Object Record

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Catalog number 58.16
Artist Bernini, Gian Lorenzo
Title Bust of a young woman
Object Name Bust
Description The revival of the classical tradition of the independent portrait bust was one of the more noteworthy accomplishments of Italian Renaissance art. Unlike the typical ancient Roman bust, an idealized, abstract form that is envisioned only from the front and set apart by a supporting base, Renaissance busts are merely a fragment, which can evoke both physical and mental characteristics of a whole person for the viewer. In addition, this bust, with the head turned slightly to the right and tilted to the left, and the left shoulder higher than the right, differs from the stiffer forms seen in classical busts. Renaissance artists allowed for the illusion of mobility and movement in portrait busts.

This work is thought to be from the workshop of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1598-1680 AD who is considered the creator of Baroque Rome, with achievements beyond the traditional realms of sculpture, including architecture, urban planning, and interior and theatrical design. He was also admired for his ability to produce an almost "speaking" likeness in his portraiture. Though this bust consists of little more than a head and the beginnings of shoulders, the period of the Counter-Reformation in Rome saw a strong inclination toward busts consisting of little more than the head, usually to include on mural epitaphs in churches.
Details of a portrayal of a Renaissance woman can also be very revealing of her social status. Women of the nobility were portrayed wearing extremely high headdresses consisting of thinner, more transparent materials, with lower-cut, embellished dresses; and they were given more elongated faces, with shaved foreheads, pouting lips, and lowered, heavy-looking eyes, to give the impression of aloofness. A woman of the middle class, by contrast, would be draped with heavier, duller materials and be more covered up. For all classes, there was an expectation and responsibility for portraits to communicate more than just outward appearances.
Gale Matthews, in "SCHOLARS, EXPLORERS, PRIESTS, How the Renaissance Gave Us the Modern World," ex. cat. G -T M, Queens College, CUNY, February 2 - March 27, 2010, 3.
Medium/Material Marble
Dimensions H-16 W-5.625 D-5 inches
Year Range from 1598
Year Range to 1680
Search Terms Baroque
16th century AD
Figure
Europe
Italy
Central Europe
Portrait
Exhibition and Publication History *"Queens College Art Collection," 1960, #272.
* "SCHOLARS, EXPLORERS, PRIESTS, How the Renaissance Gave Us the Modern World," Curated by James M. Saslow, G -T M, Queens College, CUNY, February 2 - March 27, 2010, #3, ill.
Culture Italian