If I could post a photo of Bernini’s “Apollo and Daphne” sculpture, I would . . . alas, the Borghese Gallery prohibited photography so all I have is my memory of standing with my husband and two boys, just the four of us in the presence of that incredible statue, awed into hushed silence, absorbing the breathtaking beauty and detail of his artistry before other visitors entered the room.
In honor of Bernini’s remarkable talent, I offer a photo of St. Jerome instead. This masterful sculpture is housed in the Duomo of Siena, in the Chigi Chapel.
Bernini’s attention to detail left me standing in front of this piece for longer than I had intended — taking in the subtle ripples of muscles under the marble skin, which created a sense of suppleness, and the slightly-opened mouth, from which a pained sigh was certain to exit. As St. Jerome cradled the crucifix, the sculpture emoted in a remarkably lifelike manner.
While I give you St. Jerome in response to this week’s challenge, I will close the post with reference to an interesting article titled “Bernini’s Genius” that the Smithsonian magazine published in October 2008. The article reminds us of the many works that insure Bernini’s eternal artistic fame, such as the canopy over St. Peter’s tomb and the grand piazza outside of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican (both of which I featured in an earlier post). The words I leave you with hearken back to a different work of art, though, as mentioned in the opening of this post — the magic of Bernini’s masterpiece, “Apollo and Daphne”:
In his sculpture of the mythological Daphne, who was transformed into a laurel tree by her father to elude the unwanted attentions of Apollo, Bernini showed Daphne’s skin changing to bark, her toes elongating into root tendrils and her fingers sprouting leaves, just as the lustful Apollo, his prize in his grasp, begins to realize what is happening. The Apollo and Daphne is a jaw-dropping feat of virtuosity. “In my opinion, not even the ancients did anything to equal it,” Bacchi says. The roughness of the bark, the translucence of the leaves, the nymph’s flying tresses—all are carved with such exquisite specificity that, once again, it is easy to overlook the audacity of the concetto. The process of metamorphosis was a subject for painters, not something to show by chiseling and drilling hard stone. And yet, wasn’t metamorphosis a sculptor’s task? Carving a block of stone into a lifelike form could be seen as a supernatural—even divine—feat.
(Read the full article on Bernini: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/bernini-genius.html#ixzz2aCoWgAcV .)
Ciao! ~ Kat
This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. ”Masterpiece” was this week’s theme. Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.