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Francesco Bracciolini thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Europe 1600-1815, Room 6, The Lisa and Bernard Selz Gallery

Francesco Bracciolini

Bust
ca. 1630-1631 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This bust, representing the poet Francesco Bracciolini, was made by the talented sculptor, Giuliano Finelli. Finelli was born in Carrara, near Florence, where the renowned quarries of exceptional marble probably supplied the material for this bust. Finelli advanced his training in Naples, but made his name in Rome, the papal city and centre of Baroque sculpture. In this bust, Finelli displays his exquisite carving skills through the varied and subtle treatment of the flesh, fur and textiles, and in the sensitive handling of the sitter's intense gaze and features, 'warts and all'.

The bust has been previously attributed to both his more famous contemporaries and leading sculptors in Rome, Alessandro Algardi and Gianlorenzo Bernini. Finelli was a member of Bernini's workshop, and was particularly praised for his carving of the master's Apollo and Daphne (Villa Borghese), and became sought-after especially for his portraits.

The poet, Francesco Bracciolini was a friend and secretary of Cardinal Maffeo Barberini (later Pope Urban VIII). He was based in Rome from 1623 to 1644, where he became secretary to the Pope's brother. He was responsible for the programme of Pietro da Cortona's frescoed ceiling in the Palazzo Barberini, which he based on his poem about the election of the pope.

The bust remained in the Bracciolini family home, the Villa Traetti in Pistoia, where Francesco was born and died, until 1835, and was bought for the Museum in Florence in 1863.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Carved marble
Brief Description
Bust, marble, of Francesco Bracciolini, by Giuliano Finelli, Italy (Rome), ca. 1630-1631.
Physical Description
Marble bust of Francesco Bracciolini. The sitter, who has a short pointed beard and a wart on the left cheek, is shown wearing a fur-lined mantle over a pleated alb ornamented at the neck with lace.
Dimensions
  • Height: 710mm
  • Width: 630mm
  • Depth: 390mm
Measured by Conservation for Europe 1600-1800
Object history
The bust represents Francesco Bracciolini (Pistoia, 1566-1645), who was friend and secretary of Pope Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini) when he was still a cardinal, and accompanied him on two journeys to Paris where Maffeo was papal legate to the court of Henri IV. Francesco deserted Maffeo in 1605 on the death of Clement VIII, and retired to Pistoia, where he later wrote his most famous work Lo scherno degli Dei ('The derision of the Gods', 1618). In 1623, when Maffeo was elected pope under the name of Urban VIII, Bracciolini went to Rome and was made secretary to the pope's brother, Cardinal Antonio Marcello Barberini. There he wrote the poem, l'Elettione di Urbano Papa VIII o La Divina Provvidenza ('The election of Pope Urban VIII or the Divine Providence'), published in Rome in 1628 as by Francesco Bracciolini dell'Api ('of the bees'), referring to the Barberini coat of arms. On this subject, Bracciolini devised the programme for Pietro da Cortona's richly frescoed ceiling in the Palazzo Barberini. After Urban’s death, Bracciolini returned again to his native Pistoia where he died in 1645.



The bust passed to the decendants of the Bracciolini family at Castello Traetti in Pistoia, where the sitter was born and later died, and where the bust remained until 1853. It was mentioned in ninteenth-century guides of the city as by Alessandro Algardi, and was bought in Florence from Gagliardi for £120 for the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A) in 1863 as a portrait by Bernini. In 1957 Antonia Nava Cellini assigned the bust to the sculptor Giuliano Finelli, an attribution later confirmed by the discovery of a poem, dedicated to Finelli, by Ippollito Marganucci of 1633-34 about a marble bust of Bracciolini (Rime dell’Anonimo consecrate a Giesv Maria, Rome, 1648, p. 126).



