I was hoping to find an original example of Baroque art for this week’s assignment but I just can’t get over this sculpture of David by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Bernini captured David in the heat of action as he battled Goliath. His body twisted, muscles tense, and just moments away from delivering a fatal blow to the giant using his sling. The statue exudes action and emotion; one can almost feel the tension of battle when looking at this piece.
Bernini is thought to be one of the greatest and most influential artists of the Baroque era. His works exemplify the artistic goals and standards set forth by the Counsel of Trent as part of the Counter Reformation. The Counsel of Trent was convened by Pope Paul III in 1544 in response to the Reformation, and tasked with establishing proper rules, guidelines, and doctrines relating to the Catholic Church. The Counsel recognized that works of art influenced people’s perception of religion and as such they set forth a series of guidelines and standards for art which they felt best represented the Catholic Church. The Counsel asked for greater clarity and realism in depicting biblical figures, they asked for emotional drama, avoidance of genital nudity, and an accurate representation of religious dogma. Bernini, a devout Catholic, meet all the challenges and requirements set forth by the Counsel of Trent. His many works during this era exemplify the goals of the Catholic Church; a perfect example of this is his statue of David.
Unlike Michelangelo and Donatello’s rendition of David, Bernini’s David is shown only partially nude. His genitalia are covered by a loose robe yet the majority of his body is nude thus depicting his strength and form and showing off the sculptors talents. David’s armor lays at his feet, discarded before battle because it was burdensome to him. He is twisted, tense, and ready to strike. In David’s face you can see serious concentration and emotion, his brow is furrowed, his eyes are intense, and he is biting his lower lip. This statue exudes action and emotion. I believe it is one of the best examples of the goals of the Counsel of Trent, and of the Baroque era as a whole.