"To make a successful portrait, one should choose an kích hoạt and attempt khổng lồ represent it well; that the best time to render the mouth is when has just spoken or is just about to begin speaking; that one should try lớn catch this moment."
"There are two devices which can help the sculptor to lớn judge his work: one is not to lớn see it for a while. The other... Is khổng lồ look at his work through spectacles which will change its màu sắc and magnify or diminish it, so as to disguise it somehow to lớn his eye, and make it look as though it were the work of another."

Summary of Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Passion, above all else, ruled Italian sculptor & architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini. His extreme religious piety combined with a lifelong study of the sculptural form led lớn the introduction of a dynamic và exuberant style, focused on emotional expressionism, which perfectly embodied the Baroque period. Like Michelangelo before him, he became a master of marble, while remaining equally fluent in other media. His manner and vision was so innovative, it pioneered a new era in European sculpture that has influenced the size to this day. Bernini was also a leading figure in the emergence of Roman Baroque architecture along with his contemporaries, the architect Francesco Borromini & the painter and architect Pietro domain authority Cortona. His designs helped restore Rome to its former architectural glory through an extensive urban planning project taken on under his patronage by the powerful Roman Popes of the time.

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Bernini popularized the concept of "speaking likeness" in his work. He felt that capturing a person in mid-conversation, or just at the moment of uttering a word was the truest way to capture the authentic personality of his subjects.Bernini transformed the purpose of sculptural busts, which in the past were limited to serving as formal portraits for tombs. In his hands, they became an art form to present informal portraits of the living, a practice that hadn"t been widely used since Ancient Rome.Bernini changed the way sculptures were presented. He oftentimes created them "in the round," meaning works that stood alone in grand spaces, meant to lớn be seen on all sides from different perspectives by the viewer, enhancing the overall experience and intimacy with a piece.Heavily inspired by the theatrical, Bernini wrote, directed, and acted in plays, especially carnival satires. This flair for drama not only influenced his architecture và sculpture, but also led lớn his designing of stage sets and theatrical machinery, as well as a wide variety of decorative art objects including lamps, tables, mirrors, và even horse-drawn coaches epitomizing the Baroque love of detail and the ornate. This contributed to lớn the artist"s ability khổng lồ synthesize sculpture, painting, & architecture into a coherent conceptual and visual whole.

Important Art by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Progression of Art


Damned Soul

This bust was created early in Bernini"s career when the artist was twenty one years old. It shows a man"s screaming face, his features contorted with a wild expression of terror or even agony. This piece was commissioned alongside another bust Blessed Soul, which portrays a young beautiful woman looking up in blissful joy. When placed together, these sculptures juxtapose a duality of human emotion, the opposing spectrums between being blessed or being damned. As this piece looked down toward hell, the other represented looking up toward God. Damned Soul is believed by some lớn be a self-portrait. Bernini would have looked in a mirror and some believe he even cut his arm to lớn produce the agonized expression on his face. Although produced early in Bernini"s career, these works brought together many elements that would remain present in all of Bernini"s future works such as religious salvation, intense human emotion, & technical skill in sensual depictions of the human body. This dramatic depiction of the flesh was also new in art, contrasting lớn previous Mannerist styles, which often attempted to recreate ancient Roman and Greek traditions. In contrast lớn this, Bernini & other Baroque artists lượt thích Caravaggio & Rubens paved the way for a new way of depicting the human toàn thân with a new focus on sensuality.

