An Outstanding Bust of a Bravo

An Outstanding Bust of a Bravo

This beautiful ‘character head’ – according to the expression often used in 18th century to identify half-figures, that did not represent true portraits, but rather genre subject or studies of expression, also called scherzi, capricci or imagination heads – is a typical and unmistakable product of  the Venetian Baroque Art. In this terracotta, above the rectangular base appear a bust, wrapped by a classicist drapery that covers part of the chest and a his right shoulder, while his left arm is draped on the other side. The torso is also characterized by the modern and unusual note of down around the bare nipple and between the pectorals. The head is turned right, a curled beard occupies the chin and part of the face together with a pair of bushy mustaches and considerable eyebrows. A band is wrapped around the head revealing hair framing the ears. The character’s expression is scowling, menacing and he furrows his eyebrows as to look the source of his displeasure.
It’s difficult to relate the drapery to the  manner of the tormented  Venetian Baroque production; on the other hand, the fact that the terracotta is modelled  also in the back, reveals a modus operandi typical, almost exclusive of this place and period: these elements suggest to attribute the bust to the Lombard artist Bernardo Falcone.Bernardo Falcone (1651-1696), BUST OF A BRAVO, Terracotta, Circa 1680 art, antiques, terracotta, sculpture, torso, Venice, Bernardo Falcone, Settecento, character, Bravo

Documented between 1651 and 1696, Falcone had a rather eventful life: born in Ticino, he worked  in Venice and Torino, ending his days in his homeland, where he is attested for the last time in December 1696. His training remains mysterious: he is recorded for the first time in Sassuolo, in 1651-1652, but we do not know where he made his apprenticeship. Significantly the reference to Falcone is based on the comparison with a sculpture of the same subject in the altar of St. Anthony at the Frari church in Venice, and of two bronzes reproducing charity according to a famous Algardi’s invention. A first Roman training on the orbit of this great Bolognese sculptor, can justify the persistent classicist vein that characterized his whole career.
Falcone is documented in Venice for the first time between 1657 and 1664 and secondly in 1678; presumably he created this terracotta during the latter period, when the fortune of these ‘character heads’ was growing fast.

Bernardo Falcone
(documented from 1651 to 1696)
Circa 1680
Height: 78 cm

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