Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1622-25, Apollo and Daphne, Marble, 93”, Galleria Borghese, Rome, Photo by By Alvesgaspar, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Take a Minute: Bernini’s “Apollo and Daphne”
Looking at Gian Lorenzo Bernini’sApollo and Daphne, we can see characteristics of the over-the-top Baroque style. For example, the sculpture illustrates the point of highest tension in the story, which is when the nymph Daphne is “saved” by her father, a river god, by turning her into a laurel tree so that she can escape capture by the god Apollo. Bernini depicts the dramatic moment when Daphne’s toes are turning into roots and her fingers turn into leaves as bark reaches up her torso, preventing Apollo from touching her flesh.
Bernini was unrivaled when it came to working with marble. His virtuoso performance is evident in the way he carved this transformative moment in stone. Marble is hard and brittle, yet Bernini had such a mastery of the medium he was able to create a form with soft flesh, flowing drapery, growing leaves, and tough bark.