Bernini’s David

David_Bernini_1623

David is a life-size marble statue composed by the Baroque era artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini from 1623 to 1624. This piece was commissioned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese and depicts the biblical David in the middle of facing off against the giant known in the Bible as Goliath (Wikipedia).

Bernini’s David is one of the quintessential pieces of the Baroque era’s visual art. This piece greatly contrast the other Davids sculpted by Renaissance artists Michelangelo and Donatello. Whereas the Renaissance era depictions of David focus more on the individual, “Bernini shows us a less ideal, and more real David – one who, with God’s help, is actively fighting Goliath” (khanacademy). This difference can partly be attributed to the Council of Trent, a Catholic conference that aimed to “reclaim the moral high ground, and the superiority of the Holy Mother Church, in the wake of the Protestant challenge” (PBS). This council sought to “provide guidance away from the Mannerist style” and declared that depiction of biblical stories through art should be clear, realistic, and showcase emotion (Influences During the Baroque Era).

Bernini’s depiction of David steps over the boundaries of the sculpture towards the viewer, in a way that is almost imposing. We see David in the middle of swinging his sling, something very rare during this time period, as throwing pieces were often avoided.

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