Bernini captures the essence of the story of Apollo and Daphne because of the actions and reactions of the characters in the sculpture and because of the items in it that altogether provide the emotions and meanings of the original story. Apollo lovingly grabs Daphne. He is running after her, so he is in the movement of a running man. It shows his desperation because of his passionate love for her. Daphne, however, hates Apollo and calls help from his father. Her face is a frantic plea for her father to save her from Apollo. She reaches up to prevent Apollo from touching her and she becomes a tree during this process. Her hands are already turning to branches and leaves. Somehow, her face also shows freedom. She seems to be in a transition from anxiety to calmness as she becomes a tree and remains free from Apollo’s advances. This transition from human to tree is part of the Greek myth.
Bernini’s sculpture captures the story of St. Teresa of Avilas encounter with an angel because he includes the main characters of the story and the emotions that came with the story. His sculpture has an angel with the arrow that is positioned toward Teresa’s heart. He is smiling in his act of thrusting the arrow to her. Rays of light are coming down on Teresa. Teresa is already experiencing ecstasy with her closed eyes and parted lips. The deep folds of her clothes suggest movement of her pleasures for the arrow. The way that Teresa also lies down with her left hand clutching the clouds and left foot in display reinforce her feelings of deep oneness with God. She receives God inside her and feels the full force of her spiritual marriage with God as if it is both physical and spiritual.
This is Bernini’s sculpture, The Rape of Proserpina. Pluto or Hades kidnaps and rapes Proserpina in the Underworld. The two-headed dog Cerberus is included to signify that it is Hades who kidnaps her. It can be seen how he grabs Proserpina by her waist and thighs that
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