Bust of Giovanni Battista Santoni

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Bust of Giovanni Battista Santoni
ArtistGian Lorenzo Bernini
Year1613–16 (1613–16)
SubjectGiovanni Battista Santoni
LocationSanta Prassede, Rome
CoordinatesCoordinates: 41°53′46″N 12°29′55″E / 41.89611°N 12.49861°E / 41.89611; 12.49861

The Bust of Giovanni Battisti Santoni is a sculptural portrait by the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Believed to be one of the artist's earliest works, the bust forms part of a tomb for Santoni, who was majordomo to Pope Sixtus V from 1590 to 1592. The work was executed sometime between 1613 and 1616,[1] although some have dated the work as early as 1609 (when Bernini was ten years old), including Filippo Baldinucci.[2][3] The work remains in its original setting in the church of Santa Prassede in Rome.


In 1568, Santoni was consecrated Bishop of Alife. In 1586, he was appointed the Bishop of Tricarico. In 1590, immediately after ascending the papal throne, Pope Sixtus V appointed Santoni his majordomo. Two years later, Santoni died.[1] When Santoni's nephew was appointed to the bishopric in 1610, he commissioned the posthumous portrait of his uncle.[2]


The life-size marble bust is set in an oval frame with Mannerist mouldings behind and in between a broken pediment.[2] The oval frame crowns an elaborate frame ornamented by three cherubim, also created by Bernini.[1] These cherubim may have served as models for the artist's early mythological statues of putti.[2]



  1. ^ a b c Wittkower 1955, p. 231.
  2. ^ a b c d Avery 1997, p. 33.
  3. ^ Hawley, p.107
  • Avery, Charles (1997). Bernini: Genius of the Baroque. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 9780500286333.
  • Baldinucci, Filippo (2006) [1682]. The Life of Bernini. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 9780271730769.
  • Bernini, Domenico (2011) [1713]. The Life of Giano Lorenzo Bernini. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 9780271037486.
  • Mormando, Franco (2011). Bernini: His Life and His Rome. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226538525.
  • Wittkower, Rudolf (1955). Gian Lorenzo Bernini: The Sculptor of the Roman Baroque. London: Phaidon Press. ISBN 9780714837154.

  • Hawley, Henry (April 1971). "A Terra-Cotta Model for Bernini's Proserpina". The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art. 58: 107–111. JSTOR 25152371.

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