Tomb of Countess Matilda of Tuscany Gian Lorenzo Bernini Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The tomb of Countess Matilda of Tuscany is a large monument designed to honour a catholic influential woman known as Matilda. Matilda was a powerful ruler and supporter during the Catholic’s Church inauguration.

After her death, Matilda was buried in Mantua. To honour her memory and her hard accomplished work, Pope Urban VIII entrusted a renowned Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini to make a sculpture of her tomb at Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. The remains of Matilda were later transferred to her tomb.

The renowned artist took upon himself to make the sculpture to perfectionist. He used clay to make her exact image. The final figure looked more like Matilda’s image. It had a final touch to it as if it was a presentation piece. However, at the back of the sculpture, one can see the unfinished work. Well, these are the tool marks he was using while moulding the fine sculpture. Due to his religious nature, the renowned artist used a religious theme to come up with the sculpture. He used all his emotions to mould the sculpture to express his feelings. His baroque style of moulding the sculpture was exceptional. On the front part of the sculpture near the base, Gian Lorenzo inscribed the words COUNTESSA MATILDA. The sculpture work was successfully completed in 1644 ten years after Pope Urban VIII gave a go ahead.

Gian Lorenzo paid a lot of attention when it came to the texture of the sculpture. He ensured that the audience saw a real image of Matilda. With each fold of cloth and curl of a hair, he moulded the sculpture well. One would think Matilda posed for the sculpture work while alive. Gian had a creative and talented way of bringing artistic work into life.

Gian Lorenzo's work on this particular sculpture inspired many artists. They tried to imitate his fine work. However, their own versions were not as exceptional as his. The artist's work inspired many artists during his time as well as in later years including Alessandro Algardi, Giulio Romano among other artists. Many of the sculptural imitations of the Matilda statuette resemble the baroque style Gian Lorenzo used. While this tradition has changed over the years, the work is still admired by many. Nowadays artists use paints to imitate his other work for any client who wants to purchase similar work. Artists such as Ruddolf Wittkower and Hermann Brauer among others were some of the artists who followed in Gian Lorenzo’s footsteps in later centuries. The renowned artist had many followers until this day. He was a great man.

The tomb sculpture is still in St Peter's Basilica in Rome. It reminds many people of her bravery. The Catholic Church owes her of her support as she was able to unite many people into accepting the Catholic rules. What’s more, Matilda is the only woman who was given the privilege to rest in peace in Saint Peter's Basilica. Her tomb is a reminder of her sacrifice and beliefs. She will live to be celebrated by many people, especially the Catholic Church.