The Humor in Art: A Bernini Bust Tale

A Mischievous Anecdote from the Basilica of San Sebastiano
Busto del Salvatore di Gian Lorenzo Bernini in San Sebastiano fuori le mura
Busto del Salvatore di Gian Lorenzo Bernini in San Sebastiano fuori le mura

My anecdote, which I hope will bring a smile to your face, is inspired by Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s “Salvator Mundi” bust, located in the Basilica of San Sebastiano outside the walls in Rome. This sculpture, one of the last works of the Baroque master, embodies the culmination of Bernini’s art, a work of extraordinary beauty and depth.

Several years ago, I found myself waiting to explore the catacombs of San Sebastiano with my sister, inside the basilica. Here, while a guide was taking a group of visitors in front of the “Salvator Mundi,” she asked them to guess the author of the piece. No one seemed to know the answer, so the guide, with evident pride, revealed that it was a work by Bernini.

Basilica Maggiore di San Sebastiano Fuori dalle Mura - Roma
Basilica Maggiore di San Sebastiano Fuori dalle Mura - Roma

After this brief interlude, our guided tour began. It was an intimate tour, just my sister and me, which allowed us to receive detailed explanations and spend ample time in the catacombs. Once back in the basilica, the guide took us in front of the famous Bernini bust and, repeating the same ritual, asked us if we recognized the author.

With a touch of mischief, remembering the lesson I had overheard earlier, I puffed up with importance and declared that it must be a mature work of the great Bernini. The guide, surprised and admiring, asked me if I was an art expert. I was about to proudly confirm my supposed artistic competence when my sister, with a joking and irreverent tone, revealed that I had heard the answer from the same guide just before.

The guide’s admiration for my artistic knowledge immediately dissolved, as did my pride. At that moment, I felt a bit like a deflating hot air balloon – a humbling yet amusing experience, demonstrating how sisters can be the best allies in the art of disillusionment!

By Marco Mattiuzzi

A multifaceted artist, former teacher and communicator, he has dedicated years to art and communication. He taught classical guitar, exhibited photos and wrote in magazines. In the book sector, he promoted photography and art through HF Distribuzione, a company specialized in mail-order sales. He currently owns CYBERSPAZIO WEB & STREAMING HOSTING. In 2018, he created the Facebook group "Art Pills" with over 65,000 members and manages CYBERSPAZIO WEB RADIO dedicated to classical music. He collaborates with several cultural organizations in Vercelli, including Amici dei Musei and Artes Liberales.
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