The Anima Dannata, or Damned Soul, is not Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s most ambitious work, but the carved marble, produced in 1619 when Bernini was just 22, is a defining work of his long career. A broad-browed, boldly featured man appears frozen in an instant of simultaneous ecstasy and horror — mouth agape, face strained, hair electrified — as he faces the dread his sins have earned him. Somehow, Bernini managed to pack in the drama and emotion one finds in his better-known sculptures — David, which he produced just a few years later, and TheEcstasy of St. Theresa — but while those other sculptures benefit from bodily pose and the setting of scene to construct the narrative behind their drama, Damned Soul pulls off the implication of narrative while working only from the armpits up. It is one of Bernini’s allegorical busts, standing a total of 38 centimeters.
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