Mochi's Edge and Bernini's Baroque

About the Author

Estelle Lingo is associate professor of early modern European art and Donald E. Petersen Endowed Professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, and author of François Duquesnoy and the Greek Ideal. She is the 2016–2018 Andrew W. Mellon Professor at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Mochi's Edge and Bernini's Baroque

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Estelle Lingo

This book takes the extraordinary art of the Tuscan sculptor Francesco Mochi (1580–1654) as the entry point for an inquiry into the historical and cultural forces reshaping sculpture at the beginning of the 17th century.


Mochi has long been understood as an early innovator of the baroque style whose career was eclipsed by the rise of his younger contemporary Gianlorenzo Bernini. But for his sole 17th-century biographer, what distinguished Mochi’s sculpture was his determination to adhere to “the Florentine manner.” This study argues that the post-Tridentine religious climate and the demands of consolidating absolutist regimes posed specific challenges for sculpture, particularly as the medium was developed during the first half of the 16th century by Florentine sculptors, most famously Michelangelo. As analyzed here, Mochi’s highly distinctive style stemmed from his attempt to carry forward a Florentine and Michelangelesque tradition of sculpture—above all its commitments to the representation of the body, the materiality of sculpture, and the agency of the artist—and to reconcile that tradition with imperatives of his own day. Mochi’s ambitious undertaking produced an extreme tension in his art that resulted in some of the century’s most breathtaking sculptures, though ultimately fracturing his career. The book offers new interpretations of Mochi’s monumental works and a historically engaged account of the origins of baroque sculpture. The volume is enriched by specially commissioned color photographs of Mochi’s sculptures.

  • Hardcover
  • 8.9 x 11.8 inches
  • 328 pages, 6 b+w and 244 color illustrations
  • Published: 2017

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