- Education and Science
Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina
I love Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina
I fell in love in Rome, not with any flesh and blood man, but with Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina marble statue.
In my opinion, pictures do not do the Pluto and Proserpina sculpture justice. To truly understand the beauty of this piece you must visit it in the Galleria Borghese in Rome, Italy.
Below find details, pictures and my impressions of the Pluto and Proserpina Group sculpture.
Photo Credit: focused shot of Bernini 's Pluto & Prosepina derived from photo from Web Gallery of Art
Sprung out of the earth
on his glittering terrible
carriage, he claimed his due.
It is finished. No one heard her.
- Rita Dove's "Persephone Falling"
Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina - Sculpture at the Borghese Gallery
Photo from the Web Gallery of Art
About Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina - Quick facts about Bernini's Sculpture
- Gian Lorenzo Bernini created the Pluto and Prosepina sculpture between 1621-1622.
- In 1622 Cardinal Scipione gifted the marble group to Cardinal Ludovisi.
- The sculpture remained in Cardinal Ludovisi's villa until 1908 when it was returned to the Galleria Borghese.
- The Group is chiseled out of marble.
- Proserpina, Pluto and Cerebus are the 3 mythical characters featured in this Bernini work
Let's Play the Name Game
Proserpina is also referred to as Persephone
Pluto is also referred to as Hades
Cere is also referred to as Demeter
The first category is the Roman name and the second set of names are from the Greek.
Mythology Behind Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina
Pluto came up to earth on buisness and was seen by Venus and Cupid. Cupid shot Pluto with an arrow and fell in love with Proserpina (the daughter of Ceres).
Venus and Cupid wanted to extend their reign into Hades and put Ceres in check because they believed she was on course to defy them much like Diana had.
The Rape of Proserpina, "rape" meaning abduction, depicts the moment when Pluto grabs Proserpina. It is obvious from the statue, her pushing against Pluto and her tears, Proserpina does not want to go with Pluto. Pluto is the god most disliked by mortals.
Ceres, heart broken by her daughter's abduction, refuses to bring life to the greenery and this is when Jupiter (Zeus) interceeds on her behalf. Pluto reluctant to let Proserpina go, but unwilling to disobey Jupiter, tricks Proserpina into eating pommengrate seeds. Thus, binding her to the underworld.
The Result: 4 months of the year Proserpina remains in Hades and half on earth with her mother. When Proserpina is walking the earth flowers bloom but when she is in the underworld nothing grows. This explains the seasons.
The Rape of Proserpina - The story of Proserpina
Photo from the Web Gallery of Art
From this angle we see Proserpina pushing against Pluto trying to get him to loosen his grasp so she can get away from him. You feel the intensity of the struggle as you see how hard Pluto is holding on to Proserpina. His fingers are pushing in to Proserpina's flesh. We see the indents he makes on her leg. Looking at Bernini's work it is easy to forget that 1) This is a statue and 2) It is made out of stone.
At this angle Bernini places Proserpina as the central figure. We cannot help but feel her terror and hopelessness at the hands of Pluto. The anguish in her face, her lips parted as if she is crying out for help, create a feeling of panic in the audience. You want to help Proserpina escape a horrible fate, but as this piece is set in marble you know their is nothing you can do to help Proserpina escape her fate; hence, you are invited to share in Proserpina's terror, anguish and helplessness.
Pluto's Perspective: Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina Group - Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina Sculpture
Photo from Wikipedia
Frozen in mid step we get a sense of movement with Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina Group. From this angle we are confronted with Pluto's powerful determination. We see his muscles bulge as he takes a masterful stride towards the fulfillment of his desire.
From this angle Proserpina hand pushing against Pluto's head seems to be little more than an annoyance that PLuto has to deal with. There is no regard for Proserina has her importance is minimized at this perspective. What we see is Pluto's strength, his power and his determination.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Pluto and Proserpina
Cereberus: The Guardian of Hades - The Three Headed Dog
Photo from Wikipedia
Cereberus, the 3 headed dog, guardian of the underword is depicted in the sculpture to represent Pluto and the place where he is taking Proserpina.
With all the sense of movement and emotion it can be possible to overlook Cereberus positioned behind Pluto and Proserpina, but he is an an important symbol of Hades and the terror that awaits there.
Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina - What do you think?
When I saw Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina group it changed by prospective on sculptures and Bernini's works. In art history class I had always been drawn to painting by the masters. Bernini's works were presented on slides easily blurred together with the next. I was not expecting to be as captivated by the statue as I was. A work of art becomes more powerful when directly consumed rather that seeing a limited picture of a 3 dimensional sculpture.
Have you seen Bernini's Pluto and Proserpina at the Galleria Borghese?
Tell me what your impressions of Bernini's Rape of Proserpina is? Do you love the statue as much as I do? Leave your comments below or just say hi.