The Baroque Period of the 17th century is an era depicted through the exaggerative movement or dramatic tension expressed in sculptures (Britannica.Com). The predecessor eras were characterized by the civil and ideologic appeal of sculptures where the emotion captured embodied perfection. Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s famous sculpture on David provided a new approach to the conventional ways of presenting figures in the Bible. The masterpiece depicts David in an intense moment which was a very critical moment to winning the battle (Lesik). Bernini’s accurate depiction of the moment is through the life-size embodiment of David where the motion seems to be extreme to the point the sculpture seems like it is about to break. Prior era portrayed characters as if they were posing for the sculptor. Bernini’s depiction, however, provides a physical tension in David’s body as well as an emotional tension. David’s face, for instance, is warped and rigid as the rest of the figure where it seems he is concentrating all the effort at the task at hand (Lesik). The emotional portrayal also highlights the Baroque period which rebelled against the traditional Italian Renaissance artworks. Bernini’s description of David at the battle provides the audience with a sympathetic gesture since David’s opponent was Goliath- a giant warrior- against the human David (Britannica.com). Therefore, Bernini’s artwork on David shows the rejection of traditional artwork techniques through the inclusion of physical and emotional exaggeration.
Michelangelo similarly sculpted an image of David during the battle. The sculpture is a representation of a sturdy, poised young man who presents an ideal athletic male model. The statue by Michelangelo portrays David in a relaxed pose with a slingshot in his hand. An emotional connection with the audience characterized Michelangelo’s era. The sculpture shows David staring into space while his brow is knit seemingly preparing for his battle with Goliath (Lesik). Predominantly, the statue presents a peaceful David creating an emotional strength.
On the other hand, Bernini’s sculpture presents a hero with an intense moment where his waist is twisted, his hand holding a sling and his face showing a young man preparing his strength for the task ahead. He is also seen to strain his muscles creating tension and determination. The two figures are different since Michelangelo’s is from the classical art era while Bernini’s from the Baroque period (Britannica.com). The two artists present different perceptions about the same situation that engulfed David. The difference is in the positioning of the statue concerning the event which is the fundamental difference between the two artistic periods.
The two artists chose David as a model for their sculpture because David was a symbol of the Catholic Church and the Republic of Florence. David, in general, presented a powerful symbol both biblically and in reality. For Michelangelo, David was a symbolic representation of the world around during the Classical art era which showed people’s desire for a hero at the time. As for Bernini, David was a symbol of a revolution in art parallel to being a symbol of the Catholic Church (Lesik). Bernini used David as a representation of the evolving Baroque movement of the 17th century contrary to the predecessor era in the artwork. Overall, David was a representation of something bigger than anyone could comprehend.
Lesik. David v. David. Art. 2012. History. Accessed from http://lesiksarthistory.blogspot.com/2012/02/david-v-david.html
Britannica.com. Baroque Art and Architecture. Encyclopedia Britannica. 2019. Accessed from https://www.britannica.com/art/Baroque-art-and-architecture
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