ALGARDI, Alessandro
(b. 1598, Bologna, d. 1654, Roma)

Monuments to Muzio, Roberto and Lelio Frangipane

1630-38
Marble
San Marcello al Corso, Rome

The monuments to the Frangipanes are in the fourth chapel in the left nave of the church.

The Frangipanes were a powerful family and played an important role in medieval Rome. In the 11th century they owned major monuments, such as Circus Maximus, the Collosseum, the Arch of Titus, the Turris Cartularia, the Tomb of Caecilia Metella, some of which were turned into fortresses. They lived in the Caesars' Palace on the Palatine. Today, the name of a tower at the Circus Maximus, Torre dei Frangipane, is a reminder of their presence in the city of Rome. They had their family chapel in San Marcello al Corso.

On the right wall of the chapel there are three busts of the same size and inserted in the same marble frame, but the viewer is immediately struck by the fact that he sees three different persons and that the three busts are looking at him. Muzio (left) and his sons Roberto (centre) and Lelio (right)were all dead when Alessandro Algardi was commissioned their busts, so either he worked by looking at portraits of them or he felt free to represent them as ideal models of a military leader (Muzio), a man of culture (Roberto), a young hero (Lelio).