Bust of Francesco I d’Este

Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Naples, 1598 – Rome, 1680


Marble, 98 x 106 x 50cm

This bust by Bernini, an undisputed sculptural masterpiece, arrived in Modena 1 November 1651. It was commissioned to Bernini by Duke Francesco I d’Este through the intercession of his brother, Cardinal Rinaldo. The  artist did not personally meet his model and was forced to complete the work based on portrait paintings sent to him from Modena. He nonetheless succeeded in channelling the Duke’s zealous nature into the effigy, creating the very picture of nobility and power whilst also deftly showcasing his extraordinary virtuosity in the handling of marble. Francesco I was so satisfied with the outcome that he forked out the enormous sum of three thousand scudi, the same amount Pope Innocent X had paid Bernini for the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in Piazza Navona