Alessandro Algardi (1598–1654) – unappreciated master of the Baroque art

Alessandro Algardi, bust of Benedetto Pamphilj, Galleria Doria Pamphilj

Alessandro Algardi, bust of Benedetto Pamphilj, Galleria Doria Pamphilj

He was an outstanding sculptor of the first half of the XVII century, but also an architect and a city restorer. This gifted creator is often forgotten, perhaps because his works were lacking a certain inner quivering and expression, visible in the works of his competitor – “the ingenious Bernini”. Extravagance was alien to Algardi – he utilized classical forms, monumental and simple.

Alessandro Algardi, bust of Benedetto Pamphilj, Galleria Doria Pamphilj
Portrait of Alessandro Algardi, Accademia Nazionale di San Luca
Alessandro Algardi, bust of Pope Innocent X, Galleria Doria Pamphilj
Alessandro Algardi, bust of Olimpia Maidalchini, Galleria Doria Pamphilj
Alessandro Algardi, bronze statue of Pope Innocent X, Musei Capitolini
Alessandro Algardi, statue of Mary Magdalene, Church of San Silvestro al Quirinale
Alessandro Algardi, bust of Cardinal Giovanni Garzia Mellini, Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo
Alessandro Algardi, figures of the members of the Frangipani family, family chapel, Church of San Marcello al Corso
Alessandro Algardi, tombstone monument of Pope Leo XI, Basilica of San Pietro in Vaticano
Alessandro Algardi, altar of St. Leo with a relief depicting the Meeting of Pope Leo I with Attila, Basilica of San Pietro in Vaticano
Alessandro Algardi, Church of Sant’Ignazio, decoration above the enterance
Alessandro Algardi, main altar in the Church of San Nicola da Tolentino – St Nicholas Adoring the Virgin Mary
Alessandro Algardi, Mutio and Roberto Frangipani, fragment of a family tombstone, Church of  Santa Maria dell'Anima
Alessandro Algardi, allegory of Dream, Galleria Borghese
Alessandro Algardi, bust of Giacinta Sanvitale Conti, Museo Nazionale – Palazzo di Venezia
Alessandro Algardi, bust of Pope Innocent X, Museo Nazionale – Palazzo di Venezia
Alessandro Algardi, Mutio and Roberto Frangipani, fragment of a family tombstone, Church of San Marcello al Corso
Alessandro Algardi, tombstone monument of Pope Leo XI, fragment, Basilica of San Pietro in Vaticano

He was an outstanding sculptor of the first half of the XVII century, but also an architect and a city restorer. This gifted creator is often forgotten, perhaps because his works were lacking a certain inner quivering and expression, visible in the works of his competitor – “the ingenious Bernini”. Extravagance was alien to Algardi – he utilized classical forms, monumental and simple.

He came to Rome from Bologna in 1625.  His real career began however, when he was entrusted with work in St Peter’s Basilica (San Pietro in Vaticano) on the tombstone of the Pope Leo XI of the Medici family.  It is then, that he exhibited his artistic abilities.  The tombstone was completed in 1644, the same year that Innocent X became pope. For Algardi this was a fortunate choice, since the new ruler of the State of the Church looked unfavorably on the then-star, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, favored by Urban VIII, who was hated by Innocent.  The new pope found a trusted artist in the Bolognese. He entrusted him with works on his bust, as well as that of his sister-in-law (Olimpia Maidalchini), but also more significant and prestigious commissions. At the court of Innocent X, Algardi busied himself mainly with architectural works – expansion of the Capitoline hill and private ventures, including designing the suburban villa (Casino di Villa Doria Pamphilj) and its decorations.
   
Algardi maintained a very large studio and taught many pupils, who during the latter years of his life completed most of his designs, also due to the fact that excessive corpulence did not allow him to work independently.
Most important works in Rome:
Galleria Doria Pamphilj
  • Bust of Innocent X
  • Bust of Olimpia Maidalchini
  • Bust of Benedetta Pamphilj
Musei  Capitolini (Capitoline Museums)
  • Statue of Innocent X (1646) made of bronze, depicting the pope enthroned
Church of San Silvestro al Quirinale:
  • Statue of Mary Magdalene (1629)
Church of Santa Maria del Popolo
  • Bust of Cardinal Giovanni Garzia Mellini (1638)
Church of Santa Maria Vallicella
  • Pedestal of St. Philip Neri with an angel (1638), marble relief The Miracle of St. Agnes (1654)
Church of San Marcello al Corso
       
  • Busts of members of the Frangipani family
Basilica San Pietro in Vaticano
  • Tomb of Pope Leo XI (1644) – with a seated figure of the pope accompanied by personifications of virtues
  • Tombstone relief in the altar of Pope Leo IThe Meeting of Leo I and Attila (1646). With this work the artist created a new art genre competing both with sculpture as well as painting – a marble, almost three-dimensional relief
Church of Sant’Ignazio
  • A dedicated inscription with angels accompanying it above the entrance to the church (interior)
Church of San Nicola da Tolentino
  • A design of an altar representing St. Nicholas of Tolentino (1651) completed by Algardi’s pupils
Church of Santa Maria dell’Anima
  • Tombstone bust of Giovanni Savenier in St. Anne’s chapel