© Soprintendenza Speciale PSAE Roma

Name of Object:

Bust of Cardinal Domenico Ginnasi


Rome, Italy

Holding Museum:

Borghese Gallery



Type of object:



Giuliano Finelli (1602–3, Massa (Massa–Carrara)-1653, Rome)

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Statuary marble


h: 68 cm


Carmelite Convent in Santa Maria della Vittoria


In 1911 the bust was found in the Carmelite Convent at the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, relocated from the Church of SS. Pietro e Marcellino, the seat of the Teresian Nuns. The nuns moved there in 1757, from the convent founded after the death of Domenico Ginnasi in Palazzo Ginnasi in 1639, and they took the bust with them, having always identified it as a portrait of the cardinal.
The work was first attributed to both Bernini and Algardi, before being linked to Giuliano Finelli following comparison with the bust the sculptor made for the cardinal for his funeral monument at S. Lucia dei Ginnasi (the decoration is based on a design by Lanfranco, whose daughter married Finelli).
The sculptor worked with Bernini on several occasions, notably on Apollo and Daphne in the Galleria Borghese and the baldachin (large sculpted bronze canopy over the altar) of Saint Peter's. He worked alone from 1629 and joined Rome's artistic circle thanks to the numerous contacts that he was able to make, notably Pietro da Cortona, who in turn introduced him to the Sacchetti family, well known patrons.
His style is characterised by attention to detail, intense skill and psychological depth, but always retaining spontaneity and immediacy, a peculiarity of Bernini's so-called “talking portrait”. The partially unbuttoned mozzetta (a short elbow length cape worn by Catholic clergy), the kindly and informal face and the realistic lines are clear evidence of this style.
In relation to this, a Bust of Cardinal Scipione Borghese made by Finelli and currently in the Metropolitan Museum of New York, was sculpted at the same time as the Bernini version (1632). In 1634 Finelli moved to Naples, where he developed a portrait style closer to Parthenopean and Spanish taste, preferring distant, official, commemorative portraits. However in the work undertaken at this time for Roman clients, he never completely abandoned his refined virtuosity and keen psychological study, as can be seen in the bust of Cardinal Ginnasi, sculpted in 1639.

View Short Description

Current Owner:

Italian State

Original Owner:

Carmelite Sisters, Palazzo Ginnasi Convent (?)

How Object was obtained:

Carmelite Convent in Santa Maria della Vittoria, 1911.

Selected bibliography:

Faldi, I., Galleria Borghese. Le sculture dal secolo XVI al secolo XIX, Rome, 1954, n.2, p. 10.
Santa Maria, P. L., in voce “Giuliano Finelli”, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Milan, 48, 1997, pp. 32–34.
Stefani, C., Galleria Borghese, Milan, 2000, p. 385.

Additional Copyright Information:

Copyright image: Archivio fotografico Soprintendenza Speciale PSAE e Polo Museale della Città di Roma.

Citation of this web page:

Sofia Barchiesi, Maria Assunta  Sorrentino "Bust of Cardinal Domenico Ginnasi" in Discover Baroque Art , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;BAR;it;Mus11;31;en&id=portraits

Prepared by: Sofia BarchiesiSofia Barchiesi

SURNAME: Barchiesi
NAME: Sofia

TITLE: Author and Researcher

Sofia Barchiesi, a graduate and specialist in Art History and recipient of a scholarship from the School of Mediaeval and Modern Art History at Lumsa University, has been working with the Superintendency for Historical Artistic Heritage and the Museums of Rome since the late 1980s. She was responsible for cataloguing the art of the region and museums of Rome, studying the period of the Counter-Reformation particularly closely. She works with journals and writes essays, alternating her research and teaching work.
, Maria Assunta SorrentinoMaria Assunta Sorrentino

SURNAME: Sorrentino
NAME: Maria Assunta

AFFILIATION: Borghese Gallery, Rome

TITLE: Conservation Department Co-ordinator

Maria Assunta Sorrentino, holder a of a Diploma in Painting and Fresco Restoration and a degree in the Science of Cultural Heritage (historical-artistic), has worked at the Borghese Gallery since 1993, where she manages the Conservation Department and is in charge of the technical and organisational co-ordination of temporary exhibitions. She is currently working on the Ten Great Exhibitions project underway at the Borghese Gallery. She has published several papers on conservation and history in relation to the exhibition, with particular reference to artists such as Bernini, Domenichino, Canova and Caravaggio.

Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: IT1 41

Related Content

On display in

MWNF Galleries


As PDF (including images) As Word (text only)