Marble Sculpture - Palazzo di Spagna, Rome


The Rape of Proserpina

This sculpture depicts a story from Ovid"s Metamorphoses in which Pluto falls in love with the goddess Proserpina & abducts her, taking her lớn the underworld where he reigns as king. Pluto is shown with a regal crown & scepter while the three-headed dog, Cerberus, is behind ensuring no one interferes. Pluto grabs Proserpina around the waist & thigh while she struggles to escape; she is pushing away his head while her other arm reaches out with helpless abandon. In this work Bernini shows his fascination with depicting scenes in dramatic mid-action, inviting the viewer to lớn witness the piece and become fully absorbed. His son Domenico described it as an "amazing contrast of tenderness & cruelty," seen in the details of Pluto"s fingers pressing into Proserpina"s thigh, creating an extraordinary illusion as the hard and cold marble seems soft and delicate in contrast with the violence. Art historian Daniele Pinton points out that the work is characteristic of Bernini"s sculpture in "depicting not a figure but an event." Bernini attempts khổng lồ freeze a moment in time & the action is suspended in the midst of the drama. His work was also often created with the purpose of being shown in the round in a large space, so that people could walk around it and encounter it through various perspectives. This was highly innovative for the time and infused a breath of fresh air into the genre. This work is now seen as a Baroque masterpiece & has been referenced by contemporary artists such as Jeff Koons who recreated a stainless steel sculpture in its likeness.

Marble Sculpture - Galleria Borghese, Rome


Apollo & Daphne

Apollo & Daphne was completed when Bernini was twenty-seven và is similar lớn his The Rape of Proserpina as it shows a moment of violence. It depicts the instance, from Ovid"s Metamorphoses, in which Apollo, the God of Light & Poetry, is pricked with one of Cupid"s arrows, causing him to lớn fall madly in love with river nymph Daphne. Daphne was devoted khổng lồ the goddess Diana & had pledged to remain a virgin for life, so when Apollo pursues her she calls to the river God for help. This sculpture shows the climax of the story when she is aided by the Gods and is transformed into a laurel tree to avoid Apollo"s capture. According to lớn the story, "Torpor seized on all her body, và a thin bark closed around her gentle bosom, và her hair became as moving leaves." Bernini"s mastery of movement & drama between the two beings was unparalleled in his time. His sculptures broke the tradition of previous Renaissance sculptures as Apollo"s robe whirls around the figures encouraging the viewer khổng lồ follow it around và the composition shows the progression of Daphne"s transformation. Daphne is shown as a woman made of flesh & skin from behind, but only by walking around the sculpture can the viewer see that her hair & outstretched arm are growing leaves và roots. This creates a theatrical effect, a moment of intense action and emotion that shows Bernini"s skillful handling of the marble. Artist Peter Rockwell said that, "any sculptor who looks at Bernini"s Apollo & Daphne can only come away astonished." His technical skill and innovation has inspired countless modern artists such as Ian Hamilton Finlay, who drew directly from this sculpture in his work of the same name.

Marble sculpture - Galleria Borghese, Rome



Bernini"s sculpture of David depicts the Biblical moment just before the young man threw the stone that slew the giant Goliath, an action that would make him king. His body toàn thân is twisted & his facial expression is one of concentration and tension. His eyes are fixed on the target & his body is in a stance ready to lớn swing his arm & throw the stone, lượt thích a spring about khổng lồ be released. Armor lies at his feet, referring lớn the Bible text, which states that David removed his armor to allow him freer movement, reflecting his complete trust in God"s aid. David was a popularly depicted subject by Renaissance artists và sculptors such as Donatello, Verrocchio, & Michelangelo. But Bernini"s sculpture differed radically from the poised, forward-facing forms that were traditional. Also, instead of showing the moment after David has defeated Goliath, which was customary, he shows him about khổng lồ fire. This sculpture shows Bernini"s characteristic portrayal of the decisive moment (an idea coined by the famous photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, & practiced by many later artists). He shows the figure as part of a wider story by creating the illusion of movement through the figure"s stance and facial expression. Art historian Emma Barker writes that Bernini"s "twisting figures and deeply carved draperies defy the limits of niches or pedestals & cannot be bound or framed by a single view." Instead the viewer is encouraged to lớn walk around the sculpture, taking it in from multiple angles to fully appreciate every detail. David"s face was believed by Bernini"s son to be a self-portrait, which may be how he achieved the exact expression he wanted, giving us insight into how Bernini worked. This sculpture shows a key change between the Renaissance and Baroque. Renaissance artists previously worked from ancient sculptures whereas Bernini worked directly from life.

