Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Hi everyone! This week I want to talk about the artist Gian Lorenzo

Bernini, Self-Portrait, 1623

Bernini. He was born in 1598 and died in 1680. Bernini is a well-known Italian Baroque artist. Although he is best known for his sculptures, he was mastered in many forms of artmaking, including painting and architecture. In his lifetime, Bernini was extremely influential to the city of Rome, working directly with the papal church and creating for the city.

To further this, his work and style was so influential, even in his time, that, in 1665, King Louis XIV demanded that Bernini make a bust of him to add to the Louvre.

Because Bernini is such an amazing artist, it was very difficult to pick just some of his artworks for this post. But I choose a handful to discuss today, and I hope you guys like them!

Church of Saint Andrew’s at the Quirinal, 1658-61

Bernini, Church of Saint Andrew's at the Quirinal, 1658-61

This church was designed by Bernini and Giovanni de’Rossi. The facade took till around 1670 to complete. This facade reminds of the Renaissance and ancient Rome because it makes a direct reference to the architecture of ancient Rome, including an entablature, frieze, and pediment. When I personally look at this, it reminds me of the mini version of the Pantheon. It even includes the domed rotunda in the back of the facade. The stairs in the front remind of Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library in Florence, having a curved and oval appearance.

Bust of Jesus Christ/Saviour, 1679

Bernini, Bust of Jesus Christ/Saviour, 1679

The second artwork is the sculpture of the Bust of Jesus Christ/Saviour. This sculpture beautifully represents Christ, highlighting the definite and bold facial features of Christ. I personally see a very idealized version of Christ, and the focus is primarily on the face. Bernini creates wavy hair, which is part of his style, and the draperies are abstract. This was one of Bernini’s final sculptures, created at the age of 80. For a long time, it was lost; but it was rediscovered in 2001. There are some scholars, however, who believe that this is not a Bernini piece.

Saint Bibiana, 1624-6

Bernini, Saint Bibiana, 1624-6

This is one of Bernini’s early works. This was commissioned in 1624, after the discovery of the saint’s body. It was commissioned by Urban VIII, who was just elected Pope; he ordered Bernini to redesign both the church and the sculpture in Baroque style. I picked this sculpture to discuss because it’s so complex. The material of the drapery is so exaggerated and overdone, and not in a bad way; this exaggeration is a key aspect of the Baroque style. St. Bibiana is intensely staring into the Heavens, but still keeps a graceful composure. Furthermore, she is the patron saint of mental health, victims, and torture, among others.

Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, 1617

Bernini, Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, 1617

The last sculpture I want to talk about is Bernini’s Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence. This is another one of Bernini’s early sculpture; it was completed when he was 19, although some art historians debate the exact year he completed this. Bernini truly highlights the features of Lawrence’s body, emphasizing the muscles and emotion. Here, Lawrence is placed on a gridiron (similar to a grill) because he was burned to death. Supposedly, when Lawrence was being burned to death, he advised his executors to flip him over, because he was done burning on one side. Additionally, he is considered to be the patron saint of cooks, chefs, and comedians.

In all, every week as I do these posts I’ve been mentally noticing that all these artworks are such a huge part of the world we live in. These artworks are a part of society and history. Even going over these few artworks by Bernini, I see that these artworks are part of the Baroque history of Italy. But they are still a big part of Rome today. And these works have influenced and will continue to influence many artists and art historians.

Feature Image is Blessed Ludovica Albertoni, 1671-4 | All Images from Wikipedia

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