Bernini: Sculpting in Clay, a survey of 39 works by the 17th-century Baroque master, opens Feb. 3 in Fort Worth. But its first stop is at the Met in New York City, where it opened Wednesday. The show was organized by Ian Wardropper, the director of the Frick in New York, Anthony Sigel, a Harvard conservator and C. D. Dickerson III, curator of European art at the Kimbell.
The clay pieces were Bernini’s experiments, where he worked out his compositions for his marble works, and they’re displayed along with his working drawings. Many are small, some are prep-work for masterpieces, capturing the dynamism and flow that Bernini was hailed for. They are all that is left of what may have been thousands of terra-cotta figures Bernini created in his nearly 70-year career.
In many cases, the eventual stone works will never travel: Often, they’re parts of major fountains or altarpieces. But several of the highlights in today’s New York Times review are the Kimbell’s pieces — including two small angels and the “Model for the Fountain of the Moor” from 1653 (above) which, because they’re at the Met, aren’t in the Fort Worth museum’s new The Kimbell at 40 celebration.
The Times review concludes that “while not spectactular,” these practice pieces “are wonderfully deft and will be a revelation for viewers unfamiliar with Bernini’s working methods.”