Ponte Sant'Angelo Statues
Public Art : Ponte Sant'Angelo (also known as
Sculptors : © Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Antonio Raggi,
Lazzaro Morelli, Pietro Paolo Naldini, Cosimo Fancelli, Girolamo Lucenti, Ercole Ferrata,
Giulio Cartari, Antonio Giorgetti and Domenico Guidi.
Description : 10 marble statues of Angels each
holding instruments of the Passion, lining the 18m stone arch bridge. The masterful Bernini, who was always
conscious of how his statues would be seen from different angles, identified three distinct views his angels
would best be admired at from the bridge. The view directly in front and the two 45 degree angles as people
walked across it in both directions. So meticulous was Bernini he created full scale clay models of each statue so
he could visualize exactly how each would look before the chisel finally hit the marble. He used the
wings and slight twists in the angel's bodies to create subtle changes to the statues when
viewed from different positions. Slightly more detail was given to the Rome facing side of the statues as this was
the first view for the pilgrims. The Rome Lover website
has a great series of photographs showing the three different angles.
Sadly it seems some of Bernini's students, who were given the task of completing Bernini's
vision, didn't have the same shared passion for the work and were criticised for lacking
Location : The Ponte Sant'Angelo is located on the
right bank of the Tiber River next to the Castel SantAngelo, Rome, Italy.
Date Unveiled : The first statue was erected on the
bridge in September 1669 and the last one to be erected was in November 1671.
Background to Angel Bridge : One of the final
projects of sculptor Bernini was to create eight marble statues for the Ponte Santa'Angelo. In the end he would
design 10 but he would only complete two himself. Students of Bernini were chosen to carve the rest of angels taken
from his sketches and clay models. Each angel was to hold an instrument of the Passion of Christ.
The actual bridge, Ponte Sant'Angelo, was built in 134AD by Roman Emperor Hadrian (who also rebuilt the Pantheon) for pilgrims to access his newly built mausoleum
(Pons Aelius) now the Castel Sant'Angelo. For a time it was also called the "bridge of Saint Peter"
because it leads to St Peter's. The name was later changed by Pope Gregory to Sant'Angelo when it was rumored an
angel appeared on the roof of the castle to announce the end of the plague.
The statues of St Peter and St Paul were erected by Pope Clement VII in 1534 and in 1536 the bridge
was adorned with 8 statues including Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses by Pope Paul III for the visit to Rome by
Emperor Charles V.
In 1669 Pope Clement IX commissioned the aging sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini to create 10 angels
for the bridge. Bernini managed to create two, Angel with the Superscription and Angel With Crown of Thorns, before
handing the work over to his students. The Pope later requested that Berini's original statues be housed at the
church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte and copies made to replace them on the bridge.
Angel Bridge Trivia :
Gian Lorenzo Bernini was 70 when in 1669 he was handed the commission to create 10 statues for
the bridge to replace the aging stucco angels by Raffaello da Montelupo.
In 1450, during the jubilee, a large crowd gathered on the bridge causing the balustrades to
collapse sending people into the Tiber resulting in many deaths.
During and following the 16th century the bridge was a popular place to hang the bodies of people
who had been executed.
The three central piers of the stone bridge are original.
Angel # 1: Angel with the Column (Throne)
Sculptor : © Antonio Raggi (1624–1686)
Inscription : "Tronus meus in columna"
Angel #2 : Angel with the Whips
Sculptor : © Lazzaro Morelli (30th of October, 1608 –
Inscription : "In flagella paratus sum"
Angel # 3 : Angel with the Crown of
Sculptor : © Pietro Paolo Naldini (1619–1691)
Inscription : "In aerumna mea dum configitur
Trivia : This is actually a copy of the angel
that Bernini and son Paolo sculpted. Cardinal Giacomo Rospigliosi, nephew of Pope Clement IX, loved Bernini's
statues so much he want them for the Cathedral of Pistoia in Tuscany, his hometown. It never eventuated, instead
both this and Angel of Superscription were later relocated to inside the church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte in
Angel #4 : Angel with the Sudarium (Veronica’s Veil)
Sculptor : © Cosimo Fancelli (c. 1620-1688)
Inscription : "Respice faciem Christi tui"
Trivia : Cosimo Fancelli was the brother of the
sculptor Giacomo Antonio Fancelli and was rumored to have helped sculpt the figure of the Nile in the Fountain of the Four Rivers at Piazza Navona.
Angel #5 : Angel with the Garment and Dice
Sculptor : © Paolo Naldini (1619–1691)
Inscription : "super vestimentum meum miserunt
Angel # 6 : Angel with the Nail
Sculptor : © Girolamo Lucenti (1627–1692)
Inscription : "Aspicient ad me quem confixerunt"
Trivia : Lucenti started his career by working with
Alessandro Algardi, Bernini's great rival.
Angel # 7 : Angel with the Cross
Sculptor: © Ercole Ferrata (1610-1686)
Inscription: "Cuius principatus super humerum
Angel #8 : Angel with the Superscription
Sculptor : © Giulio Cartari
Inscription : "Regnavit a ligno deus"
Trivia : This is a copy, the original sculpture
by Bernini now resides at Sant'Andrea della Fratte, Rome. Pope Clement IX was so impressed with Bernini's work he
demanded the statue be kept indoors.
Angel # 9: Angel with the Sponge (with vinegar)
Sculptor : © Antonio Giorgetti (?-1670)
Inscription : "Potaverunt me aceto"
Trivia : Antonio died before completing his
Angel and it is believed his brother Guiseppe completed it.
Angel # 10 : Angel with the Lance
Sculptor : © Domenico Guidi (1625 – March 28th,
Inscription : "Vulnerasti cor meum"