Blessed Soul (Bernini)

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Blessed Soul
Latin: Anima Beata
Blessed Soul by Bernini.jpg
Artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Year 1619 (1619)
Catalogue 7
Type Sculpture
Medium Marble
Dimensions Life-size
Location Rome

The Blessed Soul (Italian: Anima Beata) is a bust by the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Executed around 1619, it is a pendant piece to the Damned Soul. It is reckoned that they were both commissioned by Cardinal Montoya, of whom Bernini also did a portrait bust. Their original location was sacristy of the church of San Giacomo degli Spagnuoli, but they were then moved in the late 19th century, and then to the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See in Piazza di Spagna.[1]

Critical Reception[edit]

Despite being relatively unknown, the Blessed Soul was noted by some visitors to Rome. In particular, the painter Joshua Reynolds stated that the sculpture "has all the sweetness and perfect happiness expressed in her countenance that can be imagined." [2] However, the Blessed Soul has not been considered one of Bernini's finest works in more recent times. Wittkower points to the "doughy hair of the Anima Beata",[3] while Hibbard finds it uninspiring when compared to the Damned Soul, mentioning that 'virtuous appearances' do not translate too well to sculpture.[4]

Recent scholarship on the sculpture has queried whether its topic is not the Christian personifications of blessedness but a depiction of a nymph.[5]


  1. ^ Wittkower 1955, p. 233.
  2. ^ Reynolds 1659, p. 7.
  3. ^ Wittkower 1955, p. 233.
  4. ^ Hibbard 1990, p. 33.
  5. ^ Cueto, David García (2015-01-01). "On the original meanings of Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Anima beata and Anima dannata: Nymph and Satyr?". Sculpture Journal. 24 (1): 37–53. doi:10.3828/sj.2015.24.1.4. ISSN 1366-2724. 
  • Avery, Charles (1997). Bernini: Genius of the Baroque. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 9780500286333. 
  • Baldinucci, Filippo (2006) [1682]. The Life of Bernini. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 9780271730769. 
  • Bernini, Domenico (2011) [1713]. The Life of Giano Lorenzo Bernini. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 9780271037486. 
  • Hibbard, Howard (1990). Bernini. London: Penguin. ISBN 9780140135985. 
  • Mormando, Franco (2011). Bernini: His Life and His Rome. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226538525. 
  • Reynolds, Joshua (1659). Sir Joshua Reynolds' Notes and Observations on Pictures. Soho: John RSussell Smith. 
  • Wittkower, Rudolf (1955). Gian Lorenzo Bernini: The Sculptor of the Roman Baroque. London: Phaidon Press. ISBN 9780801414305.