Artibus et Historiae no. 63 (XXXII)

2011, ISSN 0391-9064

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DAMIAN DOMBROWSKI - Apotheosis and Mediality in Bernini’s Later Portrait Busts

Early in his career, Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini started to convey a sense of grandeur in his sculptural portraits, experimenting with various formal solutions. With his work progressing, this tendency toward an “apotheotic” image of the sitter is corroborated by an increasing awareness and display of the very objectness of the portrait bust, eventually becoming part of the artistic concept. The problem of the “sliced figure” is not felt anymore; rather, the long standing, fundamental self-contradiction of portrait sculpture – of informing the bust with vivacity and at the same time revealing its character as an artefact—is resolved and reintegrated in terms of the Baroque aesthetics of mediacy. Therefore, the term “mediality” seems a valid descriptive category for the propensity to elucidate both the artificial and the mediating status of the artwork, in other words: of its being a medium in the fullest sense.

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