"Here's looking at you, kid." Pride and mockery in Bernini's Four Rivers Fountain

Research Seminar

  • Date: Nov 4, 2019
  • Time: 11:00 - 13:00
  • Speaker: Martin Raspe
  • Location: Villino Stroganoff, Via Gregoriana 22, 00187 Rom
  • Contact: paulinyi@biblhertz.it
 "Here's looking at you, kid." Pride and mockery in Bernini's Four Rivers Fountain
Although Bernini's self-esteem and wit are well documented, they are rarely pointed out in academic studies of his works. One of his major artistic achievements, the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona (1648–1651), is generally seen as a flamboyant homage to Pope Innocent X Pamphili and his papacy.

The giant male personifications represent the main rivers of the four continents known in Early modern times, while the dove and the egyptian obelisc symbolize the blessings of the christian faith and the papal authority that spread across the world. This talk seeks to stimulate a less generic, more personal understanding of Bernini's creation. While not departing from the traditional explanation of the world-famous monument, additional insights can be gained by looking at some formal characteristics of the composition that have been largely overlooked. Seen against the background of the context of the commission, the artist's personality, the thematic and artistic connotations and the historical documentation, a second layer of meaning emerges that throws a different light on Bernini's self-reflection and his relationship with the Pope and his family.

Dr. Martin Raspe is a Historian of Art and Architecture and works as a member of the Digital Humanities Lab at the Bibliotheca Hertziana. He specializes in Renaissance and Baroque art and architecture in Italy, with a focus on Rome.

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