Finelli (1601/2-1653) was born in Carrara in Tuscany, renowned for its quarries of outstanding quality marble. He developed his natural talent and refined his technique in Naples under the Florentine sculptor Michelangelo Naccherino, and moved to Rome in about 1621, where he joined Pietro Bernini's workshop. He continued under Pietro's son, Gianlorenzo, who took over on his father's death, and was especially praised for his virtuoso finishing of Bernini's marble Apollo and Daphne (1622-4, Galleria Borghese, Rome).



Finelli's exceptional talent was much sought after, particularly for his inciteful portraiture, which combined sensitive carving with an understanding of the psychology of the sitter. His work reflects aspects of the two greatest Baroque sculptors, Bernini and Algardi, both of whom had at one time been credited with the bust's creation. However, his inventiveness is evident in the exquisite rendering of the ageing poet, complete with wart. Recently discovered letters reveal that the bust was made in 1630-31, several years earlier than Algardi's comparable approach to realism (see Edinburgh 1998, no. 25). Finelli's attention to surface detail owes something to his time with Bernini, but he lacks the interest in the dramatic moment of interrupted action - the so-called 'speaking likeness' that was Bernini's forte. He focuses instead on the gravitas of his sitter, most likely drawing on classical sculpture, and skilfully emulates the textures of his sumptuous dress, with its fur-lined cloak.



Subject depicted
Summary
This bust, representing the poet Francesco Bracciolini, was made by the talented sculptor, Giuliano Finelli. Finelli was born in Carrara, near Florence, where the renowned quarries of exceptional marble probably supplied the material for this bust. Finelli advanced his training in Naples, but made his name in Rome, the papal city and centre of Baroque sculpture. In this bust, Finelli displays his exquisite carving skills through the varied and subtle treatment of the flesh, fur and textiles, and in the sensitive handling of the sitter's intense gaze and features, 'warts and all'.



The bust has been previously attributed to both his more famous contemporaries and leading sculptors in Rome, Alessandro Algardi and Gianlorenzo Bernini. Finelli was a member of Bernini's workshop, and was particularly praised for his carving of the master's Apollo and Daphne (Villa Borghese), and became sought-after especially for his portraits.



The poet, Francesco Bracciolini was a friend and secretary of Cardinal Maffeo Barberini (later Pope Urban VIII). He was based in Rome from 1623 to 1644, where he became secretary to the Pope's brother. He was responsible for the programme of Pietro da Cortona's frescoed ceiling in the Palazzo Barberini, which he based on his poem about the election of the pope.



The bust remained in the Bracciolini family home, the Villa Traetti in Pistoia, where Francesco was born and died, until 1835, and was bought for the Museum in Florence in 1863.
Bibliographic References
  • Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1863 In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 5
  • Maclagan, Eric and Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture. Text. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1932, p. 161
  • Raggio, Olga. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Art Bulletin. Vol. L, 1968, p. 104
  • Pope-Hennessy, John, assisted by Lightbown, Ronald. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Volume II: Text. Sixteenth to Twentieth Century. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1964, pp. 609-611, cat. no. 643;vol. III, fig. 639.
  • Montagu, Jennifer. Alessandro Algardi. New Haven and London, 1985, cat. R. 37, p. 473
  • Bacchi, Andrea. Scultura del '600 a Roma, Milan, 1996, illus.no. 410 and p. 806
  • Heimbürger Ravalli, M. 'An unknown portrait bust by Giuliano Finelli at Canepina'. In: Burlington Magazine, Nov. 1983, pp. 671-675 and plts 17-21
  • Solinas, Francesco. In: Weston-Lewis, Aidan (ed.), Effigies & Ecstacies. Roman Baroque Sculpture and Design in the Age of Bernini. [exh. cat., National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh. 25 June-20 September 1998]. Edinburgh: National Gallery of Scotland, 1998, pp.70-71, cat. no. 25.
  • Bacchi, Andrea, Catherine Hess and Jennifer Montagu (eds.), Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture, Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008.
Other Number
18 (Gian Lorenzo Bernini: I Marmi Vivi exhibition 2003) - Exhibition number
Collection
Accession Number
8883-1863

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record createdNovember 13, 2002
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