FALCONE, Bernardo
(active 1659-1694)


Italian sculptor. He probably came from Lugano. By tracing his sculptures, it is possible to gain intermittent knowledge of his whereabouts. In 1659 he was in Venice, where he carved a Virgin, a St Dominic and a St Thomas for the high altar of SS Giovanni e Paolo. From 1664 to 1671 he was in Turin. He contributed to the sculptural decoration of the Palazzo Reale's park with a marble Hercules (1699-71; Museo Civico d'Arte Antica, Turin), which originally formed part of a group (untraced), executed in collaboration with Bernardo Paleari and Bernardino Quadri. The figure, 3.3 m high, is related stylistically to Falcone's contemporaneous St Sebastian (c. 1660; Scalzi, Venice). An exaggerated musculature, typical of late Mannerist style, characterizes both.

Falcone left Turin c. 1671 and by 1676 was again in Lugano, where he faced unsettled debts. Documents of 24 November 1676 and April 1677 record that officials there inventoried his possessions in this connection and the lists show that the artist was an eclectic collector of paintings, sculpture and diverse objets d'art.

By 1682 he was in Padua, completing the signed and dated marble group of Sts Thomas and Matthew with Two Angels (Santa Giustina, Padua). The final mention of Falcone occurred in 1694 when, with Siro Zanelli (d. 1724), he created a colossal (23 m high) bronze statue of St Carlo Borromeo in the town of Arona. Begun originally in 1614, to a design by Grattarolo and Giovanni Battista Cerano ('il Crespi'), the image was destined to be part of an ambitious complex of chapels and statuary forming a sacromonte at Borromeo's birthplace, but it was never completed. Falcone and Zanelli altered certain of the original specifications, producing the towering, somewhat static figure that is the only remaining evidence of the ill-fated project.