Art of the Baroque and Neoclassicism Movements
The Rape of Proserpina and Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss
FAS 202: Introduction to Humanities II
February 19, 2015
The purpose of this essay is to evaluate two art pieces that were created by two tremendously gifted individuals during the Baroque to the contemporary period. Masters of their movements, both sculptors were able to create masterpieces that revealed an unfolding event that could be read by their viewers from all sides. The first piece of art to be reviewed is the The Rape of Persopina (1621-22), also known as The Rape of Persephone, which is a large marble sculpture, 255cm in height, which was crafted by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, at age 23, during the Baroque movement. As with many of his early works of art, this statue was commissioned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, and was executed, between 1621 and 1622 (Rape of Persephone). Scipione gave this masterpiece to Cardinal Ludovisi in 1622, and it was transported to his villa where it remained until 1908. It was then purchased by the Italian State and returned to the Borghese Collection and can be seen at the Galleria Borghese in Rome, Italy (Rape of Proserpina). The second piece to be reviewed will be Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss (1787) also known as Cupid and Psyche by Antonio Canova. Colonel John Campbell first commissioned this sculpture in 1787, during the Neoclassicism movement. This statue represents the god Cupid in the height of love and tenderness after he had awakened the lifeless Psyche with nothing more than a kiss. This great work of art, which measures 155cm in height, can be seen at the Louvre in Paris, France (Cupid and Psyche).
The Baroque era refers to the artistic style during the 17th and 18th century that employed the classical forms of the Renaissance, but used them in a more dramatic and emotional way (MindEdge 2.04). These classical forms were the way in which the Renaissance period revived the classical gods that had survived in late antiquity and the Middle Ages in many disguises. The Rape of Proserpina was derived from a mythological story in which Proserpina, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, was out picking flowers and was kidnapped by Pluto, also called Hades, god of the underworld, who carried her back to the underworld to be his wife (Rape of Persephone). Bernini's depiction of this mythological story, The Rape of Proserpina was an ideal example of how extremely gifted he was even at such a young age. In crafting this sculpture he was able to capture in detail Proserpina's terror of being abducted inclusive of the tears that she shed. He also justified Proserpina's terror by portraying the strength of Pluto's muscular hands and they dug into her soft flesh at her waist and thigh. Thus depicting on the characteristics of physical strength and individual emotion, which were key elements of Baroque art. Bernini emphasizes the female experience, by presenting Proserpina in full agony during her abduction. The emotional fervor found in the Baroque era had a lasting impact on the art, literature, and music that it preceded (MindEdge 2.04). The artistic style known as "Neoclassicism" was the predominant movement in European art and architecture during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It reflected a desire to rekindle the spirit and forms of classical art from ancient Greece and Rome, whose principles of order and reason were entirely in keeping with the European Age of Enlightenment (Neoclassical Art). Neoclassicism was the successor to Rococo in the second half of the 18th century, the classicism of the 1740s and of Bouchardon in particular should not however, be seen as a rejection of the baroque, but as a further development of baroque classicism that looks back to the style of the late 17th century rather than directly to Greek sculpture or Roman sculpture of antiquity (Neoclassical Sculptors). Canova’s...
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