fig. 114). One
possible explanation is that Giulio was using a profile type of the helmeted Alexander (K.
Kraft, Der gehelmte Alexander der Grosse, Jahrbuch fr Numismatik und Geldgeschichte,
XV, 1965, 732), whereas Berninis visitor recalled one of the facing types, such as Helios (le
Roi Soleil), that were minted in the time of Alexander (cf. A. Baldwin, Facing Heads on
Greek Coins, American Journal of Numismatics, XLIII, 190809, 21331). On the other
hand, another passage in Chantelou shows that medals might also include gems (Journal,
235), and a number of these with facing heads have been identified as Alexander (K.
Gebauer, Alexanderbildnis und Alexandertypus, Mitteilungen des deutschen archologischen
Instituts. Athenische Abteilung, LXIIILXIV, 193839, 30 f, also 25). In any case, the turning, tilting head of Alexander became ubiquitous as the Dying Alexander (E.
Schwarzenberg, From the Alessandro morente to the Alexandre Richelieu, Journal of the
Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, XXXII, 1969, 398405).
Bernini was certainly thinking of Alexander when portraying the King (cf. R. Wittkower,
Berninis Bust of Louis XIV, London, 1951, 13 f ), and it is possible that the whole image
upward and sideward glance, as well as terrestrial globe below echoed the famous passage
in Plutarch describing Lysippuss portrait of Alexander and quoting its inscription: When
Lysippus first modelled a portrait of Alexander with his face turned upward toward the sky,
just as Alexander himself was accustomed to gaze, turning his neck gently to one side, someone inscribed, not inappropriately, the following epigram: The bronze statue seems to proclaim, looking at Zeus: I place the earth under my sway; you O Zeus, keep Olympos (J. J.
Pollitt, The Art of Greece 140031 B.C., Sources and Documents, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,
1965, 145). Perhaps this passage was in the mind of the observer who commented that the
world-pedestal enhanced the resemblance to Alexander (Chantelou, Journal, 178).

BERNINIS DEATH

341

With the bust of the Savior Bernini carried these ideas from the secular
to the religious sphere.
The Divine Simulacrum
In a formal sense the contrapposto relationship between the head and
right arm of the Savior may be viewed as a development from the composition of the Louis XIV. But the pose was motivated by more than formal
considerations. The Savior belongs thematically to the class of isolated,
bust-length depictions of Christ that include both arms. Such images may
be roughly divided into two groups, the Salvator Mundi and the Imago
Pietatis, according to whether Christs triumph or His human sacrifice is
stressed.72 Usually the Salvator Mundi shows the figure alive and clothed,
the left hand holding a globe, symbol of the universality of redemption, the
right hand raised in blessing, and the gaze fixed upon the observer in a
frontal stare.73 In the Man of Sorrows Christ is shown dead, the body is
nude, the head droops obliquely to the side, and the arms are folded across
each other on the breast.74 It seems clear that Bernini sought to amalgamate
the two traditional embodiments of the deity. In that the figure is clothed
and the right hand suggests a blessing, it evokes the Salvator Mundi; the
averted head and crossed arms allude to the Man of Sorrow. In expressive
terms the result is an almost ineffable combination of heroic suffering and
inspired benignity.
Berninis figure further recalls an intermediate type which has been
termed the rhetorical Man of Sorrows.75 Christ is shown alive, the nude
body exposed but draped in a mantle, the head bent downward to the side
and the glance oblique; one hand calls attention to the chest wound, the
other is raised in a gesture of pathetic exclamation. While Bernini must
have had this type in mind also, his Savior differs from it in two funda72
In general, cf. S. Ringbom, Icon to Narrative (Acta Academiae Aboensis, Ser. A.,
Humaniora, XXXI, No. 2), bo, 1965, 52 ff.
73
On the theme, cf. C. Gottlieb, The Mystical Window in Paintings of the Salvator
Mundi, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, LVI, 1960, 31332; L. H. Heydenreich, Leonardos
Salvator Mundi, Raccolta vinciana, XX, 1964, 83109; Ringbom, Icon to Narrative, 69 f,
171 ff.
74
The fundamental study is still that of Panofsky, Imago Pietatis, who regarded this as
the original form of the Man of Sorrows; for subsequent bibliography, see Eisler, The
Golden Christ of Cortona, III, n. 24.
75
Panofsky, Imago Pietatis, 289 f.

342

mental respects: the position of the head and eyes, and the gesture of the
right hand. The upward glance had become familiar in bust-length depictions of Christ, for example, in variants of the Salvator Mundi based on the
inspired figure in Federico Baroccis Last Supper in Urbino, and in pictures
of the agonized Ecce Homo crowned with thorns, by Guido Reni and
Guercino.76 But in these the head, though sometimes tilted, is not turned to
the side, and the eyes look directly aloft. Conversely, busts of Christ often
showed the head in three quarters, but the face and glance were not directed
upward.77 The Saviors gesture, with the arm held close to and across the
body and the hand raised vertically, is also sui generis. It is as suggestive of
intervention and rejection as of benediction or exclamation, and carries a
clear eschatological implication. In sum, Christ acts as though He were
interposing Himself between a threat coming from His upper right and
directed toward His lower left, the side of damnation, which He abhors.
It will have become apparent that essentially the same idea expressed in
Berninis Savior underlay the devotional pictures of intercession derived
from the Speculum humanae salvationis (Fig. 4). There Christ was represented with one hand indicating the chest wound, the other directed in
sympathy toward the spectator; the head and eyes turned to the side and
imploringly up toward God the Father. The rhetorical Man of Sorrows was
itself rooted in this tradition, which had already played a seminal part in the
development of the Sangue di Cristo composition. Berninis Savior, who
communicates with God, alludes to His own death, and conveys protection
to the observer, seems to act in response to the dying mans invocation in
the Ars Moriendi interrogations, I also put the death of Our Lord Jesus
Christ between me and your wrath.
Like the Sangue di Cristo the Savior constitutes in effect a new subject,
motivated once again by the desire to relate previously separate traditions to
the idea of death. The bust incorporates the act of intercession in which
Christ the sacrifice and Christ the redeemer are united. Hence the deeper
76
For illustrations, cf. J. Burns, The Face of Christ in Art, New York, 1907, ills. opp. pages
104, 108, 112.
77
See the examples in U. Schlegel, Eine neuerworbene Christusbste des Ludovico
Begarelli, Berliner Museen. Berichte, XI, 1961, 44 ff. Also a marble by Puget at Marseille,
dated 166263 by K. Herding, Pierre Puget, Berlin, 1970, 152 f, No. 20, but which may in
fact postdate Berninis Saviour (G. Walton, The Sculptures of Pierre Puget, Ph.D. diss.,
New York University, 1967, 241 f ); a fine bronze cast was recently acquired bv the Berlin
Museum (U. Schlegel, Alessandro Algardis Christusbste, Berliner Museen. Berichte, XXI,
1971, 23 ff, with attribution to Algardi).

BERNINIS DEATH

343

meaning of the pedestal becomes clear. The abstract base, traditional for
portraits, bears Christs mortal aspect. In general terms the kneeling and
supporting angels echo the ancient imago clipeata, where the medallion
framing a hallowed image was often lifted by winged genii; Christ and God
the Father had frequently been carried by angels; angels grasp the drapery
in many depictions of the Man of Sorrows; in reliquary busts the body
might appear angel-borne.78 But there was no real precedent for the bust
held aloft by its base.79 Most of all, Berninis arrangement recalls, as we have
seen, his own design for an altar of the Holy Sacrament (Fig. 16): the kneeling angels elevate the image as if it were the tabernacle of the Host. Thus,
both the figure and the pedestal the former through its expressive pose
and invisible truncation, the latter through its abstract and angelic supports
conveyed the dual nature of Christ and His work of atonement. At once
suffering and exultant as a portrait, the Savior is at once human and divine
as a bust.
The work belongs to still another tradition, which might be defined as
that of the sculptors last will and testament. The sixteenth century had produced several notable instances in which sculptors gave direct expression to
their own hopes for redemption, the Piet groups by Michelangelo and
Baccio Bandinelli, and Crucifixes by Benvenuto Cellini and Giambologna.
The shift from the dead to the living Christ is symptomatic: Berninis primary concern is not with Christ as the prototype of pathetic self-sacrifice,
but with His quintessential role as mediator in the process of salvation. It is
also symptomatic that, in contrast to these overtly narrative works, Bernini
chose the bust to express his thought; he created a kind of icon-portrait
monument because it enabled him to evoke more completely than any
other form the mystery of Christ, half god, half man. It is symptomatic,
finally, that these works were intended for the artists own tombs (and
might even contain autobiographical elements: Michelangelos and
Bandinellis include self-portraits, Cellinis alludes to a vision he had had in
For examples of the latter, see Toesca, Il trecento, 900, Fig. 746, and J. Montagu, Un
dono del Cardinale Francesco Barberini al Re di Spagna, Arte illustrata, IV, 1971, 50,
Fig. 8.
79
The concept has an analogue in Berninis adaptation of the framed image carried by
symbolic figures, which played a new and important role in his work; his use of this motif
in altarpieces has been the subject of an excellent study in an unpublished dissertation by R.
Jrgens, Die Entwicklung des Barockalters in Rom, Hamburg, 1956, 160 ff (typescript in
the Biblioteca Hertziana, Rome).
78

344

prison), whereas Bernini intended the Savior to be given away, and his sepulcher was marked only by an inscription with his name and the date of his
death.
* * *
The Sangue di Cristo engraving and the bust of the Savior are related
beyond the obvious fact of their common concern with salvation. The one
concentrates upon Christ as the victim, the other upon Christ as the savior;
the one is predominantly public and universal, the other is predominantly
private and personal. Both make radical changes in the traditions from
which they are derived, and the changes were inspired mainly by the desire
to relate those traditions to death. They are related to death not simply as
pious votives but as part of a concerted plan, conceived and executed by
Bernini over a period of forty years, to achieve salvation by preparing for
death. The idea for such a program and many of its elements stem from the
heritage of The Art of Dying, but the focus has shifted. In place of the temptations to sin and heresy, the accent is on the central mystery of the
Eucharist as the key to redemption. This new emphasis was present from
the beginning of the Ars Moriendi revival, in Bellarminos treatise and in the
devotions of the Bona Mors confraternity. It became to Father Marchese
and Bernini the only hope. The good death was no longer largely a dialectical victory over the devil but an extreme act of faith, performed successfully after acquiring the necessary skills.
Panofsky defined the unprecedented role of the personification Death in
Berninis funerary monuments as that of a witness to life . . . a power
which delimits and shapes the indefinite and places in perspective what
otherwise could not be perceived as a whole.80 The observation might be
extended to Bernini himself: his enactment of death, his vision of redemption and his portrayal of the Redeemer concluded a life-long process of
objectification in which what had been obscure or but faintly perceived
became conscious and deliberate.81
E. Panofsky, Mors Vitae Testimonium. The Positive Aspect of Death in Renaissance
and Baroque Iconography, in Studien zur toskanischen Kunst. Festschrift fr Ludwig Heinrich
Heydenreich, Munich, 1964, 231.
81
The opening invocation of Berninis testament, though conventional in such documents, contains a variety of thoughts and phrases that are of interest in the light of what has
been said in this essay; I transcribe it here, along with some of the relevant provisions:
80

BERNINIS DEATH

345

Appendix
Filippo Baldinucci
Correva gi il Bernino lottantesimo anno di sua vita e fin da alcun
tempo avanti aveva egli pi al conseguimento degli eterni riposi, che allaccrescimento della gloria mondana voltato i suoi pi intensi pensieri e forte
premevagli il cuore un desiderio di offerire, prima di chiuder gli occhi a
questa luce, alcun segno di gratitudine alla maest della gran regina di
Svezia, stata sua singolarissima protettrice; onde per meglio internarsi ne
primi sentimenti e disporsi ad effettuare i secondi, si pose con grande studio ad effigiare in marmo in mezza figura maggiore del naturale il nostro
A gloria della SS;ma Trinit, e della gloriosa sempre Vergina Maria, e di tutti li Santi miei
Protettori; Essendo la morte quel punto tremendo, donde dipende unEternit, di bene,
di pene, quindi che conforme lhuomo deue in ognhora pensare ben uiuere per ben
morire, cosi inescusabile errore il uolere trasportare in quellultimo passo laggiustamento
delle cose humane, quando lanima deue con gran timore prepararsi allinappellabile rendimento de conti alla Diuina Giustitia. Da ci mosso io infrascritto testatore al presente sano
per la Dio gratia di mente, di senso, et intelletto h pensato di fare il presente mio testamento scritto de uerbo ad uerbum dordine mio, e poi da me pi uolte letto, e maturamente
considerato
Primieramente raccomando lanima mia alla SS:ma Trinit, dalla cui infinita Bont, conforme h riceuto abondanza di gratie, cos la supplico di quella maggiore, senza la quale
nulla uale il mondo tutto, cio il perdono de miei peccati, e per conseguenza la salute
dellanima mia, mi raccomando inoltre allintercessione della gloriosissima Vergine Madre
Maria, dellAngelo mio Custode, e di tutti li Santi miei Auuocati, e particolarmente di
S. Giuseppe . . .
Lascio titolo di semplice Cappellania ad nutum amouibile, che dallinfrascritti miei
heredi gloria del pretiosissimo Sangue del Nostro Redentore Gies Christo si faccia celebrare una messa quotidiana in perpetuo suffragio, prima dellanima mia, e poi delli miei parenti, e finalmente di quellanima del Purgatorio, la liberatione della quale sar di maggior
gloria di Dio.
In oltre gloria della Beatis.ma Vergina Madre Maria lascio chogni anno in perpetuo nel
giorno dellAssunta si diano dallinfrascritti miei heredi scudi uenticinque m.ta per dote ad
una pouera zitella honesta, . . . Item lascio al Padre Don Francesco Marchesi Prete della
Chiesa Noua mio Nipote scudi cento moneta per una sol uolta pregandolo raccordarsi dellanima mia nelle sue orationi, e diuini offitij . . .
(Rome, Archivio di Stato, Not. A. C. (Mazzeschus], Busta, 4245, November 28, 1680,
fols. 278rv, 281).
It came to my attention after completing this article that Hans Kauffmann, with characteristic insight, speaks of Bernini as having been deeply concerned with the Ars Moriendi
(Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini. Die figrliche Kompositionen, Berlin, 1970, 334 f ).

346

Salvator Ges Cristo, opera, che siccome fu detta da lui il suo beniamino,
cos anche fu lultima, che desse al mondo la sua mano, e destinolla in dono
a quella maest, ma tal pensiero per gli venne fallito, perch tanto fu il
concetto la stima, che della statua fece la maest sua che non trovandosi
in congiuntura di poter per allora proporzionatamente contraccambiare il
dono, elesse anzi di ricusarlo che di mancare un punto alla reale magnificenza dellanimo suo; onde il Bernino gliela ebbe poi a lasciare per testamento, come noi a suo luogo diremo. In questo divino simulacro pose egli
tutti gli sforzi della sua cristiana piet e dell arte medesima, e fece conoscere
in esso quanto fusse vero un suo familiare assioma, cio, che lartefice, che
ha grandissimo fondamento nel disegno, al giugner dellet decrepita, non
dee temere di alcuno scemamento di vivacit e tenerezza e dellaltre buone
qualit delloperar suo, mercecch una tal sicurezza nel disegno possa assai
bene supplire al difetto degli spiriti, i quali collaggravar dellet si raffreddano, ci che egli diceva aver osservato in altri artefici . . .
E cos mentre dalla citt di Roma si apprestavano applausi al suo valore
per lo prospero riuscimento della restaurazione e assicuramento del palazzo,
egli avendo gi incominciato a perdere il sonno, diede in s fatta debolezza
di forze e di spiriti, che in breve si condusse al termine de giorni suoi. Ma
prima di parlare dellultima sua infermit e della morte, la quale veramente
apparve agli occhi nostri qual fu la vita, da portarsi in questo luogo, che
quantunque il cavalier Bernino fino al quarantesimo anno di sua et, che fu
quello, nel quale egli si accas, fusse vissuto allacciato in qualche affetto
giovenile, senza per trarne tale impaccio, che agli studi dellarte e a quella,
che il mondo chiama prudenza, alcun pregiudizio recar potesse, potiamo
dire con verit, che non solo il suo matrimonio ponesse fine a quel modo di
vivere, ma che egli, fin da quellora, incominciasse a diportarsi anzi da religioso, che da secolare e con tali sentimento di spirito, secondo ci, che a me
stato riferito da chi bene il sa, che pot sovente esser dammirazione ai
pi perfetti claustrali. Teneva egli sempre fisso un vivo pensiero della morte,
intorno alla quale faceva bene spesso lunghi colloqui col padre Marchesi suo
nipote sacerdote della Congregazione dellOratorio nella chiesa Nuova,
uomo della bont e dottrina, che nota; e con tal desiderio aspir sempre
mai alla felicit di quellestremo passo, che per questo solo fine di conseguirla dur quarantanni continovi a frequentar la divozione, che a tale
effetto fanno i padri della Compagnia di Ges in Roma; dove pure due volte
la settimana si cibava del sacramento eucaristico. Accresceva le limosine,
esercizio stato suo familiarissimo fino dalla prima et. Si profondava talora

BERNINIS DEATH

347

nel pensiero e nel discorso dunaltissima stima e concetto che egli ebbe sempre dellefficacia del Sangue di Cristo Redentore, nel quale (come era solito
dire) sperava di affogare i suoi peccati. A tale oggetto diseng di sua mano
e poi fecesi stampare unimmagine di Cristo Crocifisso, dalle cui mani e
piedi sgorgano rivi di sangue, che formano quasi un mare e la gran Regina
del Cielo, che lo sta offerendo allEterno Padre. Questa pia meditazione
fecesi anche dipingere in una gran tela, la quale volle sempre tenere in faccia al suo letto in vita e in morte.
Venuto dunque il tempo, non so sio dica da lui a cagione del grande
scapito di forze aspettato, o per lanelanza delleterno riposo desiderato, egli
inferm duna lenta febbre, alla quale sopravvenne in ultimo un accidente
di apoplessia, che fu quello che lo priv di vita. Stavasene egli tra tanto
paziente e rassengato nel divino volere, n altri discorsi faceva per ordinario,
che di confidenza, a segno tale che gli astanti, fra quali non isdegn di
trovarsi assai frequentemente leminentissimo cardinal Azzolino forte si
maravigliavano de concetti, che lamore gli suggeriva e fra questi il seguente
degnessimo di memoria. Preg egli instantemente quel porporato, che per
sua parte supplicasse la maest della regina a fare un atto damore di Dio per
se stesso, stimando (come egli diceva) che quella gran signora avesse un linguaggio particolare con Dio da esser bene intesa, mentre Iddio avea con lei
usato un linguaggio, che essa sola era stata capace dintenderlo.
Il continovo pensare, chei fece in vita a quel passaggio, gli aveva suggerito molti anni prima del suo morire un pensiero, e fu di rappresentare al
nominato padre Marchesi, il quale egli desiderava, che gli fusse assistente,
tutto ci, che egli gli doveva ricordare in quel tempo, e perch egli dubit,
che potesse avvenire ci che veramente accadde, di non potere in quellestremo usar la voce, volle chei fusse informato dei gesti e moti esterni
chegli aveva stabilito di fare per espressione dellinterno del suo cuore; e fu
cosa mirabile, che non avendo egli nella malattia, a cagione della flussione
del capo, potuto parlare se non balbettando ed avendo poi per lo nuovo
accidente perduta quasi del tutto la parola, il padre Marchesi lintendesse
sempre cos ed alle sue proposte desse cos adequate risposte, che bastarono
per condurlo con ammirabil quiete al suo fine. Avvicinavasi egli allultimo
respiro, quando fatto cenno a Mattia de Rossi e Giovan Battista Contini,
stati suoi discepoli nellarchitettura quasi scherzando disse loro nel miglior
modo, che gli fu possibile, molto maravigliarsi, che non sovvenisse loro
invenzione per trarre altrui il catarro dalla gola, e intanto additava colla
mano un instrumento matematico attissimo a tirar pesi eccedenti.

