Elephant and Obelisk

Last updated
Elephant and Obelisk
Elephant and Obelisk - Bernini.jpg
Artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Year1667 (1667)
Catalogue71
TypeSculpture
MediumMarble
SubjectElephant
Location Piazza della Minerva, Rome
Coordinates Coordinates: 41°53′52.74″N12°28′39.26″E / 41.8979833°N 12.4775722°E / 41.8979833; 12.4775722

Elephant and Obelisk is the base of the smallest obelisk of Rome, with a height of 5.47 meters: there are other 12 ancient obelisks present in Rome nowadays. [1] The statue is a sculpture designed by the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The elephant was probably carved by his assistant Ercole Ferrata; the Egyptian obelisk was uncovered during nearby excavations and belonged to Pharaoh Apries of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt. [2] It was unveiled in February 1667 in the Piazza della Minerva in Rome, adjacent to the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, where it stands today.

Contents

Origin

The image possibly originated from the Hypnerotomachia Polyphili of 1499. Various preparatory drawings done by Bernini exist. One version in Windsor Castle, UK was probably done in the 1630s when Cardinal Francesco Barberini wished to place an Egyptian obelisk in front of his family palace, the Palazzo Barberini. Nothing came of this specific project, but Bernini revived the idea in the 1660s, when Pope Alexander VII, Fabio Chigi, wished to build a similar monument after another Egyptian obelisk had been discovered in Rome.

Various other concepts were explored for this later commission as attested by preparatory drawings. It is likely that the drawings were used so that the patron could make a decision about which design he wanted. This include a drawing (in Leipzig) of the figure of Time holding a scythe and simultaneously the obelisk. In the Vatican Library there are two pen and ink drawings with other figures holding up the obelisk, including one of Hercules, and another with various allegorical figures supporting the spire. [3] A third version in the Vatican Library shows Bernini adapting on the concept he created in the 1630s, although he added in a larger base, changed the direction of the elephant's orientation, and made its face appear more friendly than ferocious. [4]

It turned out to be the last commission Pope Alexander VII would ask of Bernini, as he died in May 1667. He was succeeded by Pope Clement IX.

On 15 November 2016, Rome authorities announced they were searching for vandals who broke the left tusk the previous Sunday night and left the piece nearby. Mayor Virginia Raggi said that they will assess the damage to determine how to best reattach the fragment. [5]

The statue makes a brief but prominent appearance in the Italian neorealist film Umberto D. (1952). It also features as a motif in the novel Adua by Igiaba Scego (2015). The obelisk is considered to be one of a pair, the other is in Urbino.

See also

Related Research Articles

Gian Lorenzo Bernini Italian sculptor and architect

Gian LorenzoBernini was an Italian sculptor and architect. While a major figure in the world of architecture, he was, also and even more prominently, the leading sculptor of his age, credited with creating the Baroque style of sculpture. As one scholar has commented, "What Shakespeare is to drama, Bernini may be to sculpture: the first pan-European sculptor whose name is instantaneously identifiable with a particular manner and vision, and whose influence was inordinately powerful...." In addition, he was a painter and a man of the theater: he wrote, directed and acted in plays, for which he designed stage sets and theatrical machinery. He produced designs as well for a wide variety of decorative art objects including lamps, tables, mirrors, and even coaches.

Quirinal Hill One of the seven hills of Rome, Italy

The Quirinal Hill is one of the Seven Hills of Rome, at the north-east of the city center. It is the location of the official residence of the Italian head of state, who resides in the Quirinal Palace; by metonymy "the Quirinal" has come to stand for the Italian president. The Quirinal Palace has an extension of 1.2 million square feet.

Fontana del Tritone, Rome Fountain in Rome

Fontana del Tritone is a seventeenth-century fountain in Rome, by the Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Commissioned by his patron, Pope Urban VIII, the fountain is located in the Piazza Barberini, near the entrance to the Palazzo Barberini that Bernini helped to design and construct for the Barberini, Urban's family. This fountain should be distinguished from the nearby Fontana dei Tritoni by Carlo Francesco Bizzaccheri in Piazza Bocca della Verità which features two Tritons.

Piazza Navona Piazza in Rome, Italy

Piazza Navona is a public open space in Rome, Italy. It is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in the 1st century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium. The ancient Romans went there to watch the agones ("games"), and hence it was known as "Circus Agonalis". It is believed that over time the name changed to in avone to navone and eventually to navona.

<i>Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening</i> painting by Salvador Dalí

Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening is a surrealist painting by Salvador Dalí. A shorter alternate title for the painting is Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee. It was painted in 1944, while Dalí and his wife, Gala, were living in America.

