Thursday, 14 November 2013

Baroque Sculpture

A leading figure in Baroque sculpture was the incredibly religious Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), in fact he is said to have created Baroque sculpture itself. He was patronised by Cardinal Borghese and Pope Urban VIII.

Apollo and Daphne, 1622-5
This shows Daphne turning herself into a Laurel Tree to escape Apollo's failing advances. If you look closely the intricateness of the fingers is impressive and I imagine you'd have to be quite good at sculpting to do that. Baroque in the other arts is defined by drama and movement, which I'd say can definitely be applied to this, not only is Daphne IN transition to her end state as a tree, the pair seem to be running with Apollo's drapery following behind.

The David, 1623.
Just as the height of Classical sculpture in Ancient Greece was succeded by Hellinistic sculpture, Renaissance sculpture followed a similar pattern. In fact, this resembles Myron's Discobolus which was a precendent to the Hellinistic era. There are a lot of similarities to be drawn from the two and this is one of them.

The Ecstacy of St. Teresa, 1647-52.
This was done at the height of the Baroque era and the increase in sophistication is clear. The mastery in the drapery makes us believe she really is flying about mid-air. Bernini took the Pope to see this, and according to my lecturer he implied that he'd seen many an expression like Teresa's in his time!!!

Baldacchino (altar canopy), 1624
This is St. Peter's in Rome. Bernini sculpted it in order to mediate between the tiny little altar and the massive dome that was above it. It is very ornate in the sense that it's got lots of lovely little patterns on it and solomic columns which are elements seldom found in the Renaissance. 

Tomb of Urban VIII, 1628-37.
The Pope is sat atop his tomb pointing in command as an attribute to the Commander Pope. Bernini has sculpted female allegorical figures as was standard for tombs (think Michelangelo's New Sacristy). There is also a skelenton sat atop the sarcophagus (I've made the picture massive for you to see hopefully). A skull was common practice as a mememto mori but in true dramatised Baroque style Bernini sculpture an entire skelenton. She is turned away inscribing the pope's name into the bronze tablet that looks as if it's falling down; and the intention here was to liken the tablet to the book of death, whereby Death himself records the names of the dead. Where the tablet, or better said 'page' is falling down or otherwise turning, the name 'Gregory' is visible - a reference to the pope's predecessor. This is a indication that death has claimed before, and will claim again. The tomb is made out of marble and bronze and represents the 'multimedia effect' that Baroque sculpture bore.

Tomb of Alexander VII, 1671-78.
Bernini's other tomb sculpture. Bernini's rather morbid touch is more easily visible here with the skelenton almost portruding from atop the tomb. In this instance Bernini's skelenton not only represents the death of the pope, but it also commemorates all those of whom died of the plague during his pontificate.  The tomb is painterly without Bernini actually having painted it! Another example of the 'polychrome, multimedia effect'.

Catedra Petri, 1657-66.
This is supposedly St Peter's actual chair (incorporated into Bernini's work obviously). It is very invasive to the viewers space and bares all the qualities of Baroque: movement, decoration, drama. Again, the piece is colourful without actually having been painted. Bernini used sunbursts, stained glass, stucco, bronze and a handful of other mediums.

Cardinal Borghese, 1632.
Because the sculptors of the Renaissance wanted to sculpt in the likeness of the classical sculptors of ancient Greece and Rome, they copied them religiously in that they left eyes blank (they didn't realise they'd have been painted but had since faded and thus not blank but anyway...). Now, moving on, sculptures have eyes! 

Louis XIV, 1665. 
Thirty years later and Bernini's busts have followed suit. Flowing hair, dramatic pose and an unconventional use of drapery as the contour. In my opinion it gives off the sense that the sculpture is infinite.

Of course, Bernini was the most extreme example of Baroque sculpture: the likes of Algardi was actually sometimes preferred because they were more identifiable to Classicism:

No comments:

Post a Comment