348

Linterrog il suo confessore sopra lo stato di quiete dellanima sua, e se egli


si sentiva scrupoli; rispose: Padre mio, io ho da render conto ad un Signore,
che per sua sola bont non la guarda in mezzi baiocchi. Si accorse poi davere il destro braccio impedito insieme con tutta quella parte a cagione dellapoplessia e disse: Bene era dovere, che questo braccio si ripossase
alquanto prima della mia morte, avendo egli tanto fatigato in vita. Intanto
piangeasi in Roma la gran perdita e la sua casa era occupata da un flusso e
reflusso di personaggi dalto affare e gente dogni sorte per intender novelle
e visitarlo in quello stato. Vennero, e mandarono due volte il giorno almeno
la maest della regina di Svezia, pi eminentissimi cardinali, e gli ambasciatori de principi. E finalmente la Santit di Nostro Signore gli mand la sua
benedizione; dopo la quale, allentrare del giorno 28 del mese di novembre
dellanno 1680, circa alla mezza notte, dopo quindici giorni dinfermit,
egli fece da questa allaltra vita passaggio nellet sua di 82 anni meno nove
giorni.
Lasci per suo testamento alla santit del papa, un gran quadro di un
Cristo di sua mano ed alla maest della regina di Svezia il bel simulacro del
Salvatore in marmo, ultima opera delle sue mani, della quale sopra abbiam
parlato. Alleminentissimo Altieri una testa di marmo con busto ritratto di
Clemente X, alleminentissimo Azzolino, stato suo protettore cordialissimo,
una simile di papa Innocenzo X suo promotore e non avendo altra cosa di
marmo, lasci al cardinal Rospigliosi un quadro pure di sua propria mano. E
con fidecommisso strettissimo lasci in casa propria la bella statua della Verit,
che lunica opera di scarpello, che restata in potere de suoi figliuoli.
Cosa troppo lunga sarebbe il parlare del dolore, che apport una tal
perdita a tutta Roma; dir solo, che la maest della regina, al di cui intelletto sublimissimo poterono per lunga consuetudine esser note le finezze dei
talenti di s granduomo, ne diede straordinari segni, parendole che fusse
stato tolto con lui al mondo lunico parto, che aveva prodotto la virt nel
nostro secolo. Lo stesso giorno della morte del Bernino mand il papa per
mano di un camerier segreto un nobile regalo a quella maest, al quale
domand la regina, che si dicesse per Roma dello stato lasciato dal cavalier
Bernino, e sentito che di quattrocentomila scudi incirca: Mi vergognerei
dissella segli avesse servito me, ed avesse lasciato s poco.
La pompa, colla quale fu il corpo del nostro artefice portato alla chiesa
di S. Maria Maggiore, ove la sepoltura di sua casa, corrispose alla dignit
del soggetto ed alle facult ed amore de figliouli, che gli ordinarono un
nobilissimo funerale con distribuzione di cere e limosine alla grande. Si

BERNINIS DEATH

349

stancarono glingegni e le penne de letterati di comporre elogi, sonetti, canzoni, ed altri eruditi versi latini, e volgari spiritossisimi, che in lode di lul si
viddero pubblicamente esposti. Concorse tutta la nobilt di Roma e con
essa tutti gli oltramontani, che allora si trovavano in quella citt ed in
somma un popolo s numeroso, che fu necessario lindugiare alquanto di
tempo a dar sepoltura al corpo, il che poi fu fatto nella nominata sua
sepoltura, in cassa di piombo, con lasciarvi memoria del nome e persona di
lui.
Domenico Bernini
M prossimo ornai il Cavaliere alla morte, & in et decrepita di ottantanni volle illustrar sua vita, e chiuder latto di sua fin a quellhora tanto
ben condotta Professione, con rappresentare un opera, che felice quell
Huomo, che termina con essa i suoi giorni. Questa f lImmagine del nostro Salvadore in mezza figura, m pi grande del naturale, colla man destra
alquanto sollevata, come in atto di benedire. In essa compendi, e ristrinse
tutta la sua Arte, e benche la debolezza del polso non corrispondesse alla
gagliardia dellIdea, tuttavia gli venne fatto di comprovare ci, che prima ei
dir soleva, che UnArtefice eccellente nel Disegno dubitar non deve al giunger
dellet decrepita di alcuna mancanza di vivacit, e tenerezza, perche di tanta
efficacia la prattica del Disegno, che questo solo pu supplire al difetto degli spiriti, che nella vecchiaja languiscono. Destin quest Opera alla sua tanto benemerita Regina di Svezia, che elesse pi tosto rifiutarla, che collimpossibilit di contracambiarne il valore, degenerare dalla sua Regia beneficenza; M
f poi costretta di accettarla indi a due anni, quando dal Cavaliere le f lasciata in testamento . . .
Avanti dunque di entrare nella narazione delle cose proposte, convien
retrarre alquanto indietro il discorso, e dimostrare, quanto singolare nel
Cavaliere Bernino fosse la bont della vita, e con quanta unione di massime
Christiane rendesse riguardevoli le belle, e molte doti del suo animo.
Conciosiacosache comegli era unHuomo dingegno elevato, che sempre al
grande aspirava, e nel grande istesso non si quietava, se non giungeva al
massimo, questa medesima sua naturalezza lo port ad una subblimit tale
dIdee in materia di divozione, che non contento delle communi, a quelle
si appigli, che sono per cos dire la scortatoja per giungere al Cielo. Ondei
diceva, che Nel rendimento di conto delle sue operazioni haveva da trattare con
Signore, che Infinito e Massimo ne suoi attributi, non havrebbe guardato, come

350

si suol dire, a mezzi bajocchi, spiegava il suo sentimento con soggiungere,


che La bont di Dio essendo infinita, & infinto il merito del prezioso Sangue
del suo Figliuolo, era unoffendere quest attributi il dubitare della Misericordia.
A tale effetto egli fece per sua divozione ritrarre in Stampa, & in Pittura un
maraviglioso disegno, in cui rappresentasi Gies Christo in Croce con un
Mare di Sangue sotto di esso, che ne versa a torrenti dalle sue Santissime
Piaghe, e qu si vede la Beatissima Vergine in atto di offerirlo al Padre
Eterno, che comparisce di sopra colle braccia spase, tutto intenerito a s
compassionevole spettacolo: Et In questo Mare, egli diceva, ritrovarsi affogati
i suoi peccati, che non altrimente dalla Divina Giustitia rinvenir si potevano,
che fr il Sangue di Gies Christo, di cui tinti haverebbono mutato colore,
per merito di esso ottenuta mercede. Ed era s viva in lui questa fiducia, che
chiamava la Santissima Humanit di Chiristo, Veste de Peccatori, e perci
tanto maggiormente confidava, non dover esso esser fulminato dalla Divina
vendetta, quale dovendo prima di ferir lui, passar la veste, per non lacerare
linnocenza, haverebbe perdonato al suo peccato. E come che ei f solito,
molti, e molti anni prima di sua morte trattenersi spessissimo in continui
discorsi con dotti, e singolari Religiosi, tanto sinfiammava in questi sentimenti, e tanto alto ascendeva la sottigliezza del suo ingegno, che ne stupivano quegli, come unhuomo, per altro dedito alle lettere, potesse molte
volte non solo giungere alla penetrazione pi intima di altissimi Misterii,
m motivarne dubbii, e renderne ragioni, come se sua vita condotta havesse
nelle Scuole. Diceva il P. Gio. Paolo Oliva Generale della Compagnia di
Gies, che Nel discorrere col Cavaliere di cose spirituali gli faceva di mestiere
di unattenzione tale, come se andar dovesse ad una Conclusione. N senza
frutto nutriva ci nellanimo questi nobilissimi pensieri, m con opere fondate era in un continuo esercizio di Virt. Per lo spazio di quarant anni frequent ogni Venerd la divozione della buona morte nella Chiesa del Gies,
in cui bene spesso riceveva la Santissima Communione almeno una volta la
settimana. Per il medesimo lungo spazio di tempo ogni giorno, terminati i
suoi lavori, visitava quella Chiesa, ove si ritrivava esposto il Santissimo
Sacramento, e vi lasciava elemosine copiose per i poveri. Oltre a molti doti,
che dava fr lanno a povere Zitelle, una sempre ne contibuiva nel giorno
della Santissima Assunta, & a sei di esse volle ancora obbligare nel suo
Testamento i Figliuoli; Anzi bene spesso per ricever merito dalla fuga dell
applauso, consegnava copiose elemosine ad un suo Famigliare con obbligo
di non rivelarne il benefattore, E benche luso dellelemosina fosse con lui,
per cos dire, nato, e cresciuto, tuttavia negli ultimi anni di sua vita gli f

BERNINIS DEATH

351

cotanto a cuore, che non stimandosi esso sufficiente a rinvenire i poveri, a


molti Religiosi diedene lincumbenza, & il denaro, per somministrarne ad
essi lajuto. E perche ci in somiglianti opere amava la secretezza, molte pi
sono quelle, che possiam giudicare, chei facesse, che a nostra notizia siano
pervenute. Da alcune Note, chegli di mano sua stendeva in un libretto
appartenente aglinteressi di Casa, si h, che havendo posti tre mesi avanti
sua morte due mile scudi doro dentro uninginocchiatore, non ve ne furono
poi trovati che ducento, e questi ordin a suoi figliuoli, che glimpiegassero
ancora, come segu, in un tale Opera pia, con indizio manifesto, che i rimanenti similesito sortissero. Et in una lettera scritta da Parigi ordina a
Monsignor suo figliuolo, che oltre alle Elemosine, che gli lasci in nota da
farsi, ne facesse al doppio, Perche Iddio un Signore, che non si lascia vincere
di cortesia. Soleva poi molte volte fr lanno condurre la sua famiglia in
qualche Hospedale, e quivi voleva, che i suoi piccoli figliuoli ad esempio di
lui porgessero ristoro agli ammalati, con presentar loro diverse confezioni,
che a tale effetto teneva preparate. Ed era cosa di stupore, come un Huomo
impiegato in tante, e s riguardevoli occupazioni, ogni mattina udisse divotamente la Messa, ogni giorno visitasse il Santissimo Sacramento, & ogni
sera recitasse la Corona della Madonna Santissima, & in ginocchi lUffizio
di lei, e li sette Salmi Penitenziali, costume chegli tenne costantissimo sino
alla morte. Quando poi si vidde a lei pi prossimo, ad altro che a questo
passaggio non pensava, e di altro non ragionava, e ci, non con displicenza,
& horrore, cosa solita de vecchj, m con costanza di animo impareggiabile,
e con servirsi della sua memoria per preparamento a ben farla. A tale effetto
haveva continue conferenze col P. Francesco Marchese Prete dellOratorio di
S. Filippo Neri nella Chiesa Nuova di Roma, figlio di Beatrice Bernini sua
sorella, Soggetto Venerabile per bont di vita, e riguardevole per dottrina, di
cui si prevalse il Cavaliere, acci assister dovesse alla sua morte: E perche ei
diceva, che Quel passo a tutti era difficile, perche a tutti giungeva nuovo, perci si figuarava spesse volte di morire, per poter con guesto finto esercizio
assuefarsi, e disporsi al combattimento del vero. Et in questo stato voleva,
che il P. Marchese gli suggerisse tutti quegli atti soliti a proporsi, a chi st in
passaggio, & egli col farli si veniva, come preparando, a quel gran punto.
Suppondendo poi, che gli dovesse, conforme solito, mancar la parola in
quel estremit di vita, e poi ridursi nellangustie che pruova, chi non
puolesser inteso, concert con lui un modo particolare, con cui anche senza
parlare in quellhora potesse essere inteso. Con s fatte diligenze, con animo
del tutto confermato giunse finalmente al cimento.

352

Habbiamo di sopra gi detto, quanto debilitato rimanesse di forze, &


agitato ancora nel rimanente del Corpo per lintrapresa ristaurazione del
Palazzo della Cancellaria. Onde inferm finalmente di lenta febre, a cui
sopravvenne in ultimo unaccidente di apoplesia, che lo tolse di vita. In
tutto il corso del male, che dur quindici giorni, volle, che a piedi del letto
si alzasse come unAltare, & in esso fece esporre il Quadro rappresentante il
Sangue di Gies Christo: E quali fossero i suoi colloquii, chei faceva hora
col P. Marchese, hora con altri Religiosi, che assistevano, sopra lefficacia di
quel preziossimo Sangue, e la fiducia, chei vi haveva, possono pi tosto
congetturarsi, che riferirsi. Poiche non vi era alcuno degli Astanti, a cui non
iscaturissero le lagrime in udire, con quanta sodezza di sentimenti parlasse
allora quellHuomo, a cui n let nl male, gravi ambedue, e potenti
nemici, havevano potuto offuscargli quella chiarezza dintelletto, che sempre in lui si mantenne uguale, e grande finallultimo respiro di sua vita. i
Accortosi, che non poteva pi muovere il braccio destro per laccidente
accennato di apoplesia, E ben ragione, disse, che anche avanti la morte riposi
alquanto quella mano, che in vita h tanto lavorato. Al Cardinal Azzolini, che
volle pi volte honorarlo della sua presenza in que giorni, disse una sera,
che Pregasse in suo nome la Maest della Regina a far unatto di amor di Dio
per lui, perche ei credeva, che quella gran Signora havesse un linguaggio particolare con il Signore Dio per essere bene intesa, mentre Iddio haveva con lei
usato un linguaggio, che essa sola era stata capace dintenderlo. Fece la parte il
Cardinale, e ricev dalla Regina il seguente Viglietto:
Io vi prego di dire al Sig. Cavalier Bernino da mia parte, che gli prometto
di fare tutti i miei sforzi per far quel che desidera da me, a condizione, chegli
mi prometta di pregar Dio per me, e per voi, a concerderci la grazia di un perfetto amor suo, affinche Noi possiam trovarci un giorno tutti insieme con la
gioja damore, e goder Dio in eterno. E ditegli, che io gi lh servito al meglio
che h potuto, e che continuer.
In tanto la sua Casa era un continuo flusso, e riflusso de pi cospicui
Personaggi di Roma, che venivano, mandavano con attestazione altrettanto distinta dalluso comune di convenienza, quanto distinta, e particolare era in ciascuno la stima, & il rammarico di perdere un s grandHuomo.
Mancgli finalmente la parol, e perche si sentiva fuor di modo angustiato
dal catarro, accenn al Cavalier Mattia de Rossi, e a Gio: Battista Contini,
che unitamente con Giulio Cartar tutti suoi Allievi si ritrovarono sempre
presenti al suo letto, quasi maravigliandosi, come ad essi sovvenir modo non
potesse di cavargli il catarro dal petto, e colla sinistra mano sforzavasi di rap-

BERNINIS DEATH

353

presentargli unIstromento attissimo a tirar pesi eccedenti. Come, che


avanti la sua malattia haveva concertato il modo col P. Marchese di essere
inteso senza parlare, stupore in tutti f, come ben da lui si facesse intendere
col moto solo della sinistra mano, e degli occhj: Segno manifesto di quella
gran vivacit di sentimenti, quali n pure allora mostravan di cedere, benche
mancasse la vita. Due hore avanti di passare diede la benedizione a tutti li
suoi figliuoli, che lasci in numero, come si disse, di quattro Maschi, e
cinque Femmine, e finalmente ricevuta quella del Pontefice, che per un suo
Cameriere mandgli, nellentrare del ventottesimo giorno di Novembre,
dellanno 1680, & ottantesimo secondo di sua vita, spir: E mor da quel
grandHuomo chei visse, lasciando in dubbio, se pi ammirabile nelle operazioni fosse stata la sua vita, commendabile nella divozione la sua morte.
In Testamento lasci al Papa un bellissimo Quadro di mano di Gio:
Battista Gaulli rappresentante il Salvadore, sua ultima opera in Marmo, alla
Regina il Salvadore medesimo di sua mano, al CardinalAltieri il Ritratto di
Clemente X., al CardinalAzzolini quello dInnocenzo X., & al Cardinal
Giacomo Rospigliosi un Quadro pure di sua mano, non havendo in Casa
altra cosa di marmo, oltre alla Verit, che lasci con perpetuo fidecommisso
alla sua Discendenza.
F universale il cordiglio per la perdita di questHuomo nella Citt di
Roma, che si riconosceva di tanta Maest accresciuta dalle sue indefesse
fatiche, e siccome la sua vita, cos ancora la morte f Soggetto allAccademie
di molti ingegnosi componimenti. Il seguente giorno colloccasione, che
mand il Papa a regalar la Regina, richiese questa al Cameriere di Sua
Santit, Che si dicesse dello stato lasciato del Cavalier Bernino? e rispostogli,
che Di quattrocento mila scudi in circa, essa soggiunse, Io mi vergognarei,
segli havesse servito mi, & havesse lasciato cos poco.
Il suo corpo con pompa f esposto nella Basilica di S. Maria Maggiore,
con funerale, distribuzione di cera, & elemosine a Poveri: E f tanto il concorso della gente, che convenne differirne per il seguente giorno la
sepoltura. Haveva gi egli preparata questa a s, & a i suoi nella medesima
Chiesa, onde in essa f posto dentro Cassa di piombo, con iscrizione dinotate il nome, & il giorno della sua morte.

Lavin VII. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap 14

13/8/07

06:38

Page 2

VII

Afterthoughts on Berninis Death

N my essay on Berninis death (The Art Bulletin, LIV, 1972, 15986) I


published what I take to be Berninis last and long lost sculpture, the bust
of the Savior in the Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia (Figs. 1, 3, 5, 7,
9). Following the appearance of that article, Professor Eric Van Schaack of
Goucher College signaled to me the existence, in the Cathedral at Ses
(Orne) in Normandy, of what can almost certainly be identified as the lost
copy of the Savior mentioned in a contemporary source (Figs. 2, 4, 6, 8,
10). Professor Van Schaack generously allowed me to publish this important discovery, which I present here together with some additional material
that has come to my attention.
The copy was commissioned by the artists friend Pierre Cureau de la
Chambre (16401693).1 Cureau, who was abb of the royal palace church
of Saint-Barthlemy in Paris, had met Bernini during the latters visit to that
city in 1665.2 He accompanied Bernini on his return trip to Rome, and
remained there a year, during which time he saw the artist frequently.
Thereafter, their friendship continued in an exchange of letters that lasted

Cf. Lavin, Berninis Death, 171.


Cureau is mentioned in Chantelous journal of Berninis stay in Paris, during which he
visited Saint-Barthlemy (P. F. de Chantelou, Journal du voyage du Cavalier Bernin en France,
ed. L. Lalanne, Paris, 1885, 120, 245, 256, 258). On Cureau and Bernini, cf. J. Vanuxem,
Quelques tmoignages franais sur le Bernin et son art au XVIIe sicle en France: labb de
la Chambre, Journes internationales dtude du Baroque. Acts. Montauban. 1963,
Toulouse, 1965, 15367.
1
2

Lavin VII. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap 14

13/8/07

06:38

Page 3

AFTERTHOUGHTS ON BERNINIS DEATH

355

throughout the remaining fifteen years of the artists life.3 In February,


1681, as soon as the news of Berninis death reached Paris,4 Cureau published in the Journal des Savans an Eloge de M. le Cavalier Bernin in which
he mentions the bust, adding that on verra bien-tost une belle Copie a saint
Barthelemy.5 Cureau planned to write a biography of Bernini, of which the
Preface was delivered as an address to the Academy on January 3, 1685, and
was published separately along with a reprint of the Eloge.6 In the reference
to the bust here, he notes that nous avons icy une belle copie.7 Cureau in
the end kept the sculpture not at Saint-Barthlemy but in his home, where
he also had other works by Bernini, including a self-portrait (cf. Fig. 12) and
a bust of Cureaus father.8 Nothing more is known of Cureaus copy,
although two points concerning the phraseology of his remarks are worth
making. The first is that the copy was clearly begun while Bernini was still
alive, since Cureau says that he wrote his Eloge immediately upon receipt of
the news of the artists death, at which time the copy was nearly finished.

