Speaking statues: Bernini's Apollo and Daphne at the Villa Borghese

Genevieve Warwick*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This essay extends recent debate on the performative aspects of art objects and the performance of spectators in viewing them. Seventeenth-century commentators attributed lifelike qualities of speech and movement to Bernini's sculp tures. This article focuses on his Apollo and Daphne, the work that established his international reputation. Using contemporary literary sources, including poetic evocations of the Borghese collection, guidebooks, diaries and biographies of the artist, it examines Bernini's theatrical conception of sculpture with specific reference to this early work. It considers Bernini's illusionistic means for engaging bodily and verbal responses on the part of his viewers, which in turn gave seeming movement and voice to his works.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-381
Number of pages29
JournalArt History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004


Dive into the research topics of 'Speaking statues: Bernini's Apollo and Daphne at the Villa Borghese'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this