Santa Maria sopra Minerva church in Rome

Santa Maria sopra Minerva is one of the major churches of the Roman Catholic Order of Preachers in Rome, Italy. The church's name derives from the fact that the first Christian church structure on the site was built directly over the ruins or foundations of a temple dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis, which had been erroneously ascribed to the Greco-Roman goddess Minerva.

St. Peters Square plaza in Vatican City

St. Peter's Square is a large plaza located directly in front of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, the papal enclave inside Rome, directly west of the neighbourhood or rione of Borgo. Both the square and the basilica are named after Saint Peter, an apostle of Jesus considered by Catholics to be the first Pope.

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi Fountain in Rome designed by Gianlorenzo Bernini

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi is a fountain in the Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy. It was designed in 1651 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini for Pope Innocent X whose family palace, the Palazzo Pamphili, faced onto the piazza as did the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone of which Innocent was the sponsor.

Carlo Fontana Swiss architect

Carlo Fontana was an Italian architect originating from today's Canton Ticino, who was in part responsible for the classicizing direction taken by Late Baroque Roman architecture.

<i>Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius</i> sculpture by Gianlorenzo Bernini

Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius is a sculpture by the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini created c. 1618-19. Housed in the Galleria Borghese in Rome, the sculpture depicts a scene from the Aeneid, where the hero Aeneas leads his family from burning Troy.

Francesco Mochi Italian sculptor (1580-1654)

Francesco Mochi was an Italian early-Baroque sculptor active mostly in Rome and Orvieto.

Via della Conciliazione thoroughfare in Rome, Italy

Via della Conciliazione is a street in the Rione of Borgo within Rome, Italy. Roughly 500 metres (1,600 ft) in length, it connects Saint Peter's Square to the Castel Sant'Angelo on the western bank of the Tiber River. The road was constructed between 1936 and 1950, and it is the primary access route to the Square. In addition to shops, it is bordered by a number of historical and religious buildings – including the Palazzo Torlonia, the Palazzo dei Penitenzieri and the Palazzo dei Convertendi, and the churches of Santa Maria in Traspontina and Santo Spirito in Sassia.

Piazza della Minerva square in Rome, Italy

Piazza della Minerva is a piazza in Rome, Italy, near the Pantheon. Its name derives from the existence of a temple built on the site by Pompey dedicated to Minerva Calcidica, whose statue is now in the Vatican Museums.

Piazza della Rotonda

The Piazza della Rotonda is a piazza in Rome, Italy, on the south side of which is located the Pantheon. The square gets its name from the Pantheon's informal title as the church of Santa Maria Rotonda.

<i>Memorial to Maria Raggi</i> Artwork by Gianlorenzo Bernini

Memorial to Maria Raggi is a sculptural monument designed and executed by the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, started in 1647 and finished in 1653. The monument is attached to a pillar in a nave of the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome.

<i>Statue of Pope Clement X</i> Sculpture by Gianlorenzo Bernini

The Statue of Pope Clement X is one of the final sculptural works executed by the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It depicts Pope Clement X in the act of benediction, and is housed in the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica in the Palazzo Barberini, Rome.

<i>Memorial to Alessandro Valtrini</i> Artwork by Gianlorenzo Bernini

The Memorial to Alessandro Valtrini is a funerary monument designed by the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1639, and executed by his workshop in the same year. It is situated in the church of the San Lorenzo in Damaso in Rome. It has strong affinities with the Memorial to Ippolito Merenda; both were undertaken by Bernini's workshop and commissioned by Cardinal Francesco Barberini to commend the ecclesiastical work done by Valtrini and Merenda respectively. In aesthetic terms, both broke new ground in figuring Death as a moving skeleton carrying a flowing inscriptions and, in the case of Alessandro Valrtrini monument, a medallion-shaped portrait of Valtrini himself.

Busts of Pope Urban VIII

Several sculpted busts of Pope Urban VIII were created by the Italian artist Gianlorenzo Bernini, with varying amounts of assistance from other artists in his workshop:

Maria Raggi

Maria Raggi di Scio (1552–1600) was a Catholic nun from the island of Chios. Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1647, depicted her in a sculpture which resides on a nave of Santa Maria sopra Minerva church in Rome.

References

  1. L'Italia. Roma (guida rossa), Touring Club Italiano, Milano 2004
  2. Heckscher, William S. (1947). "Bernini's Elephant and Obelisk" . Art Bulletin. XXIX (3): 155–182.
  3. Wardropper, p29
  4. Lorenzo, Bernini, Gian. "The Obelisk of the Minerva". www.theeuropeanlibrary.org. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
  5. Palazzo, Chiara (15 November 2016). "Rome in shock as Bernini elephant statue vandalized". The Daily Telegraph . Agence France-Presse . Retrieved 15 November 2016.

Further reading