Cureau himself described his relation with Bernini as follows: Jay eu lavantage daccompagner Monsieur le Cavalier Bernin, quand il sen retourna de Paris en Italie. Je le pratiquay pendant un an Rome, o je le voyais familierement & toute heure. Jay depuis cultiv son amiti par un commerce regl de lettres lespace de quinze annes, & jusqu sa
mort, Prface pur servir a lhistoire de Ia vie et des ouvrages du cavalier Bernin (Bibl. Nationale,
Paris, K. 4280), n.d., n.p., but 1685 (see note 6 below).
4
Eloge . . . que je lis pour me consoler de sa perte la premiere nouvelle qui nous vint
de sa mort (Bernini died November 28, 1680), (Prface, 15).
5
Journal des Savans, February 24, 1681, 61.
6
Cited in note 3 above. For the date, see P. Bayle, Nouvelles de la rpublique des lettres,
January, 1685, in uvres diverses, 4 vols., The Hague, 172731, I, 201 f; also 362 f.
7
Page 24.
8
This emerges from a passage in C. Le Maire, Paris ancien et nouveau, 3 vols., Paris,
1685, I, 30203: La Maison o demeure Monsieur LAbb de la Chambre de lAcademie
Franoise, est entre lHostel de Conty, & le College des quatre Nations . . . lon trouve chez
luy ce quil y a de plus rare voir: entrautres trois Busts en Marbre faits par le Chevalier
Bernin. Le premier est le Bust du Chevalier Bernin mesme, fait Rome peu de temps avant
sa mort. Le second est un Bust du Christ; & lautre est de Monsieur de la Chambre Pre
. . . & des modeles en Cire de quelques Status de Bernin . . . Cureau mentions the self-portrait in his Eloge of 1681: . . . un buste de luy nouvellement arriv icy, qui est parlant &
comparable tout ce quil y a de plus precieux & de plus achev en ce genre-l (p. 62; it is
presumably that which appears in the engraved vignette to Cureaus Prface, by S. Leclerc
[Fig. 12]).
Cf. Vanuxem, Quelques tmoignages (cited in note 2 above), 160, 162, 163 and
Fig. 18.
3

Lavin VII. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap 14

13/8/07

06:38

Page 4

356

Furthermore, there is nothing to prove that the copy was made in Italy and
shipped to Paris, as has been assumed.9
Neither the authorship nor the provenance of the bust in Ses is
recorded.10 As far as I can discover it appears only in the local literature on
the Cathedral, where it is attributed vaguely to Caffieri and said to have
been acquired by J.-B. Du Plessis dArgentr (17201805).11 DArgentr,
who had been preceptor to the grandsons of Louis XIV, was bishop of Ses
from 1775 until the Revolution; he was responsible for extensive alterations
and embellishments to the Cathedral.12
Let it be said at once that the Ses sculpture is effectively excluded as a
candidate for the original by its size. Berninis Savior was recorded in an
inventory of 1713 as being 103 cm. high (alto palmi di passetto 4 e due
terzi). The Norfolk bust is 93 cm. (92 cm. wide), that in Ses 74 cm. high
(67 cm. wide).13 Anyone familiar with inventories of the period will realize
that the former is a negligible discrepancy, whereas the latter is not.
The work is of fine quality, with neither the awkward proportions and
strained pose, nor the uneven handling of the Norfolk sculpture. The surfaces of skin and drapery are polished to a uniform luster and the hair and
beard are treated as a regular system of striated masses, in contrast to the
lacy drill work and sharp penetrations of the marble that form the locks of
the Norfolk head. Consistent with these differences are the facts that the
large fold of drapery at the center is attached to the back of the right hand,
and that marble struts join the fingers; in the Norfolk bust all these forms
are carved free. In sum, the Ses sculpture is careful and unadventuresome
9
This assumption evidently originated in a misleading phrase of S. S. Ludovici (una
copia della statua era pervenuta in Francia), who first called attention to the passage in
Cureaus Eloge in the Journal des Savans (ed. of F. Baldinucci, Vita di Gianlorenzo Bernini,
Milan, 1948, 259).
10
I am greatly indebted to the Cur Flament, archivist of the Cathedral, who searched,
in vain, for documentation concerning the bust, and provided the references given in the following note.
11
First mentioned in L. de la Sicotiere, Notice sur la cathdrale de Ses, Alenon, 1844,
22: sur le mur du pourtoire du choeur, on a plac depuis peu dannes, un buste du Christ
en marbrc blanc, dun beau travail; il vient, croyons-nous, de lancienne salle capitulaire;
Abb Dumaine, Buste en marbre dans la cathdrale. XVIIIe sicle, Bulletin des amis des
monuments ornais, III, 1903, 25 f: . . . attribu par quelques-uns Caffieri . . . On croit que
cest Mgr. dArgentr qui en fit lacquisition, par occasion . . . .
12
On DArgentr, cf. Dictionnaire de biographic franaise, Paris, 1929 ff, III, cols. 576 ff.
13
A large section at the left elbow has been broken off and reattached; condition otherwise excellent.

Lavin VII. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap 14

13/8/07

06:38

Page 5

AFTERTHOUGHTS ON BERNINIS DEATH

1. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Bust of the Savior.


Norfolk, Va., Chrysler Museum
(photo: R. Thornton, Providence, R.I.).

357

Lavin VII. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap 14

13/8/07

06:38

Page 6

358

2. Copy after Bernini, Bust of the Savior.


Ses, Cathedral
(photo: Piels, Ses).

Lavin VII. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap 14

13/8/07

06:38

Page 7

AFTERTHOUGHTS ON BERNINIS DEATH

3. Gianlorenzo Bernini,
Bust of the Savior (detail).
Norfolk, Va.,
Chrysler Museum
(photo: R. Thornton,
Providence, R.I.).

4. Copy after Bernini,


Bust of the Savior (detail).
Ses, Cathedral
(photo: Piels, Ses).

359

Lavin VII. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap 14

13/8/07

06:38

Page 8

360

5. Gianlorenzo Bernini,
Bust of the Savior (detail).
Norfolk, Va.,
Chrysler Museum
(photo: R. Thornton,
Providence, R.I.).

6. Copy after Bernini,


Bust of the Savior (detail).
Ses, Cathedral
(photo: Piels, Ses).

Lavin VII. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap 14

13/8/07

06:38

Page 9

AFTERTHOUGHTS ON BERNINIS DEATH

7. Gianlorenzo Bernini,
Bust of the Savior (detail).
Norfolk, Va.,
Chrysler Museum
(photo: R. Thornton,
Providence, R.I.).

8. Copy after Bernini,


Bust of the Savior (detail).
Ses, Cathedral
(photo: Piels, Ses).

361

Lavin VII. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap 14

13/8/07

06:38

Page 10

362

9. Gianlorenzo Bernini,
Bust of the Savior (detail).
Norfolk, Va.,
Chrysler Museum
(photo: R. Thornton,
Providence, R.I.).

10. Copy after Bernini,


Bust of the Savior (detail).
Ses, Cathedral
(photo: Piels, Ses).

Lavin VII. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap 14

13/8/07

06:38

Page 11

AFTERTHOUGHTS ON BERNINIS DEATH

11. Gianlornzo Bernini, Study of the Bust of the Savior, drawing, 171 x 254mm,
Rome, Gabinetto Nazionale delle Stampe.

12. S. Leclerc, Frontispiece to P. Cureau de la Chambre,


Preface . . . (1685), engraving.

363

Lavin VII. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap 14

13/8/07

06:38

Page 12

364

exactly what one would expect from an able copyist; that in Norfolk is
bold and challenging exactly what one would expect from the aged
Bernini.
In view of these considerations the Ses bust acquires an altogether
unexpected interest, since it is in many respects closer to the autograph
Corsini drawing (Fig. 11) than the Norfolk piece. The palm of the right
hand is not turned outward in an ambiguous gesture of abhorrence and
protection, but has the straightforward suggestion of benediction implied
in the drawing. The head and glance are not upward, but the head looks
directly to the side; the arrangement of hair and beard generally corresponds
more accurately with the drawing. To be sure, there are certain details in
which the Norfolk bust is closer: the locks falling on the right shoulder from
fluffy, clockwise spirals, whereas at Ses they turn back in tight, counterclockwise curls; the silhouette of the drapery at the Norfolk figures left is
also more like that in the sketch. Nevertheless, the Ses sculpture evidently
represents the conception shown in the Corsini drawing, whereas that in
Norfolk is a further development.
There is a simple and obvious explanation for this remarkable state of
affairs, the clue to which is provided by the inscription on the drawing. The
inscription chez S. A. M. le Duc de Bracciano refers to the bust and
indicates that it belongs to the Duke of Bracciano (Livio Odescalchi, who
inherited the work from Innocent XI, became Duke of Bracciano in 1696).
The inscription is in French, whence it is apparent that the drawing was
then in a French collection.14 In fact, Cardinal Neri Maria Corsini
(16851770), the great amateur and founder of the Corsini Collection,
spent years in Paris as minister of Grand Duke Cosimo III, and made many
acquisitions there.15 In all probability, Cureaus copy was made not from the
original, but from the drawing now in the Corsini Collection. Bernini himself must have sent the sketch to his friend, before his own work was finally
14
There was a French librarian of the Corsini in the early eighteenth century, J. D.
dInguimbert (16831757), native and subsequently Bishop of Carpentras (O. Pinto, Storia
della biblioteca corsiniana e della biblioteca dellAccademia dei Lincei, Florence, 1956, 22, 25,
40 f ); but he wrote and published many works in Italian, and his handwriting was completely different from that of the inscription (R. Caillet, Un prelat bibliophile et philanthropique. Monseigneur DInguimbert. Archevqiue-vque de Carpentras. 16381757, Audin,
1952, 101 ff, ill. opp. p. 80).
15
Pinto, Storia, 24 (cited in the preceding note); cf. F. Cerroti, Memorie per servire alla
storia dellincisione compilate nella descrizione e dichiarazione delle stampe che trovansi nella
biblioteca corsiniana, I, Rome, 1858, preface.

Lavin VII. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap 14

13/8/07

06:38

Page 13

AFTERTHOUGHTS ON BERNINIS DEATH

365

carved.16 The inscription was added to the drawing while it was still in
France.
If this hypothesis is correct, the situation perhaps has an analogy in another
work commissioned by Cureau in Paris, reputedly after a design provided by
Bernini. This is the virtually unknown tomb of Cureaus father Marin Cureau
de la Chambre (16351669), physician to Louis XIV, in Saint-Eustache at
Paris (Fig. 13).17 Immortality is represented holding a medallion portrait of the
deceased.18 The Cureau tomb was executed by the Frenchified Roman
sculptor Jean-Baptiste Tuby (16351700); there are some similarities, in the
treatment of the drapery of the allegory and the hair of the portrait, which
suggest that Tuby might also have made the Ses bust.
Above all, I would emphasize the confirmatory evidence the Ses sculpture provides for the conceptual development between the Corsini drawing
and the version in Norfolk. While the unprecedented allusion within the
Salvator Mundi theme to Christ as intercessor was included from the outset, the horizontal glance and declamatory gesture of the Ses bust are distinctly extroverted; one modern observer understandably described the figure as teaching.19 The upward glance and reversed turn of the hand in the
Norfolk sculpture, by contrast, introduce a note of visionary withdrawal
and exaltation. I can think of no clearer insight into the tendency of
Berninis mind as he approached the end.
* * *
16
Brauer and Wittkower had suggested, and I doubted (Berninis Death, 172, n. 49),
that the head on the Corsini drawing was a later addition copied from the final work.
Perhaps the solution is that the head was added, to show Cureau how it would be.
17
The work was long at Versailles, but has recently been returned to Saint-Eustache.
According to another tradition, explicitly denied by M. Piganiol de la Force (Description de
Paris, 8 vols., Paris, 1742, III, 7), the design was by Le Brun (H. Jouin, Charles Le Brun et
les arts sous Louis XIV, Paris, 1889, 253 f, 615 f ). Cf. also E.-T. Hamy, Note sur un mdaillon de J.-B. Tuby reprsentant le portrait de M. Cureau de la Chambre, dmonstrateur au
Jardin Royal (16351669), Bulletin au Musum dhistoire naturelle, I, 1895, 22932; E.
Souli, Notice du muse national de Versailles, 3 vols., Paris, 188081, II, 67.
On Cureau father and son, see R. Kerviler, Marin et Pierre Cureau de la Chambre
(15931693), Le Mans, 1887, esp. 101, 118 f, 124 ff. On Cureaus artistic relations generally, cf. Kerviler, 127 f; he commissioned Pugets relief of St. Charles Borromeo at the Plague,
in Marseilles (K. Herding, Pierre Puget, Berlin, 1970, 198 f ).
18
On the tomb type, see R. Wittkower, Art and Architecture in Italy 1600 to 1750,
Harmondsworth, 1965, 294 f.
19
R. Gobillot, La cathdrale de Ses, Paris, 1937, 87.

Lavin VII. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap 14

13/8/07

06:38

Page 14

366

On the attitude toward death in the period generally, a valuable contribution will be found in M. Costanzo, Il Gran teatro del mondo, Milan,
1964, 47 ff, Pt. II, Mors victa.
In discussing Berninis drawing in Leipzig of the intercession of Christ
and the Virgin20 I overlooked two important contributions to the early
development of the theme, the study by M. Meiss, An Early Altarpiece
from the Cathedral of Florence, Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art,
n.s., XII, 1954, 30217, and the extensive list of examples given by F. Zeri,
Italian Painting. A Catalogue of the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of
Art. Florentine School, New York, 1971, 58 f; some later examples are discussed in B. Knipping, De Iconographie van de Contra-reformatie in de
Nederlanden, 2 vols., Hilversum, 193940, II, 34 ff.
Concerning the group of drawings by Baciccio related to Berninis
Sangue di Cristo composition, which B. Canestro Chiovenda, seconded by
myself, associated with Baciccios unexecuted decoration for the vestibule of
the Baptismal Chapel in Saint Peters,21 see now H. Macandrew, II.
Baciccios Later Drawings: A Rediscovered Group acquired by the
Ashmolean Museum, Master Drawings, X, 1972, 253 ff.
In considering the sources and meaning of the bust of Louis XIV and
the pedestal Bernini intended for it, which included a terrestrial globe with
the words Picciola basa, I referred to the kings impresa appearing on a
medal of 1664.22 This showed the sun rising over a terrestrial globe with the
motto Nec Pluribus Impar (not unequal to many).23 My emphasis was
upon the visual analogy, but since discovering Ernst Kantorowiczs genial
study of the theme represented by Louiss device, Oriens Augusti Lever du
Roi, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, XVII, 1963, 117177, esp. 165 ff, it has
become plain to me that Berninis motto, too, was an allusion to that of the
king: this world is small for Louis, who is great enough to rule many.
Concerning the apparent weightlessness of the bust, suspended above the
globe by the wind-blown drapery, a passage in Domenico Berninis biography of his father documents the sculptors intention in this respect: Gli
Berninis Death, 169 ff, Fig. 3.
Ibid., 169, n. 32.
22
Ibid., 180, n. 68. A medal with the device bearing the date 1662 is reproduced in
C.-F. Menestrier, La devise du Roi justife, Paris, 1679, 30.
23
C. W. Faber, Symbol und Devise Ludwigs XIV., Mlhausen, 1878 (Staedtische
Gewerbeschule zu Mlhausen, Programm No. 427, Beilage).
20
21

Lavin VII. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap 14

13/8/07

06:39

Page 15

AFTERTHOUGHTS ON BERNINIS DEATH

13. J.-B. Tuby, Tomb of Marin Cureau de la Chambre, Paris, Saint-Eustache


(photo: Runion des Muses Nationaux, Paris).

367

Lavin VII. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap 14

13/8/07

06:39

Page 16

368

14. Antique base of the


Colonna Claudius, restored
by Orfeo Boselli. Madrid,
Museo del Prado
(photo: Museo del Prado).

15. 17th-century
pedestal of the
Colonna Claudius
(detail).
Madrid, Museo
del Prado
(photo: Museo del
Prado).

Lavin VII. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap 14

13/8/07

06:39

Page 17

AFTERTHOUGHTS ON BERNINIS DEATH

369

sopravvenne allora da Roma un bel concetto dingegnoso Poeta, che in


questi pochi versi volle lodar lArtefice, lEffigiato, e lOpera.
Entrl Bernin in un pensier profondo
Per far al Regio Busto un bel sostegno,
E disse, non trovandone alcum degno,
Piccola base a un tal Monarca il Mondo,
e il Bernino incontanente rispose con ammirazione, e lode del R, e della
Corte:
Mai mi sovvenne quel pensier profondo
Per far di R s grande appoggio degno:
Van sarebbe il pensier, che di sostegno
Non h bisogno, chi sostiene il Mondo.24
(It never entered my head to give so great a king a worthy base; the
notion is vain, for he whom the world sustains needs no support.)
Jennifer Montagu of the Warburg Institute reminded me that the
Colonna Claudius now in the Prado, to which I attributed a significant role
in the genesis of the Louis XIV, was restored by the sculptor Orfeo Boselli
(Fig. 14).25 Boselli mentions the fact in his manuscript treatise Osservationi
della Scultura Antica.26 Although he does not say so, Boselli may also have

Vita del Cav. Giovan. Lorenzo Bernino, Rome, 1713, 136 f.


Berninis Death, 180 f. On Boselli see the excellent entry by G. Casadei in Dizionario
biografico degli italiani, Rome, 1960 ff, XIII, 240 f; also F. Martinelli, Roma ornata dallarchitettura, pittura, e scoltura (ed. C. DOnofrio, Roma nel Seicento, Rome, 1969, index, s.v.);
A. Pugliese and S. Rigano, Martino Lunghi il giovane architetto, in Architettura barocca a
Roma (Biblioteca di storia dellarte, VI), Rome, 1972, 180, index, s.v.
26
Bibl. Corsini, Rome, MS 36. F. 27, fol. 172r. Boselli also notes that he wrote a discourse on the significance of the work.
Cf. M. Piacentini, Le Osservationi della Scoltura Antica di Orfeo Boselli, Bollettino del
Reale Istituto di Archeologia e Storia dellArte, IX, 1939, 6, n. 3; P. D. Weil, Contributions
towards a History of Sculpture Techniques: I. Orfeo Boselli on the Restoration of Antique
Sculpture, Studies in Conservation, XII, 1967, 87, 97, n. 11.
24
25

Lavin VII. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap 14

13/8/07

06:39

Page 18

370

been responsible for the elaborate pedestal (Fig. 15) with eagles at the corners, relief landscapes representing cities, and phoenixes looking up toward
radiant emblems of the zodiac.27

On the pedestal cf. J. Villaamil y Castro, Grupo de mrmol conocido por la Apotosis
de Cludio que se conserva en el Museo Nacional de Pintura y Escultura, Museo Espaol de
Antigedades, V, 1875, 39 ff. We may add that the image of the phoenix looking toward the
zodiac recalls an emblem of the eagle gazing at the sun in G. Ruscellis
Le imprese illustri, Venice, 1566 (cf. F. A. Yates, The Emblematic Conceit in Giordano
Brunos De Gli Eroici Furori and in the Elizabethan Sonnet Sequences, Journal of the
Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, VI, 1943, 106) which, incidentally, appears as a religious
symbol on the balustrade of the altar of the Sacrament in San Giovanni in Laterano.
27

Lavin VIII. Revised:CHAPTER 25

13/8/07

06:40

Page 1

VIII

Letter to the Editor on a Review by Howard


Hibbard of Bernini and the Crossing
of St. Peters

OWARD Hibbards review of recent books on Roman Baroque architecture (The Art Bulletin, LV, March, 1973, 127135), which
included my monograph on the Crossing of Saint Peters, leaves an impression of the history of the baldachin that I fear may be misleading to the
casual reader. He writes (pages 128 f.):
Berninis design, preserved in the medal of 1626, in a sense contains almost no absolutely new elements: four angels, standing on twisted
columns, hold a baldachin. Over the whole are crossed ribs supporting
a figure of the Risen Christ. The ribs reflect Early Christian ciborium
designs. If the idea of bronze twisted columns was Madernos or at
least if it was an idea formulated under Paul V and if the idea of a
hanging that does not touch the columns or their cornice was also
Madernos, not much remains apart from the topmost statue and the
scale to attribute to Bernini but of course Madernos design may not
have looked anything like the medal of 1626. In the project of 1626 the
intimate combination of a ciborium with a permanent baldachin, apparently unprecedented, may be a reflection of the project reported by
Borromini [i.e., Madernos]. If one tries to envisage the Maderno project now, one inevitably sees such a combination thanks to the later
developments. And that is where we seem to be left.

