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Pier Francesco Mola (Italian, Coldrerio 1612–1666 Rome), Portrait of Alessandro VII Chigi, 1659. Oil on canvas, 46 7/8 × 37 3/8 in. (119 × 95 cm) Frame: 57 1/2 × 48 1/16 × 3 9/16 in. (146 × 122 × 9 cm). Private collection

This painting is one of the most vibrant and insightful papal portraits of the seventeenth century; it is probably a large-scale sketch, or abbozzo, for a formal finished work that has not survived. An entry in the pope’s diary describes a sitting in the presence of both the painter and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, an artist of great importance to Alessandro VII who may have had an impact on the painting’s appearance. Left in the artist’s studio at his death, the portrait was bequeathed to his sister Maddalena. Despite its unfinished appearance, it was quickly sold to Paolo Falconieri, an important figure in Roman artistic circles who in turn gave it to a member of the pope’s family.

This work is exhibited in the "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Invisible" exhibition, on view through September 4th, 2016. #MetBreuer