Bernini’s Beloved Sculpture: Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Portrait Bust of Costanza Piccolomini

Sandra Wheeler


The portrait bust of Costanza Piccolomini by Gian Lorenzo Bernini holds a special place in Baroque art history. Art historians have referred to the singular sculpture as “Bernini’s Beloved” because he applied his virtuoso style to achieve a lifelike intimate portrait of his young lover. But the background story of his relationship with Costanza does not favour a romance when examining the realities of a women’s lives in seventeenth-century Italian society. Costanza is Bernini’s beloved only in that she reflects the thing he most loved, his art.


Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Costanza Piccolomini, Italian Baroque sculpture, women in seventeenth-century Italy


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