Lavin VIII. Revised:CHAPTER 25

13/8/07

06:40

Page 2

372

From all we now know of the pre-history of the baldachin, the fact remains that at least five revolutionary concepts appeared only after Bernini
entered the picture. Firstly, there is not the slightest evidence that Maderno
or anyone else had thought of true columns for the supports in a baldachin;
execution in bronze made it possible to preserve the tradition of twisted
columns in a monument of colossal scale. Secondly, the same may be said
for the angels who stand on the columns and carry the canopy by ribbons
(as, later, the Fathers of the Church sustain the Cathedra Petri by ribbons);
they work to link the architecture to the hanging. Thirdly, the same may be
said for connecting the columns by a cornice from which tasselled lappets
fall, a solution that actually preceded the 1626 medal (see further below);
this was also crucial to the ultimate fusion of the elements. Fourthly, the
same may be said for the basic point of the monument as a whole, which
is a new species comprising an architectural ciborium, a hanging canopy
and a processional baldachin; it is thus a kind of summa of the three main
honorific forms. All these features the baldachin-with-columns, the cornice-canopy, the carrying angels and the triune species are specifically
referred to Bernini in the criticisms of Agostino Ciampelli, who called his
design a chimera. Fifthly, the same may be said for the idea of imitating the
Early Christian form of the monument with open crossed ribs resting on
spiral columns, an allusion that became fundamental to the imagery of the
crossing.
Because its implications are relevant to the foregoing statements, I take
this opportunity to add a new piece that helps fill a large gap in the baldachin
puzzle. This is a temporary thalamus built by Orazio Torriani for the procession at Santa Maria sopra Minerva on the Feast of the Rosary (October 5)
in 1625, recorded in a description and an engraving (Fig. 1).1 It was over
My attention was first called to this work by the librarian at the Minerva, Benedetto
Cardieri O. P. See A. Brandi, Trionfo della gloriosissima Vergine del Santissimo Rosario celebrato
in Roma la prima Domenica dOttobre dell Anno Santo MDCXXV . . ., Rome, 1625, 5658,
ill. page 61 (copy in the Biblioteca Vittorio Emanuele, Rome). I quote the description in extenso: Prima bisogn pensare fabricare vn nobilissimo Talamo, che fusse come il carro
trionfale, in cui doueua portarsi limagine della Vergine, & essendo in Roma il Sig. Oratio
Torriani Architetto militare, & ciuile di S. M. Catolica, molto principale, adoperato
daSignori Cardinali, & da altri Prencipi, dal Sig. D. Carlo Barberino gli f commesso il disegno di questo Talamo, qual fece veramente ingegnoso, curioso, & vago. Era il Talamo
dordine Ionico, alto palmi trentadue, & mezo, & a proportione largo sedici, & haueua
nequattro angoli quattro basi, piedestalli alto palmi sei, & mezo, & di sopra quattro
colonne di rilieuo ritorte foggia di quelle del Tempio di Salomone, che hoggi si vedono
1

Lavin VIII. Revised:CHAPTER 25

13/8/07

06:40

Page 3

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

1. Orazio Torriani, Thalamus for the Feast of the Rosary, 1625,


engraving (from A. Brandi, Trionfi . . ., Rome, 1625, 61).

373

Lavin VIII. Revised:CHAPTER 25

13/8/07

06:40

Page 4

374

seven metres high and consisted of a perforated, ribbed cupola resting on


spiral columns imitating those at Saint Peters. Angels stood on the columns
and at the apex, and tasselled flaps hung from the entablature between the
columns. Torrianis design confirms the other evidence I cited to show that
the cornice-canopy device, which was preserved in the final version of the
baldachin, existed from the outset of planning under Urban VIII. In
particular, it reflects the project for the baldachin shown in an engraving of
Berninis decorations at Saint Peters for the canonization of Elizabeth of
Portugal in March, 1625 (Fig. 30 in my book, and on p. 90 above). A
significant difference is that whereas Torriani hung the flaps from the
architrave, Bernini boldly used them in place of both architrave and frieze.
With this confirmation of the priority of the cornice-canopy solution
the whole development of the baldachin becomes much clearer. It may be
summarized as follows. From early in Paul Vs reign, when it was decided
to separate the high altar from the tomb of the apostles, models of two contrasting types had been juxtaposed so as to complement each other: a
baldachin with staves over the tomb in the crossing, and a domed ciborium
(incorporating the twisted columns from the mediaeval sanctuary) at the
high altar in the choir. Later in Pauls reign Maderno introduced another,

capitello, dordine pur Ionico alto vn palmo, & mezo con suoi festoni, & voluti tutto messo
a oro, & sopra le quattro colonne recorreua vnarchitraue daltezza vn palmo, e vn quarto,
nel quale erano attaccati i pendoni a vso di baldachino dipinti con rose, & api che sono limpresa dell Eccellentissima fameglia Barberina, che dauano mirabil gratia a tutto il Talamo.
Sopra i quattro architraui veniua alzata in luogo di cupola vna bellissima corona imperiale
fatta alla grande, daltezza di palmi otto, & mezo, con sue costole inarcate, che andauano ad
vnirsi tutte insieme nella sommit. Era contornata tutta la corona di gioie, & di perle grosse
vnoncia, e meza lvna, & le gioie erano ouate, tonde, quadre, & a ottangoli, contornate doro
buono, & colorite di colore di smeraldi, di topazzi, carbonchi, giacinti, & diamanti, coperte
di talco per renderle pi lustre, che faceuano ricca, & superba mostra. Nella corona fra vna
costola, & laltra veniua posta con molto magistero vna tocca di finissimo argento fatta a
gelosia, con rose incarnate, rosse, & bianche di seta, & di cambrai negli scompartimenti, &
legature della mandola di detta tocca. Sopra le quattro colonne nequattro cantoni erano
quattro Angeli di rilieuo in piedi alti palmi tre, e mezo lvno, con le lorali, trauisati di tocca
dargento turchina, che teneuano da vna mano vna mappa grande di rose, & fior alla lor
grandezza proportionata, dallaltra rosari, e corone. Nella sommit in mezo a detta corona,
& cupola era vnAngelo dellistessa grandezza in atto di volare con vna mano piena di rose,
& laltra di corone, & di rosari, che parcua gli volesse gettare al popolo, & che linuitasse a
pigliarle.
Cf. G. Mazzuchelli, Gli scrittori dItalia, 2 Vols. in 6, Brescia, 175363, II, Pt. 4, 2010;
G. Ricciotti, ed., Giacinto Gigli, Diario romano, Rome, 1958, 8891.

Lavin VIII. Revised:CHAPTER 25

13/8/07

06:40

Page 5

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

375

quite distinct tradition, that of the ceremonial cover suspended from above;
at the high altar he suggested hanging a canopy above twisted columns carrying an entablature, but with no contact between them. Urban VIII then
resolved finally to keep the tomb and high altar together, and gave the job
to Bernini. Berninis first proposal (as shown in the canonization engraving)
was to create a coherent monument by merging baldachin and ciborium
with each other and with the Early Christian prototype. The reference to
the central portion of the earliest, Constantinian shrine was accurate, and
the mixed marriage of types was complete. The union was sutured by the
cornice-canopy, and the result was a mysterious, hybrid creature. The next
stage was that shown in the medal of 1626. This was a merger of Madernos
project with Berninis initial design, motivated no doubt by the syntactical
criticisms levelled at the first version. The cornice between the columns was
eliminated and the canopy was suspended above the architecture; the angels
now provided a logical link by standing on the former and holding up the
latter. A new hybrid was created between hanging canopy and ciborium.
The final version was in turn a conflation of Berninis 1626 solution with
his original project, motivated this time by the practical objection we know
was raised, that the columns might give way under the weight of the figure
of Christ. The load was lightened by substituting the globe and cross, the
number of ribs was increased to add support, and their shape was changed
to verticalize the thrusts. But en revanche, the cornice-canopy was reintroduced to serve as ties between the columns. The contradiction in terms
inherent in the motif was resolved, or rather deliberately expressed through
the ambiguous task the angels now perform: they hold garlands that simply
disappear between the ribs and the cornice. The monument thus became
equally stable, logical and mysterious. So Bernini was able to eat Madernos
cake and have his own too.2

2
Incidentally, this interpretation, including Berninis ultimate return to his earliest design, helps to explain the latest in the series of his preserved sketches for the crown of the
baldachin (H. Brauer and R. Wittkower, Die Zeichnungen des Gianlorenzo Bernini, Berlin,
1931, Pl. 8). Here the ribs have virtually their final shape and the cornice-canopy runs between the columns. But the angels perform no task and the ribs are draped with ribbons, as
in the first project.

Lavin IX. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VI

13/8/07

06:41

Page 2

IX

Calculated Sponteneity.
Bernini and the Terracotta Sketch

F all the treasures in the Fogg Museum perhaps the rarest and the richest is the series of clay preparatory sketches, or bozzetti, by the great
Roman baroque sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini (15981680). Bernini was
over eighty when he died and he was extremely prolific; along with a continuous stream of drawings, he must have made many hundreds of these
small and fragile terracottas, of which only some forty survive. The Fogg has
by far the largest and most important collection, with fifteen pieces by the
Master. Since they cover nearly the whole of Bernini's creative life and
include instances of multiple studies for the same project, they offer a unique
opportunity to follow the generative process that yielded his famous sculptures in marble and bronze. Their main interest, however, lies not in their
rarity, nor yet in the insights they provide into the sequence of Bernini's
visual ideas. Rather, it is their quality as works of art that primarily commands attention, and this for one reason above all others their astonishing freshness and spontaneity. Not only do the figures represented act with
profound emotion and vivacious movement, the clay itself is worked with
the fingers and modelling tools in deft touches and rapid strokes that record
the artist's handiwork, literally for he left his finger-prints everywhere
as well as figuratively. They bespeak a kind of perfervid creative energy that
is virtually without parallel in the history of sculpture.1
1
The Fogg terracottas were first published by R. Norton, Bernini and Other Studies,
1914, pp. 4449; Bernini's models were the subject of a dissertation by the writer (The
Bozzetti of Gianlorenzo Bernini, 1955), who is preparing a critical corpus of these works for

Lavin IX. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VI

13/8/07

06:41

Page 3

CALCULATED SPONTANEITY

377

The Bernini bozzetti are part of a group of twenty-seven models purchased by the Museum in 1937 from Mrs. Edward Brandegee of Brookline,
Massachusetts, whose husband had bought them in 1905 from Giovanni
Piancastelli, along with a portion of Piancastelli's large collection of Italian
baroque drawings.2 Piancastelli (18451926) was a well-known painter and
collector who was then Director of the Borghese Gallery in Rome. When
and where he obtained the terracottas is a mystery. The chances are that he
had not owned them for long when he sold them to the Brandegees: a major
exhibition of Bernini's work was held in Rome in 1899, which included a
number of Piancastelli's drawings; but none of the models is mentioned in
the reviews of the show, nor do any of them appear in the large biography
of Bernini published by Stanislao Fraschetti in 1900. They must have surfaced not long afterwards, and very probably as a group, since it is difficult
to imagine their being assembled from disparate sources in such a relatively
short period.
Piancastelli is known to have acquired the entire contents of artists'
studios from their heirs. Perhaps they had been brought together by some
previous collector, but it is tempting to suppose that those by Bernini had
always been together and that they originally came from the artist's own
studio. In the inventory of Bernini's possessions taken in 1681, shortly after
his death, it is in fact noted that a large number of such models were found
in the attic studio of the house; a second inventory taken in 1706 records
that many of the models had in the meantime been destroyed, but also that
a number of them had been given to the artist's favourite assistant in his
later years, the sculptor Giulio Cartari.3 It seems a fair guess that Cartari's
publication. Frequently discussed in the specialized Bernini literature,they are also noted in
the catalogue of the standard monograph on his sculptures by R. Wittkower, Gian Lorenzo
Bernini. The Sculptor of the Roman Baroque, 1966.
2
Piancastelli's drawings, later reunited, are now in the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New
York.
3
'Nel d.o studio vi sono alcune quantit di teste di gesso et altre parti humane con alcuni
modelli di creta' (27 January, 1681); Rome, Archivio di Stato, Not. A.C. Mazzeschus,
Istrumenti, Busta 4246, fol. 501 verso.
'Nelli soffitti di sopra, in una vi una quantit di modelli di creta della b. m. del Sg.r Cav.re
. . . et altre robbe ...per la casa di poco valore, q.li robbe, cio modelli di creta col trasportarli in
altre stanze, e per il tempo di anni 25. si sono rotti . . .' (17 January, 1706); ibid., Not. A. C.
Francischinus, Istrumenti, Busta 3249, fol. 78 recto.
'Nel d.o studio vi erano alcune teste di gesso, et altre parti humane con alcuni modelli di creta
mezzi rotti, quali tutti per esser stati trasportati in guardaroba, si sono rotti, e

Lavin IX. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VI

13/8/07

06:41

Page 4

378

collection formed at least the nucleus of that now in the Fogg; this would
offer a plausible explanation for the unique character of the group its
size, its wide chronological range and its inclusion of several studies for individual projects.
Although the making of models in preparation for works in sculpture
might seem to be a natural, and is in fact a very ancient practice, it does not
by any means enjoy a continuous history.4 Many Egyptian sculptors'
models are preserved, and the use of models in classical antiquity is amply
documented. In the Middle Ages, however, the practice was replaced by the
method commonly described as 'direct carving', that is, the work was conceived and executed simultaneously, as it were, without advanced preparation of this sort; the creative process, born of a millennial craft tradition,
was unified, internal and automatic. The sculptural model was reborn in
the Renaissance, when it acquired new forms and vitality it had never had
before. Its reappearance, both as an integral part of the sculptor's working
procedure and as an aesthetically appreciated art object, went hand in hand
with the emergence of a coherent theory of the creative process itself. In the
sixteenth century elaborate treatises, notably by Vasari and Benvenuto
Cellini, lay considerable stress upon successive stages in the preparation of
a work, and directions for making a sequence of models are set forth in
detail. From the same period, and beginning especially with Michelangelo,
various model-types are preserved which correspond more or less with these
prescriptions: the small, rapidly executed bozzetto; the more carefully finished intermediate study; and the full-scale model of which the final work
is essentially the duplicate in a permanent material. Paradoxically, therefore,
the record of the artist's spontaneous creative activity emerged as the
creative process itself became more discrete, external and deliberate.
While obviously rooted in this heritage, Bernini's models differ from
those of his predecessors in a variety of ways. One of these is in their number. Even the most stringent count leaves far more extant by him than by
spezzati, e non vi sono piu, e qualche portione ne fu donato al Sig.r Giulio Cardare allievo del
Sig.r Cav.re per esser cose di poco rilievo'; ibid., fol. 67 recto (published by S. Fraschetti,
Il Bernini, 1900, p. 431 n.).
4
For what follows see the writer's essay, Bozetti and Modelli. Notes on Sculptural
Procedure from the Early Renaissance through Bernini', in Akten des 21. internationalen
Kongresses fr Kunstgeschichte (1964), 1967, pp. 93104 The Standard collection of
sixteentheighteenth century examples is that of A. E. Brinckmann, Barock-Bozetti, 4 vols.
192325. For a general Survey of the history of sculptural procedure, see recently R.
Wittkower, Sculpture, Processes and Principles, 1977.

Lavin IX. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VI

13/8/07

06:41

Page 5

CALCULATED SPONTANEITY

379

any previous sculptor; and to judge from the report of a contemporary witness who was astonished to see in Bernini's studio no fewer than twentytwo small models for the figure of St. Longinus (the one now in the Fogg,
the only one preserved, may have been among them),5 there can be little
doubt that he actually produced many more such studies than had been
customary.
Other notable features of Bernini's preparatory sculptures concern their
physical character, that is, their relative scale, material and degree of finish.
Except under certain special conditions largely external to the imaginative
process when a try-out of the projected work was called for, when it was
to be submitted to a patron, when it was to serve as a prototype for execution by assistants or when it was to be cast in bronze Bernini seems to
have largely foregone the earlier system of bringing the work to completion
through stages of increasing scale and precision. To an unprecedented
degree, the small, rapidly executed terracotta sketch was his characteristic
instrument of creation in three dimensions. His preference for clay, which
may be worked rapidly but soon dries out, also contrasts with the frequent
earlier use of wax, which remains soft but must be laboriously modelled.
There are concomitant differences in technique from prior tradition.
Earlier models were generally built up by adding material and working with
the fingers, modelling tools being used to help achieve a relatively uniform
surface. Bernini continued to work partly in this way, but mainly he
gouged, scraped, poked and clawed away from a mound of clay, as if it were
a block of stone that had somehow become malleable, creating infinitely
more varied effects. Bernini's bozzetti are also novel in that they are normally worked only from one side. Heretofore, the sculptor's model was
almost always executed 'in-the-round', with the back as fully developed as
the front. The final works for which they were made were conceived to be
seen from all sides; indeed, one of the great achievements of the sixteenth
century was precisely this kind of sculptural self-sufficiency. By contrast,
Bernini's sculptures have a dominant viewpoint, and he tended to leave the
backs of his models rough, sometimes finishing them off into a smooth
pillar of clay that sufficed to buttress the figure.

5
Cf. J. von Sandrart, Teutsche Academie, Nrnberg, 1675, ed. A. Peltzer, 1925, p. 286
Sandrart notes that other sculptors made only one or two models. He mentions that the
studies were all three spans high (c. 68cm.) and made of wax; the material seems doubtful,
since this would be the unique instance of Bernini studying in wax.

Lavin IX. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VI

13/8/07

06:41

Page 6

380

The sum of all these innovations is again paradoxical. On the one hand
it is clear that Bernini greatly increased the absolute quantity of preparation
for a work in sculpture, in the specific sense of trying out and rejecting
ideas in three dimensions. On the other, it is also evident that he did all
he could to 'streamline' the creative mechanism, reducing every aspect of
conception and manufacture to the barest minimum. His goal in this twofold method can only be understood from the relation of the models to the
finished products.
Among the earliest and most important of the Fogg terracottas is that for
the colossal marble figure of St. Longinus which the artist made in the 1630s
and '40s for one of the niches in the piers that support the dome of St. Peter's
in Rome (Fig. 1). The model documents the birth of one of Bernini's most
revolutionary conceptions a figure with both arms outstretched, and
therefore in utter defiance of the self-contained silhouette and closed form
that had been conventional for the monumental standing figure in marble.
The work alludes to the Roman centurion's sudden conversion at the
moment when he pierced the side of Christ on the Cross with his lance. The
event itself is not represented, however; instead, Bernini created an ideal
moment of self-realization in the crucifixion, to which the saint bore double
witness, as it were, through his actual participation and ultimately through
his own martyrdom. The shield and helmet at Longinus's feet refer to his
subsequent rejection of his violent worldly profession in favour of the religious life of peace. The pose not only imitates the crucifixion, but everything
in the composition strains upward in great, sweeping diagonals toward the
cross that was placed atop the baldachino over the high altar. Technically the
study is unusual among those remaining by Bernini. It is 52.7 cm. high,
rather larger in scale than the very small sketches, which average around 30
cm., it is smoothly finished and gilt, with the texture of the armour carefully
indicated by little pin-pricks; and it is hollowed at the back for firing (the
others must have been lightly baked, but would have cracked under very
high temperatures). All this indicates that the model had a special purpose;
perhaps Bernini used it to demonstrate his novel idea for the figure to the
governing body of the works at St. Peter's.
Another unusual model type is represented by the life-size (35.7 cm. high)
head of a bearded old man, which is a study for the marble figure of St.
Jerome Bernini executed during 166163 for the chapel of Pope Alexander
VII in the cathedral of Siena (Fig. 2). The lowered eyelids and open mouth
express the saint's utter devotion to the small crucifix he holds close to his

Lavin IX. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VI

13/8/07

06:41

Page 7

CALCULATED SPONTANEITY

1. St. Longinus, 163031. Terracotta, height 52.7 cm.


Cambridge, Fogg Art Museum, 1937.51.

381

Lavin IX. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VI

13/8/07

06:41

Page 8

382

2. Head of St. Jerome,


c. 1661. Terracotta,
height 35.7 cm.
Cambridge, Fogg Art
Museum 1937.77.

4. Angel with the Inscription,


166768. Terracotta, height
28.3 cm. Cambridge, Fogg
Art Museum, 1937.69.

Lavin IX. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VI

13/8/07

06:41

Page 9

CALCULATED SPONTANEITY

3. Angel with the Crown of Thorns, 166869. Marble, over life-size.


Church of SantAndrea delle Fratte, Rome.

383

Lavin IX. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VI

13/8/07

06:41

Page 10

384

5. Angel with the Inscription, 166768. Terracotta, height 29.2 cm.


Cambridge, Fogg Art Museum, 1937.67.

Lavin IX. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VI

13/8/07

06:41

Page 11

CALCULATED SPONTANEITY

6. Angel with the Crown of Thorns, 166768. Terracotta, height 33.7 cm.
Cambridge, Fogg Art Museum, 1937.58.

385

Lavin IX. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VI

13/8/07

06:41

Page 12

386

7. Angel with the Crown of


Thorns, 166768.
Terracotta, height 44.5 cm.
Cambridge, Fogg Art
Museum, 1937.57.

8. Angel for the Sacrament Altar,


1673. Terracotta,
height 29.2 cm.
Cambridge, Fogg Art
Museum, 1937.66.

Lavin IX. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VI

13/8/07

06:41

Page 13

CALCULATED SPONTANEITY

9. Angel for the Sacrament Altar,


1673. Terracotta,
height 29 cm.
Cambridge, Fogg Art
Museum, 1937.62.

10. Angel for the Sacrament


Altar, 1673. Terracotta,
height 28.5 cm.
Cambridge, Fogg Art
Museum, 1937.64.

387

Lavin IX. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VI

13/8/07

06:42

Page 14

388

11. Angel for the Sacrament


Altar, 1673. Terracotta,
height 34 cm.
Cambridge, Fogg Art
Museum, 1937.63.

12. Angel for the Sacrament


Altar, 1673. Terracotta,
height 34 cm.
Cambridge, Fogg Art
Museum, 1937.63.

