The funerary monument of Pope Alexander VII (r. 1655-67), in St Peter's Basilica, was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) and executed between 1671 and 1678.
The monument, which is built around a door, is made up of six figures. At the apex the pope, bare-headed, kneels in prayer. Below him are four female allegorical figures: in the foreground stand Charity and Truth, whose left foot rests on a globe; in the background are half-figures of Prudence and Justice. All five figures were carved out of white marble.
Death is portrayed as a winged skeleton, bearing aloft an hour-glass; its head is shrouded in billowing drapery, a tour-de-force creation of travertine veneered with Sicilian jasper, the work of Gabriele Renzi.
The funerary monument was a collaboration between Bernini and his assistants, the latter doing most of the work under the close supervision of their master.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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