Bernini, Gian Lorenzo (1598-1680)

"Bernini, Gian Lorenzo (1598-1680)" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Wednesday 11th January 2012

self-portrait of G.L.Bernini

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Italian architect, sculptor and scene-designer, was born in Naples in 1598 and died in Rome in 1680. He began his artistic way in the studio of his father Pietro Bernini, where studied the works of the greatest artists of Renaissance and Greek classic sculpture and architecture. His first four marble groups created in 1619-1625 for the cardinal Scipione Borghese proved the greatest talent of a master: Enea e Anchise, Ratto di Proserpina, David and Apollo e Dafne (see below on the right), in which the artist seems like wants to overcome the limits of material, giving life and movement to the stone image. (Left: self-portrait of Bernini)

With the election of Urban VIII in 1623, still young, Bernini took the highest place in the artistic environment of Rome and his carrier wouldn't know any decline, except a short period of leaving of a pope's court during the rule of Innocent X.

With the erection of the baldachino in St Peter's had begun the long activity of Bernini in the new St Peter's (4 pilasters with the vast niches and loggias with the relics, etc.) finished between 1657 and 1666 in times of pope Alexander VII, with the scenographic Scala Regia, statue of Constantine, which gave the new idea about an equestrian monument; and two extraordinary inventions: inside - a tribune with the Chair of St Peter and over it a window with the golden rays of light; outside - Piazza San Pietro and colonnade.

Fig: bernini-apollodafne

With the project of St Peter's square Bernini resolved the problem of external space of the basilica, designed in form of two hands of Church protecting and welcoming Christians, as well as the problem of visual effect of a very wide facade of the church and domination of a huge dome.

Bernini-Fiumi.JPG (22303 bytes)The signs of classic and Renaissance art are evident in such works of Bernini as Palazzo Berberini, churches in Castelgandolfo and Ariccia, and a church of Sant'Andrea al Quirinale (1658). Among the greatest architectural creations of the artist are also Palazzo di Montecitorio in Rome (1650-1655) and projects for the Palace of Louvre, for which reason Bernini went to France in 1665; numerous fountains (from Fontana dei fiumi (see on the left) in piazza Navona, to Fontana del Tritone in Piazza Barberini), where nature and urbanism co-exist in harmony.

bernini-gabriele bernini-ritratto
Fig: bernini-gabriele and bernini-ritratto

Together with the architectonic activity continued activity of Bernini as a sculptor, who created the new type of a burial monument: monuments of Urban VIII (1628-1647) and Alexander VII (1671-1678) in basilica of St Peter. His busts are example of psychological interpretations of the human portraits, such as bust of Paul V (Gall.Borghese), Francesco Barberini (Washington, Nat.Gall.), cardinal Scipione Borghese (Gall.Borghese), Ritratto di Costanza Buonarelli (see on the left) (Florence, Bargello), Luis XIV (Versailles), Gabriele Fonseca (see on the right) (church of San Lorenzo in Lucina).

His later sculptural groups are always full of life and movement: Santa Bibiana (1626), Estasi di Santa Teresa (see on the right) (1644-1652) (church of Santa Maria della Vittoria); Angels on the Ponte Sant'Angelo (now in Sant'Andrea delle Fratte (1667-1669); Beata Ludovica Albertoni (1671-1674) (church of San Francesco a Ripa). Bernini's scenographic talent developed during his experience as an organizer of theatre performances and holiday celebrations. The skills of scene-designer could be seen in artist's knowledge about light effects, blending of colors, fusion of sculpture and architecture.

bernini-fiumi bernini-estasi
Fig: bernini-fiumi and bernini-estasi

No one else could express in works of art life, ideals, myths and inspirations of papal Rome in 17th century, better than G.L.Bernini.

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