Saturday, October 4, 2014

Bernini's Rape of Proserpina

In class on Thursday, we briefly discussed Hades/Pluto kidnapping Persephone/Proserpina. This drew to my mind a sculpture that we talked about in Latin class: Bernini's Rape of Proserpina. Here's a picture:

Notice the extreme level of detail in this piece. The indentations in Proserpina's thigh impress me the most (or maybe Cerberus does..). Bernini created the piece around 1620, so he obviously had a larger/more advanced tool set at his disposal than the Greeks did; however, Bernini still shows a very high level of mastery of sculpture. Even though the scene depicted is horrible, the characters are portrayed in an idealist manner (because gods = perfect skin always). Proserpina does show a great deal of emotion (she's getting stolen), showing influences of Hellenistic sculpture. Bernini's work makes me think of a synthesis on steroids of what we've studied thus far: he's got idealism, realism, animals, gods, the whole nine yards... all packed into one statue. The earlier free-standing statues of the Greeks and Romans primarily consisted on single figures (with the exception of Praxiteles's Hermes with Infant Apollo and some friezes). The statue that this reminds me of most is Boy Struggling with a Goose because of the presence of a person (albeit not a god), an animal (albeit not a three-headed dog), and a scene of action/conflict.

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