Tomb of Pope Alexander VII, Vatican City



The tomb of Alexander VII is a sculptural monument designed and partially executed by the Italian artist Gianlorenzo Bernini. It is in the basilica of St Peter's in the 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.


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