Marble Sculpture - Galleria Borghese, Rome


Portrait Bust of Costanza Bonarelli

This is one of many portrait busts by Bernini yet it is chất lượng because it was not a commission; it was a "purely for pleasure" project for the artist. It depicts Bernini"s lover Costanza in partial undress. Her slightly xuất hiện mouth contributes a great sensuality lớn the portrait, as it would have been carved from life. Costanza was married lớn Bernini"s collaborator Matteo Bonarelli during their affair. Lớn make matters worse, Costanza would go on to have an affair with Bernini"s brother Luigi, which resulted in the artist ordering a servant lớn slash his lover"s face. Because of the controversy, this piece has always fascinated viewers. But the real genius of the piece is in its showcasing of Bernini"s specialty of creating a "speaking likeness" of a person caught in the act of talking, or expression, rather than merely posed. Bernini was reported to have said that "the best time lớn render the mouth is when has just spoken or is just about khổng lồ begin speaking; one should try to lớn catch this moment." The art historian E.H. Gombrich described his experience of seeing the bust in person: "When I saw it last in the museum in Florence, a ray of sunlight was playing on the bust and the whole figure seemed to lớn breathe và come khổng lồ life. Bernini has caught a transient expression which we are sure must have been most characteristic of his sitter." In Sarah McPhee"s book, Bernini"s Beloved, she writes that the bust "captures the riveting individuality of the sitter. The passion of her youth, the recklessness of her behavior, the intelligence that would see her to lớn wealth & success are all suspended in the stone."

Marble bust - National Museum of Bargello, Florence

St. Peter"s Baldachin

St. Peter"s Baldachin is an elaborately curvaceous bronze canopy designed by Bernini within St. Peter"s Basilica in Vatican City. The canopy covers the high altar of the basilica & is a focal point due to lớn its large scale và ornate design. The work consists of four helical columns raised on marble plinths with four large angels in each corner. On the đứng đầu of the canopy is a sphere and a cross, symbolizing Christ"s redemption. The baldachin sits directly under the dome of the basilica and on vị trí cao nhất of St. Peter"s tomb. By being placed in this position, it simultaneously draws attention to lớn the heavenly realm above, the earthly realm of the church, & hell below. It draws attention to lớn the vast scale of the church & the scale of the people within it, serving as a visual reminder of the vastness of God"s creation compared to lớn the human beings inhabiting it. Baldachin was a collaborative work. His rival Francesco Borromini, his father Pietro, his brother Luigi, và other artists who contributed lớn the decorative elements assisted Bernini. This project sealed the artist"s status as Rome"s most prominent sculptor, và the fact that this piece was encompassed inside a Michelangelo-designed dome, solidified that career validation.


The Ecstacy of Saint Teresa

Cardinal Federico Cornaro commissioned this work for his family chapel. In it, we see the Spanish nun and mystic Saint Teresa of Avila. She is shown on a cloud, suggesting her ascension into heaven, with golden rays of light pouring down. A hidden window above the scene infuses it with natural light. A winged angel holds a spear about lớn be thrust into Teresa"s heart as an expression of ecstasy floods her face. This work displays Bernini"s technical brilliance & innovation in his manipulation of marble as the folds of Teresa"s robes, rather than the controlled folds of classical sculptures, are shown whirling around Teresa contributing to lớn the sense of movement. Bernini drew from Teresa"s own famous account about her religious experience after the spear pierced her heart, "leaving me all on fire with a wondrous love for God. The pain was so great that it caused me khổng lồ utter several moans; và yet so exceedingly sweet is this greatest of pains that it is impossible lớn desire khổng lồ be rid of it, or for the soul to lớn be content with less than God." The ecstasy described in St. Teresa"s writing has fascinated viewers và there has been disagreement over whether the sculpture depicts a sexual experience. Some scholars deny that this could have been Bernini"s intention at the time, however the sensual depictions are faithful lớn Teresa"s own account. Petersson argues that, "to see Teresa as an erotic figure limits her severely. Her entire being is consumed by a divine passion which possesses body, mind and soul at the same moment." Bernini depicts not just a spiritual ecstasy but also a physical ecstasy that is the result of divine intervention. This work is one of Bernini"s most unique as it is a complex ensemble of sculpture, painting, decoration, architecture, and light, creating a unified whole. The Cornaro family is also present, their sculptures looking onto the scene from the side creating a further theatrical effect. Art historian Robert Petersson writes that the chapel achieves "a single, overpowering effect, from the heavenly area at the vị trí cao nhất through the saintly và the mundane (including us) down to lớn the zone of death at the bottom." The work can be seen as over-theatrical but Gombrich argues that the artist deliberately cast aside tradition and depicted a moment of heightened emotion that had previously not been attempted by artists. This became a key feature of the Baroque period that was also present in works by Caravaggio, Rubens, & Velazquez.

