Bernini's Beloved: A Portrait of Costanza Piccolomini

Bernini's Beloved: A Portrait of Costanza Piccolomini

by Sarah McPhee
Bernini's Beloved: A Portrait of Costanza Piccolomini

Bernini's Beloved: A Portrait of Costanza Piccolomini

by Sarah McPhee

Hardcover(New Edition)



With lips slightly parted and eyes fixed on a point in the distance, a breathtaking marble portrait of Costanza Piccolomini appears alive. Carved by Gianlorenzo Bernini in 1636–37 for his own pleasure, the portrait of Costanza is one of his most captivating works, but until now little has been known about its subject.

For centuries Costanza was identified only as Bernini's mistress, who later incited his rage by betraying him for his brother. Author Sarah McPhee corrects and expands this story in her remarkable biography of a sculpture and its subject. Bernini's Beloved sets the bust and Costanza's own life—her childhood and noble name, her marriage, affair, fall from grace, and recovery—against the backdrop of Baroque Rome. Beautifully illustrated and written, this fascinating story expands our understanding of the woman whose intelligence and passion served as inspiration for Bernini's celebrated sculpture, and who courageously forged a life for herself in the decades following its creation.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300175271
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 06/12/2012
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Sarah McPhee is professor of art and architectural history at Emory University, and author of Bernini and the Bell Towers: Architecture and Politics at the Vatican (Yale).

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii

Prologue 1

1 The Bust 3

2 Costanza Piccolomini-zitelladaviterbo 16

3 Master of the world 35

4 Two Letters 49

5 Matteo Scultore 63

6 Costanza scultora 82

7 The Garden at the four fountains 110

8 Bernini's Beloved 137

Abbreviations 148

Appendices 149

Notes 216

Bibliography 244

Index 255

Illustration Credits 261

What People are Saying About This

Ingrid Rowland

Bernini's Beloved will definitively change the way people look at Bernini's portrait of a woman who turns out to be the descendant of a Pope. . . Sarah McPhee argues that Bernini used his utmost artistry to convey Costanza's divine dignity as a new Venus, reconciling the background of this remarkable statue with its evident value in artistry and materials. The whole picture, for the first time, makes eminent sense.—Ingrid Rowland, University of Notre Dame

Elizabeth Cropper

Enthralling. . . . McPhee's book is rich in historical detail, and truly an original contribution that will be welcomed by scholars, students, and general readers.—Elizabeth Cropper, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art

Elizabeth Cohen

A highly original work by an accomplished and enterprising scholar, Bernini's Beloved offers a compelling, untold human story. It shows us the lively 17th-century Roman art world from a novel perspective, that of a woman. . . . It will be welcomed by anyone interested in art, artists, gender, and the social history of Rome during the flourishing of the baroque..—Elizabeth S. Cohen, York University

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