Portrait of Paul V Borghese
Marcello Provenzale (1577, Cento (Ferrara)-1639, Rome)
Glass and marble tiles
h: 65 cm; w: 54 cm
The piece is signed on the left “MARCELLI PROVENZALIS CENTEN. OPUS” and has the inscription “PAVLVS. V. BURGHESIVS. ROMANVS. P. O. M. ANN. MDCXXI. PONT. XVI.” on the bottom. The mosaic was commissioned from the artist by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of the Pope. The meticulous fine-detail in the work, such as the fur trim on the camauro (a cap traditionally worn by the Pope) and the mozzetta (a short elbow length cape worn by Catholic clergy), is impressive. The expressive rendering combines the nature of the individual and the solemn pose in keeping with the position of successor to Peter in perfect equilibrium. The papal coat of arms of the Casa Borghese, recognisable by the eagle and the dragon, appears in the top right.
The work is mentioned as extraordinary in the biography of Marcello Provenzale, and he was included amongst the greatest artists of his time by Giovanni Baglione in 1642. For his rare ability to produce mosaics with tiny tiles, usually done on cartoons prepared by important painters, Provenzale was deemed by his contemporaries to be greater than the masters of the classical age. During the pontificate of Paul V, he received numerous commissions for the Vatican Basilica, where he completed the mosaic for the Clementina Chapel using a design by Cristoforo Roncalli, also known as Pomarancio, and the ones in the cupola. He made extensive contributions to the restoration of the famous 14th-century Giotto mosaic the Navicella. He was one of the preferred artists of Scipione Borghese, who commissioned numerous works from him, many of which are kept today in the museum, and he lived as a protégé at the residence of the princely Roman family.
The Borghese Collection was acquired by the Italian State in 1902.
Della Pergola, P., Galleria Borghese. I dipinti, I, Rome, 1955, n.107, p. 62.
Staccioli, S., in Opere in mosaico, intarsi e pietra paesina, exhibition catalogue, Rome, 1971, n.3, pp. 12–13.
González Palacios, A., “Provenzale e Moretti: indagine su due mosaici”, in Antichità viva, 4, 1976, pp. 26–33.
Fratarcangeli, M., in Barock Kunst und Kultur im Vatikan im Rom der Päpste. 1572–1676, exhibition catalogue (Bonn, Berlin), 2005, n.124, p. 239.
Copyright image: Archivio fotografico Soprintendenza Speciale PSAE e Polo Museale della Città di Roma.
Sofia Barchiesi, Marina Minozzi "Portrait of Paul V Borghese" in Discover Baroque Art , Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;BAR;it;Mus11;37;en&id=mosaics
Prepared by: Sofia BarchiesiSofia Barchiesi
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., Marina MinozziMarina Minozzi
AFFILIATION: Borghese Gallery, Rome
TITLE: Head Art History Co-ordinator
Marina Minozzi, a graduate and specialist in Art History, is currently the Head Art History Co-ordinator at the Borghese Gallery, where she curates the collections from the 18th and 19th centuries and heads the museum’s Documentation Centre. She has published a range of papers, including many on art-collecting in Rome and particularly the Borghese collection. She is currently involved with the Ten Great Exhibitions project underway at the Borghese Gallery, and has written essays on the work of Bernini, Raffaello, Canova and Correggio.
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: IT1 51