This is the only surviving sculptural sketch for the Chair of Saint Peter, the focal point of the apse of Saint Peter’s basilica in Rome. Bernini designed a magnificent gilded bronze throne as a shrine to encase the most venerated relic in the Vatican, the chair from which, by tradition, Saint Peter himself had preached. The reliefs on this model refer to the most significant moments in the life of Saint Peter: on the back is Jesus’s charge to Peter, “Feed my Sheep”; on the left side, the giving of the keys to Peter; on the right, the washing of the disciples’ feet; and, below the seat, the miraculous draft of fishes. In April 1658 Bernini brought this terracotta model to his patron, Pope Alexander VII. The project represents the crowning achievement of Bernini’s career.
Artist Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, Italian, 1598-1680
Title
  • Chair of St. Peter
Date 1658
Medium Terracotta
Dimensions Overall: 23 × 11 1/2 × 11 inches (58.4 × 29.2 × 27.9 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Ralph Harman Booth Bequest Fund
Accession Number 52.220
Department European Sculpture and Dec Arts
On View European: Medieval and Renaissance W220, Level 2 (see map)
by 1658, Pope Alexander VII.
Don Flavio Chigi;
Cardinal Conte Matteri;
Conte Matteri di Pergola;
C.A. de Frey (Lucerne, Switzerland);
Dr. Paul Drey (New York, New York, USA);
1952-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
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Comstock, H. "Sketches by Bernini." Connoisseur 131 (1953): p. 137.

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Family Art Game. DIA Advertising Supplement, Detroit News. April 14, 1985, p. 4 (ill.).

100 Masterworks from the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1985, p. 142- 143 (ill.).

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Bonn, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland "Barock im Vatikan: Kunst und Kultur im Rom der Päpste II 1572-1676." 2005-06, p. 163, cat. no. 81 [exh. org. by A. Nesselrath et al; not in the exhibition]

Baroque1620-1800: Style in the Age of Magnificence. Victoria & Albert Museum. London, 2009, cat. 84, pp. 236, 341 (repro.). (fig. 4.42). [exh. org. by M. Snodin and N. Llewellyn]

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