Portrait of Cardinal Bibbiena
Bernardo Dovizi (Bibbiena 1470- Rome 1520) was a scholar and a diplomat, as well as a friend and trusted private secretary to Pope Leo X. He is shown here in his official dress, consisting of a white robe and the short mozzetta cape in red silk, completed with a red biretta (hat). His right arm is resting on the arm of his chair, while in the left, he holds a letter with the words “Sanctissimo d(omi)no nostro Pap…” evidently addressed to the pope. The slightly lowered viewpoint and the three-quarter pose amplifies the pyramid composition and attracts the gaze to the white sleeve in the foreground, with its fine pleats in light fabric, which contrasts with the thickness of the damask mantle. The most prominent part of the portrait is the shrewd expression and attentive gaze of the subject, which transmits his authority, his intellectual strength, but also his more human essence. The painting was part of the collection of Cardinal Giancarlo de’ Medici in 1637, to whom it was probably given by Bibbiena’s descendants. It was included in a list of works sent to Paris in 1799 and after its recovery in 1815, the year later it was placed in the Room of Saturn in the Palatine Gallery, where it can still be seen today.