Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Model for the Lion on the Four Rivers Fountain, ca.
Galleria dellíAccademia di San Luca, Rome
photo by Zeno Colantoni, Rome [LEONE ©ZC_041]
BERNINI AT THE METROPOLITAN
Berniniís Terracotta Models Illuminate
His Unique Creative Process in Met Museum Exhibition
Opening This October
3, 2012ĖJanuary 6, 2013
New York, NY - To visualize life-size or colossal marbles, the
great Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598Ė1680) began by
rapidly modeling small clay sketches. Fired as terracotta, these
studies are bold, expressive works in their own right. Together
with related drawings, they preserve the first traces of
Berniniís fervid imagination and unique creative process that
evolved into some of the most famous and spectacular statuary in
Rome, including the fountains in the Piazza Navona and the
angels on the Ponte Santí Angelo.
in Clay will feature approximately 40 of these
terracotta sketch models, shown together for the first time,
with 30 drawings. Due to unprecedented loans especially granted
for this occasion, the exhibition will be the first to retrace
Berniniís unparalleled approach to sculptural design, and his
use of vigorous clay studies and drawings in directing the
largest workshop of his time. The exhibition will offer viewers
a more profound insight into the artistís dazzling creative
mind, and his impact on the fabric of Baroque Rome.
The exhibition and catalogue are made possible by the Iris & B.
Gerald Cantor Foundation.
The exhibition was organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
New York, and the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini was the most famous and important sculptor
in 17th-century Europe, best known for his stunning works in
marble that still decorate many of the churches and piazzas of
Rome today. Bernini examined problems of construction and design
by modeling damp clay with his fingers and tools with incredible
dexterity. He used these studies and related drawings to decide
carefully on the perspective of his majestic compositions.
Bernini: Sculpting in Clay will
present an overview of his exceptional career and showcase his
full range as a modeler by assembling almost all of his
surviving terracottas, including 15 from the Harvard Art
Museums, the largest collection of Bernini terracottas in the
world, on loan for the first time.
Berniniís liveliest terracottas divulge an impassioned
imagination and also raise the curtain on the practical side of
sculpture-making. Unlike his contemporaries, Bernini often
fashioned his clay figures in groups, and the two such groups
that survive will be recreated in the exhibition. Occasionally,
he also presented more finished models to his patrons to win
commissions or to his assistants to use as guides in carving.
The exhibition will also treat the role of drawing in Berniniís
design process and, where possible, the drawings and the models
to which they relate will be displayed together. These
juxtapositions will make clear the evolution of Berniniís own
works, as he shifted between media, and will allow visitors to
follow the many steps of his creative process. Significant clay
studies by his closest assistants will also be on display to
illustrate the practice of sculpture production in his studio.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Angel with the Superscription, ca. 1667Ė68
Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia, Rome
Photo by Zeno Colantoni [Titolo ©zc017_1-b_1]
Bernini: Sculpting in Clay will
include other outstanding loans from international museums such
as the Musťe du Louvre, Paris, the Vatican Museums, the Museo
del Palazzo di Venezia, Rome, the Galleria degli Uffizi,
Florence, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Royal
Collection at Windsor Castle. Many of these loans have never
been seen in the United States. Highlights will include a
dynamic terracotta model for the lion (ca. 1649-50) destined for
the base of the Four Rivers Fountain in the center of
the Piazza Navona in Rome; the series of models for the
Angel with Superscription (1668-69); the Moor (1653),
Berniniís largest surviving model; and drawings and clay
sketches for the Kneeling Angels (1672) on the Altar of
the Blessed Sacrament in Saint Peterís Basilica.
Curators for the exhibition are: Ian Wardropper, Director of the
Frick Collection (guest curator); Anthony Sigel, Conservator of
Objects and Sculpture, Straus Center for Conservation and
Technical Studies, Harvard Art Museums (guest curator); C.D.
Dickerson, Curator of European Art, Kimbell Art Museum; with
Paola DíAgostino, Senior Research Associate at The Metropolitan
Museum of Art.
Bernini: Sculpting in Clay will be
accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue that will present
the results of new research. The publication will feature essays
by Ian Wardropper, C.D. Dickerson, Andrea Bacchi, Tomaso
Montanari, Steven Ostrow, and detailed catalogue entries by C.
D. Dickerson and Anthony Sigel. Sigel is also the author of an
illustrated glossary that will be included in the catalogue.
An audio tour, part of the Museumís Audio Guide program, is
available for rental ($7, $6 for Members, $5 for children under
The Audio Guide is sponsored by Bloomberg.
A variety of education programs will explore the techniques,
ideas, and historical context that informed and shaped Berniniís
works. Highlights will include gallery talks, studio programs,
films, and a Sunday at the Met program on December 9.
The exhibition will be featured on the Museumís website at
Exhibition Location: Robert Lehman Wing,
Please note: After its presentation at the Metropolitan
Museum, Bernini: Sculpting in Clay
will be on view at the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, from
February 3 through April 14, 2013.
We are grateful to The Metropolitan Museum for
providing us with this announcement