Habakkuk and the Angel

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Bernini, Habakkuk and the Angel, 1655-61

"In those days, the Babylonians came to the king and said to him, Deliver us Daniel, who hath destroyed thee and thy house. And the King saw that they pressed upon him violently; and, being constrained by necessity he delivered Daniel to them; and they cast him into the den of lions, and he was there six days...Now there was in Judea a prophet called Habakkuk: and he had boiled pottage, and had broken bread in a bowl, and was going into the field to carry it to the reapers. And the angel of the Lord said to Habakkuk, Carry the dinner which thou hast into Babylon to Daniel, who is in the lions' den. And Habakkuk said, Lord, I never saw Babylon, nor do I know the den...And Daniel said, Thou hast remembered me, O God, and thou hast not forsaken them that love thee..." (Hibbard 187)

Bernini's sculpting skills surpass all other sculptors of his time. The attention to detail that Bernini has makes his work look realistic. The facial expressions portrayed on his sculpture's figures depict the actual emotion and makes the viewer feel what is happening in the scene Bernini has sculpted. In Habakkuk and the Angel, the story here is that the angel has been sent down to Habakkuk to persuade him to take food to Daniel. This apocryphal legend comes from the legend of Bel and the Dragon and is appended to the Book of Daniel in the Bible. The Angel has been sent to Habakkuk to help save Daniel. When Habakkuk stresses that he does not know the way to Babylon and does not know where Daniel is, the Angel leads him there by grabbing hold of his hair. When they arrive the Angel points to Daniel who is praying. 

Bernini sculpted Habakkuk and the Angel for the Chigi chapel. Habakkuk and the Angel are placed across from the sculpture of Daniel in the Lion's Den. This was done in order to further demonstrate this religious story. The Angel's finger in Habakkuk and the Angel is able to point over to the den where Daniel is being kept. Bernini knew exactly what he was doing by putting the two sculptures together this way. 

Bernini's late style is apparent in this sculpture. Bernini's sculpture contained elongation of the body. In this sculpture both the Angel and Habakkuk are extended. The Angel's arm pointing towards Daniel seems to come out farther and lead the viewer to Daniel. Habakkuk's calf is also much larger than it might actually be, but it seems to make him more strong even though an Angel delicately leads him by the hair. Bernini also shows gesture expressively in his late work, where often emotional expression was simplified. However the expressions seen in his late work like this one still carried tremendous emotional power. The Angel's face looks simple while Habakkuk's does not. His emotion on his face almost seems to be one of fear, but it's quite the opposite. He is taken over by the presence of this angel leading him to Daniel. Bernini's work still has the great effect of his earlier pieces, and this sculpture is just as beautiful.

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