Bust of Camilla Barbadoni Gian Lorenzo Bernini Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Gian Lorenzo Bernini executed the sculpture at a young age in 1619 after his close friend Cardinal Maffeo Barberini (1568-1644) had asked him to make a bust.

The cardinal had instructed him to make a portrait of his mother who played a significant role in raising him. As soon as Cardinal Maffeo Berberini became Pope Urban VIII he turned to be Bernini’s most significant patron. The bust is a portrait of Camilla Barbadoni’s upper chest with a veil on her head.

It was to join another piece of the cardinal's father in the family vault located at Sant Andrea della Valle in Rome. So, Gian Lorenzo was granted the opportunity to work on it because Cardinal Maffeo Barberini knew his exceptional talents. The cardinal had a lot of admiration for his work and chose him among many artists to work on portraits.

In Bust of Camilla Barbadoni by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, he played with shade and light. This is indicated through the smooth face of Camilla Barbadoni and the deep shadows formed at the spot where the cloak meets throat and neck. Also, Camilla Barbadoni’s eyes appear full of life when viewed from a distance. Gian Lorenzo created deep furrows in the area around the pupil resulting in a deep shade that leaves viewers with different interpretations.

This bust sets Gian apart from other artists because he laid down a framework of a new style. Most importantly, he played a crucial role in the portrait bust genre. Many think of Gian Lorenzo as the artist who introduced a new style known as sculpture proper. Nevertheless, Gian Lorenzo was a master of the Baroque style, and no artist would beat him at it. He created many sculptures using this style, and the Bust of Camilla Barbadoni is not an exception. In this particular portrait, the artist tries to make the features look as human as possible as this is the tradition in Baroque style.

The Bust of Camilla Barbadoni presented Gian Lorenzo Bernini with another opportunity to showcase his exceptional talent and artistry. Therefore, he settled for the marble because he knew he would carve it to precision. The result was spectacular, and many artists have hailed the marble carving for the fine touch in which it was delivered. As a result, it remains a notable work of the artist that almost looks real when viewers see it.

At the time of the completion of the bust, Cardinal Maffeo Barberini was on his way to become Pope Urban VIII. Few years after he became Pope Urban VIII, their good friendship was marked with an important occasion as Gian Lorenzo Bernini became an important person in his life. Pope Urban VIII became Bernini’s patron. Undoubtedly, Pope Urban VIII commissioned the work once the artist completed it. This is because the bust would be a reminder to the family members about his mother who played a significant role in his life. At the moment, the Bust of Camilla Barbadoni by Gian Lorenzo Bernini can be viewed at Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen.