Dresden: Art historians at Dresden’s state sculpture collection believe they have uncovered a long-lost work by the Italian master Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), hidden in plain view in the famous collection.
The work, a life-size and realistic human skull sculpted from white Carrara marble, is to be the highlight of the exhibition “Bernini,the Pope and Death” that opens on May 28 in the city’s Semper Gallery.
The marble skull was part of the Chigi Collection in Rome until it was bought in 1728 by August the Strong, elector of Saxony, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, according to information published by the Dresden State Art Collections on Friday.
Research conducted in the run-up to the exhibition confirmed that the artwork is a Bernini that was commissioned in 1655 by Pope Alexander VII, a member of the Chigi family, to be placed on his desk.
The Dresden State Art Collections described the discovery as”sensational.” The work was previously listed as “unattributed” in the museum’s collection.
The exhibition describes how the plague hit Rome in 1656-7, and how the pope contained it through quarantine, mask-wearing and restrictions on public life. Elsewhere in Europe the outbreak had a devastating effect.
The exhibition also includes a portrait loaned by the Knights of Malta in Rome. It shows Alexander holding the Bernini skull. — dpa