Three busts by Alessandro Algardi
This page shows three busts sculpted by Alessandro Algardi most likely in 1638 and representing
Muzio Frangipane and his two sons Lello and Roberto in the family chapel in S. Marcello al Corso.
The Frangipane chapel is on the left side, facing south and thus generally receiving a lot of light. The Frangipane
had a military tradition and maybe this explains why the chapel is dedicated to St Paul.
The Conversion of St Paul by Taddeo Zuccari is painted on slate (that's why it shines) and it is a very fine example of Mannerist painting. It is clearly inspired by the
fresco by Michelangelo in Cappella Paolina, but St Paul, an old man in Michelangelo's fresco, is now a young and tall soldier and another tall and elegant
soldier is shown on the left.
On the left wall of the chapel one sees the monuments to three members of the Frangipane family, Antonino and his two sons Mario and Curzio. The author of these busts is unknown, maybe he had in mind the bust of Michelangelo sculpted by Jean de Boulogne (il Giambologna) now in Museo dell'Accademia in Florence. The dead are portrayed in a very dignified manner, but they look very much alike. In addition the busts look in different directions and the viewer has to shift position to see each of them properly.
On the right wall of the chapel there are three other busts of the same size and inserted in the same marble frame, but the viewer is immediately struck by the fact that he sees three different persons and that the three busts are looking at him. Muzio and his sons Roberto and Lello were all dead when Alessandro Algardi was commissioned their busts, so either he worked by looking at portraits of them or he felt free to represent them as ideal models of a military leader (Muzio), a man of culture (Roberto), a young hero (Lello).
Roberto Frangipane was also involved with the kings of France as he was an advisor to Henri III, the brother of Charles IX. He was an abbè and as such he was entitled to wear ecclesiastical dress, without necessarily having official ecclesiastical duties. Algardi did not make use of different marbles, nevertheless the hair and the moustaches of Roberto seem of a different color. The portrait shows some distinctive features of a XVIIth century gentleman like the short moustaches and the pointed beard or the somewhat ruffled hair.
Lello Frangipane died at the age of 26 during the siege of Sabatellum in Croatia. In the bust he is shown wearing a fine XVIth century armour similar to that shown in the portrait of Cosimo I de' Medici by Angelo Bronzino.
Bernini used to portray his models in the act of talking. Algardi, more in line with the recommendations of the Accademia di S. Luca, thought better to portray them with their mouth shut, but that does not mean that he did not want his busts to talk to the viewer!
Other pages dealing with Baroque sculpture:
Statues in the act of praying
Monuments showing the dead in a medallion
Representation of Death in Baroque sculptures
Three chapels by Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Baroque Monuments to the Popes
Baroque High Reliefs
Statues Close to Heaven
Embittered Andrew (the statues in St. Peter's octagon)
Playing with Colours
See also my List of Baroque Architects and my Directory of Baroque Sculpture.