Apollo and Daphne (Bernini)


title = Apollo and Daphne
artist = Gian Lorenzo Bernini
year = 1622-1625
type = Marble
height = 243
city = Rome
museum = Galleria Borghese

"Apollo and Daphne" is a baroque, life-sized marble sculpture by Italian Gian Lorenzo Bernini, housed in the Galleria Borghese in Rome. It was inspired by one of the stories included in Ovid's "Metamorphoses".

In the story, Apollo, god of prophecy, sees the young Cupid, god of love, playing with his bow and arrows and remarks, "What have you to do with warlike weapons, saucy boy? Leave them for hands worthy of them." [http://www.loggia.com/myth/daphne.html] In retribution for this reproach, Cupid wounds Apollo with a golden arrow, causing him to fall in love with the nymph daughter of the river God Peneus. Cupid additionally wounds the beautiful nymph Daphne, with a lead arrow, thus insuring she would not be wooed by Apollo's advances. (In fact, the arrows power was so strong that Daphne forthwith refused all of her lovers.) Regardless of her father Peneus's requests for a son-in-law and grandchildren, Daphne begs to remain unmarried and he grudgingly consents.

Apollo, struck with the golden arrow of love, pleads with Daphne to fulfill his desire. Daphne, repulsed by the idea, begins to flee. Even as she runs, he is more captivated by her beauty. Apollo grows impatient and soon, sped by Cupid, gains on her. With slower speed and failing strength, Daphne cries out to her father just as Apollo captures her. Not a moment later, Daphne's skin turns to bark, her hair leaves, her arms branches, her feet roots, and her face a treetop. In only a moment, Peneus protects his daughter by turning her into a laurel tree. After the transformation Apollo still embraces the tree. He cuts off some of her branches and leaves to make a wreath and proclaims the laurel as a sacred tree.

Bernini's sculpture captures Daphne's transformation with intense emotion and drama by portraying the different stages of her changes. This calls for interaction with the sculpture by walking around it, as there is not just one optimal viewpoint. For instance, seen from behind Apollo, Daphne's human figure is obscured, leaving only the tree elements in view, so walking around the sculpture gives an impression of the metamorphosis taking place. The interlocking components and chiaroscuro create more narrative, reflecting foundations of Hellenistic Greek art.

Also during the Hellenistic period was the androgynous depiction of Apollo. He was slender, young, and had a feminine hair style, all of which are portrayed in this sculpture. Part of Apollo's iconography is the laurel tree and the wreath, originating from Ovid's story and illustrated in Bernini's work.

Although Apollo preached "All things in moderation" and was known to control his emotions, this sculpture clearly reveals him desperately pursuing love in vain. The failure of getting Daphne hints at Apollo's many failures with love in general, including being unable to win a maiden and his lovers' fidelity.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Apollo and Daphne — is a story from ancient Greek mythology, retold by Hellenistic and Roman authors in the form of an amorous vignette; Apollo and Daphne by Antonio Pollaiuolo. The curse of Apollo, the god of the sun and music, was brought onto him when he insulted …   Wikipedia

  • Apollo and Daphne —    A mythological story from Ovid s Metamorphoses, often represented in art. Apollo ridicules Cupid for his archery skills, so Cupid retaliates by causing the god to fall in love with the wood nymph Daphne. Tired of Apollo s advances, Daphne… …   Dictionary of Renaissance art

  • Bernini, Gian Lorenzo — born Dec. 7, 1598, Naples, Kingdom of Naples died Nov. 28, 1680, Rome, Papal States Italian architect and artist credited with creating the Baroque style of sculpture. He began his career working for his father, a sculptor. Among his early… …   Universalium

  • Daphne — This article is about the Greek mythological character. For other uses, see Daphne (disambiguation). Apollo and Daphne by Antonio del Pollaiolo, c. 1470–80 (National Gallery, London) …   Wikipedia

  • Apollo — This article is about the Greek and Roman god. For other uses, see Apollo (disambiguation) and Phoebus (disambiguation). Not to be confused with Phobos (mythology). Apollo …   Wikipedia

  • Bernini, Gian Lorenzo — (1598 1680)    The son of the Mannerist sculptor Pietro Bernini, Gian Lorenzo was the most important sculptor and one of the most notable architects of the Baroque period. Born in Naples while his father was working in that region, in c. 1606 he… …   Dictionary of Renaissance art

  • Apollo —    Son of Jupiter and Letona; Diana s twin brother. Apollo is the sun god and also the god of the arts, poetry, music, eloquence, and medicine. Apollo loved Daphne. One day, as he pursued her, the river god Peneius protected her by transforming… …   Dictionary of Renaissance art

  • Bernini,Giovanni Lorenzo — Ber·ni·ni (bər nēʹnē, bĕr ), Giovanni Lorenzo or Gianlorenzo 1598 1680. Italian sculptor, painter, and architect. An outstanding exponent of the Italian baroque, he is noted for his flowing, dynamic sculpture, such as Apollo and Daphne (1622… …   Universalium

  • BERNINI, GIOVANNI LORENZO —    an Italian painter, sculptor, and architect, born at Naples; produced his Apollo and Daphne at eighteen, his masterpiece; was architect to the Pope, and designed the colonnade of St. Peter s; he died wealthy (1598 1680) …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Bernini Gian Lorenzo — Selbstportrait von Bernini Gian Lorenzo Bernini, auch: Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini (* 7. Dezember 1598 in Neapel; † 28. November 1680 in Rom) war einer der bedeutendsten italienischen Bildhauer und Architekten des Barock …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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