VITTORIA, Alessandro
(b. 1525, Trento, d. 1608, Venezia)

Ottaviano Grimaldi

Marble, height 80,5 cm with socle
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Alessandro Vittoria moved to Venice in 1543 and entered Sansovino's workshop. The greatest venetian sculptor of the late century, he is documented in Vicenza in 1551 where he remained intermittently until 1553, developing an interest in portrait busts. He decorated the Sala dei Principi of the Palazzo Thiene with eight stucco busts of Emperors and Romans with an unprecedented sense of movement.

Vittoria was a talented portraitist. He popularized the new type of portrait bust on a socle (as opposed to the type truncated at mid-torso). The signed bust in marble - shown here - portrays Ottaviano Grimaldi (died 1576) in contemporary dress, with a Roman echo in the cloack to ennoble the work. The separate socle may indicate a public position, perhaps balancing the bust of his father in the family chapel in S. Sebastiano. The ancient type is modified by flattening and broadening to give greater substantiality. Vittoria's realism and descriptive powers were extraordinary. Grimani's contemplative nobility and sensitive mouth contrast with the intensity of his eyes below heavy brows, his physical presence so real he appears to breathe or speak, as in Bernini's portraits. The bust seems to embody Leonardo's dictum that a portrait should reveal the motion of the sitter's mind.

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