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Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Angel with the Scourge (c. 1667-1668)

For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Angel with the Scourge (c. 1667-1668) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

About the Work

Title : Angel with the Scourge
Artist : Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Year : c. 1667-166
Medium : Terracotta
Dimensions : sight: 29.3 x 15.6 x 16.1 cm (11 9/16 x 6 1/8 x 6 5/16 in.)
Location : Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Angel with the Scourge

Gian Lorenzo Bernini was a great architect and sculptor, recognised even in his own lifetime in the 17th century.

According to the digital catalogue of the Harvard Art Museums :

“Bernini began by sketching in clay, then developing his ideas through subsequent versions. These models were then transformed into large-scale sculptures in marble or bronze, often by his workshop. Imprinted on the surface of the clay are the movements of Bernini’s hands, a variety of tool marks, and even his fingerprints.”

The practice of creating clay models as prototypes for marble sculptures was common in this era, since marble was expensive. Artists did not want to commit trial and error of a perfectly good piece of sculpting stone, therefore they used a more forgiving material instead – terracotta.

As is evident in the this clay model, it was easier for the artist to experiment with the twists and turns of the angels robes and wings in clay, than it would have been in stone or marble.

Other Details

Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Angel with the Scourge is housed in the Harvard Art Museums in Room 2520. It is part of the museum’s collection of European Art, 17th century. The work was bought by the Fogg Art Musuem in 1937.

To learn more about iconic artworks and their socio-political context, visit Artwork in Focus.

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