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Alessandro Algardi (1598-1654)

April 7, 2011






Meeting of Leo I and Attila

Alessandro Algardi 1646-1653.


St. Peter’s, Vatican.

A contemporary foil to Bernini, Alessandro Algardi received a commission from Pope Innocent X for a history relief scene of Pope Leo the Great, a vision of Sts. Peter and Paul, and Attila (Preimesberger).  Algardi is unlike Bernini in that his style is much more Classical than High Baroque.  He was trained in the Bolognese Academy and was closed friends with Domenichino.  Such a scene from the 5th century was of interest to the current pope because it showed Pope Leo saving Christianity from the barbarians.

The figures in this monumental relief are Classically positioned in two separate realms: earth and heavenly vision.  This is reminiscent of Renaissance compositions including visions.  However, this relief contains a very Baroque aspect.  Figures at the bottom are carved in such high relief that their limbs are sculpted in the round, literally protruding out of the actual picture plane and spilling over the architectural frame.  Algardi used a terracotta modella in preparation for this relief.  With the terracotta, he was able to sculpt it using an additive method rather than subtractive.

Rudolf Preimesberger. “Algardi, Alessandro.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. 7 Apr. 2011 <;.

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