The bronze bust of Urban VIII executed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1658 is in Palazzo Barberini a starting from Thursday 6 October 2022 until 30 July 2023.
The work, on loan from Prince Corsini , will allow a close comparison with the marble version of the Portrait of Urban VIII ( dated around 1655), exhibited in the Sala Sacchi of Palazzo Barberini , rearranged in October 2021 and dedicated to the protagonists of the Barberini family. with painted and sculpted portraits of Urban VIII and his nephews by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Giuliano Finelli, Carlo Maratti, Lorenzo Ottoni.
For the first time in history, visitors will be able to admire, side by side, both the bronze bust and the marble version of the Portrait of Urban VIII (dated around 1655), conserved in Palazzo Barberini, which constitutes its prototype.
During Matteo Barberini's papacy, Gian Lorenzo Bernini executed a large number of effigies of the pontiff in marble and bronze, a sign of a lasting and prolific partnership between client and artist. The bronze bust of Urban VIII comes from the collection of Prince Corsini in Florence, where it arrived in the second half of the 19th century following the marriage of Anna Barberini and Tommaso Corsini, which took place in 1858.
The bronze bust of Urban VIII did not arouse great attention in studies on Bernini for some time but, as Andrea Bacchi demonstrated - one of the leading experts in Baroque sculpture and most recently curator of the Bernini exhibition at the Borghese Gallery in 2017 - in a letter dated November 11, 1655, Cardinal Antonio Barberini wrote to the artist: “please (…) let me merge the other head of the Serenissima Memoria di Urbano”. The "other head", to be precise, was the profile of Urban VIII.
The bronze bust of Urban VIII is therefore confirmed to have been commissioned directly from Bernini by Cardinal Antonio Barberini.