This is Bernini’s portrait of his old flame Constanza Bonarelli. She was the wife of one of his assistants and she became Bernini’s mistress after posing as his model. The bust could almost be by Houdon or one of the portrait sculptors of 100 years later—so naturalistic is it. Someone called it a “false dawn of naturalism”. Constanza looks pretty scrumptious with her lips parted and her chemise so loosely open.
Bernini kept the bust around for a few years but then had to quickly get it out of the house when he finally married and brought his new wife, Caterina Tezio, home. He gave it to a friend.
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How I learned to carve marble statues
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