Truth Unveiled by Time

Truth Unveiled by Time is a marble sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It was executed between 1646 and 1652. The artist wanted to show Truth allegorically, as a naked young lady being unveiled by a figure of Time above her. However, a figure of Time was never executed. Bernini managed to express his idea by adding the figure in 1665.


Truth Unveiled is a white marble sculpture with a 280 cm height (pedestal 17 cm). Unlike most of Bernini’s sculptural groups, it was not executed as the result of a commission. The duke of Bracciano, Paolo Giordano II Orsini described it in his letter to Cardinal Mazzarino on 6 July 1647, which is the “terminus ante quem” for the sculpture. Bernini had been working on it for about six month, after he had completed Pope Urban VIII’s tomb, which was displayed to the public on 9 February 1647.

According to the artist’s son Domenico, Bernini was expired to create this sculpture after the attacks of his opponents, who critisized his fail on the project to create two towers onto the front of Saint Peter’s Basilica. There were cracks in the facade because of the inability of the foundations to support the towers and an idea of the artist got under the blame. However, historians claim that it can be only a legend.


Bernini began the preparation for “Truth Unveiled by Time” in 1645, which was a critical period after the death of his patron Pope Urban VIII. Later, the figure of Truth was completed by 1652. Despite the fact that the sculpture of Time was never completed, Bernini left the masterpiece in his will to the first-born of his descendants. The scupture remained in the family until 1924. Then, it was purchased by the Italian government and placed to the Galleria Borghese. Originally, the plinth of the sculpture was tilted, while now it is on a flat plinth because of the restoration. Thus, the figure of Truth is more upright rather than it was before.

After Death of Bernini

The sculpture is larger than life-size and was sculpted by the artist himself. Its remarkable size was not without allegorical significance: it towered above the human frame. After Bernini’s death, the huge block of marble that was to have been used for Time was sold by the family: foreseeing the problems of transport, the artist had planned to create the group of two separate blocks.

There is a number of preparatory drawings that show Bernini’s thoughts on “Veritas filia temporis” (Truth, the daughter of Time). The group was kept in the Palazzo Bernini in Via delle Mercede, Rome, until 1924 and then the sculptor’s heirs loaned it to the Galleri Borghese. Later, it was purchased by the Italian State.

Borghese Gallery in Rome,

Author: Gian Lorenzo Bernini


Gian Lorenzo Bernini, as architect and city planner, designed secular buildings, churches, chapels, and public squares, as well as massive works combining both architecture and sculpture, incredibly elaborate public fountains and funerary monuments, and a whole series of temporary structures (in stucco and wood) for funerals and festivals.