Francesco Mochi and the Edge of Tradition
Estelle Lingo, Associate Professor of Art History, University of Washington, Seattle
Prevailing accounts of the development of baroque sculpture take for granted the centrality of Gianlorenzo Bernini without probing the historical processes that led to the dominance of his art. The book Dr. Estelle Lingo is preparing takes the self-consciously ambitious sculptures of Bernini’s older contemporary, the Tuscan Francesco Mochi (1580-1654), as the entry point for an inquiry into the historical and cultural forces driving the transformation of sculpture in the first half of the seventeenth century. Mochi’s early biographer Giovanni Battista Passeri reported that the sculptor “always wanted to show himself a rigorous imitator of the Florentine manner.” Mochi’s determination to carry forward a Florentine and Michelangelesque tradition, while reconciling it with post-Tridentine religious imperatives, produced an extreme tension in his art that resulted in some of the most breathtaking sculptures of the century—though ultimately fracturing his career. In this lecture Dr. Lingo will present new work on Mochi’s highly unusual bronze equestrian monuments to Ranuccio I and Alessandro Farnese in Piacenza. The sculptures’ distinctive features, Lingo will argue, point to Mochi’s reflection upon Piacenza’s political circumstances and reveal unexpected aspects of the sculptor’s commitment to the Florentine tradition in a post-Tridentine climate of reform and censure.