BERNINI, Gian Lorenzo
(b. 1598, Napoli, d. 1680, Roma)

Bacchanal: A Faun Teased by Children

1616-17
Marble, height 132,1 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Gian Lorenzo Bernini was the heroic central figure of Italian Baroque sculpture. A prodigy of astonishing facility, he was trained in the workshop of his father, Pietro, an important pre-Baroque sculptor. During his apprenticeship, he executed a number of marble sculptures, which were recorded in his father's name. This, the most ambitious of those works, provides insights into the crucial shift in style that took place during the early 17th century. The subject is a somewhat mysterious one, having its origins in the Bacchic revels of classical and Renaissance iconography In his portrayal of the faun, Bernini revealed what would become a lifelong interest in the rendering of emotional and spiritual exaltation.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 7 minutes):
Camille Saint-Saëns: Samson et Delila, Act III, Scene 2, Bacchanal