The bust is a repetition of a likeness of Stefan Czarniecki after the large bust made by André Le Brun for the Knights’ Hall at the Royal Castle, which was probably based on a painting from the studio of Marcello Bacciarelli (now in the National Museum in Warsaw) and which, in turn, is a repetition of an anonymous 18th-century likeness in the Wilanów collection. Both the painted portrait and sculpted bust show Czarniecki with hair shaved high up on the temples, a long beard arranged in locks, furrowed brow and small, slightly pursed lips. The small scar visible on the right cheek may have been intended to recall the wound he suffered during the Battle of Monastyryska in 1653.
The main difference between the statue under discussion and the original in the Knights' Hall is that the lower part of the bust is reduced and shows only part of the beard and the so-called gorget (an element of the armour).
The author of the bust was probably Giacomo Monaldi who collaborated closely with Le Brun on the series of likenesses made for the Knights' Hall. Although he was highly skilled at carving in marble some fragments of his work were rendered less precisely and sometimes even rather sketchily. Le Brun, however, was known for his skill at rendering details of the human anatomy so what speaks against his authorship here are the slightly skewed proportions, the minor asymmetry visible in the face (in the eyes and cheekbones), and the rather excessively sketchy rendition of some parts of the surface – e.g. the facial hair, as well as sketchy rendition of the unpolished areas (on the back of the bust).
The bust was originally in the collection of Prince Stanisław Poniatowski, the King's nephew. After 1792 the sculpture was removed from Warsaw and was found in the Duke of Florence's collection. The whereabouts of the statue in the first half of the 20th century are unknown. In 1966 it was bought at the Frascione antique shop in Florence for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London – John Pope-Hennessy mistakenly attributed it to Giovanni A. Montorsole as a portrait of Andrea Dori; it was correctly identified by Andrzej Ciechanowiecki. 1980 – Gift of the Government of the United Kingdom to the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
Giacomo (Jakub, Jacobus) Monaldi (Rome 1730–1798 Warsaw)
Sculptor from Rome, son of Carlo Monaldi, also a sculptor. He attended the Accademia di San Luca. From 1768 he worked at the court of Stanisław August in Warsaw. He made many statues and busts for the interiors of the Royal Castle, Ujazdów Castle and Royal Łazienki, some in collaboration with André Le Brun.
Stefan Czarniecki of the Łodzia coat of arms (1599–1665). Son of Krzysztof, starosta of Żywiec, and Krystyna née Rzeszowska. Voivode of Kiev from 1657; Voivode of Ruthenia from 1664, Crown Field Hetman from 1665. He rose to fame during the Swedish invasion, in particular during the defence of Kraków in 1655.