Marble sculpture - Santa Maria Della Vittoria, Rome


Gian Lorenzo Bernini was born in 1598, the sixth of thirteen children of Angelica Galante và Pietro Bernini. Bernini"s childhood was spent in Naples và he began sculpting from an early age working closely with his father, a successful Mannerist sculptor who carried out prestigious commissions in Naples & later Rome. Bernini was a deeply religious Catholic & created his first work at the age of eight. His father encouraged his skill, recognizing early the prodigy he would become. In fact, he was presaged, "the Michelangelo of his age," according khổng lồ Gian"s son & biographer Domenico Bernini. This lifelong dedication to lớn practice would lead khổng lồ Bernini"s development of his own style which would go on khổng lồ greatly contribute to the Baroque movement.

The Bernini family moved khổng lồ Rome in 1606 as Pietro was invited by the Pope lớn work on the basilica Santa Maria Maggiore. Bernini"s first sculpture The Goat Amalthea with the Infant dòng yamaha jupiter and a Faun was started when Bernini was eleven years old. It was reported that when Cardinal Maffeo Barbenini visited the Bernini family workshop he warned Pietro Bernini to be careful, as his son would soon surpass his father. This period had a significant impact on Bernini"s artistic career, as Rome was a melting pot of artists of all types, from sculptors and painters khổng lồ architects, masons and goldsmiths. Work for artists in Rome was flush during most of the seventeenth century as popes funded the modernization and rebuilding of the city.

Bernini"s reputation for artistic mastery flourished in the city. Cardinal Scipione Borghese told his uncle, Pope Paul V, about Bernini"s work which led lớn his employment by a succession of six Popes, a role held by Michelangelo before him. This established him within a solid career that would continue for life. Pope Urban VIII reportedly said khổng lồ him, "you are made for Rome, và Rome for you."

Mature Period

Bernini"s first mature sculpture was of Saint Lawrence, completed in 1617. It was described as an "act of pious devotion" khổng lồ his patron saint và showcased the importance of religion & the theme of devotion, which continued throughout his artistic career. From 1618 khổng lồ 1625, Bernini worked prolifically, creating masterpieces such as The Rape of Proserpina, David và Apollo & Daphne. Alongside these large-scale sculptures Bernini also created portrait busts, capturing what is now described as a "speaking likeness," or the capturing of a person in action or at the point of uttering words. He said that "the trắng marble has khổng lồ assume the likeness of a person, it has to have color, spirit & life," which made his busts differ from more traditional forms và paved the way for a new style. In 1629, Bernini became the chief architect of the Fabric di San Pietro, the institution responsible for maintaining St. Peter"s Basilica. In August of the same year Bernini"s father died, but Bernini still produced, solidifying his period of dominance in Rome.

His association with the court of Rome lasted for fifty years along with close ties to each Pope. According to lớn art historian Daniele Pinton, this was significant because "the history of art affords no other examples with such characteristics, of such creative continuity, for such a long time, by the work of a single artist." Bernini worked closely with his brother Luigi & was naturally entrepreneurial, remaining the dominant sculptor & architect in the city. He often clashed with Francesco Borromini, another noted architect who often lost out on work to Bernini due khổng lồ the Pope"s favoritism. Bernini"s workshop was organized like a factory; he rarely refused commissions và delegated work to his assistants, even collaborating once with Borromini on St. Peter"s Baldachin despite their rivalry.

