- Museum number
Portrait of Pope Urban VIII; head and shoulders to left, with moustache and beard
Red, black and white chalk, on blue paper
- Production date
Height: 224 millimetres
Width: 152 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Sutherland Harris suggests that this and 1854,0628.87 are too weak to be by Ottavio and might be by his son Ippolito. Primarosa, however, considers it autograph; the drawing is dated very shortly before the artist's death.
Lit.: N. Turner, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Roman Baroque Drawings', London, 1999, I, no. 167 (with previous literature); A. Sutherland Harris, review of Turner 'Roman Baroque Drawings', "Master Drawings", 39, 4, 2001, p. 423 (as Ippolito Leoni?); Y. Primarosa, ‘Ottavio Leoni (1578-1630): Eccellente miniator di ritratti: catalogo ragionato dei disegni e dei dipinti', Rome, 2017, pp. 571 and 636, no. 629.
This is a somewhat formal depiction of Pope Urban VIII (reg. 1623-44) who looks obliquely to the viewer's left and not frontally, a rare pose for a portrait drawing by Leoni. Corrections to the mozzetta are visible and the head rests on ill-defined shoulders.
The same sitter, identified by an inscription, was portrayed, in reverse, in Leoni's signed and dated engraving of 1625 (Bartsch, 1803-21, xvii, p. 259, no. 40) some four years before 1860,0714.32 was drawn. There is considerably more vitality in this engraved depiction of Urban VIII who stares boldly at the viewer, with a slight smile on his lips. Other portraits of the Pope include the many busts by Bernini, though these date either from the early years of his pontificate, c. 1623-4 (e.g. Wittkower, 1966, no. 19(I)), or after 1631 (e.g. Wittkower, 1966, no. 19(2a-7)) when the Pope had a narrower cut to his beard than is evident in the present drawing (see Claude Mellan's engraved 'Portrait of Urban VIII' of 1631 with his narrower beard, in Rome, 1989-90, no. 79).
Literature: Sarasota and Hartford, 1984-5, p.18.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number