Artwork of the month: A recently restored masterwork

19February 2012

This sculpture is truly amazing now that it has been restored to its assumed original orientation.  We used to joke about how it looked as if he was swimming, or diving into water rather than praying.  Turns out the jokes had merit.
Francesco Mochi
Italian, 1580-1654
“St. Paul the Hermit”
, marble
Before restoration.

Andrea Bergondi
Italian, 1722-1789
“St. Paul the Hermit”
1772, marble
Recently restored, repositioned and reattributed.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts purchased “St. Paul The Hermit” in the year I was born, 1973.
It was believed to be the work of Italian sculptor Francesco Mochi.
Eike Schmidt, Curator of Sculpture and Design at the Minneapolis Institute of arts, discovered that the sculpture was by Andrea Bergondi in 1775.  The Midwest Art Conservation Center, restored the sculpture, removing cement that was added in the 1960s to create a solid base, cleaned it, and reorientated the sculpture so St. Paul would appear to be praying instead of diving.  
St. Paul is the first hermit saint of the Christian church. He retreated to Egypt to live a solitary life dedicated to the worship of God.
Regardless of its story, this sculpture is on exhibit on the third floor of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and is worthy of your time.  Go check it out, spend some time with this sculpture.