Lavin IX. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VI

13/8/07

06:42

Page 15

CALCULATED SPONTANEITY

389

cheek in the final work. From a technical standpoint it is one of the richest of
all the studies, displaying in a kind of close-up view the subtly modulated
shapes and myriad textures Bernini achieved with his fingers and tools of different sorts not only the forms themselves but also highlights and shadows, even the tonal values of colours. This is especially evident in his use of
the toothed rasp: fine parallel lines evoke the feel and sheen of hair in the
beard, eyebrows, etc., as well as the reddening of the skin at the cheek-bone;
a stroke of a coarser rasp gives life to the depression at the left temple. Bernini
was acutely aware of the inherent colourlessness of sculpture and emphasized,
particularly in the matter of portraits, that it was often necessary to distort
natural form in order to render the effect of a change in hue. The Fogg terracotta is not a portrait, but the relationship is pertinent since, so far as we
know, it was only in preparing for portrait busts that Bernini modelled separate studies of the head from life. The work belongs in another context, as
well. Artists' studios at this period were filled with sculptural fragments of the
human anatomy such as hands, feet and heads; but mostly these were pieces
or casts from earlier sculptures, usually antiques, which served as reminders
and as examples to be copied by aspiring apprentices. The Fogg model is the
earliest monumental study-head that has come down to us, and as such it
anticipates the deliberately fragmentary portraits of Rodin.
The chief pride of the collection are the two series of studies for angels,
one standing, the other kneeling. The four standing figures form part of
Bernini's personal contribution to a project of the late 1660s in which,
under his general supervision the balustrades of a bridge across the Tiber
leading to the Holy City were decorated with ten over life-size statues in
marble of angels carrying the instruments of the Passion. Bernini's basic
conceit was to represent the figures as if they had just alighted from the blue
sky against which they are seen, bearing their mementos of Christ's sufferings. Bernini initially executed two angels, those carrying the inscription on
the cross and the crown of thorns; they were regarded as too fine to be
installed on the bridge and are now to be seen in the church of Sant' Andrea
della Fratte (Fig. 3). An assistant's copy of the angel with the crown was
installed on the bridge, along with a second version of the angel with the
inscription by Bernini himself. The Fogg possesses two models for the first
version of the angel with the inscription (Figs. 4, 5) and two for the angel
with the crown (Figs. 6 and 7),6 while several more are preserved in other
One of the Fogg bozetti (1937.68), sometimes identified with the angel with the crown, is
actually a study by Bernini for the angel with the scourge, which was executed by another sculptor.
6

Lavin IX. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VI

13/8/07

06:42

Page 16

390

collections. The studies of these ethereal figures swathed in weightless


draperies document in extraordinary detail Bernini's development of a
complex counterpoint of forms and emotions to suggest the cruel irony of
the mock-regal insignia imposed on the King of Kings.
The pose of the angel with the inscription was established at the outset
and remained essentially unchanged. The main evolution in this figure took
place in the treatment of the drapery, which initially fell in long undulating
curves but became more voluminous, more deeply undercut and more complicated. This difference has its counter-part in the handling of the material; in the earlier of the two bozzetti a narrow scoop was used to gash deep
furrows with sharp, linear edges, while in that which followed the folds are
rounder and more softly modelled. The nude study of the angel with the
crown represents an early stage in the planning, where Bernini conceived of
the two figures almost as mirror images.
Ever since the Renaissance it had been common practice for artists to
study in the nude the disposition of figures intended eventually to be
draped. For the most part, however, such studies were fleeting sketches
which served to establish the action of the figure, rather than the physique
itself. Bernini's terracotta, instead, is a highly developed and delicately finished essay on the male nude in which there is a subtle consonance
between soft, ephebic flesh and a twisting, unstable pose.(The even, slightly
granular surface was produced by brushing on a thin coat of watered clay.)
Subsequently, the pose shifts, so that while the upper parts of the bodies and
the draperies at the legs remain mirror images, the stances of the figures
become parallel. The proportions become lither and more angular and,
while the drapery retains a strong linear component, the swinging movement of the nude acquires a distinct forward thrust. The figure now strides
toward the spectator in order to display his emblem; in comparison the
angel with the inscription seems retiring. By their complementary but contrasting natures these twin invaders from another world characterize the
messages they bear the aggressiveness of the one expressing the physical
pain of the crown of thorns, the inward withdrawal of the other, the moral
and intellectual wound inflicted by the taunting inscription.
The Fogg's series of five kneeling angels preserves successive steps in the
development of one of Bernini's last major undertakings (167374), an
altar for St. Peter's surmounted by bronze figures with a container to
honour the Holy Sacrament. Such altars had a long tradition, which
included as a kind of reliquary for the Host, an architectural tabernacle

Lavin IX. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VI

13/8/07

06:42

Page 17

CALCULATED SPONTANEITY

391

alluding to the sepulchre of Christ and adoring angels. Since the


Reformation the motif had become a veritable triumph of the Eucharist,
with the angels shown carrying the tabernacle aloft in exaltation. Bernini's
first project, for which there are two bozzetti (Fig. 8), was based on this idea.
The angels were to half-kneel on the altar, one hand holding a candlestick,
the other lifting a round tempietto, its dome topped by a cross signifying
the dominion of the Church. The open gestures, the transitory poses and
the sweeping masses of loosely modelled drapery, present the mystery of the
Eucharist as a momentary action, a miraculous elevation of the Host.
In the final work, for which there are three bozzetti (Figs. 9, 10 and 11),
a radical transformation took place.The tabernacle rests directly on the altar
and the cross is replaced by a figure of Christ rising from His tomb, an
explicit reference to the Holy Sepulchre. The angels now crouch on both
knees and once again adore the Sacrament, although in distinctive ways.
One, completely self-absorbed, inclines his head inward and down toward
the altar, hands joined together in prayer; the other looks out toward the
approaching worshipper while pressing his crossed hands to his breast in
supplication. The arrangement is thus no longer transitory and visionary
but stable and devotional. These changes from the first project signify a fundamental shift in emphasis, from the triumph of the Eucharist to a much
older theme that was revived with new urgency in the CounterReformation, that of the real and abiding presence of the body of Christ in
the Host.
A related alteration occurs in the treatment of the angels' draperies.
These no longer reflect a mechanical action, but seem to envelop the
bodies with streaks and flashes of pure energy the power of faith.
Especially in the second study for the praying angel (Fig. 10), the forms
seem dissolved by a pattern of striations on the surface and jagged scoops in
depth; yet each craggy and seemingly chaotic shape appears in the final
work as a lucid fold of material. The feverish excitement conveyed by these
late terracottas is the more to be wondered at because one of them bears the
traces of an unprecedented method of control that helped ensure accurate
transfer of the qualities of the study to the final work: at the side of the base
of the angel with crossed hands is a series of parallel incisions marking equal
intervals (Fig. 12). Bernini was apparently the first sculptor to provide his
models with such measured scales to serve in the system of proportional
enlargement. He left nothing to chance. Indeed, Bernini's finished sculptures seem so inspired and unpremeditated that one grasps the paradox of

Lavin IX. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VI

13/8/07

06:42

Page 18

392

his painstaking yet efficient procedure.Through it he succeeded in all but


eliminating the difference between bozzetto and final execution.

On the Pedestal of Berninis Bust of the Savior

N an essay on Berninis death and the art he made in preparation for it,
I stressed the significance of the monumental support he designed for his
last work, the great marble bust of the Savior, now in the Chrysler Museum
at Norfolk, Virginia.1 The pedestal is described in an early inventory as consisting of a socle surmounted by two kneeling angels who held in their
hands a base of Sicilian jasper, on which the bust itself rested. The socle and
angels, made of gilt wood, were nearly two meters high, the jasper base was
28 cm. high and 50 cm. wide at the bottom, and the bust is 93 cm. high,
for a total of more than three meters. In a footnote I expressed puzzlement
as to how the weight of an over lifesize marble bust was sustained in the
hands of wooden angels.
I recently obtained a photograph of a splendid black chalk drawing in
the Bernini codex in the Museum der bildenden Knste (Fig. 2), which is
clearly an autograph study for the pair of kneeling angels and was no doubt
executed in conjunction with the famous sketch for the bust in the
Gabinetto delle Stampe in Rome (Fig.1).2 Although we still have no direct

1
Bernini's Death, Art Bulletin, LIV, 1972, 15886, cf. 171 ff; also, Afterthoughts on
Bernini's Death, ibid., LV, 1973, 429436.
2
151 x 188 mm. I am indebted for their kindness to Prof. Dr. Ernst Ullmann of Leipzig
University, to Prof. Dr. Gerhard Winkler, Director of the Leipzig Museum, and to KarlHeinz Mehnert, Curator of the drawing collection. The drawing is noted, without identification and as a workshop piece, in H. Brauer and R. Wittkower, Die Zeichnungen des
Gianlorenzo Bernini, Berlin, 1931, 172, n. 2.
The Rome drawing measures 171 x 254 mm. The sketches are reproduced here in proportion to their actual sizes.

394

1. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Study for the Bust of the Savior, drawing.


Rome, Gabinetto Nazionale delle Stampe.
2. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Study for the upper part of the pedestal of the Bust
of the Savior, drawing. Leipzig, Museum der bildenden Knste.

ON THE PEDESTAL OF BERNINIS BUST OF THE SAVIOR

395

evidence for the lowermost part of the design, the Leipzig sketch makes several important contributions to our understanding of Berninis conception.
The problem of supporting the sculpture was resolved by an ingenious
use of drapery, which envelops the angels arms and hands and falls in loose
vertical folds to the socle below. The device should not be thought of simply as a deception; rather, in classic Berninesque fashion it makes a virtue of
necessity, incorporating the ancient tradition of covering the hands of those
who touch sacred things.3 In this case the material seems to come from the
shoulders and may have a liturgical, specifically Eucharistic import:
the humeral veil worn during Mass by the subdeacon, who uses it to hold
the paten on which the Host rests, and by the celebrant to carry the monstrance in the procession of Corpus Christi and in giving benediction with
the Holy Sacrament.4 The top of the socle may have been stepped, as in certain comparable projects of the late period,5 but the sketch suggests that its
upper surface was roughly domical; if so, it presumably referred to Mount
Calvary, above which the image of the Savior is borne in triumph. This, too,
has resonance in other works of Bernini, notably the equestrian statue of
Louis XIV, which was shown at the summit of the rocky peak of Herculean
virtue .6 The reference to the Crucifixion was echoed in the half-hidden gesture of Christs left hand, which alludes to the wound from the lance of
Saint Longinus. The base held by the angels was evidently polygonal, rather
than round or square or oblong.7 This design, unique among Berninis
busts, serves to differentiate the portrait of Christ from those of ordinary
men, and recalls the fact that the regular polygon was one of the shapes he
considered most perfect.8 Finally, extrapolating to the drawing the dimensions given for the base, one deduces that the angels and the socle must each
3
On the motive of veiled hands, see R. Hatfield, Botticellis Uffizi Adoration. A Study in
Pictorial Content, Princeton, 1976, 35 ff.
4
Cf. J. A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite: Its Origins and Development (Missarum
Sollemnia), 2 vols., New York, etc., 195155, II, 307; J. O'Connell, The Celebration of Mass.
A Study of the Rubrics of the Roman Missal, 3 vols., Milwaukee, 194041, I, 268 f.
5
See the sketches for sacrament altars reproduced in Brauer and Wittkower,
Zeichnungen, Pls. 131a, 133.
6
Cf. R. Wittkower, The Vicissitudes of a Dynastic Monument. Bernini's Statue of
Louis XIV, in M. Meiss, ed., De Artibus Opuscula, XL. Essays in Honor of Erwin Panofsky,
New York, 1961, 497531.
7
The polygonal design of the base is reflected in that of the copy of the Savior in Ses
Cathedral (partly visible in Lavin, Afterthoughts, Fig. 2).
8
See the record of Bernini's statement in Paris in 1665, in L. Lalanne, ed., Journal du
voyage du Cavalier Bernin en France par M. De Chantelou, Paris, 1885, 167.

396

have been about a meter high. The angels would thus have appeared as lifesize adolescents; placed at eye level, they provided a direct measure of the
superhuman scale of the object they held aloft.

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 1

XI

High and Low Before Their Time:


Bernini and the Art of Social Satire*

ODERNISM nowadays is so closely identified with formalism that a


new social awareness, which was a fundamental aspect of the modernist movement since the late nineteenth century, is often forgotten. This
new social concern, in turn, engendered a new appreciation of popular culture, and of unsophisticated culture generally in all its manifestations. The
thoroughness of modernisms rejection of traditional cultural values, and
the intimacy of the association modernism established between that rejection and social reform, were unprecedented since the coming of
Christianity. The association, however had a long prehistory to which the
modern movement was deeply indebted, but which we tend to overlook.
We tend, instead, to think of the development of culture in Darwinian
terms, as a progressive evolution leading inexorably if not necessarily to
improvement then at least to increased sophistication and facility. The
exceptions to this principle are just that, exceptions cases in which,
owing to special circumstances, a primitive cultural state is preserved acci-

* An earlier version of this essay appeared in Lavin et al. (1981) pp. 2554. Since the
original publication, Professor Dieter Wuttke of Bamberg has kindly brought to my attention an important article by Arndt (1970), in which several of the points dealt with here are
anticipated. In particular Arndt suggests (p. 272) a similar interpretation of the sketch by
Drer discussed below. On later appreciation of childrens drawings, see Georgel (1980).
Also, my colleague John Elliott acquainted me with a remarkable sketch in which Philip IV
of Spain and his minister Olivares are crudely portrayed as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza;
but the drawing is not independent and is clearly much later than the manuscript, dated
1641, to which it was added along with a postscript (on this point I am indebted to Sandra
Sider of the Hispanic Society of America). See Elliott (1964, Pl. 19 opposite p. 344).

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 2

398

dentally, as in certain remote corners of the globe; or perseveres incidentally within the domain of high culture in certain extra-, preter-, or noncultural contexts, as in the art of the untutored (popular and folk, including graffiti), of children, of the insane.1
Without presuming to challenge the biological theory of evolution as
such, my view of the matter in art-historical terms is quite different. I would
argue that man has what might be described as an unartistic heritage that
persists, whether recognized or not, alongside and notwithstanding all
developments to the contrary. High and low, the sophisticated and the
naive, are always present as cultural alternatives in all societies, even
primitive ones exerting opposite and equal thrusts in the history of
human awareness and self-revelation. They may appear to exist, develop,
and function independently, but in fact they are perennial alter egos, which
at times interact directly. High and low art, like Beauty and the Beast, go
hand in hand.
A striking and surprising case in point is offered by a series of mosaic
pavements found in a great and lavishly decorated house at Olynthus in
Greece, dating from the early fourth century B.C.2 Here the figural compositions with concentric borders display all the order and discipline we
normally associate with Greek thought (Fig. 1). Traces of this rationality are
discernible in certain of the floors where large geometric motifs are placed
in the center above finely lettered augural inscriptions, such as Good
Fortune or Lady Luck, while various crudely drawn apotropaic symbols
circles, spirals, swastikas, zigzags appear here and there in the background (Fig. 2). Finally, the entire composition may be dissolved in an
amorphous chaos from which the magical signs shine forth mysteriously
helter-skelter like stars in the firmament the random arrangement is as
Insofar as the notion of high/low includes that of primitivism, there is a substantial
bibliography, beginning with the classic work of Lovejoy and Boas (1935); more recent
literature on primitivism in art will be found in Encyclopedia (195987, vol. 11, columns
70417), to which should be added Gombrich ([1960], 1985), and, for the modern period,
Rubin, ed., 1985. Further discussion of some aspects of the problem will be found in an
essay on Picassos lithographic series The BuIl, in a volume of my essays to be published by
the University of California Press (1991). If one includes related domains, such as popular
art, the art of children and the insane what I have elsewhere called art without history
the subject of their relations to sophisticated art has yet to receive a general treatment.
The development of interest in the art of the insane, in particular has now been studied in
an exemplary fashion by MacGregor (1989).
2
On the Olynthus mosaics, see Salzmann (1982, pp. 100 ff ).
1

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 3

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

399

deliberate and significant as the signs themselves (Fig. 3). The entire gamut
of expressive form and meaningful thought seems here encapsulated, at the
very apogee of the classical period in Greece, when the great tradition of
European high art was inaugurated. The Olynthus mosaics reveal the common ground mans sense of the supernatural that lies between the
extremes of high and low to which we give terms like mythology and
superstition.
The subsequent development of Greco-Roman art also abounds in various kinds and phases of radical retrospectivity Neo-Attic, Archaistic,
Egyptianizing in which the naturalistic ideals of classical style were thoroughly expunged. Virtuoso performances by artists of exquisite taste and
refined technique recaptured the awkward grace and innocent charm of a
distant and venerable past. The retrospective mode might even be adopted
in direct apposition to the classical style, as in the reliefs of a late-fourthcentury altar from Epidaurus, where the archaistic design of the figure on
the side contrasts with the contemporary forms of those on the front (Figs.
4 and 5).3
A conspicuous and historically crucial instance of such a coincidence of
artistic opposites occurred at the end of classical antiquity, in the arch in
Rome dedicated in A.D. 315 to celebrate the emperor Constantines victory
over his rival, Maxentius. Parts of earlier monuments celebrating the emperors Trajan, Hadrian, and Marcus Aurelius were incorporated in the sculptural decorations of the arch, along with contemporary reliefs portraying
the actions of Constantine himself (Fig. 6). The rondels display all the
nobility and grace of the classical tradition, while the friezes below seem
rigid, rough, and ungainly, culturally impoverished. It used to be thought
that the arch was a monument of decadence, a mere pastiche in which
Constantines craftsmen salvaged what they could of the high style art of
their predecessors, using their own inadequate handiwork only when necessary. In fact, there is ample evidence to show that the juxtaposition was
deliberate, intended to create a complementary contrast that would illustrate Constantines intention to incorporate the grandeur of the Empire at
the height of its power with the humble spirituality of the new Christian
ideal of dominion. The latter mode may be understood partly in contemporary terms, as an elevation to the highest level of imperial patronage of
vulgar forms, whether native to the indigenous populace of Rome or
3

Cited in Hadzi (1982, p. 312).

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 4

400

1. Olynthus, Villa of Good Fortune, pebble mosaic with representation


of Achilles, Thetis and Nereids [from Robinson (1934), pl. xxx].

2. Olynthus, Villa of Good Fortune, pebble mosaic with inscription and symbols
(double axe, swastika, wheel of fortune) [from Robinson (1934), p. 504, fig. 2].

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 5

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

401

3. Olynthus, House A xi 9, pebble mosaic with many symbols, including


swastika and double axe [from Robinson (1934), pl. xxxi].
4. Front view of an altar from Epidaurus. Athens, National Archaeological Museum.

06:47

7. Two fighting figures, relief signed by Frotoardus. South


portal, La Celle-Brure (photo: courtesy M. Schmitt).

13/8/07

5. Side view of an altar from Epidaurus.


Athens, National Archaeological Museum.

