Berlusconi tampers with Truth

In other fascinating, hilarious yet somewhat disturbing news: minions attached to Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi have taken the initiative to cover up the nipple of a nude figure (‘Truth’) in a reproduction of a Tiepolo painting which hangs behind the minister during press conferences, as reported in the Guardian:

Slap in the middle of the painting is a neat, round female breast. During press conferences, as a commentator writing for the daily La Stampa noted, the breast floats above the prime minister’s head “like a halo”. This, it was felt, was too much for the sensibilities of a nation that – long before Berlusconi came along – had been feasting its eyes on half-naked Magdalenes and Minervas, not to mention the blatantly erotic statuary of Antonio Canova. Tiepolo’s breast, with attendant nipple, had to go.

Photos taken of the most recent press conference at Palazzo Chigi show the central figure has been retouched. An extra fold of clothing has appeared that covers the offending breast.

Berlusconi’s chief spin doctor, the junior minister Paolo Bonaiuti, told Corriere della Sera it was “an initiative of those on the staff of the prime minister who take care of Berlusconi’s image”. He went on: “That breast [and] that nipple ended up right in the shots the news bulletins used [for coverage of] the press conferences.”

He added that the prime minister’s image advisers feared that such a sight might offend the sensibilities of some television viewers.


Photos published yesterday showed the painting untouched in May. It appears therefore to have been covered at around the time the prime minister was becoming entangled in a succession of controversies involving women friends and associates.


The Tiepolo controversy carries an added layer of interest because the lady who has been tampered with in the allegoric work is Truth. And her semi-nudity is central to the meaning of the work, entitled Time Unveiling Truth, painted around 1743.

In a very literal sense, it is about the “naked truth”. Floating on a cloud in one of Tiepolo’s hallmark, duck-egg blue skies, Truth cosies up to an elderly, bearded Time who has just apparently stripped her to the waist. In one hand, Truth holds a mirror that reflects her semi-nudity to a figure representing Lies. Unable to cope with the sight, he covers his eyes.

Opposition politicians can be expected to note that, now Truth has a new top fitted by Berlusconi’s image consultant, Lies should feel altogether more at ease in the office of Italy’s prime minister.