Gabriel Fonseca's bust

Gabriel Fonseca's bust is located in the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Lucina, in Rome. This church is situated in Rione Colonna and was built in the IV century.

The Church


Fonseca's chapel was commissioned to Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1670, when he was an adult, by a portoguese doctor: Gabriel Fonseca. The chapel is dedicated to the Annunciation represented in a painting by Gimignani (1664); on the left side we can see the bust of Fonseca; on the right side other two members of the Fonseca family are represented in two other busts.
The original position of the altar has been modified. Once it was facing the bust while now it is aside. The later addition of Bernini’s bust, participates in the whole scene, almost seeming to face the event of the Annunciation as though paying homage to the scene.1


The bust

The bust has been graven in the action to lean out from a window, a typical Bernini's disposition of subjects, as if they were elements of a theatrical scenography.
In the bust Gabriel Fonseca appears dressed in a doctor’s robes, holding a rosary enrapt in a devotional pose.2
The intensity of Fonseca's expression in his prayer causes a notable deformation of the physical features, which makes his portrait unique and unmistakable.3


  • Photos and main text by Federica Greco moc.liamtoh|cerg.edef#| and Miriam De Salvia moc.liamg|4062azzoirim#| (December 2017)


  • Giovanni Careri, The Life of Bernini, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1995, pp. 42-50
  • Nelson Novoa, James W., Humanismo e Ciência: Antiguidade e Renascimento, UA Editora - Universidade de Aveiro, Aveiro 2015, pp. 227-248


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