Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Born: December 7, 1598  - Death: November 28, 1680    Located in: The Caravaggio Room  

An intensely expressive and innovative artist, Bernini created some the most renowned paintings, architecture and above all, sculptures in Rome. His creations held strong influence over the Baroque period in Italy, and even today his depictions of religious ecstasy are said to be unmatched. This culminated in his masterpiece, The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, a marble work in the Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome. He also changed the face of portraiture through sculpting with his marble busts, such as his piece of Francesco I d’Este (1610 – 1658).

His works as a master sculptor include, Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius, from 1619, The Rape of Proserpina, completed in 1622, David, finished in 1625 and Apollo and Daphne, completed in 1624. The aforementioned works are all marble works housed in the Galleria Borghese in Rome. He also executed his famous Roman Fountains, the Fontana del Tritone (Triton Fountain) in the Piazza Barberini and the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of Four Rivers) in the Piazza Navona

Born in Naples, Bernini was the son of sculptor, Pietro Bernini (1562 – 1629), who also contributed pieces to Rome’s public artworks. The prominent Baroque painter, Annibale Carracci (1560 – 1609) was quite taken by the young Bernini’s raw talent, gaining him recognition, which eventually landed his patronage with Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1576 – 1633). Pope Urban VII (1588 – 1644) and Pope Alexander VII (1599 – 1667) both commissioned Bernini to complete several architectural and sculptural works for the illustrious Saint Peter’s Basilica. For some time Bernini worked exclusively under Borghese, but was later patronized by the Cornaro family.

The artist’s painted works, while not of the genius of his sculpture and done mostly in his youth, were no less expressive. They include a number of Self-Portraits, a Portrait of Pope Urban VII, the David with the Head of Goliath, Saint Andrew and Saint Thomas, Portrait of a Boy, and now in the Uffizi Gallery, Head of a Youth or Head of an Angel.

Bernini left a legacy in Rome, from which he drew upon his inspiration from ancient Hellenistic sculpting and forged it into the dynamic presence of the Baroque era. His personal life is one of dramatic circumstances, due to his intense emotion, spirituality and popularity.

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