Ritratto di papa Urbano VIII Barberini (c.1631-1632)

Bernini, Gian Lorenzo (1598-1680)

Ritratto di papa Urbano VIII Barberini (Portrait of Pope Urban VIII Barberini)
Oil on canvas, 70 x 65 cm
Palazzo BarberiniRoma

Upon his election in 1623, Maffeo Barberini chose the name Urban to emphasize, among other things, his adherence to the classical concept of urbanitas, the kindness and courtesy that should distinguish moderate spirits, as opposed to rusticitas, rudeness. An intentional choice, as a personal warning, to mitigate, if not actually curb, an excessively severe nature. The desire to present himself – or rather self-represent himself – as an “urban” pope also distinguishes the specific character of this portrait: the pontiff, who wears a mozzetta and camauro, has a bright and welcoming face, almost patiently waiting for someone to notice him. When this happens, then in the viewer’s gaze the levels overlap: the official dimension is added to the personal motif. The individual portrait is transformed into an icon of the ideal, moral, political and spiritual conduct of the sovereign pontiff. (Galleria Barberini)

See also:

• Urbanus VIII (Papa)