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Art From Us MUSEUM GUIDE : Harvard Art Museums : Room 2520

Harvard Art Museums – Room 2520

Art From Us, Museum Guide #877

Art From Us presents a must-see Museum Guide daily, where we showcase specific artworks in specific museums – from across the globe. Today, for Art From Us, Museum Guide #877 the spotlight is on the Harvard Art Museums’ Room 2520. Showcasing a collection of European Art, 17th century.

The three works in focus are :

Angel with the Scourge, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, c. 1667-1668
Angel with Superscription, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, c. 1667-1668
Head of Saint Jerome, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, c. 1661

The significance of the 3 works chosen for Art From Us, Museum Guide #877

Room 2520 presents the a collection of 17th century clay sculptures originating from all over Europe.

According to the digital catalogue of the Harvard Art Museums :

“The Fogg Museum houses the world’s largest collection of clay models by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the most celebrated sculptor of the baroque period. The selection displayed here presents clay sketches (bozzetti) and a model (modello) he made for a range of public projects. These clay models were then dried or fired in a kiln: the term “terracotta” can be translated as “baked earth.”

Gian Lorenzo Bernini & The Practice of Clay Modeling

The practice of creating clay sculptures was common at the time. Artists would use clay to perfect their proposed design for sculptures that they eventually sought to render in marble. Marble was an expensive material and an unforgiving artistic medium. Therefore, sculptors would create clay models before working with marble.

The sculptures presented here are all by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The Museum explains :

“These clay models reveal the evolution of ideas as Bernini prepared his monumental sculptures; but they also offer an intimate view of the artist and his technique.”

It is worthy of note that most models housed in this collection are representations of saints or angels. This may have been an artistic tendency owning to the patronage of the catholic church.

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