rape of proserpina

Rape of proserpina
As with many of Bernini’s early works, it was commissioned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, possibly alongside a portrait of Scipione’s uncle Pope Paul V (who had died in 1621). Bernini received at least three payments for the statue, of value of at least 450 Roman scudi. The sculpture was begun in 1621 and completed in 1622. Quite soon after its completion, the statue was given by Scipione to Cardinal Ludovisi in 1622, who transported it to his villa. Purchased by the Italian State, it returned to the Villa Borghese in 1908. [3]
Others have remarked on the twisted contrapposto or figura serpentinata pose of the group. While reminiscent of Mannerism, particularly Giambologna’s The Rape of the Sabine Women, Bernini permits the viewer to absorb the scene from one single viewpoint. While other views provide further details, a spectator can see the desperation of Proserpina and the lumbering attempts of Pluto to grab her. This was in contrast to the Mannerist sculpture of Giambologna, which required the spectator to walk around the sculpture to gain a view of each of character’s expression. [10] [11]

Rape of proserpina
This list is by no means exhaustive, but seeks to highlight some prominent examples of the myth in Western paintings.
Created between 1636 – 1637, Peter Paul Rubens depicted the abduction of Persephone in a piece entitled The Rape of Proserpine. The piece was intended to decorate the lost Torre de la Parada, and as such was owned by the Spanish Royal family. [1]

The work portrays the abduction of Proserpina by Pluto, the god of the underworld.
Present in both Claudian (De raptu Proserpine) and Ovid (Metamorphoses, V, 385-424), the myth tells of the abduction of the maiden on the shores of Lake Pergusa, in the vicinity of Enna. Crazed by sorrow, her mother, the harvest goddess Ceres, caused a drought that forced Jupiter to intercede with Pluto to allow Prosperpina to return to her for six months a year. Bernini represents the culminating moment of the action. The proud and insensitive god is dragging Proserpina into Hades, his muscles so taut in the effort to hold the writhing body that Pluto’s hands sink into her flesh.
Bernini Gian Lorenzo

Rape of proserpina
However, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when Bernini’s reputation was at a low ebb, critics found fault with the statue. The eighteenth-century French visitor Jerome de la Lande allegedly wrote: “Pluto’s back is broken; his figure extravagant, without character, nobleness of expression, and its outline bad; the female one no better”. [8] Another French visitor to the Villa Ludovisi was equally critical, stating: “The head of Pluto is vulgarly gay; his crown and beard give him a ridiculous air, while the muscles are strongly marked and the figure poses. It is not a true divinity, but a decorative god. ” [9]
The Rape of Proserpina (Italian: Ratto di Proserpina) is a large Baroque marble sculptural group by Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, executed between 1621 and 1622. Bernini was only 23 years old at its completion. It depicts the Abduction of Proserpina, who is seized and taken to the underworld by the god Pluto. [1] [2]

Rape of proserpina
However, “once she realized that Pluto had abducted Proserpine,” the Getty explains, “she became angry and caused the earth to dry up, and the harvests to fail. Jupiter saw from the heavens that the earth was barren and dead. He decided to intervene, and eventually a deal was made: Proserpine would spend half of the year with her mother and half of the year in the underworld with Pluto.”
This story revolves around the abduction of Proserpina, the daughter of Jupiter (Zeus in Greek mythology) and Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture. While picking flowers, Proserpina was attacked by an enamored Pluto, the god of the dead, who burst from the earth in a chariot pulled by four black horses. While Ceres heard her daughter scream while being dragged into the underworld, she was unfortunately too late.

References:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_of_Persephone
http://galleriaborghese.beniculturali.it/en/opere/rape-of-proserpina/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rape_of_Proserpina
http://mymodernmet.com/bernini-the-rape-of-proserpina/
http://mymodernmet.com/bernini-the-rape-of-proserpina/

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