With her right hand she plucks at the jewel on her breast with a gesture that is repeated not only in the aforementioned Borghese portrait, but also in a small likeness on copper of Eleonora, dating to 1685 – 1690, in which she is shown in the same pose and finery, but with an updated coiffure.3 As Petrucci notes, the unusual position of the hand, which arches from the wrist, the fingers with long and supple and the smallest extended upwards, is in fact the invention of the sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Gaulli appears to be “citing” the Berninian gesture adopted for the figure of Truth from the funeral monument to Alessandro VII in Saint Peter’s, Rome, and the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni in the Altieri chapel in San Francesco a Ripa, Rome.4 Not only do both sculptures date within a year or two of the present painting, but evidence of the intended quotation can be found in the form of a drawing by Gaulli of Bernini’s Ludovica Albertoni, now preserved in the Musée Atger, Montpellier, testifying to the impact the new work must have had on the artist.5
We are grateful to Francesco Petrucci for endorsing an attribution of this work to Giovanni Battista Gaulli on the basis of photographs.
1. F. Petrucci, Baciccio, Giovanni Battista Gaulli 1639 – 1709, Rome 2009, pp. 426 – 427, cat. no. A61, reproduced.
2. F. Petrucci in a private written communication, dated 8 October 2013.
3. Ibid., p. 426, cat. no. A62.
4. Ibid. p. 59 – 61, reproduced in detail figs. 59 and 62.
5. Ibid. p. 61, reproduced fig. 63