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

Francesco I d'Este

Marble, height 107 cm
Galleria Estense, Modena

At over one metre high, the bust of Francesco I d'Este, Duke of Modena, is considerably larger than most of Bernini's busts. It is dominated by a single conceit: the idea of command. As if to emphasize his point, Bernini has enlarged the torso with respect to the head, and wrapped the whole in a billowing mantle through which a glint of steel armour can be seen. Although he famously objected to carving likenesses from painted portraits, Bernini did so here. The bust's most distinctive feature is the mass of ringlets and the decisive pose of the head. The artist avoided particular details in favour of a more general observation on rulers. In the event, the Duke was so taken with Bernini's image that he paid him the huge sum of 3.000 scudi, as much as Innocent X paid for the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona.