The portrait bust was an ancient Roman sculptural type that was revived and developed in the 15th century, with a growing interest in the representation of the individual. Such images ranged from intimate realism to idealised portraits and often carried political significance. In 17th-century Rome, numerous busts were produced of popes, prelates and other members of the elite. They were usually intended for public display or propaganda. A description of Gianlorenzo Bernini's working method survives from his visit to France in 1665. He made numerous drawings of his sitters in action so as to get to know their movements and expressions. Working from memory, he then carved the Carrara marble block using chisels and drills. Bernini prided himself on being able to give marble the appearance of flesh. In this bust, the tool marks are particularly visible in the hair and the intricate lace. The bust was apparently completed by an assistant after Bernini was ordered to stop work. Bernini was the leading sculptor in Rome. He worked primarily for the papal court and other heads of state, attaining an outstanding reputation and high status. This bust is unusual because, unlike the majority of contemporary sculpted portraits, it was a private commission from a comparatively modest member of society.