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Metropolitan Museum Reveals Bernini's Clay Models

By DNAinfo Staff on October 1, 2012 9:54pm

UPPER EAST SIDE — Before he created the massive sculptures that still adorn churches and piazzas around Rome, Gian Lorenzo Bernini started small, with miniature models made of terra-cotta and sketches mapping his future works.

Now, some 40 of those terra-cotta models and 30 of Bernini's drawings will be on display together, for the first time, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, beginning this week.

The exhibition "Bernini: Sculpting in Clay," which runs from Oct. 3 until Jan. 6, will offer an unprecedented look into the sculpting and design process used by the 17th-century artist in creating some of his best-known pieces, such as the "Ecstasy of St. Theresa" and the fountains in Piazza Navona, museum officials said.

Exhibition organizers said that the terra-cottas and paper schematics give insight into the pragmatic and commercial parts of Bernini's sculpture-making  specifically, how he used drawings and models together and occasionally showed patrons finished clays to obtain commissions. 

The exhibit will include the terra-cotta model for Bernini's lion, planned for the base of Rome's Piazza Navona fountain, as well as the models for "Angel with Superscription."

A large portion of the works come from the Harvard Art Museums, as well as from the Musée du Louvre, Vatican Museums, Museo del Palazzo di Venezia, Galleria degli Uffizi, The Victoria and Albert Museum and The Royal Collection at Windsor Castle.

Many of the pieces have never been displayed in the U.S.