Gian Lorenzo Bernini “Santa Bibiana” (1624) / movers    In February 2018, this marble sculpture was damaged when workers accidentally snapped off the ring finger of the figure’s right hand. The work had been lent to Rome’s Galleria Borghese for an exhibition running through February 20; in the process of returning the sculpture in the Church of Santa Bibiana, the digit was broken off. The reinstalled but damaged work remained on view until April, when visitors noticed the injury and reported it to officials. The missing finger was then reattached.  The incident reinforced an ongoing debate in the Italian art world on whether works, particularly old or rare pieces, should be lent for exhibitions at all, given the risks. “We know that moving works of art is always a huge stress for them,” said Professor Giovan Battista Fidanza. When a work of art is damaged, even if later repaired, “the integrity of the work is lost forever,” he said. The broken finger “is a wound to the Baroque era.”

Gian Lorenzo Bernini “Santa Bibiana” (1624) / movers

In February 2018, this marble sculpture was damaged when workers accidentally snapped off the ring finger of the figure’s right hand. The work had been lent to Rome’s Galleria Borghese for an exhibition running through February 20; in the process of returning the sculpture in the Church of Santa Bibiana, the digit was broken off. The reinstalled but damaged work remained on view until April, when visitors noticed the injury and reported it to officials. The missing finger was then reattached.

The incident reinforced an ongoing debate in the Italian art world on whether works, particularly old or rare pieces, should be lent for exhibitions at all, given the risks. “We know that moving works of art is always a huge stress for them,” said Professor Giovan Battista Fidanza. When a work of art is damaged, even if later repaired, “the integrity of the work is lost forever,” he said. The broken finger “is a wound to the Baroque era.”

Christopher Schreck