Architects

Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Gian Lorenzo Bernini Biography

Gian Lorenzo Bernini Biography

Gian Lorenzo Bernini (December 7, 1598 – November 28, 1680) Born in Naples, Italy. Architect, sculptor, and painter, considered one of the most prominent figures of Italian baroque and 17th-century architecture. The renowned Mannerist sculptor Pietro Bernini was trained as an artist in his father’s workshop and subsequently began working with the support of various patrons, including the Borghese family. He began his artistic career in the mid-1610s, with the sculptures San Lorenzo de la Reticle (1614), La Cabra Amaltea (1615) and San Sebastián (1616). He was appointed architect of the basilica of San Pedro in 1629 and since then he worked for various pontiffs and kings. Among his most outstanding works are the monuments: Sepulcher of Urban VIII and Altar of the Blessed Sacrament and the sculptures: Daniel and the lion and Habakkuk and the angel.

 

FAMILY AND BEGINNINGS

Son of Mannerist sculptor Pietro Bernini and his wife Angelica Galante; Bernini had as brothers Luigi, Dorotea, Eugenia, Agnese, Francesco, Vincenzo, Emiliana, Beatrice, Domenico, Camilla, Giuditta, and Ignazio. When Gian Lorenzo was six years old, the family moved to Rome, where his father began working under the protection of Cardinal Scipione Caffarelli-Borghese, a member of the powerful and influential Borghese family. Established in Rome, Bernini began training as an artist in his father’s workshop, taking lessons in painting and sculpture. His father’s influence in these formative years and his interest in Hellenistic sculpture can be seen in his first sculptures such as San Lorenzo de la Reticle (1614), La Cabra Amaltea (1615), Faun joking with Cupids (1616) and San Sebastian (1616)

The overflowing talent of the artist led him to be quickly recognized by important personalities of the city such as the Borghese family, who since his youth supported him financially. Under the protection of the Borghese, Bernini restored and created important sculptures and monuments that enshrined them as one of the most important artists of his time. His first works with the support of the family were the four Borghesian Groups, a group of four sculptures that addressed biblical and mythological themes. These four sculptures were: Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius (1618-1619), based on the work Virgil, Aeneid; The Rapture of Proserpine (1621-1622), David (1623-1624) and Apollo and Daphne (1622-1625).

 

GIAN LORENZO BERNINI’S ARTISTIC CAREER

After becoming known as a sculptor of the powerful and influential Borghese family with the sculptural group known as the four Borghesian Groups, Bernini became one of the most sought-after and important sculptors in Rome, being in charge of most of the architectural works of The ecclesiastical community. His first work was the statue of Santa Bibiana for the church of the same name commissioned by the then Supreme Pontiff Urban VIII, who fascinated by his work named him the architect of God and architect in charge of St. Peter’s Basilica in 1629. Shortly before his appointment, Bernini began to build the new altar of the basilica, on which stands a large bronze canopy supported by four columns of Solomonic style; Built between 1624 and 1633.

While carrying out this work, the construction of the Mausoleum of Urban VIII began, which ended in 1647, with several years of delay. Later he created the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (1647-1651), a marble sculptural group commissioned by Cardinal Cornaro, currently located in the Church of Santa María de la Victoria. For this same period he created the works in marble La Verdad (1645) and the Fountain of the Four Rivers (1648-1651), for the Navona Square, works that were considered the artist’s summit.

In the course of the 1660s, he finished his work in the basilica, decorating the interior with his famous sculpture, Cathedral de San Pedro (1666) and building his iconic elliptical colonnade and the Scala Regia at the entrance of the basilica.

During this same period, he made several architectural constructions such as the collegiate church of Ariccia and the church of Castel Gandolfo for the Chig family and the Sant’Andrea for Camilo Pamphili.

In the mid-1660s, he moved to France to deal with the restructuring of the Louvre, but his designs did not like the French commissioners, so he returned to Italy in six months; During his stay in France he was commissioned to perform the Equestrian Portrait of Louis XIV, a statue that after several modifications was located in the Palace of Versailles.

Upon returning to Rome, Pope Alexander VII commissioned him to the tomb construction, a monument of great importance in which the Pope is harassed by death with four allegorical figures: Charity, Truth, Prudence, and Justice. The Tomb of Alexander VII (1671-1678) and The Bust of the Savior, were the last works of this renowned Italian sculptor. Bernini’s work profoundly influenced Italian baroque art and 17th-century European architecture, reaching to influence the work of artists such as the British Christopher Wren and the Spanish Ventura Rodríguez.

This prominent Baroque architect died on November 28, 1680, in Rome.

 

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