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

Pope Urban VIII

Oil on canvas, 67 x 50 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

The unfinished picture, formerly attributed to Sacchi, depicts the pope with an immediacy and expressive force that is manifested in the rapid brushstrokes. The composition, datable to 1632, is directly related to Bernini's drawing for the engraved portrait of the pope on the frontispiece of Urban VIII's Poemata (engraved by C. Mellan 1631).

The inventories of the Barberini collection indicate the presence of other portraits that Bernini painted of the pope. A slightly later example, of strong expressive force and originally in the Barberini collection, recently reappeared in a private collection. Another similar portrait, now lost, was once in the Palazzo Colonna at Marino. Other portraits of the pope, with various attributions, bear similarities to this autograph canvas.