By Martina Bollini

Baroque sculptor Domenico Guidi died on 28 March 1701 in Rome. Born near Carrara in 1625, Guidi was the nephew of Giuliano Finelli, one of Bernini’s most talented assistants. From 1639 to 1648, they worked together in Naples, carving a series of statues for the Chapel of San Gennaro in the Cathedral of the city. Directly involved in the Masaniello’s revolt, in 1649 Guidi fled to Rome, where he joined the workshop of Alessandro algardi. He assisted Algardi in the gigantic marble relief the Meeting of Leo the Great and Attila in St. Peter’s and in the high altar of the church of S. Nicola da Tolentino.

After Algardi’s death in 1654, Guidi started his own workshop, following the classical tendencies of his former master. In 1668 Bernini chose him to carve one of the angels for the Sant’Angelo Bridge, alongside the major sculptors of the day. Right after this accomplishment, Guidi was stabbed by a mysterious assailant. The fact, recorded by the Roman diarist and archivist at Castel Sant’Angelo Carlo Cartari, coincided with Guidi’s election as director of the Academy of San Luca in 1669.

Guidi’s prolific workshop produced works of art for distinguished patrons, in Rome and Europe, including Louis XIV of France.  Thanks to his special relationships with French artists in Rome and with Charles Le Brun at the French court, Guidi executed the marble group La Renommée écrivant l’histoire du Roi for the royal palace of Versailles. The king was not totally satisfied with it, but on the other hand he had harshly criticized Bernini’s Equestrian statue of Louis XIVtoo.

Reference: David Bershad, GUIDI, Domenico, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. 61 (2004).

Angel with the Lance, 1688, Sant’Angelo Bridge, Rome.

La Renommée écrivant l’histoire du Roi, 1677-1686, Gardens of Versailles.

The Dream of St. Joseph, 1686, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome.

Bust of Pope Alexander VIII Ottoboni, c. 1691, Liechtenstein Museum, Vienna.

Andromeda and the monster (attr.), 1694, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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