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About This Artwork
Bust of a Youth (Saint John the Baptist?), 1630/40
Marble, on variegated black marble socle
40.5 x 33 x 29 cm (15 7/8 x 13 x 11 3/8 in.)
From the collection of the estate of Federico Gentili di Giuseppe; restricted gift of Mrs. Harold T. Martin through the Antiquarian Society; Major Acquisitions Centennial Endowment; through prior gift of Arthur Rubloff; European Decorative Arts Purchase Fund, 1989.1
One of the most individual sculptors of his age, Francesco Mochi possessed an astoun- ding technical prowess. Although his output was relatively small, Mochi was one of the most original artists to emerge in seventeenth-century Italy. His art is distinguished by energetic lines, dramatic movement, and subtle psychology. Here a taut precision characterizes the youth’s garment, and a carefully composed rhythm governs Mochi’s virtuoso treatment of the corkscrew curls. In contrast to the greater precision of the hair and drapery, the wistful expression of the youth, with his slightly parted lips, endows the sculpture with life. This work may have been conceived as a portrait, but it is more likely a biblical or mythological subject. The almost transcendent expression suggests that the sculpture may represent a religious figure, such as the youthful Saint John the Baptist. Its small scale suggests that the work was intended as an object for private contemplation.
Art Institute of Chicago, "New Acquisitions: Mochi’s 'Bust of a Youth',” September 1989 [no cat.].
Charles Oulmont, “Collection M.F. Gentili di Giuseppe,” Les Arts 162 (1917), p. 18 (ill.).
Art Institute of Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago Annual Report 1988–89, pp. 1, 55, pl. 1.
Gazette des Beaux-Arts 67, 6 (March 1991), p. 50, no. 217 (ill.).
Ian Wardropper, “A New Attribution to Francesco Mochi,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 17, 2 (1991), pp. 102–19.
The Daily Telegraph (17 July 1992).
The Independent (17 July 1992).
Fine Art & Antiques International 7, 1 (February 1994), cover.
Andrea Bacchi and Susanna Zanuso, Scultura del ‘600 a Roma (Milan, 1996), pp. 824–26, 847–60, no. 586.
David Eskerdjian, “Scultura del ‘600 a Roma,” Apollo 138, 437 (1996), p. 58.
Nancy Moffett, “Art Institute to keep Jewish family’s statue,” Chicago Sun-Times (June 13, 2000), p. 3.
Ian Wardropper, “Collecting European Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago,” Apollo 154, 475 (September 2001), pp. 4–5, no. 3.
Collection of Federico Gentili di Giuseppe (died 1940), Paris, by 1917 [see Oulmont 1917]; sold, his estate sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 23 and 24 April 1941, lot 112 as “attribué a Bernini” to Aubry, for 10, 800 francs [see Hôtel Drouot shipping records in curatorial file; auction subsequently declared void by the French court]. Sold, Arcole auction house, Paris, 11 March 1988, Dessins et tableaux anciens, lot 59 as “Le Bernin” to Anthony Roth, London; sold to the Art Institute, 1988.