The Rape of Proserpina – The Dramatic Sculptural Works of Bernini

by Cristian I

The controversial

Artists in Italy began to embrace elaborate styles of art and sculpture by the beginning of the 17th century.

It is a transition that would eventually become known as the Baroque movement.

The pieces that got created during this time were often ornate, over-the-top, and highly controversial with the subject matter being displayed.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini is often remembered for the work he did with the design of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The one-piece that critics try to forget is his culture entitled The Rape of Proserpina.

Crafted in marble, the sculpture illustrates many of the strongest skills that Bernini brought to the Baroque movement.

His mastery of human anatomy combines well with a talent to evoke drama and dynamism.

The work itself draws high praise because of the skill it displays, but it covers unsavory material that cast shadows over the decision to create it.

The Story
The Story © wjarek/Shutterstock

It Took Bernini About 12 Months to Complete the Sculpture

Bernini was only 23 years old when he completed The Rape of Proserpina.

It would come 40 years before the completion of what is considered his architectural masterpiece.

The sculpture is over seven feet tall, and it is carved from Carrara marble.

The material came from Tuscany. It is the same kind of stone that the ancient Roman builders and sculptors used to create their roads and works of art.

The material is somewhat softer while the consistency of the marble remains high, making it well-suited for carving.

His statue works to portray an abduction – or a kidnapping instead of a sexual assault.

The hand of Pluto grabs the thigh of Proserpina, with his fingers sinking into the skin to give the piece a realistic flavor.

As with most of Bernini’s early works, The Rape of Proserpina was commissioned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese.

Although the name of the piece seems problematic, it is essential for us to remember the context of the work.

The subject matter is classical, telling a story between two mythical figures that help to explain a time of drought in the ancient world.

We can undoubtedly appreciate Bernini’s artistry, even if the tone of the piece doesn’t seem appropriate in the eyes of some for modern society.

Bernini The Rape of Proserpina
Bernini The Rape of Proserpina © wjarek/Shutterstock
Bernini The Rape of Proserpina 2
Bernini The Rape of Proserpina 2 © irisphoto1/Shutterstock
Bernini The Rape of Proserpina 3
Bernini The Rape of Proserpina 3 © Wikimedia Commons
Pluto and Proserpina
Pluto and Proserpina © Wikimedia Commons



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