Saint Susana de Duquesnoy

Saint Susana de Duquesnoy
Saint Susana de Duquesnoy

It might seem that all Italian Baroque sculptureis reduced to the figure of a giant like the artist Gianlorenzo Bernini, author of sublime works such as the Ecstasy of Santa Teresa or his famous David. However, there were other sculptors during that period such as Alessandro Algardi or Francesco Duquesnoy (1597 – 1643) himself, from whose workshop this monumental sculpture representing Santa Susana.

Saint Susanna of Duquesnoy

Santa Susana de Duquesnoy

The work was made in marble between 1629 and 1633, and is currently part of the works of religious art that the church of Santa Maria de Loreto in Rome. However, it is not found in the location Duquesnoy sculpted it for. In fact, it is known that originally he had in his right hand a palm of martyrdom, while with the left he made a gesture towards the altar, as if looking towards the faithful.

There are scholars ofBaroque artwho think that this is Duquesnoy's great masterpiece, even more than his Saint Andrew. In this saint they see the pinnacle of the study of life, with all the grounds that the knowledge of the art of Antiquity gives. Something that is especially appreciated in the way the folds fall, or the pure contour that defines the entire figure. Not forgetting that it presents us with the woman in the contraposto position, but very balanced, and without theusual agitation and exaggeration in other baroque works.

To do this, create a figure in which all the weight falls on one leg, while the other is free. The head is gently turned with respect to the rest of the body and the shoulders are slightly reclined.

At the time, the accentuated fall of the dress and the mantle, of an exquisite classic taste and worked with great mastery, really excited, so much so that they came to compare it with the clothes of Santa Bibiana by Bernini . And of course,Duquesnoyknew that work, and even Bernini's way of working, since he had participated between 1627 and 1628 in the decoration of the Baldachin of St. Peter's in the Vatican

However, there are big differences between the two. Above all in terms of concept, since Duquesnoy seeks to represent the idea of ​​holiness, with total mental and physical rest, something that does not arise in Bernini's work.

Within Baroque sculpture, Duquesnoy represents the most classical line. In it, the forms are firm, pure, there is not so much artifice. However, he is an author of his time, and he knew how to combine this with a baroque sensibility, something that has been partially lost here due to the change of location, since one of the reasons for the success of this work was that intermediation between the altar and the congregation of the faithful, which increased their spirituality beyond their forms.

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