Bust of Pope Clement X Altieri

Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680)
1675, Marble

This bust portrays Pope Clemente X Altieri, with his head turned slightly to the right. The portrait is a faithful one: there are deep expression lines on his forehead, the sculpted pupils reveal a deep and intelligent expression, and the moustache and goatee beard are moulded with a plastic technique: the result is one of the renowned “talking

portraits” produced by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the greatest protagonist of Baroque figurative culture. He made his début at a very young age, and became one of the most important artists of papal Rome. A virtuoso with a gift for imitating life, the sculptor had illustrious customers whose preference for the portrait-bust genre was such that they made his fortune (not least in financial terms): throughout his life he was asked to produce portraits of popes, reigning monarchs, nobility and the most important and influential individuals of his time.