Bust of Cardinal Paluzzo Paluzzi degli Albertoni Altieri
Lorenzo Merlini (1666– c.1745)
Protected by the powerful Cardinal Flavio Chigi, Cardinal Paluzzi also soon became powerful when he was adopted and appointed Cardinal-nephew by Clement X, who placed full trust in him for his willingness to look after affairs of state and his actions for the good of his subjects. His alacrity, together with his undoubted abilities, protection, and unscrupulousness, led to important and lucrative positions, but also attracted venomous criticism, which became all the more heated when he dedicated himself to the expansion of the family palace. This bust found its place there, as cited in the autobiography of the artist who made it, the Florentine Lorenzo Merlini. The son of the chief engraver of the Medici mint, Lorenzo studied under the excellent Giovan Battista Foggini, whose style highly influenced the young Lorenzo. He also acted as an architect for Grand Prince Ferdinando (de’ Medici) before moving to papal Rome where he stayed between 1694 and 1702. The work, which was commissioned by Paluzzi's nephew, Cardinal Lorenzo, dates to that period. The hunched shoulders, sagging chin, myopic gaze and engrossed expression are mercilessly depicted in this marble bust that - especially when observed in profile - reveals an almost subversive caricatural force, worthy of the tradition of Bernini.