The Prophet of Habakkuk and the Angel of Bernini

The Prophet of Habakkuk and the Angel of Bernini
The Prophet of Habakkuk and the Angel of Bernini

This sculpture by Baroque artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini is in the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome. It is a group that the sculptor made in marble between 1655 and 1661.

It can actually be considered as a duplicate of a previous work, of a Jonás by Lorenzetti, made during theRebirth. Although in Bernini's group the character of relief is completely lost, and instead the third dimension is emphatically achieved.

Habakkuk and the Angel by Bernini

Habakkuk and Bernini's Angel

As usual in all of Bernini's works, his sculptures extend into depth, and he always works them in very complex layouts of planes, based on highly contrasting figure movements in the space. That is why Bernini is surely the great sculptor of theBaroque, a style in which dynamism and movement prevail

In this case it can be verified with the opposing movements of the legs, the torso and the head. A rhythm to which must be added the position of the arm that crosses the whole body, while the angel appears turned towards the niche of the Chigi chapel of the aforementioned church.

For example, if we see the sculpture in its final position, as we look at the prophet Habakkuk more frontally, curiously we observe the figure of the angel more and moreforeshortened And instead, looking at the whole group together, it is when the meaning of the design of the work is fully grasped.

When we do not contemplate it exactly from the center, then movements that seem uncoordinated are perceived, favoring the appreciation of some individualized detail. And it is that if the observation perspective is changed, different partial views are obtained.

It's not that baroque sculpture has different points of view, but rather that the talent of Bernini managed to anchor his sculptural works to the environment where they are located, so that he chooses the points of view in advance and already conceives them taking into account those positions of the observer.

he Gets them to move in depth and integrates them into the same space where the viewer is located. It actually needs the continuity of the space where they are. For example, here the angel points to another niche where another prophet, Daniel, would be. While with his arm, Habakkuk seems to be addressing some imaginary farmers.

Because what this sculpture presents us with is a passage from the Book of Daniel. In this episode, Habakkuk was going to bring kosher food to the Jewish farmers, but an angel appeared and grabbed him by the hair to take him to Babylon, to put him in the den of lions where Daniel was imprisoned, so that he would give him the food. And then he transferred it back to the Hebrews.

In short, here Bernini creates a sculptural but at the same time very pictorial work, which although it invites to vary the points of observation, the truth is that it requires a specific point of view to appreciate all its meaning and qualities.

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