Beauty of Bernini

While standing in the Borghese Gallery, one cannot help but be awestruck at all the Bernini sculptures and each sculpture’s unique beauty. Even after studying Bernini for an entire semester or even living in a palace and town almost completely designed by him, one really does not really understand all the talent that Bernini had to offer. It is not until standing in front of “Ratto di Proserpina” where each detail of the marble really shows Bernini’s great skill and attention to detail that I really appreciated Bernini.

The “Ratto di Proserpina” or Rape of Proserpina was such a unique sculpture due to Bernini’s attention to detail and use of soft marble. Using soft marble, Bernini was able to capture Pluto leaving impressions upon Proserpina’s skin. Interestingly enough while the English translation of the sculpture’s name means Rape of Proserpina, it actually means kidnapping. While Proserpina did not go with Pluto willingly she did have to reside there for six months out of the year for the rest of her life and rule as Queen of the Underworld. This myth is how ancient Greeks explained the changing of the seasons because during the winter she is in the Underworld and her mother mourns her loss by creating fall and winter. She then celebrates her return in spring with blossoms and the renewal of life.

After “Ratto di Proserpina” the Borghese Gallery contains many other of Bernini’s most famous sculptures including his “David” and “Apollo e Dafne” which are equally impressive. While my personal favorite sculpture was “Ratto di Proserpina”, from the details in David’s slingshot to his armpit hair, one cannot deny the great attention to detail that Bernini put into each sculpture. While I did not get the emotion from “Apollo e Dafne” that I did from “Ratto di Proserpina”, the former is in many ways more impressive. Only made from one piece of marble, there is still much open space within the sculpture and the leaves that were once Dafne’s fingers and hands are so tiny, one can only imagine the hours Bernini spent on each piece of this masterpiece.

Bernini was an amazing artist, sculptor, and architect and studying him in detail this week gave me more of an appreciation for him than I had before.

Jennifer Jolly

A picture of one of Bernini's greatest works, "Ratto di Proserpina"

A picture of one of Bernini’s greatest works, “Ratto di Proserpina”