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 Time figure 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 280 cm in height (pedestal 17 cm). Unlike most of Bernini’s sculptural groups, it was not executed due to a commission. Instead, 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 months 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 his opponents’ attacks, who criticized his failure on the project to create two towers in the front of Saint Peter’s Basilica. As a result, there were cracks in the facade because of the inability of the foundations to support the towers, and the artist’s idea 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 his patron Pope Urban VIII. Later, the figure of Truth was completed by 1652. Even though the sculpture of Time was never completed, Bernini left the masterpiece in his will to the firstborn of his descendants. The statue remained in the family until 1924. Then, it was purchased by the Italian government and placed in the Galleria Borghese. Initially, the sculpture’s plinth was tilted, while now it is on a flat plinth because of the restoration. Thus, Truth’s figure is more upright than it was before.

After the Death of Bernini

The sculpture is more significant than life-size and was sculpted by the artist himself. However, its remarkable size was not without symbolic significance: it towered above the human frame. After Bernini’s death, the massive 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.

Several preparatory drawings 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 Gallery Borghese. Later, it was purchased by the Italian State.

Borghese Gallery in Rome,
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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.

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