The Rape of Proserpina is a large Baroque marble sculptural group by Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, executed between 1621 and 1622. Bernini was only twenty-three years old at its completion. It depicts the Abduction of Proserpina, where Proserpina is seized and taken to the underworld by the god Pluto.PatronageAs with many of Bernini's early works, it was commissioned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, possibly alongside a portrait of Scipione's uncle Pope Paul V (who had died in 1621). Bernini received at least three payments for the statue, of value of at least 450 Roman scudi. The sculpture was begun in 1621 and completed in 1622. Quite soon after completion, the statue was given by Scipione to Cardinal Ludovisi in 1622, who transported it to his villa. Purchased by the Italian State, it returned to the Villa Borghese in 1908.Critical reactionMost critics have also been quick to praise the work. Rudolf Wittkower noted that "representations of such rape scenes depended on Bernini's new, dynamic conception for the next hundred and fifty years". Howard Hibbard makes similar comments noting the realistic effects that Bernini had achieved via the carving hard marble—such as the "texture of the skin, the flying ropes of hair, the tears of Persephone and above all the yielding flesh of the girl". The choice of incident to depict the story is commonly cited as well—Pluto's hands encircle the waist of Proserpina just as she throws her arms out in an attempt to escape. Bernini's own son and biographer, Domenico, called it "an amazing contrast of tenderness and cruelty". However, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when Bernini's reputation was at a low ebb, critics found fault with the statue. The eighteenth-century French visitor Jerome de la Lande allegedly wrote that "Pluto's back is broken; his figure extravagant, without character, nobleness of expression, and its outline bad; the female one no better". Another French visitor to the Villa Ludovisi was equally critical, stating, "The head of Pluto is vulgarly gay his crown and beard give him a ridiculous air, while the muscles are strongly marked and figures poses. It is not a true divinity, but a decorative god."For Il Ratto Di Proserpina and beyond, use our Rome trip planner to get the most from your Rome vacation.
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Masterpiece of Bernini, оne of the best Gothic sculptures, located in the Borghese Gallery. There are several more statues of Bernini there. more »
"The Rape of Proserpina" (Persephone) is a sculpture by the great artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, dating from 1622. It depicts the abduction of Proserpina by the god Pluto (Hades) into the underworld... more »
such an impressive sculpture made by Gian Lorenzo Bernini
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