Bernini, Giovanni Lorenzo (Gianlorenzo) (1598-1680) by Scholes, Robert

Giovanni Lorenzo (Gianlorenzo) Bernini (1598 – 1680)

Few artists have put their stamp on an age as Bernini did on his. When you think of Baroque sculpture and architecture, you must think of Bernini. And he could paint, too. Born in Naples, he began his career as a student of his father Pietro. He soon came under the patronage of the Barberini family, and when Maffeo Barberini, for whom he designed a palace, was subsequently installed as Pope Urban VIII, in 1623, Bernini was put in charge of building operations at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, where one of his early works was the canopy over the high altar (1624-33). He also created the soaring marble, gilded bronze and stucco for the Basilica (1657-66). As a sculptor his works ranged from careful portraits in stone to astonishing scenes from religious history and classical mythology. The facade and the piazza in front of the Basilica are also his work. Richard Aldington, in The New Age, found him “tasteless” (NA 12:20:481). Very few people feel neutral about Baroque art and Bernini especially. Bernini, in particular, often tried, in his sculpture, to catch his subjects at moments of intense action, rendering powerful emotions and violent movement in cool, still marble.    Chair of St. Peter



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