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Gian Lorenzo Bernini

(1598 Neapel – 1680 Rom)

After. Portrait of Ottaviano Castelli. Etching. 21.4 x 13.9 cm. (1641).

It was not until 1999 that Maria Grazia Bernardini and Maurizio Fagiolo dell’Arco associated this print, long unknown to Bernini scholars, with the artist (see Exhibition Catalogue Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Regista del Barocco, Rome, Palazzo Venezia 1999, no. 169, p. 412–413). The author of the etching, which reproduces a preliminary drawing by Bernini, is considered to be Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi. Even Bartsch was unfamiliar with this work by Grimaldi. The portrait was done in connection with the publication in book form of Ottaviano Castelli’s libretto for the opera La Sincerità Trionfante, the première of which was held in Rome in 1638 on the occasion of the birth of the French crown prince (later to become King Louis XIV) and for which Grimaldi designed the sets. The etching is of great rarity and usually is only to be found as a part of individual copies of the book, although, as in this case, some loose proofs were evidently printed as well.

Ottaviano Castelli, who was born in Spoleto, was not only a jurist and physician, but also distinguished himself as a librettist and musician, in which capacity he was attached to the court of Cardinal Antonio Barberini in Rome. Grimaldi’s etching after a portrait study by Bernini shows Castelli in his thirty-sixth year. Despite the casual and sketch-like drawing style, the portrait is clearly the result of concentrated and subtle observation and possesses a remarkable presence.

An excellent, tonal impression with even margins around the inky platemark. In mint condition.

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