BERNINI, Gian Lorenzo
(b. 1598, Napoli, d. 1680, Roma)

Bust of Scipione Borghese

1632
Marble, height 78 cm
Galleria Borghese, Rome

Scipione Borghese was the first patron of Bernini. Long regarded as one of the outstanding portraits of any age, the bust was not intended for a niche or a monument, but for display, rather like an easel painting. It presents the Cardinal turning to address an interlocutor and caught in full conversational flow; the broad cut of the torso and the treatment of the drapery evoke the presence of the man as much as the turn of the head and expression.

There is a second, identical version of the sculpture in the same museum. Upon finishing the first, Bernini discovered a small defect in the marble just at the forehead. In order to satisfy his patron he made the second from a defectless piece of marble in fifteen days.

The picture shows the second version of the bust.