Tomb of Pope Alexander VII
|Location||St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City|
Early sketches by Bernini for the work indicate that the tomb was to be placed in the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, as was the wish of Alexander's papal successor, Clement IX. However, a little after Clement's death, the more prestigious location of St. Peter's became the preferred spot.
There are six significant figures in the monument. At the apex is Alexander himself in prayer. To the viewer's left is the figure of Charity suckling a baby, and behind Charity is the character of Justice (obscured in many photographs taken from ground level). To the viewer's right there is Truth and then behind that is the half-figure Prudence. Perhaps most dramatically, below Alexander, is the figure of Death (in gilt bronze rather than marble), clutching a sandglass and being overwhelmed by the billowing drapery.
Work begun on the monument in 1671, six years after the death of Alexander VII, and was completed in 1678. A team of artists under Bernini's supervision undertook the project, working on all its aspects such as the many figures, the billowing marble drapery, the coat of arms. Once Bernini himself had completed the designs for the tomb (for which he received payment in October 1672), its physical creation began. The art historian Rudolf Wittkower identifies four types of artist required to the create the monument: a stonemason who would do preliminary work breaking down blocks of marble, expert sculptors executing the more precise carving, some smoothing work done on the remaining rough parts of the stone by apprentice sculptors, and then a specialist lustratore who did final polishing to give the sculptures added lustre. Bernini himself probably worked on Alexander's portrait.
- All references taken from Rudolf Wittkower, Bernini, the Sculptor of the Roman Baroque, 1997 (4th ed.), p.295-7
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