Relief of Saint Leon expelling Attila, Algardi

Relief of Saint Leon expelling Attila, Algardi
Relief of Saint Leon expelling Attila, Algardi

It often happens in the world of art, that the presence of a great artistic genius at a certain time overshadows the rest of his contemporaries so that all eyes are focused on him, for the rest of the artists who They lived with him, it was not always easy to escape from his long shadow and on many occasions they impassively contemplated how that so-called genius, took the best orders and of course, the best clients. However, the world of art is to some extent capricious and sometimes the tables turn leaving that painter who had remained in the second row on the crest of the wave, this was precisely what happened to Alessandro Algardi and Bernini in the stage baroque.


Gian Lorenzo Bernini had been the favorite artist of Pope Urban VIII and so much so that the baroque genius worked on some of the most important projects such as those developed in the Church of Saint Peter in the Vatican. However, in the summer of 1644Innocent X took over the chair of Saint Peter and chose to renew the ranks of his artists, this time choosing Alessandro Algardi as his head artist.

Algardi (1595 – 1654) was one of the most renowned artists of his time. A native of Bologna, the sculptor began training alongside Agostino Carracci, which explains the classicist line that some of his works will At the beginning of the century he worked for the Duke of Matua and later moved to Rome to serve the papacy

In the year 1646 Innocent X commissioned Algardi to make a large panelmade of marblethat he was to serve as the main altar for the church of Saint Peter in the Vatican. Actually, the idea of ​​using relief instead of painting was not new since it had been used on other occasions, but the truth is that the marble material was too expensive to carry out this type of work, so it was rarely used..

Algardi managed to recreate a composition in which the characters had so much volume that they seemed more like free-standing sculptures as if they were coming out of the relief that housed them, see how Pope Saint Leon appears in the foreground with a severe gesture while at his side Attila seems fearful. The rest of the composition consists of reliefs on different planes with which the artist has played until reaching scchiacciato to intuitively design the background of the composition.

There is a copy of Algardi's work made for the Spanish monarch Felipe IV that is in the Royal Palace of Madrid and in which marble appears combined with bronze and silver.

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