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII


Page 6

402

13/8/07

06:47

Page 7

403

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

6. Arch of
Constantine,
medallions and
frieze on north side.
Rome (photo:
Alinari 12325).

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 8

404

imported from the provinces.4 It has been suggested, however that the vulgar style, which was destined to play a seminal role in the development of
medieval art, was also a conscious evocation of Romes remote, archaic past,
when simplicity, austerity, and self-sacrifice had first laid the foundation of
a new world order.5
An analogous phenomenon has been observed in the context of
medieval art itself at the height of the Romanesque period. Many churches
of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, including some of the most illustrious, display more or less isolated reliefs executed in a crude, infantile manner and illustrating grotesque or uncouth subjects (Fig. 7).6 Although they
were formerly dismissed as reused debris from a much earlier preRomanesque period, recent study has shown that such works are in fact
contemporary with, often part of the very fabric of the buildings they
adorn. They might even proudly display the inscribed signature of the
sculptor and the bold suggestion has been made that the same artist may
also have been responsible for the more familiar and more sophisticated
parts of the decoration. Such stylistic and thematic interjections must be
meaningful, especially since they inevitably recall the real spolia, bits and
pieces of ancient monuments, with which many medieval churches are
replete. These deliberately retrieved fragments, often discordantly incorporated into the new masonry, bore physical witness to the supersession of
paganism by Christianity. Perhaps the substandard Romanesque reliefs
express a similar idea in contemporary terms.
The particular subject of this paper may thus quite properly be viewed
as one episode in the general history of the phenomenon of cultural
extremes that sometimes touch. The episode, however is an important one
in the development of European culture because, despite the many
antecedents, something new happened in the Renaissance. The classical
ideals of naturalism and high culture were not only retrieved, they were also
revived, refined, regularized, and embedded in a theoretical framework.
This philosophical, mathematical, even theological structure, which culminated toward the end of the sixteenth century in a treatise by Gian Paolo
Lomazzo with the significant title Lidea del tempio della pittura (1590),
See the exemplary discussion of the arch in Kitzinger (1977, pp. 7 ff ).
This last is the luminous suggestion of Tronzo (1986). For the parameters of this idea
in terms of classical literary style, see Gombrich (19661).
6
On these works see Schmitt (1980); the fundamental importance of Schmitts study for
our understanding of medieval art has yet to be fully grasped.
4
5

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 9

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

405

served not only to explain and justify the classical values themselves; it also
raised their practitioners to the level of liberal, and therefore noble artists.
The classical ideals, albeit in many variations, were thus enshrined in a code
of visual behavior as it were, that had every bit the force of indeed, it was
often directly linked to a code of personal behavior in social terms. To
this unprecedented idea of a pure, high art, elevated to the apex of an
explicit theoretical and social scale of values, there was an equal and opposite reaction, on the same terms. One of the products of this reaction was
the creation of caricature, an art form that we still today think of as peculiarly modern.
Berninis caricature of Pope Innocent Xl (Fig. 8) is one of the few traces
of the artists handiwork that have come down to us from the very last years
of his life. Bernini was seventy-eight and had only four years to live when
Benedetto Odescalchi was elected pope, at the age of sixty-five, in 1676. As
a work of art, the drawing is slight enough a few tremulous, if devastating, pen lines sketched in a moment of diversion on a wisp of paper measuring barely four and a half by seven inches.7 Despite its modest pretensions
in part actually because of them, as we shall see the work represents
a monumental watershed in the history of art: it is the first true caricature
that has come down to us of so exalted a personage as a pope. Signifying as
it does that no one is beyond ridicule, it marks a critical step in the development, perhaps the beginning, of what can properly be called the art of social
satire, a new form of visual expression in which the noblest traditions of
European art and society are called into question. The forces here unleashed
would ultimately, in the modern period, challenge the notion of tradition
itself.
By and large, before Bernini there were two chief methods of ridiculing
people in a work of art. The artist might poke fun at a particular individual, independently of any setting or ideological context, if the victim occupied a relatively modest station in life. Such, evidently, were the informal
little comic sketches of friends and relatives by Agostino and Annibale
Carracci, described in the sources but now lost. These ritrattini carichi, or
charged portraits, as the Carracci called them, were certainly among the
For a description and bibliography, see Lavin et al. (1981, catalogue number 99,
pp. 33637). Traces of further drawing appear at the upper right. Bernini evidently cut off
a portion of a larger sheet in order to make the caricature, which he may have drawn for his
personal satisfaction and kept for himself. Twenty-five caricatures are mentioned in a 1706
inventory of Berninis household; Fraschetti (1900, p. 247).
7

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 10

406

primary inspirations of Berninis caricatures (Fig. 9). Alternatively, the victim might be grand, and he would be represented in a context that reflected
his position in society. The artists of the Reformation, for example, had
made almost a specialty of satirizing the popes as representatives of a hated
institution and its vices (Fig. 10). In the former case the individuality of the
victim was important, but he was not; in the latter case the opposite was
true.8
The differences between Berninis drawing and these antecedents have to
do, on the one hand, with the form of the work a particular kind of
drawing that we immediately recognize and refer to as a caricature and,
on the other with its content the peculiar appearance and character of a
specific individual who might even be the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman
Catholic Church. I shall offer my remarks under those general headings.9
Much of what I shall have to say was already said, at least implicitly, in
the accounts of Berninis caricatures given by his early biographers, who
were well aware of the significance of his achievement in this domain.
Filippo Baldinucci reports that Berninis boldness of touch (franchezza di
tocco) in drawing was
truly miraculous; and I could not say who in his time was his equal
For a general account of social criticism in postmedieval art, see Shikes (1969).
A fine analysis of the nature of the Carraccis ritrattini carichi, with the attribution to
Annibale of the drawing reproduced here, will be found in Posner (1971, pp. 6570,
Fig. 59; and cf. Fig. 60, certainly cut from a larger sheet), but see also Bohlin (1979, pp. 48,
67, nn. 83 f ); so far as can be determined, Annibales drawings displayed neither the social
content nor the distinctive draftsmanship of Berninis caricatures, nor is it clear that they
were autonomous sheets. On the papal satires of the Reformation, see Grisar and Heege
(192123); Koepplin and Falk (197476, vol. 2, pp. 498522).
9
For caricature generally and for bibliography see Encyclopedia (195987, vol. 3,
columns 73435). For a useful recent survey of caricature since the Renaissance, see
Caricature (1971). On the development in Italy the fundamental treatment is that of
Juynboll (1934); important observations will be found in a chapter by E. Kris and E. H.
Gombrich in Kris (1952, pp. 189203), and in Gombrich (1972, pp. 330 ff ). The pages on
Berninis caricatures in Brauer and Wittkower (1931, pp. 18084), remain unsurpassed; but
see also Boeck (1949), Harris (1975, p. 158), and Harris (1977, p. xviii, numbers 40, 41).
The latter has questioned whether the caricatures in the Vatican Library and the Gabinetto
Nazionale delle Stampe in Rome, attributed to Bernini by Brauer and Wittkower, are autographs or close copies; however, the issue does not affect the general argument presented
here. Caricature drawings attributed to Bernini other than those noted by Brauer and
Wittkower and by Harris (1977) will be found in Cooke (1955); Sotheby (1963, Lot 18);
Stampfle and Bean (1967, vol.2, pp. 54 f ).
8

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 11

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

407

in this ability. An effect of this boldness was his singular work in the
kind of drawing we call caricature, or exaggerated sketches, wittily
malicious deformations of peoples appearance, which do not destroy
their resemblance or dignity, though often they were great princes
who enjoyed the joke with him, even regarding their own faces, and
showed the drawings to others of equal rank.10
Domenico Bernini, the artists son, gives the following formulation:
at that time [under Urban VIII] and afterwards he worked singularly
in the kind of drawing commonly referred to as caricature. This was
a singular effect of his spirit, in which as a joke he deformed some
natural defect in peoples appearance, without destroying the resemblance, recording them on paper as they were in substance, although
in part obviously altered. The invention was rarely practiced by other
artists, it being no easy matter to derive beauty from the deformed,
symmetry from the ill-proportioned. He made many such drawings,
and he mostly took pleasure in exaggerating the features of princes
and important personages, since they in turn enjoyed recognizing
themselves and others, admiring the great inventiveness of the artist
and enjoying the game.11
In Berninis drawings, Si scorge simmetria maravigliosa, maest grande, e una tal
franchezza di tocco, che propriamente un miracolo; ed io non saprei dire chi mai nel suo
tempo gli fusse stato equale in tal facolt. Effetto di questa franchezza stato laver egli
operato singolarmente in quella sorte di disegno, che noi diciamo caricatura o di colpi caricati,
deformando per ischerzo a mal modo leffigie altrui, senza togliere loro la somiglianza, e la
maest, se talvolta eran principi grandi, come bene spesso accadeva per lo gusto, che avevano
tali personaggi di sollazzarsi con lui in si fatto trattenimento, anche intorno apropri volti,
dando poi a vedere i disegni ad altri di non minore affare. Baldinucci ([1682] 1948, p. 140).
11
Ne devesi passar sotto silenzio lhavere ei in quel tempo & appresso ancora, singolarmente operate in quella sorte di Disegno, che communemente chiamasi col nome di
Caricatura. F queste uneffetto singolare del suo spirito, poich in essi veniva a deformare,
come per ischerzo, laltrui effigie in quelle parti per, dove la natura haveva in qualche mode
difettato, e senza toglier lore la somiglianza, li rendeva su le Carte similissimi, e quali in sostanza
essi erano, benche se ne scorgesse notabilmente alterata, e caricata una parte; Invenzione rare
volte pratticata da altri Artefici, non essendo giuoco da tutti, ricavare il bello dal deforme, e
dalla sproporzione la simetria. Ne fece egli dunque parecchi, e per lo pi si dilettava di caricare
leffigie de Principi, e Personaggi grandi, per lo gusto, che essi poi ne ricevevono in rimirarsi
que medesimi, pur dessi, e non essi, ammirando eglino in un tempo lIngegno grande
dellArtefice, e solazzandosi con si fatto trattenimento. Bernini (1713, p. 28).
10

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

408

8. Bernini, caricature of
Pope Innocent XI,
drawing. Leipzig,
Museum der bildenden
Knste.

10. Lucas Cranach,


Pope Leo X as Antichrist
[after Passional (1885),
ill. 19].

13/8/07

06:47

Page 12

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 13

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

9. Attributed to Annibale Carracci, drawing. Windsor Castle,


Royal Library, No. 1928.

409

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 14

410

11. Leonardo, grotesque heads, drawing. Windsor Castle,


Royal Library, No. 12495r.

13/8/07

06:47

Page 15

411

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

12. Physiognomical types,


Della Porta (1586)
[1650], pp. 116f.

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 16

412

The explicit definition of caricature given in these passages a comic


exaggeration of the natural defects of the sitters features focuses on what
might be called the mimetic nature of the genre. It is essential that an individual, preferably of high rank, be represented, and that with all the distortion he remain individually identifiable. The formal qualities are expressed
implicitly: the drawings were independent works of art, conceived as ends
in themselves and appreciated as such; they were also true or pure portraits,
in that they depicted a single individual, isolated from any setting or narrative context; and they were graphically distinctive, in that they were drawn
in a singular manner (reflecting Berninis franchezza di tocco), specifically
adapted to their purpose.12
On all these counts Berninis drawings are sharply distinguished from
the tradition most often cited in the prehistory of caricature, physiognomics. The scientific or pseudoscientific investigation of ideal types as they
relate to moral and psychological categories originated in antiquity and
enjoyed a great florescence in the Renaissance. Leonardos studies of
grotesque heads as expressions of the aesthetic notion of perfect or beautiful ugliness (Fig. 11) are one familiar case in point. Another major aspect of
the tradition was the comparison of human and animal features, on the theory that the analogies revealed common psychological qualities: human
facial traits were assimilated to those of various animal species to bring out
the supposed characterological resemblances. The first comprehensive
tract on the subject was published in 1586 by Giambattista della Porta
(Fig. 12).13 Bernini was certainly aware of the physiognomical tradition,
both the association between exaggeration and character analysis and the
link between human and animal types. Yet, such studies never portrayed
specific individuals, they were never drawn in any special style of their own,
and they were never sufficient unto themselves as works of art.
It is well known that in the course of the sixteenth century drawing had
achieved the status of an independent art that is, serving neither as an
exercise, nor a documentary record, nor a preparatory design in a limited variety of forms. One was what may be called the presentation drawing, which the artist prepared expressly for a given person or occasion.
Michelangelos drawings for his friend Tommaso Cavalieri are among the
For the foregoing, see Lavin (1970, p. 144 n. 75).
Della Porta ([1586] 1650, pp. 116 f ). For general bibliography on physiognomics, see
Encyclopedia (195968, vol. 3, columns 380 f ).
12
13

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 17

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

413

earliest such works that have come down to us (Fig. 13).14 Another category,
especially relevant in our context, was the portrait drawing, which by
Berninis time had also become a distinct genre. In the early seventeenth
century there was a specialist in this field in Rome, Ottavio Leoni; he portrayed many notables of the period, including Bernini himself (Fig. 14),
who also made regular portrait drawings of this sort (cf. Fig. 17).15 (In
Berninis case the complementarity and contrast between the two independent graphic forms extend even to the identifying inscriptions: on the
caricatures, a coarse scrawl with the name and professional qualification in
the vulgar language; on the formal portrait, a humanistic Latin epigraph in
calligraphic minuscules, but not the noble majuscules of classical epigraphy.) A common characteristic of these early autonomous drawings is that
they were highly finished, and the draftsman tended to invent or adopt special devices which distinguish them from other kinds of drawings:16
Michelangelos famous stippling and rubbing is one example, Leonis mixture of colored chalks is another. These works are carefully executed, rich in
detail, and complex in technique. The artist, in one way or another created
an independent form midway between a sketch and a painting or sculpture.
We shall explore the peculiar graphic qualities of Berninis caricatures
presently. For the moment it is important to note that they incorporate two
interrelated innovations with respect to this prior history of drawing as an
end in itself. Berninis are the first such independent drawings in which the
technique is purely graphic, i.e., the medium is exclusively pen and ink, the
forms being outlined without internal modeling; and in them the rapidity,
freshness, and spontaneity usually associated with the informal sketch
become an essential feature of the final work of art.17
Within the specific context of the autonomous portrait drawing,
Berninis caricatures also stand apart. The prevalent convention in this
Cf. Wilde (1978, pp. 147 ff ).
For portrait drawing generally see Meder (1978, pp. 335 ff.); for drawings by Leoni,
see Kruft (1969).
16
It is interesting that in both cases contemporaries were already aware of the distinctive
techniques used in these drawings; for Michelangelo, see Vasari ([1550, 1568] 1962, vol. 1,
pp. 118, 121 f; vol. 4, pp. 1,898 ff ); for the colored chalks and pencils of Leoni and Bernini,
see Baglione ([1642] 1935, p. 321) and Stampfle and Bean (1967, pp. 52 f ).
17
There was one class of sixteenth-century works, incidentally in which the loose sketch
might become a sort of presentation drawing, namely the German autograph album (album
amicorum or Stammbuch); see, for example, Thne (1940, pp. 55f, Figs. 1719) and
Drawings (1964, p. 23, numbers 33, 35).
14
15

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 18

414

genre, and indeed in that of the painted portrait generally since the early
Renaissance, was to show the sitter in three-quarter views, whereas Berninis
caricatures are invariably either full-face or profile (Figs. 15 and 16). The
effect seems deliberately archaic, but his preference may also be seen in the
light of another equally striking fact: among Berninis own portrait drawings (other than caricatures) those that are independent are three-quarter
views (Fig. 17), while those that can be identified as studies for sculptured
portraits are in strict profile (Fig. 18).18 We know that the very first studies
he made from life for the famous bust of Louis XIV were two drawings, one
full-face, the other in profile.19 Bernini, of course, astonished his contemporaries by also making many sketches of the sitter moving and talking, and
18
For Berninis portrait drawings generally see Brauer and Wittkower (1931, pp. 11, 15,
29 f, 156 f ) and Harris (1977, passim.). It happens that the two preserved and certainly
authentic profile drawings by Bernini represent sitters of whom he also made sculptured portraits, i.e., Scipione Borghese (Fig. 18) and Pope Clement X [see Lavin et al. (1981, catalogue number 83, pp. 29499, 375)]. Conversely there are no recorded portrait sculptures
of the sitters of whom Bernini made drawings in three-quarter view. It is interesting in this
context to compare the triple views provided to Bernini by painters for four sculptured
busts to be executed in absentia by Van Dyck for portraits of Charles I and Henrietta
Maria, by Philippe de Champaigne for Richelieu, and by Sustermans and Boulanger for
Francesco I of Modena; cf. Wittkower (1966, pp. 207 f, 209 f, 224):

Subject

Right profile

Charles I
Henrietta Maria
Richelieu
Francesco I

x
x
x
x

Full-face
x
x

VIEW
Three-quarterto - left profile
x
x

Left profile

x
x
x

All four include the right profile, all but the third the full face, and all but the first the
left profile; only the first and third show the head turned three quarters (to the left).
Portraits, otherwise unspecified, were also sent from Paris to Bernini in Rome for the equestrian statue of Louis XIV; see Wittkower (1961, p. 525, number 47).
19
The first studies for the bust are mentioned in Chantelous diary June 23, 1665:
Le Cavalier a dessin daprs le Roi une tte deface, une de profil (Chantelou, p. 37);
cf. a letter of 26 June from Paris by Berninis assistant Mattia de Rossi, doppo che hebbe
fenito il retratto in faccia, lo fece in profile, Mirot (1904, p. 218n), and the remark of
Domenico Bernini (1713, p, 133), Onde a S. Germano f ritorno per retrarre in disegno la
Regia effigie, e due formnne, una di profilo, Ialtro in faccia. Charles Perrault in his
Mmoires of 1669 also mentions Berninis profile sketches of the king: [Bernini] se contenta
de dessiner en pastel deux ou trois profils du visage du Roi (Perrault, p. 61).

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 19

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

415

these must have been extremely various.20 In actually preparing the sculpture, however the full-face and profile were evidently primary, perhaps
because the sculptor began by tracing them on the sides and front of the
block.21 We shall see that other factors were involved as well, but it seems
clear that in this respect Berninis caricatures transfer to the final work conventions proper to a preliminary stage.
Berninis caricatures have a distinct graphic style that marks them as caricatures quite apart from what they represent. They consist, as we have
noted, entirely of outlines, from which hatching, shading, and modeling
have been eliminated in favor of an extreme, even exaggerated simplicity,
The lines are also often patently inept, suggesting either bold, musclebound attacks on the paper or a tremulous hesitancy. In other words,
Bernini adopted (or rather created) a kind of lowbrow or everymans graphic
mode in which traditional methods of sophisticated draftsmanship are
travestied just as are the sitters themselves.22
If one speculates on possible antecedents of Berninis caricature technique, two art forms if they can be called that immediately spring to
mind, in which the inept and untutored form part of the timeless and
anonymous heritage of human creativity: childrens drawings and graffiti. It
is not altogether far-fetched to imagine that Bernini might have taken such
things seriously, as it were, in making his comic drawings, for he would certainly not have been the first to do so. Albrecht Drer drew a deliberately
crude and childish sketch of a woman with scraggly hair and prominent
nose in a letter he wrote from Venice in 1506 to his friend Willibald
Pirckheimer (Fig. 19). The drawing illustrates a famous passage in which
Drer describes the Italians favorable reaction to his Rosenkranz Madonna.
He reports that the new picture had silenced all the painters who admired

20
For the references to this aspect of Berninis procedure, see Brauer and Wittkower
(1931, p. 29), and Wittkower (1951).
21
Interesting in this context are Michelangelos frontal and profile sketches for the
marble block of one of the Medici Chapel river gods; see De Tolnay (194360, vol. 3, plate
131). Cellini (1971, p. 789), speaks of Michelangelos method of drawing the principal view
on the block and commencing carving on that side.
22
It is significant that Bernini employed a comparable technique when he portrayed
nature in what might be called a primitive or formless state, as in the sketches for fireworks
[Lavin et al. (1981, catalogue numbers 5658, pp. 21927)] or a project for a fountain with
a great display of gushing water [Brauer and Wittkower (1931, Pl. 101a); cf. Harris (1977,
p. xxi, number 70)].

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 20

416

13. Michaelangelo, Fall of Phaeton, drawing. Windsor Castle,


Royal Library, No. 119.

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 21

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

14. Ottavio Leoni, portrait of Gianlorenzo Bernini, drawing.


Florence, Biblioteca Marucelliana, Vol. H, fol. 15.

417

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 22

418
15. Bernini, caricature of
Cardinal Scipione
Borghese, drawing.
Biblioteca Vaticana, MS
Chigi P. VI. 4, fol. 15.

16. Bernini, caricatures of


Don Virginio Orsini
(copy) and a military
captain, drawing.
Rome, Gabinetto
Nazionale delle Stampe,
Fondo Corsini 127521
(579).

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 23

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

17. Bernini, portrait of Sisinio Poli, drawing. New York,


The Pierpont Morgan Library, No. IV, 74.

419

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 24

420

18. Bernini, portrait of Scipione Borghese, drawing. New York,


The Pierpont Morgan Library, No. IV, 176.

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 25

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

19. Albrecht Drer, letter to Willibald Pirckheimer.


Nuremberg, Stadtbibliothek, Pirckh. 394,7.

