Bernini shows Pluto’s rippling muscles to convey incontestable strength. His power is emphasized by the sculptor’s decision to show the god’s hands clutching at Proserpina’s waist and thigh so forcefully that her skin bulges between the gaps in his fingers like dough. To drive home the physical and emotional intensity of the scene, he renders a single tear on her cheek.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini, detail of Pluto and Proserpina (The Rape of Proserpina), 1621-22. Image via Wikimedia Commons.