Gian Lorenzo Bernini was an extremely prolific and talented artist who lived during the 17th century. He is the creator of the baroque style of sculpture and easily one of the greatest sculptors of all time. He was the most sought after sculptor in Rome during his lifetime and worked for some of the most influential men of that time. To this day his sculptures are plentiful in Rome, where he worked and lived his entire life.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini was born in December of 1598 in Naples, Italy. He was the son of talented sculptor Pietro Bernini, who taught him the art of sculpting from a young age. He studied ancient Roman and Greek sculptures and became knowledgeable of the High Renaissance Style of paintings of the 16th century. He also studied the work of the unrivaled artist, Michelangelo.
From a remarkably young age Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s work was commissioned by the Popes and Cardinals in Rome. He was only 25 years old when Cardinal Scipio Borghese commissioned Bernini’s David (not to be confused with that of Michelangelo, which is a stationary subject, while Bernini’s is in motion). At the age of 26, he began work on the gilt-bronze baldachin that sits over St. Peter’s tomb in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Over time Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s already remarkable talent grew as he was able to sculpt continuously due to the large number of commissions he was receiving. He was also given work as an architect and developed a great talent for that as well. He was put in charge of design at St. Peters Basilica for a while and had so much work that he had to assemble a team under his supervision in order to complete the influx of commissions.
Most of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s work was commissioned and produced in Rome, Italy. However, he was asked to visit France by King Louis XIV so that he may design the east facade of the Louvre. While in France, Bernini sculpted a bust of king Louis XIV that is now famous. His designs for the east facade of the Louvre were eventually rejected, probably because he spent much of his time in France talking about Roman art and how wonderful it was. He returned home to Rome and continued with the mountain of work he was offered there.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini died in 1680 at the age of 81. He left behind him an immense collection of works that are treasured the world over. Each and every one of his sculptures is classic yet timeless. Like other sculptors of his caliber, his depiction of the human form is photographic, yet beautiful and expressive. One could almost say that sculpture of the human form could progress no further than he took it.
Examples of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s work
David (marble) (1623-24) Currently housed in the Galleria Borghese
Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius (marble) (1619) Currently housed in the Galleria Borghese
Apollo and Daphne (marble) (1622-25) Currently housed in the Galleria Borghese
Angel with the Crown of Thorns (marble) (1667-69) Currently housed in Sant’ Andrea della Fratte
Fontana del Triton (marble) (1643) Set in the Piazza Barberini
Pluto and Proserpina (marble) (1621-22) Currently housed in the Galleris Borghese
Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (marble) (1651) Set in the Piazza Novana
Biography of Bernini, Gian Lorenzo, retrieved 8/09/09,wgn.hu/bio/b/bernini/gianlor/biograph.html
Gian Lorenzo Bernini Biography, retrieved 8/09/09, biographybase.com/biography/Bernini_Gian_Lorenzo.html