the rape of proserpina by bernini

The rape of proserpina by bernini
This interest in transforming stone into skin is particularly evident in The Rape of Proserpina, a piece intended to portray a dramatic abduction (in the case of its title, the term “rape” refers to the act of kidnapping). “Pushed to the point of grazing the physical limits of marble,” Bernini’s attention to detail and interest in realism is evident in the work’s anatomical details. As the hand of Pluto (the sculpture’s male subject) grabs the thigh of Proserpina (the female figure), his grasping fingers appear to sink into her seemingly soft skin. Similarly, straining to overpower her, the muscles in his bent legs and tense arms protrude, while her flowing hair and twisting drapery suggest movement.
Alessandro Allori, “The Abduction of Proserpine,” 1570 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons Public Domain)

The rape of proserpina by bernini
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]
Most critics have been quick to praise the work. Rudolf Wittkower noted: “representations of such rape scenes depended on Bernini’s new, dynamic conception for the next hundred and fifty years”. [4] Howard Hibbard makes similar comments noting the realistic effects that Bernini had achieved via carving hard marble, such as the “texture of the skin, the flying ropes of hair, the tears of Persephone and above all the yielding flesh of the girl”. [5] The choice of incident to depict the story is commonly cited as well: Pluto’s hands encircle the waist of Proserpina just as she throws her arms out in an attempt to escape. [6] Bernini’s own son and biographer, Domenico, called it “an amazing contrast of tenderness and cruelty”. [7]

The rape of proserpina by bernini
The intricate, lifelike details with which Bernini imbued the sculpture further this story and give it an emotional depth that connects with the viewer. The way Proserpina’s hand presses into and distorts Pluto’s face, and the impression that Pluto’s hand makes in Proserpina’s leg, serve to tell the story. These details inform us of the unwanted advances, as well as the sexual nature of the scene. The fact that the bodies are partially clothed, their genitalia hidden, only adds to the sensuality of this moment. The story is told through a corporeal representation that reaches to the core passions of every human being. The emphasis on the visceral is a common expository technique in Baroque sculpture. 7
This sculpture was commissioned by Cardinal Borghese of the Catholic Church and is still located in the Galleria Borghese—the room for which it was commissioned—in Rome, Italy. It depicts the Roman mythological story of the abduction and subsequent rape of Proserpina by the god, Pluto.

The rape of proserpina by bernini
Most critics have been quick to praise the work. Rudolf Wittkower noted: “representations of such rape scenes depended on Bernini’s new, dynamic conception for the next hundred and fifty years”. [4] Howard Hibbard makes similar comments noting the realistic effects that Bernini had achieved via carving hard marble, such as the “texture of the skin, the flying ropes of hair, the tears of Persephone and above all the yielding flesh of the girl”. [5] The choice of incident to depict the story is commonly cited as well: Pluto’s hands encircle the waist of Proserpina just as she throws her arms out in an attempt to escape. [6] Bernini’s own son and biographer, Domenico, called it “an amazing contrast of tenderness and cruelty”. [7]
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]

The rape of proserpina by bernini
In Greek mythology, Persephone (also known as Proserpina) was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter (goddess of agriculture) and was queen of the Underworld. One day while the young maiden was picking flowers, Hades, god of the underworld, kidnapped Persephone and carried her back to the underworld to be his wife.
Movement:
Not only are the figures portrayed in the midst of frenzied movement, but the viewer himself is encouraged to move 360 degrees around the sculpture in order to take it all in.

References:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rape_of_Proserpina
http://blogs.cuit.columbia.edu/deb2170/the-rape-of-prosperina/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rape_of_Proserpina
http://www.artble.com/artists/gian_lorenzo_bernini/sculpture/the_rape_of_persephone
http://mymodernmet.com/bernini-the-rape-of-proserpina/

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