Bernini, Giovanni Lorenzo

from The New Book of Knowledge®

ART HISTORY ON DEMAND > Artists

The sculptor, painter, and architect Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini was Italy's leading artist during the 1600's. His works, which include many of Rome's buildings, statues, and fountains, greatly influenced the development of Italian art of the baroque period.

Bernini was born on December 7, 1598, in Naples. His father, a sculptor, received a commission from the pope and moved his family to Rome about 1605. Except for a short trip to Paris in 1665, Bernini spent his entire life in Rome. In 1639 he married Caterina Tezio; they had eleven children.

At 20, Bernini received his first important commission: a series of statues for the villa of Cardinal Borghese. Among them is the famous David. This figure, with its dramatic pose and expressive, flowing lines, sums up the ideals of the baroque style. Another of his great sculptures is the Ecstasy of St. Teresa, in the Cornaro chapel.

Some of Bernini's most powerful works were created for St. Peter's Basilica, including the square in front of the church, with its stately rows of columns and 162 statues.

Bernini died on November 28, 1680. He had been a painter, theatrical designer, and decorator. But he remains most famous for his sculpture and architecture.

Reviewed by Howard Hibbard
Columbia University

 

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