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

Portrait of Sisinio Poli

1638
Black, red, and white chalks, on light brown laid paper, 270 x 207 mm; addition 62 mm
The Morgan Library and Museum, New York

It is inscribed in pen and brown ink on attached sheet, "Eques Laurentius Berninus / Die vigesimo octavo Aprilis 1638 / Delineavit / Effigies Sisinii Poli aetatis Suae / decimo octavo". According to the Latin inscription, the age of the sitter was twenty-eight.

In his drawings Bernini uses graphite - rather than the more usual black chalk - in combination with the red chalk in which the drawing is in the main executed. For finished independent portrait drawings like that of Sisinio Poli, he seems to have preferred the more usual combination of red and black chalk. The richness of the textural effects of the graphite are skillfully exploited in the rendering of the hair and beard. Bernini may have become familiar with graphite in his architectural work; the medium was not commonly used until later in the seventeenth century.