/ 0
Table of contents

Document in text mode:

Bernini and the Poetics of Sculpture: The Capitoline MedusaSTEVEN F. OSTROWFor more than a century, scholars have inter-preted many of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s sculptures in rela-tion to poetry, whether ancient, such as the odes of Pindar; Renaissance, such as the canzoniere of Petrarch; or contem-porary, such as the sonnets of Giambattista Marino. This is especially the case with his Apollo and Daphne, carved between 1622 and 1625, a work that Andrea Bolland, in a wonderful article published in 2000, convincingly read as an embodiment of Petrarch and Marino’s poetics of desiderio and diletto, desire and delight.1This essay focuses on another poetical sculpture, the Medusa in the Musei Capitolini, Rome (Fig. 1). Slightly over life-sized, it is a work no less striking than the Apollo and Daphne in its technical virtuosity, with its surfaces brilliantly carved, from the mass of writhing serpents that emerge from Medusa’s head to her deeply set eyes, heavy brow, and fleshy lips. But even mo...