Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini was a highly versatile artist who not only achieved universal acclaim as a city planner, but also had many other talents in the arts. Throughout his life, he found time to write paintings, drawings and comedy plays, participated in theatrical performances, designed complex stage machines, created original decor items and unique portable structures for carnival and funeral processions.
Biography of Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini
Already at the age of eight, the future sculptor first visited Rome, where his father often traveled to present finished projects to customers. In the Italian capital, many influential people drew attention to the talent of the young Bernini, including the painter Annibale Carracci and the current Pope Paul V.
Among Bernini’s youthful works, the emotional busts and garden sculpture of Amalfei, created for his patron, stand out. By the age of 22, Giovanni had become a very famous sculptor and even received an order to make a bust of the Pope Paul V.
But the real fame came to Bernini in the period from 1619 to 1625. after the creation of 4 sculptures on mythological themes, which today adorn the exposition of the Borghese Roman gallery. In his works, the artist managed to combine the harmony of the Renaissance and the dynamics of Mannerism, thus heralding the birth of a new style the baroque to the world. Bernini’s masterpieces are overflowing with dramatic realism, the brilliant sculptor embodied in stone the natural forms and deep emotions experienced by the characters with amazing accuracy.
After being elected Pope Urban VIII, the young 25-year-old artist became the lead architect of St. Peter’s Church and received many appointments to prestigious positions in the pontiff’s retinue. Among other things, Bernini was entrusted with the task of decorating the interior of the main Catholic church, where the architect’s genius was fully manifested. The ciborium created by the master over the tomb of the biblical apostle cost the Pope an astronomical amount of 200,000 scudi, but the sculptor’s masterpiece was worth this huge amount of money.
In the 1630s, Bernini gained fame as the best sculptural portrait painter in Europe, and many influential persons of the Old World became his customers.
Among the best works of the master are busts:
- the almighty French Cardinal Richelieu;
- Italian Duke Francesco I d’Este;
- British monarch Charles I and his wife Henrietta.
The death of Urban VIII in 1644 did not change the life of the sculptor at all. Both under Innocent X and under Alexander VII, Bernini remained the main architect of the papal throne. He received a huge number of orders and until the end of his days did not feel the need and grief. Having married Catherine Tezio in 1639, the artist found happiness in his personal life. He became the father of eleven children, among whom it is worth highlighting the son of Domenico the author of a detailed biography of the brilliant master.
In 1665, at the invitation of Louis XIV, Bernini went to France to complete the interior decoration of the Louvre. But the monarch did not like the ideas of the genius Italian and the cooperation ended in nothing. Upon his return to Italy, Giovanni Lorenzo continued to create in the field of architecture and urban planning until his death on November 28, 1680.
There is no grandiose monument on the grave of the great artist in the cozy Roman church of Santa Maria Madzhare. It is adorned with a modest Latin epitaph on a tile in the floor, and it says that Giovanni Bernini rests here in peace. But the name of the brilliant architect will forever remain in the treasury of world culture.
The most famous works of Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini
Dozens, if not hundreds, of the famous works of Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini are rightfully considered masterpieces of Italian Baroque art. It is difficult to single out the most significant among them, but they deserve a separate mention in our article:
- The cycle of mythological sculptures Enea, Anchise e Ascanio fuggitivi da Troia, il Ratto di Proserpina, il David and l’Apollo e Dafne (1619-1625) is a gorgeous example of the maestro’s early work. According to most critics, it was this cycle that opened the Baroque era in European art.
- The sculptural altar group in the Church of Ecstasy of St. Teresa (1645-1652) is the best work of Bernini according to his personal confession. This composition by the master is filled with sacred eroticism, drama and dynamism.
- “Fountain of the Four Rivers” (1648-1651) one of the most popular Roman fountains, the construction of which during the period of severe famine was received with hostility by most of the townspeople. The four rivers symbolize the power of the Pope on four continents (Europe, Asia, Africa and America).
- St. Peter’s Square (1656-1667) is a gathering place for crowds of believers eager to see the pope perform live. The pinnacle of the artist’s urban planning skills, his most famous masterpiece in the field of landscape design.