On Bernini’s Bust of a Stewart King

 As reported in the The Colac Herald on Friday July 17, 1903 Pg. 8 under Art Appreciation as a reprint from the Westminster Gazette

ART APPRECIATION IN THE COMMONS.

The appreciation of art as well as of history which is entertained by the average member of the House of Commons was effectively gauged by the titter which greeted the suggestion that some thing specially derogatory to the statue of Mr Bright had been done by its being “shoved into a corner” near the bust of the Lord Protector Oliver. Mr Bruce Joy would scarcely claim to be a Bernini, and that great Italian sculptor, if he could revisit the glimpses of the moon, would assuredly be impressed by the vicissitudes of his portrait bust of two successive rulers of this country, Charles I and Oliver Cromwell. Concerning the former, a singular story used to be told, to the effect that Van Dyck, having drawn the Stuart King in profile, three quarters and full face, sent the result to Rome for Bernini to make a therefrom.

Complaint being subsequently heard that the sculptor was unduly long over the work, he replied that he had engaged himself on it several times. but something in the features always shocked him as indicating that the  person represented was destined to a violent end.  This portent was renewed when the bust at last arrived in England, as, while the King and his courtiers were examining it in the Royal garden, a hawk flew over their heads with a wounded partridge in its claws, some of the blood from which fell upon the bust’s neck, whence it was not removed; and when it was ultimately placed in the Palace of White hall, the edifice was destroyed by fire. Happily, the Bernini bust of Cromwell—one of the finest portrait busts the nation possesses—has been preserved; and no gibe can lessen either the beauty of the work or the significance of its being permanently placed within the palace of Westminster. Westminster Gazette

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Thou, Oh God, do sell unto us all good things at the price of labour.

— Leonardo Da Vinci