Discover Bernini's controversial sculpture
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Discover Bernini’s controversial sculpture

In the 17th century, the movement Baroque blooming in Italy. This is an adjoining art movement Italian Renaissance, directed to the groomed beauty, sophistication, and splendor. Baroque style featured with “Exaggerated light, intense emotion, freedom from restraint, and even a kind of artistic sensitism”. Barack covers many types of art but thrives in painting, sculpture, and architecture with a prominent face as sculptor and architect. Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Next to the sculpture statue St. Peter’s Basilica Bernini (one of Italy’s most important sculptures), Bernini also left posterity another outstanding sculpture. The Rape of Proserpina.


Stock Photos from wjarek / Shutterstock

Born in the early 17th century, The Rape of Proserpina has shown some of Bernini’s strengths, including the ability to sketch extremely precise body proportions, fluid body movements, and drama. Besides these details, the statue also attracts attention because the topic is quite controversial. However, The Rape of Proserpina is still recognized and rated as one of the best sculptures of the Baroque period in particular and of marble sculpture in general.

The Rape of Proserpina

Bernini finish The Rape of Prosperina circa 1621-1622. At the age of 23, Bernini has achieved certain success. In spite of that, his best work – St. Peter’s Basilica still not born, Bernini has built a certain reputation through four highly-regarded works including: David; Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius; Apollo and Daphne; and, of course, not to mention The Rape of Proserpina.

Nearly 2.29 meters high, the statue is carved from Carrara marble, originally from Tuscany, Central Italy, and historically, often used in construction by the ancient Romans, or closer to the art sculptor of the school Style and Renaissance. Carrara stone is quite soft, convenient for artists in the process of sculpture and Bernini is always proud of chanting, personalizing, and blowing souls into the inanimate rock.


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The Rape of Prosperina is a dramatic abduction story (in this school, words “rape” in English meaning “kidnap”). An artist pursuing a realistic style, Bernini elaborates to every detail. A prime example lies in the details of his hands Pluto (male protagonist) grabbed onto hip’s Proserpina (the heroine), Pluto’s fingers were etched into the skin of Proserpina. Similarly, Pluto is portrayed in a state of bracing himself to tame Proserpina through images of bulging muscles and loose hair, and a twisted skirt.

Similar to Bernini’s early works, The Rape of Proserpina ordered by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, An art collector, a patron of both Bernini and colleagues Caravaggio. After the Renaissance, many people still had an interest in classical artwork with the theme of ancient Roman or Greek mythological figures.


Image: Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

The story of Pluto and Proserpina

The Rape of Proserpina depicts a scene from the myth of Pluto and Proserpina (also known as Proserpine). This mythical story appears in the poem Metamorphoses of the Roman poet Ovid (1st century CE), and book De raptu Proserpinae was written 400 years later by a Latin writer Claudian.


Alessandro Allori, “The Abduction of Proserpine,” 1570 (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

The story revolves around the main character is Proserpina, the daughter of the god Jupiter (God of Zeus in Greek mythology) and Ceres (goddess of agriculture). While wandering around the flower garden, Proserpina was attacked by the god of death Pluto. Upon hearing his daughter’s screams when dragged to earth, Ceres rushed to the rescue but was unable to.

However, “upon learning that the girl was abducted by Pluto”, Getty explain, “She was extremely indignant and caused drought for the world, making crops impossible to harvest.” Witnessing barren and deadly scenes on earth, Jupiter made an agreement with Pluto, and eventually an agreement was made, Proserpine would be spent half a year with his mother and half a year with Pluto under the ceiling. space.

The Rape of Proserpina today

Picking up a sensitive topic, it’s not too surprising The Rape of Proserpina causing a lot of controversy over the centuries. As soon as the statue was completed, Bernini received many compliments and praise, The work is rated as “the perfect opposition between good and evil”However, in view of the current context, this statue faces a lot of controversy.


Stock Photos from wjarek / Shutterstock

Recently, Thomas Campbell, director San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts There used to be praise for this work with words that were fascinating, engaging, and inspiring. However, he shared more, “Right now, I have to rethink a piece of work that I once considered to be extremely exemplary and just – because, in fact, the subject mentioned is not too strange in Baroque and Easter art. But, given the current context, when feminism and the Me Too movement are emerging, this is a rather sensitive topic. “

Today, the debate about sensitive works of art and even about literary and artistic objects attracted a lot of public attention. For the case of works The Rape of Proserpina, to be able to perceive its artistic beauty while retaining an objective view of the subject in question requires the viewer to put the work in two past and present contexts.

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