Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bernini's Apollo and Daphne

Inspired by... Bernini's sculpture of Apollo and Daphne—which lives in the Borghese Museum in Rome where I visited in September of 2011. 

Commissioned by the Borghese family, Bernini starting chipping away at this phenomenal sculpture of desire and pursuit at the incredibly young age of 24. Here's the back story of the sculpture: Apollo, struck with the golden arrow of love (by Eros, god of love), pleads with Daphne to fulfill his desire, but she doesn't want anything to do with him, or any other man for that matter. In true Greta Garbo fashion, she just "wants to be alone."Apollo chases Daphne and almost overtakes her when he... he... breathes on her hair. Clearly he wasn't getting the hint, so to make Apollo stop hunting her, Daphne pleads with her father to make her ugly. Her father then transforms her into a laurel tree—her skin turns into bark, her hair turns into leaves, her arms to branches, and her feet to roots. After the transformation Apollo still loves Daphne, who is now eternally chaste, and he embraces the tree (remember, he was struck with that damn golden arrow of love). He cuts off some of her branches and leaves to make a wreath, and proclaims the laurel a sacred tree. The Borghese Museum was gorgeous, rooms and rooms full of of paintings, sculptures, and furniture, and this sculpture was a highlight for me to see in real life. Below are two paintings I made of this magnificent marble sculpture. On the left is a watercolor, and on the right is an oil painting (now in a private collection). 

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