421

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 26

422

his graphic work but said he could not handle colors.23 The clumsy-looking
sketch is thus an ironic response to his critics, as if to say, Here is my
Madonna, reduced to the form these fools can appreciate.
Something similar appears in certain manuscripts of Drers friend and
admirer Erasmus of Rotterdam (Fig. 20). Here and there he introduced
sketches one might almost call them doodles, except they are much too
self-conscious that include repeated portrayals of himself with exaggerated features, in what Panofsky described as the sharply observant, humorous spirit that animated his Praise of Folly.24 It might be added that the crude
style of the drawings also matches the ironic exaltation of ignorance that is
the fundamental theme of Praise of Folly. Although Erasmus was an amateur
it should not be assumed that the sketches are simply inept. He did know
better for he had practiced painting in his youth, and he had a discriminating art-historical eye that even encompassed what he called a rustic style,
which he associated with early medieval art.25 On the back of a
Leonardesque drawing from this same period, a deliberate graphic antithesis occurs in which a wildly expressive head is redrawn as a witty, schoolboyish persiflage (Fig. 21).
A childs drawing plays a leading role in a portrait by the mid-sixteenthcentury Veronese painter Giovanni Francesco Caroto (Fig. 22).26 Perhaps
the drawing is the work of the young man who shows it to the spectator.
He seems rather too old, however and a much more correctly drawn eye
Cf. Rupprich (195669, vol. 1, pp. 54 f ). The passage (my own translation) reads as
follows:
Know that my picture says it would give a ducat for you to see it; it is good and beautifully coloured. I have earned great praise for it, but little profit. I could well have earned
200 ducats in the time and have refused much work, so that I may come home. I have also
silenced all the painters who said I was good at engraving, but that in painting I did not
know how to handle colors. Now they all say they have never seen more beautiful colors.
Drer made the drawing immediately before he wrote this passage, which surrounds the figure. Lange and Fuhse (1893, p. 35, n. 1) noted long ago that the sketch must refer to this,
rather than the preceding portion of the letter
24
Panofsky (1969, p. 203). On Erasmuss self-mocking sketches, see Heckscher (1967,
pp. 135 f, n. 23) and the bibliography cited there.
25
Erasmus speaks of marveling and laughing at the extreme crudity of artists a century
or two earlier (admiraberis et ridebis nimiam artificum rusticitatem); see Panofsky (1969,
pp. 200, 202 f ), who also discusses Erasmuss early interest in and practice of painting and
drawing.
26
Franco Fiorio (1971, pp. 47 f, 100); for suggestive analysis of the painting, see
Almgren (1971, pp. 7173).
23

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 27

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

423

(the eye of the painter?) appears at the lower right of the sheet.27 The suggestive smile and glance with which the youth confronts the viewer certainly convey a deeper sense of the ironic contrast between the drawing and
the painting itself.28
Graffiti have a particular relevance to our context because while their
stylistic navet may be constant, the sorts of things they represent are not.
Historically speaking, portrait graffiti are far rarer than one might suppose.
Considering the role of proper portraiture in classical times, it is certainly
significant that ancient draftsmen also inscribed many comic graffiti portraying real individuals often identified by name on the walls of
Roman buildings at Pompeii and Rome (Fig. 23).29 I feel sure Bernini was
aware of such drawings, if only because we know he was acutely aware of
the wall as a graphic field. It was his habit, he said, to stroll about the gallery
of his house while excogitating his first ideas for a project, tracing them
upon the wall with charcoal.30 Two extant wall compositions by him,
though not preliminary sketches, are in fact drawings (Fig. 24).31
The term graffito, of course, refers etymologically to the technique of
incised drawing. The beginning of its modern association with popular
On the eye of Painting, see Posner (1967, pp. 201 f ).
What may be a deliberately crude head appears among the test drawings and scratches
on the back of one of Annibale Carraccis engraved plates; Posner (1971, p. 70, Fig. 68); and
Bohlin (1979, p. 437).
29
Both ancient graffiti and grylloi (discussed below) are often considered in the literature
on comic art, e.g., Champfleury (1865, pp. 5765, 186203), but I am not aware that they
have hitherto been treated seriously as specific progenitors of the modern caricature. For
ancient graffiti generally see Enciclopedia (195866, vol.3, pp. 995 f ). For a recent survey of
the figural graffiti at Pompeii, see Cbe (1966, pp. 375 f ); for those on the Palatine in Rome,
see Vnnen (1966, 1970).
30
Il ma dit qu Rome il en avait une [a gallery] dans sa maison, laquelle est presque
toute pareille; que cest l quil fait, en se promenant, la plupart de ses compositions; quil
marquait sut la muraille, avec du charbon, les ides des choses mesure quelles Iui venaient
dans Iesprit (Chantelou, p. 19). The idea recalls the ancient tales of the invention of painting by tracing shadows cast on the wall; see Kris and Kurz (1979, p. 74 and n. 10).
31
I refer to the well-known Saint Joseph Holding the Christ Child at Ariccia [Brauer and
Wittkower (1931, pp. 15456, Pl. 115)], and a (much restored) portrait of Urban VIII in
black and red chalk, in the Villa La Maddelena of Cardinal Giori, Berninis friend and
patron, at Muccia near Camerino (Fig. 24). The attribution of the latter work, reproduced
here for the first time, I believe, stems from an inventory of 1712; Brauer and Wittkower
(1931, p. 151); cf. Feliciangeli (1917, pp. 9 f ). I am indebted to Professors Italo Faldi and
Oreste Ferrari for their assistance in obtaining photographs. Cf. also a portrait drawing in
black and red chalk in the Chigi palace at Formello; Martinelli (1950, p. 182, Fig. 193).
27
28

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 28

424

satirical representations can be traced to the Renaissance, notably to Vasaris


time when sgraffito was used for a kind of mural decoration that often
included grotesque and chimeric forms with amusing distortions and transformations of nature, based on classical models (Fig. 25).32
It is also in the Renaissance that we begin to find allusions to popular
mural art by sophisticated artists. Michelangelo, who was full of references,
serious as well as ironic, to the relations among various kinds of art, was a
key figure in this development. By way of illustrating Michelangelos prodigious visual memory, Vasari tells an anecdote that also sheds light on this
neglected aspect of the masters stylistic sensibility. On an occasion during
his youth, when Michelangelo was dining with some of his colleagues, they
held an informal contest to see who could best draw a figure without
design as awkward, Vasari says, as the doll-like creatures (fantocci) made
by the ignorant who deface the walls of buildings. Michelangelo won the
game by reproducing, as if it were still before him, such a scrawl (gofferia),
which he had seen long before. Vasaris comment that this was a difficult
achievement for one of discriminating taste and steeped in design shows
that he was well aware of the underlying significance of such an interplay
between high and low style.33 Juxtapositions of this kind may actually be
seen among the spectacular series of charcoal sketches attributed to
Michelangelo and his assistants, discovered a few years ago on the walls of
chambers adjacent to and beneath the Medici Chapel in Florence
(Fig. 26).34
32
The association between sgraffiti and grotteschi is clear from Vasaris description and
account of their invention; see Vasari ([1550, 1568] 1966 ff, vol. 1, Testo, pp. 14245,
Commento, p. 212, vol. 4, Testo, pp. 51723); cf. Maclehose and Brown (1960, pp. 24345,
298303). On sgraffiti and grotteschi, see Thiem (1964) and Dacos (1969).
33
E stato Michelagnolo di una tenace e profonda memoria, che nel vedere le cose altrui
una sol volta lha ritenute si fattamente e servitosene in una maniera che nessuno se n mai
quasi accorto; n ha mai fatto cosa nessuna delle sue che riscontri luna con laltra, perch si
ricordava di tutto quello che aveva fatto. Nella sua giovent, sendo con gli amici sua pittori,
giucorno una cena a chi faceva una figura che non avessi niente di disegno, che fussi goffa,
simile a que fantocci che fanno coloro che non sanno e imbrattano le mura. Qui si valse
della memoria; perch, ricordatosi aver visto in un muro una di queste gofferie, la fece come
se lavessi avuta dinanzi du tutto punto, e super tutti quepittori: cosa dificile in uno uomo
tanto pieno di disegno, avvezzo a cose scelte, che no potessi uscir netto. Vasari ([1550, 1558]
1962, vol. I, p. 124; see also vol. 4, pp. 2,074 f ).
34
Dal Poggetto (1979, p. 267, no. 71, and p. 272, nos. 154, 156). A remarkable precedent for these drawings are those attributed to Mino da Fiesole, discovered on a wall in his
house in Florence; see Sciolla (1970, p. 113 with bibliography).

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 29

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

425

An even more remarkable instance and, as it happens, almost exactly


contemporary with the Drer letter involves one of Michelangelos early
sonnets (Fig. 27). The poem parodies Michelangelos own work on the
Sistine ceiling, its gist being that the agonizing physical conditions of the
work impair his judgment (giudizio), that is, the noblest part of art, so that
he is not a true painter and he begs indulgence:
My bellys pushed by force beneath my chin.

My brush, above my face continually,


Makes it a splendid floor by dripping down.

And I am bending like a Syrian bow.


And judgment, hence, must grow,
Borne in mind, peculiar and untrue;
You cannot shoot well when the guns askew.
John, come to the rescue
Of my dead painting now, and of my honor;
Im not in a good place, and Im no painter.35
In the margin of the manuscript page he drew a sketch depicting his twisted
body as the bow, his right arm holding the brush as the arrow, and a figure
on the ceiling as the target. Of particular interest in our context is the strik-

35
ca forza I ventre appicca sotto I mento.

e I pennel sopra I vise tuttavia


mel fa, gocciando, un ricco pavimento.

e tendomi come arco soriano.


Per fallace e strano
surge il iudizio che la mente porta,
ch mal si tra per cerbottana torta.
La mia pittura morta
difendi orma, Giovanni, e I mio onore
non sendo in loco ben, n io pittore.

Girardi (1960, pp. 4f ); trans. from Gilbert and Linscott (1963, pp. 5 f ). The sheet has most
recently been dated 151112 by De Tolnay (197580, vol. I, p. 126), who also notes the disjunction between the two parts of the drawing.

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 30

426

20. Erasmus, manuscript page. Basel, Universitts-Bibliothek, MS C.VI. a.68, p. 146.

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 31

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

21. Leonardo (?),


sketches of heads,
drawing.
Royal Library, Windsor
Castle, No. 12673v.

22. Giovanni
Francesco Caroto,
Boy with Drawing.
Verona, Museo del
Castelvecchio.

427

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

428

23. Ancient graffiti on the walls of


buildings at Rome and Pompeii
[after Vnnen (1970), pp. 121,
213; Cbe (1966), pl. XIX, 3, 6].

24. Bernini (much restored),


drawing of Urban VIII.
Muccia, Villa della
Maddalena
(photo courtesy of
Oreste Ferrari).

06:47

Page 32

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 33

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

25. Sgraffito decorations. Florence, Palazzo Bartolini-Salimbeni, courtyard


[after Thiem (1964), pl. 101].

429

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 34

430

26. Michelangelo and assistants, wall drawings. Florence, San Lorenzo,


New Sacristy [after Dal Poggetto (1978), Pl. V].

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 35

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

27. Michelangelo, sonnet on the Sistine Ceiling. Floence, Archivio


Buonarotti, Vol. XIII, fol. 111.

431

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 36

432

ing contrast in style between the two parts of the sketch: the figure of the
artist is contorted but elegantly drawn in a normal way; that on the ceiling
is grotesquely deformed and drawn with amateurish, even childlike crudity,
Michelangelo transforms the Sistine ceiling itself into a kind of graffito,
deliberately adopting a subnormal mode to satirize high art in this case
his own. If as I suspect, the grotesque figure on the vault alludes to God the
Father (Fig. 28), Michelangelos thought may reach further still: the graffito
style would express the artists sense of inadequacy in portraying the
Supreme Creator and unworthiness in the traditional analogy between the
artists creation and Gods.36
Two further examples bring us to Berninis own time. In a view of the
interior of a church in Utrecht by the great Dutch architectural painter
Pieter Saenredam, a graffito of four men wearing curious armor and riding
a horse appears conspicuously on a pier at the lower right (Figs. 29 and
30).37 The drawing represents a well-known episode from a medieval French
romance, which had a wide popular appeal. Although the meaning of the
subject in the context of Saenredams picture is unclear the style of the
drawing may have been intended not only to suggest the hand of an
untrained graffito artist generally; it may also be a deliberate archaism to
evoke the medieval origin of the story and, incidentally, of the building
itself. Perhaps the boy standing nearby and about to draw on the wall refers
ironically to Saenredam himself; perhaps the companion group, a boy
seated with a schoolchilds box at his side and teaching a dog to sit up, refers
to the mastery of art achieved by instruction and practice. In any event, the
drawing must have had a special significance for Saenredam, since he added
his own signature and the date immediately below.38

On the analogy cf. Lavin (1980, p. 156).


A similarly crude drawing in white of a woman appears on the adjacent face of the pier.
38
The inscription, in white except for the artists signature, which is in black, reads: de
buer Kerck binnen utrecht / aldus geschildert int iaer 1644 / van / Pieter Saenredam (the
Buur church in Utrecht thus painted in the year 1644 by Pieter Saenredam). Cf. Maclaren
(1960, pp. 37981); Catalogue (1961, pp. 185 f ). For assistance in identifying the object at
the seated boys side, I am indebted to Dr. Jean Fraikin, Curator of the Muse de la Vie
Wallone at Lige, who cites the following bibliography on childrens school boxes: Dewez
(1956, pp. 36271); LArt (1970, pp. 372 ff ). Crude drawings two women (one of them
virtually identical with the one mentioned above), a tree, and a bird also appear on a pier
at the right, surrounding an inscription with the artists signature and the date 1641, in one
36
37

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 37

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

433

Our final example is from Rome, in the form of a drawing by Pieter van
Laer nicknamed il Bamboccio. He was the physically deformed leader of a
notorious group of Flemish artists in Rome in the seventeenth century
called i bamboccianti (the painters of dolls), a contemporary term that
refers derisively to the awkward figures and lowlife subject matter of their
paintings. The members of the group formed a loose-knit organization, the
Bentvueghel, and were notorious for their unruly lifestyle, which made a
mockery of the noble Renaissance ideal of the gentleman artist. The drawing (Fig. 31) shows the interior of a tavern filled with carousing patrons; the
back wall is covered with all manner of crude and grotesque designs, including a caricature-like head shown in profile.39 Many works by the bamboccianti are reflections on the nature of art, both in theory and practice,
and Van Laers drawing is surely also an ironic exaltation of the kind of satirical and popular art held in contempt by the grand and often grandiloquent
humanist tradition. We are invited to contemplate this irony by the figures
who draw attention to the word Bamboo[ts] scrawled beneath a doll-like
figure, seen from behind, and the profile head the latter certainly a selfportrait of Van Laer The subtlety of the conceit may be inferred from the
fact that bamboccio, like its synonym fantoccio used by Vasari in the anecdote about Michelangelo, was specifically applied to the crude mural drawings of the inept.40
One point emerges clearly from our consideration of the prehistory of
Berninis deliberate and explicit exploitation of aesthetic vulgarity. The
artists who displayed this unexpected sensibility generally did so in order to
make some statement about the nature of art or of their profession. The
statements were, in the end, deeply personal and had to do with the relation between ordinary or common creativity and what is usually called art.
of Saenredams views of the Mariakerk at Utrecht; Catalogue (1961, pp. 212 f ). On this
painting see Schwartz (196667), who notes the association between such drawings and the
artists signature (p. 91, n. 43). Saenredams sensitivity to and deliberate manipulation of
stylistic differences are evident in the relationship between Gothic and Roman architecture
in his paintings, for which see now the thoughtful article by Connell (1980).
39
For this drawing, see Janeck (1968, pp. 122 f ). The figure shown from the back on the
wall recurs among other graffiti in a painting attributed to Van Laer in Munich; Janeck
(1968, pp. 137 f ); see also Kren (1980, p. 68).
40
Cf. Malvasia (1841, vol. 2, p. 67), with regard to the youthful wall scribblings of the
painter Mastelletta. For this reference I am indebted to David Levine, whose Princeton dissertation on the bamboccianti (1984) deals with their art-theoretical paintings and the Berlin
drawing.

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 38

434

No doubt there is an art-theoretical, or even art-philosophical element in


Berninis attitude, as well, but with him the emphasis shifts. His everymans
style is not a vehicle for comment about art or being an artist, but about
people, or rather being a person. His visual lampoons are strictly ad
hominem, and it is for this reason, I think, that in the case of Bernini one
can speak for the first time of caricature drawing not only as art, but as an
art of social satire.
With respect to the context of Berninis caricatures outside the visual
arts, it is important to note that we can date the beginning of his production as a caricaturist fairly precisely It must have coincided with the earliest
datable example that has come down to us, the famous drawing of Cardinal
Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V and Berninis greatest early
patron (see Fig. 15). A terminus ante quem is provided by Scipiones death
at age fifty-seven on October 2, 1633, but most likely the sketch was made
during the sittings for the even more famous pair of marble portrait busts
of the cardinal that are known to have been executed in the summer of
1632 (Fig. 32).41 It can scarcely be coincidental, moreover that probably in
November of the same year Lelio Guidiccioni, one of Romes literary lights
and a close friend and admirer of Bernini, acquired an important album of
drawings of genre figures, now lost, by Annibale Carracci.42
What especially suggests that Bernini started making caricatures at this
time is the fact that he then also developed a passionate interest in the comic
theater. Beginning in February 1633, and very frequently thereafter at carnival time, he would produce a comedy of his own invention, often in an
improvised theater in his own house, with himself his family, and his studio
assistants as the performers.43 His plays were extremely successful, and we
have many references to them in the early biographies and contemporary
sources, which report that the audiences included some of the highest members of Roman society. The significance of this parallel with the theater is
not simply that Berninis interest in caricature and comedy coincided, for it
is evident from what we learn about his plays that their relationship to their
predecessors was analogous to that of his caricatures to theirs.

The precise dating of the Borghese busts emerges from a letter of the following year
written by Lelio Guidiccioni [cf. DOnofrio (1967, pp. 38186)]. I plan to discuss the letter at greater length in another context.
42
On this and the following point, see Lavin (1970, p. 144, n. 75).
43
On Bernini and the theater see Lavin (1980, pp. 14557).
41

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 39

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

435

Berninis comedies stemmed largely from the popular tradition of the


commedia del larte, in which troupes of professional actors assumed stock
character roles and performed largely conventional plots. The comic effect
depended heavily on the contrast of social strata achieved through the interplay of representative types, portrayed through stereotyped costumes, gestures, and dialects. The actors were so versed in their craft, and its conventions were so ingrained, that the plays were recorded only in the form of
brief plot summaries. The recitations were thus extemporaneous, but bound
to a tradition of virtuosity born of familiarity and repetition.
By way of contrast, I shall quote first Domenico Berninis account of
Berninis plays, and then just one contemporary description.44 Domenico
says:
The beauty and wonder [of his comedies] consisted for the greatest
and best part in the facetious and satiric jokes, and in the scenic
inventions: the former were so meaningful [significanti], spirited and
close to the truth [fondati sul vero], that many experts attributed the
plays to Plautus or Terence or other writers, whom the cavalier had
never read, but did them all by sheer force of wit. A most remarkable
thing is that each night the theater was filled with the highest
nobility of Rome, ecclesiastic as well as secular and those who were
targets of his jibes not only took no offense but, considering their
truth and honesty, almost took pride in being subjected to Berninis
acute and ingenious remarks. These then circulated throughout
Rome and often the same evening reached even the ears of the pope,
who seeing Bernini the next day took pleasure in having him repeat
them. Bernini not only labored to compose them, but also took great
pains to see that the actors, who were mostly members of his
entourage and not experienced in the theater; would give natural and
lively performances. In so doing, he served as everyones teacher
and the result was that they performed like long-time professionals
in the art.45
To savor the description that follows, which dates from February 1634,
it must be understood that Cardinal Gaspare Borgia was the Spanish
44
A convenient, but not complete, collection of early sources on Berninis theatrical
activities will be found in DOnofrio (1963, pp. 91110).
45
Bernini (1713, pp. 54 f ).

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 40

436

28. Michelangelo, Creation of the Sun and Moon (detail).


Vatican, Sistine Chapel (photo: Alinari 7509A).

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 41

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

29. Pieter Saenredam, Interior of the Buurkerck, Utrecht.


London, National Gallery.

437

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 42

438

30. Pieter
Saenredam,
Interior of the
Buurkerck, Utrecht
(detail).
London, National
Gallery.

31. Pieter van


Laer,
Artists Tavern in
Rome.
Berlin, Staatliche
Museen
Preussischer
Kulturbesitz.

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 43

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

32. Bernini, bust of Cardinal Scipione Borghese.


Rome, Borghese Gallery (photo: GFN E33480).

439

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 44

440

33. Pasquino. Rome (photo: Alinari 7080).

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 45

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

34. Antonio Lafreri, Pasquino, engraving.


Yale University Library.

