Gian Lorenzo Bernini (also spelled Gianlorenzo or Giovanni Lorenzo) (Naples, 7 December 1598 – Rome, 28 November 1680) was an Italian artist who worked principally in Rome. He was the leading sculptor of his age and also a prominent architect. In addition he painted, wrote plays, and designed metalwork and stage sets.
He played an instrumental role in establishing the dramatic and eloquent vocabulary of the Baroque style.
Bernini was a child prodigy, receiving his early training in sculpture from his father and completing his first bust at the age of ten. He arrived in Rome at the age of seven and there built his extraordinary career.
Bernini was not primarily a painter; his few pictures are mainly head studies and portraits.
He was also the originator of the figurative Baroque fountains of Rome, such as the Four Rivers on the Piazza Navona.
In Rome he designed and supervised projects that integrated architecture, painting and sculpture, such as the Cornaro chapel in S. Maria della Vittoria, which contains the statue of 'The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa'.
Bernini had started on the sculpture by mid 1623, while his contemporary biographer, Filippo Baldinucci, states that he finished it in seven months
Even before it was finished, his friend and protector Maffeo Barberini was elected pope, taking the name Urban VIII. The new pope placed Bernini in charge of all artistic matters in Rome, culminating in his life-long work in transforming St. Peters basilica into the church we so admire today.
David was the last commission Bernini would take from the Borghese Cardinal.
Bernini used his own face as the model of his David, perhaps in the image of that pained but determined expression of a job in hand, as he ploughed through the massive marble block to create his masterpiece.
His sculptural and architectural projects reveal an innovative interpretation of subjects, use of forms, and combination of media.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini dominated the Roman art world of the seventeenth century, flourishing under the patronage of its cardinals and popes while also challenging contemporary artistic traditions.
When Bernini died in 1680 at the age of eighty-two, he was buried with great pomp in Rome and mourned by all of Europe.
Only at the age of sixty-six did Bernini leave his beloved city of Rome when summoned by Louis XIV to France for six months. Throughout this trip the famous artist was treated royally, more as a hero or prince than a craftsman.
"Bernini... gave a public opera wherein he painted the scenes, cut the statues, invented the engines, composed the music, wrote the comedy, and built the theater."
Student of: Pietro Bernini (1562-1629)
Teacher of: Giacomo Antonio Fancelli (1619-1671), Carlo Pellegrini (1605-1645)
Son of: Pietro Bernini (1562-1629)
Born in: Naples (Napoli, Campania, Italy)
Died in: Rome (Lazio, Italy)