Art Exhibition: ‘Marble, bronze and silver for Alexander VII. Jewellery and monumental sculpture from Bernini’s Rome to Siena Cathedral.

Wonderful antiques coming from the sacristy of Siena Cathedral on show for the first time.

From 12 April 2019 to 03 November 2019

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Until November 3, 2019, the Crypt of Siena Cathedral hosts the exhibition ‘Marble, bronze and silver for Alexander VII. Jewellery and monumental sculpture from Bernini's Rome to Siena Cathedral’. Thanks to this event, a host of memorabilia that are usually kept in the sacristy of the Cathedral in Siena, Tuscany, can be admired in all their glittering splendour, which has been enhanced by the restoration and cleaning efforts carried out before the exhibition. The goldsmith's objects displayed in this important Siena exhibition date to the times of Alexander VII, born as Fabio Chigi in one of the most important families of Siena and Pope from 1655 to 1667. Among the splendid artefacts that you can admire, there will be the monumental reliquaries with busts of the Saints that the Pope donated in 1663 to the Sacristy of the so-called Cappella Chigi inside the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome where Bernini also worked.

 

ALESSANDRO VII: BERNINI’S PATRON.

Who was Alexander VII to whom the exhibition is dedicated? He was born in Siena in 1599 in an important family of bankers and, already as a child, he manifested a strong religious vocation. After being educated, as was the case at the time, by private tutors, he graduated in philosophy, canon law and theology at the University of Siena. Before being appointed cardinal, he held numerous ecclesiastical positions, and finally on 7 April 1655, after 80 days of Conclave, he was elected Pope. The choice fell on him for his cultural and diplomatic skills but also for his lifestyle devoid of the nepotism which was really widespread in the Curia at the time. Suffice it to say that in the beginning he even prohibited his relatives from coming to Rome! As for foreign policy, Alexander Pope’s greatest rival was Mazzarino, an adviser to Louis XIV, who had already opposed him during the negotiations for the Westphalia peace treaty. From a more doctrinal point of view, he tried to curb Jansenism while he strongly supported the Jesuits. A great lover of literature and philosophy, he also dedicated himself to architecture trying to improve several buildings and streets in Rome. He acted as a real patron to Bernini whom he tasked with the works on the Church of Santa Maria Del Popolo, the altar of the Chair in St. Peter's Basilica and the splendid colonnade surrounding St. Peter's Square. Pope Alexander VII also commissioned Bernini to build his own funerary monument which was finished only several years after his death which occurred in 1667.

 

THE EXHIBITION

Among the events in Siena running in the summer and autumn, this important exhibition is surely an opportunity that art lovers will not want to miss. In fact, how could one decide not admire some of the treasures that are usually hidden in the sacristy of the Cathedral of Siena, Italy? Are you intrigued and want some anticipation on the exhibition? Perfect, we will quickly give you a preview of what you will see in one of the most anticipated art exhibitions in Siena. Let's start by pointing out that most of the objects you will see belong to the Museo Opera del Duomo, Siena, which you can visit together with the exhibition thanks to a cumulative ticket. The event, curated by Alessandro Angelini and Alessandro Bagnoli, is housed in one of the most fascinating places of the cathedral: the Crypt of Siena Cathedral. A treasure trove, comprising wonderful frescoes, which have come to light only in the last twenty years and which, alone, would be worth a visit. Among the many relics on display are the reliquaries and among these you will surely notice the four identical urns of the four protectors of the city: St. Savino, St. Ansano, St. Vittore and St. Crescenzio. They were carved by Francesco Valambrino, a student of Jacopo della Quercia, and sent to Siena in 1660 by Cardinal Volumnio Bandindelli. Over the years, they have suffered tampering and modifications but nothing that has altered their original splendour. Among the objects made available for display by the Museum of Opera della Metropolitana in Siena, we are highlighting the Crocifisso of Chiesa Annunziata in Siena: commissioned by Prince Agostino Chigi in 1670, it was cast from a model by Ercole Ferrata like several crucifixes that, on the will of Fabio Chigi Pope, were positioned on some of the altars in St. Peter's in the Vatican. The Siena exhibition in 2019 starts and ends with two extraordinary busts dedicated to Alexander VII Pope that highlight the link between monumental sculpture and jewellery. The first of the two you will encounter during your visit is the marble one sculpted by Bernini in 1657. It belongs to a private collection, so being able to see it is truly a privilege not to be missed! The other, cast in a bronze model by Melchiorre Caffà, was created after the death of Pope Alexander VII and is characterized by a truly exceptional dramatic style.

 

THE SIENA CRYPT

Being housed inside the Cathedral of Siena, the Alexander VII Pope exhibition, as well as many other Siena art exhibitions, is an excellent opportunity to visit the Duomo of Siena, Italy. We advise you to buy the 'Opa Si Pass' ticket which allows you to enter, in addition to the Cathedral itself, all the rooms of the complex: the Piccolomini library, the baptistery of St John, the museum of the Opera Duomo Siena museum, the panoramic terrace of the Facciatone and obviously the crypt. As we mentioned, this is really a treasure that has come to light from the ground below the Duomo, Siena! In fact, in 1999, following some work, a room decorated with frescoes from the 1200s was discovered to everyone's surprise. It is a pictorial cycle depicting scenes from the Old and New Testament. Even the architectural structures of the same period offer an incredible testimony about the time of their construction.

 

After purchasing the tickets of the Siena Cathedral to access the exhibition dedicated to the era of Pope Alexander VII, you will be plunged into the wonderful art world of one of the most beautiful Tuscan cities. Magnificent artefacts linked to one of the most famous people from Siena can only but catch your attention and spur your curiosity. By now, you shouldn't have any doubts: if you were wondering which, amongst the Siena running exhibitions, you should not miss, this is the one! But that’s not the end of it! Have a look at the many tours in Siena and you can add something extra to your experience in Tuscany: personalized tours, food and wine and excursions around the city as well as lots of interesting facts about the Palio. The choice is all yours!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff