The present portrait can be dated to the early 1640s. Bernini has used his favourite media, a combination of red and black chalk heightened with white, a technique which he seems to have used for the majority of these rare portrait drawings. They are often, as here, meticulously drawn with an abundance of short strokes which define and enrich the modulations of light and also enhance the chromatism of the use of the three colors. The drawing shows both Bernini's discipline of perfected execution and his virtuosity in capturing the character of the sitter. Castelli and Bernini knew each other because of Bernini's interest in theatrical performances. Ann Sutherland Harris recounts that on the only known occasion on which Bernini attended one of Castelli's plays, a satire against the Neapolitan painter Salvator Rosa, he walked out before the end.1 This happened in 1639 a few years before Bernini made the present portrait.
Excluding self-portraits, the only other portrait drawings by Bernini whose sitters have been identified are the Portrait of Cardinal Scipione Borghese and the Portrait of Sisinio Poli, both in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, and the Portrait of Pope Clement X, Altieri, in the Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig.2
1. A. Sutherland Harris, loc. cit., 1977
2. A. Weston Lewis, op. cit., 1998, p. 48, reproduced fig. 34; p. 47, reproduced, fig. 33; p. 56, reproduced fig. 44; see A. Sutherland Harris, op. cit., 2007-08, p. 174, for lost identifiable portraits by Bernini
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