441

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 46

442

ambassador to the Holy See, that his coat of arms included a striding bull,
and that he was notoriously overbearing and tactless in pursuing his countrys interests at the court of Urban VIII, who was strongly pro-French.46
Borgia is absolutely furious because, to everyones delight, Bernini in
his comedy introduced a bull being beaten on the stage; he is quite
aware it referred to him since he was a bull in arms and was called
that by the pope. Borgia was also upset because elsewhere in the
comedy a Spaniard argues with a servant who, having been told by a
Frenchman not to let himself be bullied, beats up the Spaniard to the
amusement of all. Borgia, who understands without gloss the recondite meanings of the actions and words, considers the king and the
whole Spanish nation offended by the pope himself, who knows perfectly well all the scenes of the comedy before they are performed.
Borgia is also angry about other jibes, though these are the worst, and
heaven protect Bernini from a bitter penance in the future, for
Borgia is not one easily to forget offenses.47
It is clear that Berninis plays broke with the commedia del larte conventions in various ways, of which three are especially important here. One
is that Bernini introduced all sorts of illusionistic tricks houses collapse,
the theater threatens to catch fire, the audience is almost inundated
tricks that not only added a kind of visual scenographic interest that had
been confined mainly to court spectacles, but also communicated with the
spectator directly and in a way that seemed, at least at first glance, quite
uncontrived. Furthermore, Berninis comedies were not enacted extemporaneously by professional actors but by amateurs who had been carefully
instructed and mercilessly rehearsed and who recited parts that as we
know from the manuscript of one of his plays that has come down to us
might be completely written out, as in the regular theater. His productions
combined the technique of raw talent with the conception of high art.
Finally, Bernini introduced topical allusions to current events and real people; with unexampled boldness, he poked fun at some of the highest members of Roman society, who might even be present in the audience. Berninis
On Borgia, see Pastor (18941953, vol. 28, pp. 28194), for example.
Letter to the duke of Modena from his agent in Rome, 23 February 1634 [Fraschetti
(1900, pp. 261 f, n. 4; see also the description of comedies in 1638, pp. 264 f, and 1646,
pp. 26870)].
46
47

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 47

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

443

comedies thus included what can only be described as living caricatures,


witty distortions of the political allegiance or moral character of individuals, who remain readily identifiable. In general, his plays may be said to have
involved a dual breach of decorum, treating low comedy performed by amateurs as if it were legitimate theater; and treating exalted personages as if
they were ordinary people.
Although Bernini may be said to have introduced an element of social
satire to the stage, there was one literary tradition in Rome to which it was,
so to speak, endemic. This was the so-called pasquinade, or satire in verse
or prose, which poked fun, often in very bitter terms, at the religious and
civic authorities for their personal foibles or for whatever of the citys current ills could be attributed to their greed or ineptitude. The diatribes were
occasionally gathered together and published, so that the pasquinade
became a veritable genre of popular literary satire. It was the custom to
write a pasquinade in Latin or Italian on a scrap of paper and attach it to
one of several more or less fragmentary ancient statues that were to be seen
about town. These talking statues, as they were sometimes called, became
the loudspeaker through which the vox populi expressed its wit and discontent. The genre derives its name from the most infamous of the sculptures (Fig. 33), nicknamed Pasquino according to one version of the
legend, after a clever and malicious hunchbacked tailor who lived nearby in
the Piazza Orsini, considered the heart of Rome, and who started the custom early in the sixteenth century.48 It is no accident, of course, that the
speaking statues of Rome were all antiques. From biblical times the issue of
idolatry was focused chiefly on sculpture, the three-dimensionality of which
gave it special status in the hierarchy of representation. The early Christians
regarded pagan statuary as literally the work of the devil and endowed with
demonic powers, notably the power of speech. Indeed, Pasquinos irreverent
and malicious comments were often downright diabolic.
As a literary genre the pasquinade might well be described as something
like a verbal graffito in that, by contrast with the high art of satire, it tended
to be more topical in content and more informal in style and, though wellknown writers such as Pietro Aretino often joined in the sport, it was charThe bibliography on Pasquino and the pasquinade is vast. For a recent survey see
Silenzi (1968). The best orientation within the literary context remains that of Cian (1945,
vol. 2, pp. 81107, 32137). On the sculpture, see now Haskell and Penny (1981,
pp. 29196). For a valuable study of the high and low traditions of satire with respect to
Berninis rival, Salvator Rosa, see Roworth (1977).
48

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 48

444

acteristically anonymous. Indeed, this popular and rather underprivileged


element lies at the very heart of the tradition, for there is a remarkable and
surely not accidental consonance between the character of Pasquino the
tailor; a lowly artisan and man of the people, grotesquely deformed yet pungently articulate, and the character of the sculpture itself pathetically
worn and mutilated, yet also pathetically expressive. The fundamental irony
of the groups brutish appearance and caustic eloquence was perfectly
explicit: in the eloquent engraving of the group signed and dated 1550 by
Antonio Lafreri (Fig. 34), Pasquino says of himself:
I am not, though I seem so, a mutilated Baboon, without feet and
hands . . . but rather that famous Pasquino who terrifies the most
powerful . . . when I compose in Italian or Latin. I owe my physique
to the blows of those whose faults I faithfully recount.49
If the pasquinade is something like a verbal graffito, Berninis caricatures
can be thought of as visual pasquinades, almost literally so if one considers
Berninis very special relationship to the statue itself. The group is mentioned in the biographies as well as in Chantelous diary, always with the
same point illustrated by an anecdote: Asked by a cardinal which was his
favorite ancient statue, Bernini named the Pasquino, of which he said that
mutilated and ruined as it is, the remnant of beauty it embodies is percep-

49

From the inscription on the base:

Io non son (come paio) un Babbuino


stroppiato, senz piedi, et senza mani,

Ma son quel famosissimo Pasquino


Che tremar faccio i Signor piu soprani,

Quando compongo in volgare, o in latino.


La mia persona fatta in tal maniera
Per i colpi chhor questo her quel maccocca
Per chio dice i lot falli a buena cera.
Our transcription is based on a corrected but unsigned and undated version of the print in
a copy of Lafreri in the Marquand Library, Princeton University: Fig. 34 is reproduced from
Lafreri (1575), Beinecke Library, Yale University.

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 49

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

445

tible only to those knowledgeable in design.50 Indeed, he regarded it as a


work of Phidias or Praxiteles. The cardinal thought his leg was being pulled
and was infuriated. Bernini was said to have been the first to place the highest value on the Pasquino as a work of art.51 The appreciation of antique
fragments was by now nothing new, so that whether true or not, the claim
and likewise the cardinals anger only makes sense in view of the satirical tradition with which the Pasquino was primarily associated; Bernini
It is especially interesting that Bernini distinguished between complete and incomplete
statues, and among the latter noted the subtle differences between the Belvedere torso and
the Pasquino, ranking the Pasquino highest of all. The passages referred to are:
50

M. le nonce, changeant de matire, a demand au Cavalier laquelle des figures antiques


il estimait devantage. Il a dit que ctait le Pasquin, et quun cardinal lui ayant un jour fait la
mme demande, il lui avait rpondu la mme chose, ce quil avait pris pour une raillerie quil
faisait de lui et sen tait fach; quil fallait bien quil neut pas lu ce quon en avait crit, et
que le Pasquin tait une ftgure de Phidias o de Praxitle et reprsentait le serviteur
dAlexandre, le soutenant quand il reut un coup de fIche au sige de Tyr; qu la vrit,
mutile et ruine comme est cette figure, le reste de beaut qui y est nest connu que des
savants dans le dessin. (Chantelou, pp. 25 f.)
Diceva che il Laocoonte e il Pasquino nellantico avevano in s tutto il buono deIlarte,
perch vi si scorgeva imitato tutto il pi perfetto della natura, senza affettazione dellarte.
Che le pi belle statue che fussero in Roma eran quelle di Belvedere e fra quelle dico fra le
intere, il Laocoonte per lespressione dellaffetto, ed in particolare per lintelligenza che si
scorge in quella gamba, la quale per esserve gi arrivato il veleno, apparisce intirizzita; diceva
per, che il Torso ed il Pasquino gli parevano di pi perfetta maniera del Laocoonte stesso,
ma che questo era intero e gli altri no. Fra il Pasquino ed il Torso esser la differenza quasi
impercettibile, n potersi ravvisare se non da uomo grande e pi tosto migliore essere il
Pasquino. Fu il prime il Bernino che mettesse questa statua in altissimo credito in Roma e
raccontasi che essendogli una volta state domandato da un oltramontano qual fusse la pi
bella statua di quella citt e respondendo che il Pasquino, il forestiero che si credette burlato
fu per venir con lui a cimento. [Baldinucci ([1682] 1948, p. 146).]
Con uguale attenzione pose il suo studio ancora in ammirar le parti di quei due celebri
Torsi di Hercole, e di Pasquino, quegli riconosciuto per suo Maestro dal Buonarota, questi
dal Bernino, che f il primo, che ponesse in alto concetto in Roma questa nobilissima Statua;
Anzi avvenne, che richiesto una volta da un Nobile forastiere Oltramontano, Quale fosse la
Statua pi riguardevole in Roma? e rispostogli, Che il Pasquino, quello di s le furie, stimandosi burlato, e poco manc, che non ne venisse a cimento con lui; E di questi due Torsi
era solito dire, che contenevano in se tutto il pi perfetto della Natura senza affettazione
dellArte. [Bernini (1713, pp. 13 f ).]
51
The Pasquino had long been esteemed, cf. Haskell and Penny(1981, p. 292), but I have
not found precedent for Berninis placing it foremost.

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 50

446

even said that one must disregard what had been written about the sculpture. No less remarkable is the reason he gave for his esteem that the
work contains the highest perfection of nature without the affectation of art
[italics mine].
The drawing of Innocent Xl is unique among the preserved caricatures
by Bernini because it is the only one datable to the very end of his life, and
because it represents the most exalted personage of all. The skeletal figure
with gargantuan nose and cavernous eyes is immediately recognizable
(cf. Figs. 8 and 35).52 What makes the characterization so trenchant, however; is not only the treatment of the popes physical features, but also the
fact that he is shown incongruously wearing the regalia of the bishop of
Rome and bestowing his blessing while reclining in bed, propped up by
huge pillows. The pope is thus ridiculed on two levels at once, both of
which reflect aspects of his personality and conduct that were notorious.53
This remarkable man was by far the most irascible and ascetic individual to
occupy the papal throne since the heyday of the Counter Reformation a
century before. He was utterly indifferent to the amenities of life himself
and lived in monastic austerity, He was indefatigable in his efforts to purify
the Church of its abuses, the boldest and best known of which was his war
on nepotism. He rigorously excluded his family from Church affairs and
sought to ensure that his successors would do likewise. He was equally
staunch in his defense of the Church against heretics and against attempts
to curtail the prerogatives of the Holy See. His financial contributions to
the war against the Turks, made possible by a fiscal policy of absolute parsimony, were a major factor in the victory at Vienna in 1683 that saved
Europe from the infidel. The process of sanctification was initiated soon
after his death and is still in progress; he was beatified in 1953.
Although his virtues may indeed have been heroic, Innocent Xl was not
without his faults. He demanded the same kind of austerity from his subjects that he practiced himself. Public entertainments were banned, and
with edict after edict he sought to rule the lives of his people down to the
pettiest details of personal dress and conduct. He suffered the consequences
of his disagreeableness, which won him the epithet The Big No Pope (Papa
Mingone, from the word minga, meaning no in his native Lombard
A photograph of Innocents death mask will be found in Lippi (1889, frontispiece).
For Innocent generally and bibliography see Bibliotheca (196169, vol. 7, columns
84856); for most of what follows, see Pastor (18941953, vol. 32, pp. 1337, 15367).
52
53

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 51

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

447

dialect). A notice of 1679 reports that several people were jailed for circulating a manifesto with the punning and alliterative title, Roma assassinata
dalla Santit (Rome Assassinated by Sanctity santit in Italian means
both holiness and His Holiness).54
In addition, Innocent Xl was a sick man, plagued by gout and gallstones.55 These sufferings real and imagined, for he was certainly a
hypochondriac must have exacerbated the harshness of an inherently
acerbic personality. His ailments often conspired with a natural tendency to
reclusiveness to keep the pope confined to his room and to his bed. For
days, weeks, months on end he would remain closeted, refusing to see anyone and procrastinating in matters of state conduct that elicited a brilliant pasquinade, reported in July 1677:
Saturday night there was attached to Pasquino a beautiful placard
with a painted poppy [papavero in Italian the opium flower] and
the following legend [like a medicinal prescription] beneath: Papa
Vero = Per dormire [true Pope = to sleep]; next morning it provided
a field day for the wags, including the whole court, which is fed up
with the current delays and cannot bear such irresolution.56
On rare occasions during these periods, when the popes condition
improved or in matters of special importance, visitors might be admitted to
his chamber; where he received them in bed. Berninis drawing captures the
irony of this spectacle of the Supreme Roman Pontiff conducting the most
dignified affairs of state in most undignified circumstances.
54
E poi stato mandato in Galera quel libraro francese Bernardoni che faceva venir libri
centro cardinale e ministri della chiesa sendo anco stati carcerati alcuni copisti per essersi
veduto un Manifesto intitolato; Roma assassinata dalla santit. Unpublished avviso di Roma,
July 8,1679, Vatican Library MS Barb. lat. 6838, fol. 154v. For collections of pasquinades
on Innocent Xl, see Lafon (1876, p. 287); Pastor (18941953, vol. 32, p. 30, n. 8); Besso
(1904, p. 308); Romano (1932, pp. 7274); Silenzi (1933, pp. 251 f ) [reprinted in Silenzi
(1968), pp. 278 f ]; Cian (1945, vol. 2, pp. 260 f, 516, n. 22830).
55
On the popes health, see Pastor (18941953, vol. 32, pp. 51519); Michaud
(188283, vol. 1, pp. 158 f ).
56
Sabbato nette fu fatto a Pasquino un bellissimo Cartello con un Papauero dipinto,
e sotto la presente Inscrittione = Papa Vero = Per dormire, il che la mattina non pochi motivi
di discorso diede gli otiosi, nel cui numero vi si comprende la corte tutta, la quale attediata dalle lunchezze correnti non pu soffrire tante irresolutioni. Unpublished avviso di
Roma, July 5, 1677, Vatican Library MS Barb. lat. 6384, fol. 200.

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 52

448
35. Bernini, profile of
Innocent XI, drawing.
Rome, Gabinetto
Nazionale delle Stampe,
Fondo Corsini 127535
(578).

37. Bernini, Ludovica


Albertoni. Rome, S.
Francisco a Ripa
(photo: postcard).

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 53

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

36. R. de Hooghe, The Death of Moriens, engraving [De la Vigne (1673?) pl. 39].

449

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 54

450

38. Tomb of Erard de la Marck, engraving. Formerly Lige, Cathedral


[Boissard (15971602), part IV, tome II, title page].

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 55

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

39. Medal of Innocent XI with Pius V on reverse.


London, British Museum (photo: Warburg Institute, 1403/98).

40. Medal of Pius V, 1571.


London, British Museum (photo: Warburg Institute, 703/49).

451

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 56

452

The character of the portrait itself has no less significant implications


than its appurtenances. In a quite remarkable way, as we know from many
descriptions and other depictions, the popes appearance matched his personality, He was exceedingly tall and gaunt, with a huge aquiline nose and
protruding chin. These features are glossed over in many straight portraits
of Innocent, but we have a drawing, perhaps by Bernini himself, in which
his crabbed and rather chilling aspect appears unmitigated (Fig. 35). The
profile of the pope, also wearing the bishops miter; may have been in preparation for a sculptured portrait, and the caricature may have originated in
one of Berninis sessions sketching the man in action repeating the
process we suggested in connection with the Scipione Borghese portraits
done nearly fifty years earlier.57
Bernini certainly had reason enough to take an unsympathetic view of
the pope, whose indifference, if not actual hostility, to art was notorious. It
was Innocent who in January 1679 refused to permit the execution of the
final block of the portico in front of Saint Peters, thus dooming to incompletion the greatest architectural project of Berninis life. It was he who
prudishly forced the artist to cover the bosom of the figure of Truth on the
tomb of Alexander VII. It was Innocent who ordered an inquiry into the
stability of the dome of Saint Peters where cracks had appeared, which
some of Berninis critics falsely attributed to his work on the supporting
piers many years before.58
It would be a mistake, however; to think of the drawing simply as an
exercise of Berninis spleen upon Innocents character and appearance. The
basic design and the specific deformations it embodies are rife with reminiscences and allusions that augment its meaning. The reclining figure performing an official act recalls those most peculiar and regal ceremonies
Bernini must have become aware of on his visit to the court of Louis XIV
in 1665, the lit de justice and the lever and coucher du roi, in which the Sun
King received homage as he rose in the morning and retired in the

57
The drawing, in red chalk, conforms in type to Berninis studies for sculptured portraits (see above, p. 21), and its plastic modeling led Brauer and Wittkower (1931, p. 157)
to consider it a copy after a lost original; I suspect it is original, overworked by another hand.
No sculptured portrait of Innocent by Bernini is recorded, unless he made the model for a
bronze, datable 1678, by a certain Travani, once in S. Maria in Montesanto, Rome; see
Martinelli (1956, p. 47, n. 95).
58
On the foregoing, see Pastor (18941953, vol. 32, p. 35); Wittkower (1981, p. 260).

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 57

HIGH AND LOW BEFORE THEIR TIME

453

evening.59 The image also reflects the tradition of the reclining effigy on
tomb monuments and the reclining Moriens in the innumerable illustrated
versions of the Ars Moriendi (The Art of Dying Well) (Fig. 36); the latter
genre had an important role in the devotions of the Confraternity of the
Bona Mors at the Ges, in which Bernini and the pope himself, when he
was cardinal, participated regularly.60 Bernini had only recently adapted this
convention for his portrayal of Blessed Lodovica Albertoni in a state of
ecstatic expiration in her burial chapel in San Francesco a Ripa in Rome
(Fig. 37). He may even have recalled a sixteenth-century Flemish tomb, an
engraving of which there are other reasons to suppose he knew, where a
beckoning skeleton replaced the figure of the deceased (Fig. 38).61 The
somewhat lugubrious irony of this conflation of regal pomp and funereal
decrepitude was surely deliberate.
So, too, were aspects of the rendering of the popes physiognomy and
gesture. Innocent followed like a chill wind after the florid exuberance of
the long, Baroque summer of the Church Triumphant. He was, as we have
noted, a veritable throwback to the rigorous pietism of the Counter
Reformation, and quite consciously so, for he took as the model for all his
actions the most austere pontiff of that whole period, Pius V (15661572),
who had also been unrelenting in his zeal to cleanse the Church of its vices,
including nepotism, and protect it from its enemies (the Turks were
defeated in the momentous naval battle at Lepanto during his reign).62 He
had been beatified in 1672, shortly before Innocent XI took office, and was
canonized in 1712. It happened that Innocent also bore a striking physical
resemblance to Pius, whose desiccated and otherworldly features seem perfectly to embody the spiritual fervor of his time. Innocent actually had him-

See the classic study by Kantorowicz (1963, pp. 16277).


For Bernini and the Ars Moriendi, see Lavin (1972, pp. 15971); on Innocent and the
Bona Mors, see Pastor (18941953, vol. 32, p. 14).
61
For this tomb, cf. Lavin (1980, p. 136, n. 10) and Lavin et al. (1981, catalogue numbers 25, n. 13).
62
For Pius V see Bibliotheca (196169, vol. 10, columns 883901). Innocents emulation of Pius is attested in the sources, e.g., a letter to Paris from the French agent in Rome,
May 11, 1678: On travaille icy en bon lieu pour inspirer le dessein au pape de proffiter de
sa fortune en imitant seulement Pie V que Saintt paroit sestre propose pour le modle de
ses actions. Paris, Ministre des affaires trangres, Correspondance de Rome, vol. 256, fol.
141 (modern foliation), quoted in part by Michaud (188283, vol. 1, pp. 152 f ); cf. Pastor
(18941953, vol. 32, pp. 184, 518, 523).
59
60

Lavin XI. Revised:Lavin 2 Chap VIII

13/8/07

06:47

Page 58

454

self depicted as a kind of reincarnation of his saintly idol on a very unusual


medal where portraits of the two men appear on the two faces (Fig. 39).63
Bernini must have had the analogy in mind when drawing the caricature:
the emaciated figure with spidery hand raised in blessing distinctly recalls a
particular medallic image issued by Pius himself, which is one of the most
penetrating of all the portrayals of the great reformer (Fig. 40).64 In this way
Bernini assimilated both Innocent and his prototype into a composite
image of the pontifical arch zealot.
In some respects the drawing of Innocent reaches beyond the limits of
portraiture; the exaggeration is so extreme that the figure scarcely resembles
a human being at all, but rather some monstrous insect, with pillows for
wings and bishops miter for antennae, masquerading as a person. Again, I
doubt that the analogy is fortuitous. To be sure, insects in general were not
a very important part of the physiognomical tradition discussed earlier; but
one insect in particular; or at least the name of it, played a considerable role
in the history of comic monstrosities in Western art namely, the cricket.
In a famous passage Pliny says that the Greek artist Antiphilos established a
new genre of painting by a comic portrayal of a man called Gryllos in a
ridiculous costume, from which, Pliny says, all such pictures are called
grylloi.65 Although the exact meaning of the passage is in dispute, it is generally agreed that Pliny must be referring to amusing depictions of cavorting dwarfs and hybrid and humanoid creatures, of which numerous examples are known. No doubt this interpretation dates from the Renaissance
and is based in part on the happenstance that the word, when spelled with
a lambda in Greek, means pig, and with two ls i