Lorenzo Bernini

Gian Lorenzo Bernini was born in Naples Italy on December 7th 1598. He was a renowned Italian artist whose work became famous and was regarded as the best sculptor of his time in the 17th century. In addition to being a great sculptor, Bernini had a talent in designing outstanding architecture. Bernini was the founder of the baroque style of sculpture. He developed it in such a unique way that made other artists who aped the same style look really amateur. He got his mentorship in sculpture from his father, Pietro Bernini, a renowned Florentine sculptor as well.

The first works that Bernini ever did were so good that they attracted the attention of Scipione Cardinal Borgonese. This was a member of the reigning papal family. Bernini got to be under his patronage and it is here that he got the chance to carve his very first life-size sculptural groups. Bernini had got an amazing talent which gave him a sensual awareness of the surface textures of the skin and hair. This is what marked the emergence of a new form of art in the western sculpture history. It was not the same old traditional style of Michelangelo. Since then, he produced a series of remarkable art in his life. In this paper, I am going to cover the works of Bernini Gian Lorenzo (White, pg.1).

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Bernini's first architectural work was the remodeling of the Church of Santa Bibiana in Rome. This happened at a time that marked huge artistic developments, between the years 1623 and 1644. During this time too, he was given a job to build a symbolic structure in Rome. This was to be above the tomb of St. Peter in St. Peter's Basilica. He built the famous baldachin which was all made of bronze. This structure had got twisted columns which had been used earlier in the altar screen of the Old St. Peter's Basilica. The baldachin was an unprecedented combination of sculpture and architecture at their very best. It was the first truly baroque monument, and it had been made by Bernini (Lavin, pg 54).

Bernini continued his architectural works when he became the architect of St. Peter's. This was also the same time he became the architect of the Palazzo Barberini. He was responsible for the art in and around the church. His art brought out the real purpose of religious art, which was to teach and give inspiration to the faithful. He also produced several monuments during this time. He designed the tomb of Urban VIII. This shows the pope sited but his hands are spread wide indicating a commanding gesture. He also designed a number of fountains in the city of Rome including the Triton Fountain. In the year 1637, he started to erect bell towers at St. Peters.

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In the mid 1640's to 1660's, Bernini designed and built the spectacular monument of the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Rome's Piazza Navona. This fountain supports an ancient Egyptian obelisk over a hollowed-out rock. It is surmounted by four marble figures which symbolize the four major rivers of the world. After that, Bernini started showing some more mature art. This was evident judging by the art in Cornaro Chapel located in Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome. Inside it, he built the spectacular sculpture of "The Ecstasy of St. Teresa". This represented Teresa's vision where her heart had been stabbed by an angel. The Cornaro Chapel portrayed just how high a class Bernini was when it came to making art in three- dimension (White, pg 1).

Between the years 1658 and 1670, Bernini designed yet another church in Rome. This was the Sant' Andrea al Quirinale. The later years of Bernini saw him concentrating on architecture. His greatest achievement in this field was designing the piazza before St. Peter basilica. He moved an old fountain that had been built by Maderno to the Piazza. He them built a twin for it. Another of his most amazing religious decoration is the Throne of St. Peter which he built between 1657 and 1666. This was a gilt- bronze cover for the cathedral of the pope. The seat is supported by four imposing figures, which each represent the theological doctors of the early church. These are Saints Ambrose, Athanasius, John Chrysostom and Augustine. Bernini continued with his sculpture work as well. Between 1650 and 1651, he produced a portrait burst of Francesco I d'este, the then duke of Modena. This sculpture culminated his career in portraits and gave a boost to his on going revolution.

His late art in sculpture are unavoidably overshadowed by his colorful projects for St. Peter'. However, a few of them are still of outstanding interest. At the church of Santa Maria del Popolo ion Rome, he curved out two groups for the Chigi Chapel. It was Daniel in the Lions' Den and Habakkuk and the Angel (1655-61). These works showed the commencement of his late style he focused on the elongation of the body as well as the expressive gesture. This was done with a simplified yet emphatic emotional expression (White, pg 1).

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In his last years, Bernini completed one more decoration in St. Peter's. This was the altar of the Santissimo Sacramento Chapel which he built between 1673 and 1674. It had got a contrasting from his old style and this was brought out by the pliant, human adoration of the angels. It looked as if in his last years Bernini had the inexorable laws of architecture. This was a consoling antithesis to the transitory human state. Bernini's greatest late work came in 1674. This is the simple Altieri Chapel in San Francescoa Ripa, in Rome. The deep space positioned just above the altar reveals a statue that is a symbol of the death of the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni. In is many professional years, Bernini deliberately divided architecture, sculpture, and painting for different roles. It is reversing the process that culminated in the Cornaro Chapel. This way, the Altieri Chapel is more traditional. It's a variation on his church interiors of the preceding years. It does not fill the arched opening, but instead the sculpted figure of Ludovica is located at the bottom of a massive volume of space (Lavin, pg 62).

Bernini passed on at the age of 81. He had served eight different popes in his lifetime and was the last of Italy's remarkable artistes as well as the Baroque style that he pioneered. At the time of his death, he was seen as one of the greatest men to ever exist in England and his death marked the end of Italy's artistic supremacy in England.

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