Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini
Bernini, Giovanni Lorenzo
Bernini was a master of the theatrical, as his sensational Cornaro Chapel in the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome (1645–52), demonstrates. In the Ecstasy of St Teresa, a smiling angel thrusts its spear into the bosom of the swooning Saint, carried aloft in clouds, illuminated by gilded-rod sunbursts and concealed lighting, and placed within an aedicule above the altar. The whole vision is viewed by members of the Cornaro family, as though in theatre-boxes: it is a stunning, unforgettable, and magical creation (though deeply disturbing to puritanical dispositions). He also used theatrical techniques of false perspective, concealed lighting, and optical devices at the Scala Regia, Vatican Palace (1663–6), to emphasize the illusion of great length and size.
He designed the Four Rivers Fountain (1648–51) in the Piazza Navona, Rome (a powerful base for the Antique obelisk recovered from excavations), and the elephant carrying another Antique obelisk on its back outside the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. His designs for the Papal tombs in St Peter's ( Urban VIII, 1627–47, and Alexander VII, 1671–8) employed an essentially pyramidal composition where the figures were set against a fat obelisk-form. These were the precedents for countless such pyramidal funerary monuments set up in churches throughout Europe thereafter (there are many examples in England).
As an architect, Bernini was also outstanding. His finest church is Sant'Andrea al Quirinale (1658–70), an ellipse with the highaltar set on the short axis, and a series of chapels off the centralized volume. A triumphant, vigorous, richly coloured space, it was widely influential in RC countries during the Baroque period, notably in Central Europe. Also elliptical was his Piazza di San Pietro, with the Ancient Egyptian obelisk (re-erected by Domenico Fontana in 1586) at its centre, on the main axis of the basilica: the great colonnades of the severe Tuscan Order around the wider parts of the ellipse become straight colonnades as they approach Maderno's façade, but they are not parallel, being closer together as they branch off from the ellipse. These points, and the fact that the ground rises up to the steps before the façade, employ theatrical techniques to make the approach to the church seem longer and more impressive, while creating the illusion that Maderno's somewhat weak front is taller. There is a symbolic aspect too, for the great curved arms of the colonnade reach out to embrace the faithful to the bosom of Mother Church.
In secular architecture he was equally influential. His Palazzo Chigi (later Odescalchi) of 1664–6, which has a centrepiece of eight Giant pilasters with rusticated wings on either side, provided the precedent for many European princely palaces. At the same time he produced proposals for the east side of the Louvre in Paris; although never realized, it was an important model for other architects.
F. Borsi (1984);
Brauer amp; Wittkower (1970);
Fagiolo dell'Arco & and Carandini (1977–8);
Lavin et al. (1981);
Wittkower (1981, 1982)
Bernini, Giovanni Lorenzo
BERNINI, GIOVANNI LORENZO
The greatest sculptor and architect of the Italian baroque; b. Naples, 1598; d. Rome, Nov. 28, 1680. A child prodigy, Bernini learned the rudiments of his art from his father, Pietro, a Florentine late mannerist sculptor. In 1605 the family moved to Rome, where Bernini remained, except for a six-month sojourn (1665) at the court of Louis XIV in Paris. He was named architect to St. Peter's, where for more than 50 years he directed vast enterprises in the area of the Vatican (see st. peter's basilica). Throughout the city he renovated and designed churches, squares, chapels, tombs, palaces, and fountains; he invented the full baroque portrait bust; he officiated in a gamut of civic undertakings from the planning of illuminations, carnival floats, fireworks, and catafalques to the presentation of operas and comedies for which he created the costumes and stage machinery. Bernini was one of the last of the "universal men." He gave Rome its baroque character and Europe a new sculptural style that reigned for several centuries.
Bernini's early reputation was made with three lifesize marble groups (1618–24): "Aeneas and Anchises," "Pluto and Proserpina," and "Apollo and Daphne," as
well as with "David," executed for Cardinal Scipione Borghese. He divided his attention equally between antique sculpture and contemporary painting; his astonishing craftsmanship delighted in technical feats of realism until then considered outside the realm of sculpture. The Roman Curia, notably Popes urban viii, innocent x, and alexander vii were Bernini's principal patrons. Among his achievements in St. Peter's are some of the most opulent expressions of the Ecclesia triumphans: the "Baldacchino" (1624–33); the decoration of chapels and nave; the "Scala Regia" (1663–66); the "Cathedra Petri" in the apse (1657–66); and the design for St. Peter's Square (1656–67). As in all Bernini's churches, S. Andrea al Quirinale (1658–67) combines architecture, sculpture, and ornamentation to form an indivisible unity whose purpose is to illumine the mystery of St. Andrew's salvation. So, too, in the Cornaro Chapel (1645–52, S. Maria della Vittoria), with the altar of St. Teresa in ecstasy (see teresa of avila, st.), and in the Altieri Chapel, with Bl. Lodovica Albertoni (1671–74, S. Francesco a Ripa), a theatrical setting is used to transport the faithful to the realm of exultant mystical reality. A fervent practitioner of the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Bernini summoned every resource of his stupendous baroque rhetoric to deny the barrier between the real and imagined, the better to celebrate the spirit of 17th-century
See Also: baroque art; church architecture, 7.
