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Allegory of Time and Truth
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Genoa, 1639 - Rome, 1709

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Allegory of Time and Truth

1646 - 1647. Grey-brown wash, Pencil on laid paper.
Not on display

The centuries-old reference to Gian Lorenzo Bernini, seen on the support of this drawing, was first accepted by Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez, who identified the work as a preliminary study relating to Truth (Borghese Gallery, Rome), the marble sculpture on which Bernini worked between 1646 and 1652. It was Manuela Mena Marqués who, alerted by the highly luminous application of washes, recognised the drawing as one of the studies made by Giovanni Battista Gaulli (Baciccio) at the end of the 1660s and early 1670s, during his closest association with Bernini.

Indeed, it is only possible to explain Baciccio’s characterisation of the theme in terms of its relation to Bernini’s sculpture. It is known that the great master had initially planned to create for himself a statuary group showing old Father Time floating in the air, scythe in one hand and lifting the cloth covering the naked form of his daughter, Truth, with the other. Bernini’s original project began in 1646, in the wake of the infamous bell-tower fiasco at St Peter’s Basilica, and has most often been interpreted as a consolatory response to that humiliating setback.

This idea is supported by a number of preparatory studies: three autograph works in the Leipzig Museum and three workshop drawings are believed to derive from an original and lost drawing by Bernini. These may have been studies for a painting on the same subject. The best preserved of these, executed with a technique similar to that of the Prado drawing, suggests Baciccio composed this homage to Bernini based both on drawings recovered from the master’s workshop and the original statue of Truth. In contrast to the Bernini drawing in Leipzig and a well-preserved, high-quality workshop copy in the Louvre, Baciccio’s interpretation of the subject is the only version that places the figure of Time on the left and Truth on the right. Other notable differences can be found in the drawing’s stronger gestural effects, as well as in the terrestrial sphere that accompanies Truth: a small planet on which the young woman rests a foot, just as we see in Bernini’s sculpture, now in the Borghese Gallery, rather than the large globe on which the young woman rests in the other drawings mentioned above (Farina, V.: Italian Masterpieces. From Spain´s Royal Court, Museo del Prado, 2014, p. 178).

Technical data

Inventory number
Allegory of Time and Truth
1646 - 1647
Grey-brown wash; Pencil
Laid paper
Second support: Laid paper
Height: 257 mm; Width: 206 mm; Alto segundo soporte: 272 mm; Ancho segundo soporte: 217 mm
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Brauer, Heinrich, Die Zeichnungen des Gianlorenzo Bernini. Textband, Collectors Editions, Nueva York, 1931, pp. 45 y ss. / lám. 20 y 21.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., The Collection of Drawings in the Prado Museum, Apollo, 1970, pp. 385 / lám. 4.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., I Grandi Disegni Italiani Nelle Collezioni Di Madrid, Silvana Editoriale D'Arte, Milán, 1978, pp. nº 42.

Mena Marqués, Manuela, Catalogo de Dibujos.Vol.VI. Dibujos Italianos del Siglo XVII, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1983, pp. 90; Fig. 138..

Pérez Sánchez, A.E, 'El tiempo desvelando la verdad' En., Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid, 1999, pp. 45,107 n.54.

Rodriguez, Delfín, 'Gian Lorenzo Bernini. La Verdad desvelada por El Tiempo' En:, Bernini: Roma y la Monarquía Hispánica, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2014, pp. 104-105 n.13.

Rodríguez, Delfín, 'Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Roma y la monarquía Hispánica' En:, Bernini: Roma y la Monarquía Hispánica, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2014, pp. 13-43 [25].

Farina, V, Giovanni Battista Gaulli (Baciccia) 'Temperance, Hope, Wisdom and Chstity' En:, Italian masterpieces from Spain's royal court, Museo del Prado, National Gallery of Victoria Thames & Hudson, 2014, pp. 178.

Morello, G, Bernini disegnatore: nuove prospettive di ricerca, Campisano editore,, 2017, pp. 101.

Martini, E, 'Giovanni Battista Gaulli, detto il Baciccia. La veritá svelata del tempo' En:, Tempo Barocco, Officina libraria,, 2021, pp. 72 nº. I.3.

Filigree +

Motive: Filigrana

Other inventories +

Inv. General, Sección 3ª. Dibujos, grabados, acuarelas y miniaturas, 1879. Núm. 22.
22. Asunto mitológico. El Tiempo descubre la Verdad. A. Bernino- alto- 0,27 por 0,22. marco negro y cristal-

Inv. Dibujos, Fondo Antiguo. Núm. 672.

Inscriptions +

C. BERNINO. [Firma apócrifa, sobre el soporte secundario].
Inscribed in pen and ink. Front, lower central area

Nº 10 [grafía del siglo XIX]
Inscribed. Front, lower right corner

Exhibitions +

Il Tempo del Barocco
13.05.2021 - 03.10.2021

Las Ánimas de Bernini. Arte en Roma para la corte española
06.11.2014 - 08.02.2015

Italian Masterpieces from Spain's Royal Court. Museo Nacional del Prado
16.05.2014 - 31.08.2014

El dibujo europeo en tiempos de Valazquez. A propósito del Cardenal Borja en la Academia de San Fernanado
20.12.1999 - 30.01.2000

Update date: 14-12-2021 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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