Portrait of Prince Metternich - Lorenzo Bartolini

Portrait of Prince Metternich

Lorenzo BARTOLINI
(Prato 1777 - Florence 1850)

White marble
H. 0,69 m (with the base); W. 0,29 m
Socle: height 0,17 m, diameter 0,23 m
Inscribed at the back of the support: IN.MILANO / XXV / GIUGNO / MDCCCXXV

Date: 1825

Provenance: Countess V.G., Metternich heiress
Private collection, France

Related works: - Preparatory plaster sculpture at the Gipsoteca Bartolini, Florence, Galleria dell’Accademia, see Lorenzo Bartolini. Mostra delle attivitą di tutela. Celebrazioni di Lorenzo Bartolini nel bicentenario della nascita, 1777-1977, exhibition catalogue, Prato, Palazzo Pretorio, February-June 1978, Florence, 1978, p. 73, no. 4.
- A similar version in white marble without inscription, Galerie Maurizio Nobile, Bologna-Paris; see Eugenio Busmanti, Maurizio Nobile. Visages en pose ritratti dipinti, scolpiti e fotografati, exhibition catalogue, Antichitą Nobile, 26 September - 8 November 2008, Bologna, 2008, p. 52-55; and Annarita Caputo, Lorenzo Bartolini scultore del bello naturale, exhibition catalogue, Florence, Galleria dell’Accademia, 31 May - 6 November 2011, Florence, 2011, p. 220-222, no. 21.
- A similar example in white marble, Metternich Castle at Lįzně Kyn˛vart (formerly Königswart), Czech Republic.
- A similar example in plaster, a cast of the marble, inscribed on the back of the support: IN MILANO / XXV / GIUGNO / MDCCCXXV / DA / BARTOLINI, Metternich Castle at Lįzně Kyn˛vart (formerly Königswart), Czech Republic.
- A similar example in plaster, a cast of the marble, inscribed on the back of the support: IN MILANO / XXV / GIUGNO / MDCCCXXV / DA / BARTOLINI, is in the collection of Count Filippo Beraudo di Pralormo, Pralormo, Italy, which comes from the collection of Count Carlo Beraudo di Pralormo, Ambassador to Austro-Hungary from 1821 to 1831.
- A lithograph of this bust by Nicola Monta was published in 1826.

The sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini is the greatest portrait artist of the first half of the 19th century in Italy, perhaps even Europe, if we compare the extent of his portrait output to that of Canova or Thorvaldsen. Almost six hundred plaster models by him, which prepare an equivalent number of sculptures, have survived today. Around four hundred represent individual portraits, some of which are half length, or even full length. This group is at the Gipsoteca Bartoliniana, which forms part of the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. There is a complete list of the identities of these portraits, the numbers of which refer to labels applied to the plasters, but most have been lost, making it impossible to identify the sitters. The portrait of Prince Metternich, whose features are widely known, has very happily escaped this lacuna.

As with most of his sculptures, Bartolini has here used noble white marble from Carrara. This bust has been created all’antica, to reuse Bartolini’s terminology, in other words, without any drapery as if to show that the sitter is ideally portrayed nude, according to the principal established by Canova with his colossal depiction of Napoleon. The plaster model is kept at the Gipsoteca Bartoliniana of the Galleria dell’Accademia.

Clement Wenceslas Lothar, Prince of von Metternich-Winneburg (1773-1859) was a famous diplomat and great Austrian minister. Called “the Coachman of Europe”, Metternich organized the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815), the conference that gathered the diplomatic representatives of the countries that had been victorious over Napoleon I, to determine the borders and to try to establish a new peaceful order in Europe.
Count Fedor Golovkin described him: “handsome, well dressed, very blond, pale, his distracted air which was considered to be romantic to women, was considered to be thoughtful to men...”

This sculpture is indicative of Bartolini’s style, which is recognizable in the especially fluid and natural handling of the hair, the regard for the accuracy of the features, which have been nobly idealised, the scrupulous rendering of the eyelashes, the delicacy of the mouth, which manage to convey simultaneously the seduction and political genius of this man of state. The artist has succeeded in suggesting Metternich’s gaze which appears to keep the viewer at a distance. Bartolini was considered to be the favourite sculptor and portrait artist of high society, at a time when the sculpted portrait was considered more of a social attribute than the painted portrait. He invariably succeeded, in an unparalleled manner, in giving his figures a dignity, a nobility and conscience of their social statue, due to the bearing of the head, a slightly twisted neck, or a subtle detail which gives his protagonists the feeling of being the last heroes of a changing world.

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