Bibliography: Sources . f. baldinucci, Vita di Bernini (Florence 1682), ed. s. s. ludovici (Milan 1948). p. f. de chantelou, Journal du voyage en France du chevalier Bernin, ed. l. lalanne (Paris 1930). See also the Vitae of g. baglione (1642), l. pascoli, 2 v. (1730–36), and g. b. passeri (1772). Literature . e. benkard, G. L. Bernini (Frankfurt a.M. 1926). l. grassi, Disegni del Bernini (Bergamo 1944); Bernini pittore (Rome 1945). v. martinelli, ed., Bernini (Milan 1953). a. muÑoz, G. L. Bernini: Architetto e decoratore (Rome 1925). r. pane, Bernini architetto (Venice 1953). m. reymond, Le Bernin (Paris 1911). m. von boehn, Lorenzo Bernini, seine Zeit, sein Leben, sein Werk (2d ed. Bielefeld 1927). r. wittkower, G. L. Bernini, the Sculptor of the Roman Baroque (New York 1955).
[r. m. arb]
Bernini, Giovanni Lorenzo
Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini (jōvän´nē lōrĕn´tsō, jänlōrĕn´tsō bĕrnē´nē), 1598–1680, Italian sculptor and architect, b. Naples. He was the dominant figure of the Italian baroque. After receiving early training from his father, Pietro (1562–1629), an accomplished Florentine sculptor, Bernini worked mainly in Rome. Many of his early statues, such as the David (before 1623–24), Rape of Proserpine (1622), and Apollo and Daphne (1625), were done for Scipione Cardinal Borghese, one of the most important patrons of the period. These are all in the Borghese Gallery, Rome. Popes Urban VIII, Innocent X, and Alexander VII gave him unparalleled opportunities to design churches, chapels, fountains, monuments, tombs, and statues.
In 1629, Bernini was appointed architect of St. Peter's. He designed the ornate baldachin under the dome, the Cathedra Petri (the monument enshrining St. Peter's chair), and the exuberant marble decorations of the chapels and nave. During the 1640s he designed the Cornaro Chapel as well as that of Santa Maria della Vittoria. From 1656 onward he worked on the great elliptical piazza and the vast, embracing arms of the colonnades in front of the church.
During Innocent's papacy Bernini frequently worked for private patrons. He was commissioned to do the fountains in the Piazza Navona (1648–51). For St. Peter's Church, he created the Scala Regia and the heroic equestrian statue of Constantine (1654–70). He was assisted by a host of sculptors in these vast enterprises. Between 1658 and 1670 Bernini designed three churches: San Tomaso di Villanova at Castelgandolfo, Santa Maria dell'Assunzione at Ariccia, and Sant' Andrea al Quirinale in Rome. He established a new mode, dynamically linking sculpture and architecture. In 1665, Louis XIV invited him to Paris to finish designing the Louvre, but Bernini's plans failed to win approval. Returning to Italy, he continued to work on St. Peter's.
Much of Bernini's sculpture combines white and colored marbles with bronze and stucco, most effectively used in Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome, where he represented the Ecstasy of St. Teresa. Often inspired by classical forms, Bernini transformed the marble block into a vital, almost breathing figure. A self-portrait drawn c.1665 (Royal Coll., Windsor) is an example of his superb draftsmanship. Bernini was known as a wit; he wrote comedies and made numerous caricatures. He produced several plays, all of which contained effective illusions. All of his important work is in Rome, with the exception of the Neptune and Triton (Victoria and Albert Mus.) and the bust of Louis XIV (Versailles).
See biography by F. Mormando (2011); studies by H. Hibbard (1965), R. Wittkower (2d ed. 1966), J. Blazostock (1981), F. Borsi (1985), I. Lavin (1985), and T. A. Marder (1998).