Bernini and Charles I (2)

In trying to find the source of Bernini’s account of Charles I’s features as being so unfortunate, I came across a recent transcription of Nicholas Stone’s travel journal, which describes his visit to meet Bernini and what Bernini had to say about his bust of Charles I. I reproduce it for its extraordinary vividness (with acknowledgement to earlymodernjohn who was responsible for the transcription), its sense of Bernini chatting away to a fellow sculptor:
being in a very good umour he askt me whether I had seene the head of marble which was sent into england for the King and to tell him the truth of what was spoken of itt. I told him that whosoever I had heard admired itt nott only for the exquisitenesse of the worke but the likeness and nere resemblance itt had to the King countenaunce he sayd that divers had told him so much but he can nott believe itt, then he began to be very free in his discourse to aske if nothing was broke of itt in carryage and how itt was preserved now from danger. I told him that when as I saw itt that all was hole and safe the which sathe I wonder att but I tooke (sayth he) as much care for the packing as […] in making of itt also I told him that now itt was preserved with a coife of silke, he desyred to know in what manner I told him that itt was made like a bagg gatherd together on the top of the head and drawne together with a strink under the body with very great care, he answered he was afraid thatt would be the cause to breake itt for sayes he in my time of doing of itt I did cover itt per the like manner to keepe itt from the flyes but with a gre=a=t deale of danger, because in taking of the case if itt hangs att any of the little lockes of hayre or one the worke of the band itt would be presently defaced for itt greivd him to heare itt was broke, being he had taken so great paines and study on itt.


4 thoughts on “Bernini and Charles I (2)

  1. edward chaney says:

    I thought i had already gone on too long but should perhaps have added this, which is transcribed in full in the Walpole Society volume for 1918-19 in my response to your previous request, not least because i recently used Stone’s fascinating diary (actually Nicholas Stone Junior, son of the sculptor-builder of the same name) in the forthcoming expanded edition of my anthology on Florence. Your transcription just stops short of the bit where the half-Dutch Stone Jr reports on Bernini’s account of what must surely be his encounter with Thomas Baker who, as i said in previous blog in response to yr request, i believe must be the person who took back Bernini’s message about Charles I’s doom-laden physog: ‘after this he began to tell us here was an English gent: who wooed him a long time to make his effiges in marble, and after a great deale of intreaty and the promise of a large some of money he did get a mind to undertake itt because itt should goe into England, that thy might see the difference of doing a picture after the life or a painting so he began to imbost his physyognymy [that word again] and being finisht and ready to begin in marble, itt fell out that his patrone the Pope came to here of itt who sent Cardinal Barberine to forbid him. The gentleman was to come the next morning to sett [i.e, sit], in the meane time he defaced the modell in divers places, when the gentleman came he began to excuse himselfe that thaire had binn a mischaunce to the modell and yt he had no mind to goe forward with itt..’ (the anecdote continues disingenuously, reflecting Bernini and Baker’s joint efforts to keep the commission secret; it is possible that Stone Jr and his brother Henry were in the know but Baker is more likely to be the source of the anecdote in question as the brothers were not quite ‘gentlemen’).

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