Alessandro Algardi (Bologna 1598 - Rome 1654)
Baptism of Christ
45.5 cm (height)
This small sculpture attributed to Algardi consists of two gilt bronze blocks joined on a marble base. According to sources of the period, the artist presented a cast of the same model to Pope Innocent X Pamphili to win his favor. The work in the Corsini collection is notable for the masterly quality of the modelling, precision of detail and compositional balance. The space separating the two principal figures is closed above through the gesture of the Baptist’s arm, as it reaches out to pour water over Jesus, and below by the waters of the Jordan.
The small bronze is characteristic of Algardi’s work as a leading exponent of seventeenth-century classicist sculpture. Hailing from Bologna, the artist was a kind of alter ego of Bernini, opposing the predominant Baroque current with a different approach to sculpture which proved highly successful, in particular during the pontificate of Innocent X Pamphili.