Bernini had an affair with his assistant Matteo Bonarelli"s wife Costanza, during which he created a bust of her. This pioneered a new era in European sculpture as busts were usually formal portraits reserved for tombs, & had not been used for informal portraits since Ancient Rome. The bust expressed the desire và intimacy between Costanza and Bernini, which would eventually end in scandal. Bernini was known lớn have a short temper and when he found out that Costanza was having an affair with his brother Luigi, he went after him in rage, beating him almost to lớn death, then ordered a servant to slash Costanza"s face. This was a great scandal in Rome at the time, yet due to lớn his position as the Pope"s friend, Bernini was not punished. Instead, he was ordered lớn marry, và thus pursued an arranged marriage with Caterina Tezio in 1639. They later had eleven children. In an ironic twist lớn this messy story, Luigi was banished from Rome & Costanza was imprisoned, convicted of adultery.

During Pope Alexander VII"s pontificate (1655-67), Bernini attempted lớn transform Rome through a costly urban planning project. He managed to lớn recreate the "glory of Rome" that had begun in the 15th century, & he focused on architecture including the piazza leading khổng lồ St Peter"s.

Bernini worked for a stint in Paris in 1665 and this was the only substantial amount of time he was away from Rome since arriving from Naples. He became a popular figure while in France, even being recognized as he walked Parisian streets. King Louis XIV had invited Bernini and other Italian architects lớn work on the Louvre Palace but Bernini"s designs were rejected. He was open about his dislike for French culture và art, making it difficult to gain further commissions in Paris và Bernini"s only artwork that remains from this time is a bust of King Louis XIV. After returning to lớn Rome Bernini created an equestrian statue of Louis XIV but when it was delivered lớn Paris, Louis XIV was unhappy with it and had the head replaced.

Back in Rome Bernini continued lớn work for Pope Alexander VII then Pope Clement IX, carrying out improvements for cathedrals & churches in the city. He also created Pope Clement IX"s tomb monument and a statue of the successive pope Clement X. Bernini"s final work was Salvator Mundi, finished in 1679. It is a marble sculpture of Christ, which he described as his "darling" created out of devotion. He died in 1680 at the age of eighty one and was buried alongside his parents in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.

When Bernini was alive his work was admired for its innovative presentation of sculpture in new ways, pioneering a new era in European sculpture that became synonymous with the Baroque movement. Leopolgo Cicognara wrote that "perhaps no one, before or after Gian Lorenzo, has left so deep a mark on such a long period of art history; Bernini is synonymous with the Baroque." His work also went beyond what art was expected to vì - his work was designed khổng lồ affect viewers with all the senses & could aid religious experiences, not just on a rational màn chơi but also on an emotional one.

He had a major impact on the đô thị of Rome, shaping its architecture và leaving a mark that few artists have since. Bernini is part of a succession of great Italian sculptors placed alongside Donatello, Michelangelo, và Canova.

Bernini was not without his critics. By the over of his life there was a reaction against the extravagance of his work. Scholars lượt thích Johann Winckelmann believed art should appeal to lớn the mind whereas Bernini"s art appealed excessively to the senses. In fact, "Baroque" was initially deemed a derogatory term in regards to lớn the theatrical nature of Bernini"s & other artists" work. However, by the kết thúc of the 19th và early 20th centuries, art historians began re-evaluating Bernini"s work, writing about the Baroque movement positively, và in the last few decades there have been multiple exhibitions of Bernini"s work, placing him as the indisputable father of Baroque sculpture.

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Bernini also had a significant impact on future artists, as his focus on sensuality, the flesh, và the human body paved the way for many innovators. In particular, the German Expressionists were highly influenced by Bernini và Baroque art due to their focus on the human experience và intense emotion. Contemporary artists have also referenced Bernini"s work such as Ian Hamilton Finlay & Jeff Koons. His technical expertise continues khổng lồ be studied và his insistence that beauty should be found in observing nature instead of studying classical statues or Renaissance paintings was a move away from the traditional approach to lớn making art, which continued lớn be practiced long after his death.