The plot of the Apollo and Daphne sculpture was an episode from a famous mythological work. Cupid was offended by Apollo and decided to punish him. He pierced the hero’s heart with an arrow of love, and the heart of the nymph Daphne was struck by an arrow, which on the contrary destroys love.
Then one day a young man saw the daughter Peneas of the river god and fell in love with her. But she began to run away from Apollo. The young man tried to catch a girl for a long time, but he did not succeed. After some time, Daphne asked for help from her father and from the mother goddess of the Earth. They turned their daughter into a laurel tree.
And the sculpture by Bernini depicts this pursuit and the transformation of a girl into a tree. Apollo and Daphne is a complex plastic image of rapid movement. It must be viewed from all angles.
Every time you can notice something new in the composition. If you look at the sculpture for the first time, you will see Apollo chasing Daphne. But after a while you begin to notice the magical transformation of a living being into a tree. Before you is still a beautiful nymph, and his hands are already beginning to turn into twigs and leaves. And the legs begin to grow into the ground.
Bernini masterfully owned his chisel, so all the curls in the girl’s hair, the transition of the body into the tree bark, are so carved. He also knew how to properly polish the marble surface to show the beauty and greatness of his work.
The sculpture is filled with life, changing under the eyes of people. If you go to her left, you can see the joy of the young man because he caught the fugitive, as well as fear in the eyes of the girl. Full face changes the look of the composition: Daphne is no longer so worried, but Apollo is terrified and desperate.
This artistic effect was used by Bernini in his work. He combined in it the contradictory principles of images.