Bust of Cardinal Escoubleau de Sourdis 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 has numerous impressive and authentic sculptures born out of his love for art and performance. The bust of Cardinal Escoubleau de Sourdis is one of his majestic sculptures.

This portrait is carved out of a block of marble and has a height of 75cm and 24 inches wide which was executed between 1621-22 in Rome when de Sourdis visited Bernini's workshop. Bernini was an exemplary craftsman and incorporated his skills in architecture, painting, and art into his work. In every masterpiece, Bernini created there was an impression behind it. In spite of the challenges brought about by the material he used, Cardinal Escoubleau de Sourdis bust shows the well-chiseled beard, beautiful curly hair, and the elegantly-embellished robe. The striking element of this sculpture is the positioning of the head which is slightly turned on the side and the thoughtful stare denoting his devout lifestyle in sacred activities.

Francois d’ Escoubleau de Sourdis was the archbishop of Bordeaux in the year 1959 after Pope Clement VIII elevated to a cardinal position before he had attained the canonical age. During his reign, the cardinal had the privilege of baptizing the second-born son of Henri IV of France. He also presided over some highly prominent weddings such as Elisabeth of France and Prince Felipe of Spain. Most notably, Cardinal Escoubleau de Sourdis will be remembered for transforming religious commitment in Bordeaux and reconstructing the city’s marshy areas with improved architectural structures.

Cardinal Escoubleau de Sourdis had an eye for artistic objects such as paintings specifically those that exalted the Catholic Church. During one of his visits in Rome, the cardinal met Bernini and was particularly fascinated by the portrait of Apollo and Daphne and one month after de Sourdis had left Rome, Bernini began working on his sculpture.

Before the cardinal death, he visited Rome for the last time and on this instance, he met Bernini and his father where he commissioned the sculpture himself. After the statue had left Bernini’s shop, it has been to different places. The pharmacy in Saint-Charles Hospital, the church of Notre-Dame de Misericorde (1669), the Museum of the City Of Brussels “muse de la ville” after it was tossed into a well during the Jacobist federalist movement of 1793 and Saint Bruno (France) where it was returned and stayed until around 1974. Currently, the sculpture is at the Museum of Aquitaine in Bordeaux, France.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini crafted his first sculpture at the age of eight, and his father Pietro Bernini was the primary contributor of young Bernini study into artistry. Bernini father was undoubtedly credited with influencing his son into modeling although it is said that he was not that accomplished. However, Pietro noticed his son’s ability at an early age and young Bernini would often visit the Vatican to draw. He would later come and show his father who would pretend his efforts were not enough to push him to do better. Other artists who inspired Bernini include Stefano Maderno and Giuliano Finelli who is said to have worked with Bernini in the early 1620s.