The busts of the "anima dannata" and "anima beata" (SK 516), two casts dating from 1619 made by Massimiliano Soldani Benzi after Gianlorenzo Bernini’s originals, are expressive studies of two psychological states: the redeemed and the condemned soul. The representation of an extreme psychological state is as typical of Baroque art as is the representation of opposites in paired works. Bernini rose to the challenge with great intuitive power; indeed, his fame rests on it. The redeemed soul raises its head and looks towards heaven as a sign that it has found grace with God. Its gentle features become an external image of inner beauty. There is also a sense of innocence in the large eyes and parted lips. While Bernini’s originals stood in a church, San Jacopo degli Spagnoli in Rome, Soldani Benzi’s busts were intended for a secular space, Adam’s City Palace in Vienna. The charm of the bronze lies not merely in its expressive face, but also in the decorativeness of its curly hair and floral wreath. Soldani Benzi produced his own version of the model. He was more concerned with details that he chased meticulously. Compared with the softness of the stone version, Soldani Benzi lends his bronze a sharper sculptural quality. For the anima dannata, Bernini chose the distorted face of a man staring at the floor, his mouth gaping, his eyes wide open, his brow deeply furrowed. His clearly visible teeth and curled-up tongue reinforce his aggressive expression; his state of damnation causes his hair to stand on end. Terror is expressed in these features.
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Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi
Bust of Anima Dannata, 1705/1707
Bronze with golden-red patina
height 40 cm
Inv.-No. SK517
Provenance: 1705 suggested as a subject by Prince Johann Adam Andreas I von Liechtenstein with Anima Beata (SK 516), 1707 acquired, 1920 disposed of from the Pirncely Collections; 1929 auction in Berlin; 1993 re-acquired, by Prince Hans-Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein
Further works on display
Dancing Faun, 1695/1697
Medici Venus, c. 1699/1702
Diana and Callisto, c. 1695/1700
The Judgement of Paris, 1695/1700
Bust of Cicero, 1695
Bust of Agrippa, 1695
Bust of Faustina the Elder, 1695
Bust of Vitellius, 1695
Bust of Augustus, 1695
Bust of Faustina the Younger, 1695
Bust of Hadrian, 1695
Bust of Seneca, 1695
Bacchanalia, 1695/1697
Child Bacchante, Clipping Cupid’s Wings, 1695
Time reveals the Truth, 1695/1697
Peace embraces Justice, 1694
The Triumph of Virtue over Vice, c. 1701/1706
Christ on the Mount of Olives, c. 1722
Bust of Marcus Aurelius as a Boy, 1707/1712
Bacchus, 1699/1701
Bust of the Anima Beata, 1705/1707
Deposition, 1710/25
Venus plucking the wings of Cupid, c. 1718/1719
Related themes
Bronzes from the Collections of the Prince von und zu Liechtenstein
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