Head of Proserpina

Head of Proserpina

1650- 1700

after Gian Lorenzo Bernini

(Italian, 1598-1680)


Overall: 15.2 x 10.3 cm (6 x 4 1/16 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1968.101


This work was long thought to be a fragment of a preliminary study for a large-scale marble sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in Rome depicting Pluto, the god of the underworld, dragging Proserpina away to be his wife. Bernini’s finished studies never had the scrape marks visible on the cheek, indicating another sculptor’s hand. The work was owned by Bernini’s family, and his many studio assistants often copied his work. This terracotta therefore may be by one of the more significant sculptors of this group. The subject conveys fleeting expressions of sadness, fear, and surprise, and would have interested sculptors learning to convey complex emotions.

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