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Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini was one of the, if not the most, important artistic talents of theItalian baroque. He was born in 1598 and died in 1680, shortly after his 82nd birthday. Bernini along with Rembrandt, Hals, Vermeer, Poussin, Rubens, Van Dyck, andVel zquez made Italy, for three centuries, the light of the Western world. Bernini was thelast of the three dimensional artists in Italy. Bernini was not only a sculptor. He wasextremely gifted as an architect, painter, draftsman, designer of stage sets, fireworksdisplays, and funeral trappings (Sullivan 2). Bernini had an interesting life, manyopportunities, and he sculpted many works of art. Bernini was born in Naples. However, Bernini s career developed almost entirelyin Rome. His father, also his teacher, was a talented sculptor of the Mannerist style.Bernini soon surpassed his father in skill and knowledge of sculpting. Many of Bernini sworks were inspired by Hellenistic art, a form of Greek art (1). Bernini had many works. His talent and many opportunities made him one of themost gifted sculptors of his time. Some of his works include Abduction of Proserpina, Pluto and Persephone, Aeneid, The Goat Amalthea, and Damned Soul. PerhapsBernini s most well known work was not a sculpture. It was the building of Saint Peter sBasilica in Rome and the Cornaro Chapel. Bernini served as architect and main designerof the great church (1). Likewise, along with the responsibility of building the great monument, came thepublicity and problems that arose. The ground beneath the Saint Peter s was saturatedwith natural springs that made the ground treacherous. Cracks appeared in the towers aftersignificant height and weight had been placed on the already finished blocks. Because ofthis, Bernini s work was soon to be a rabble of stones and hard work. The towerscollapsed and so did the confidence people had in Bernini to finish the project. As gossip

spread, Pope Urban VIII, still alive, would hear no insult of his favorite sculptor. WhenUrban VIII died, Bernini was venerable to attacks. Although his disgrace was debatable, Bernini kept his position as architect of Saint Peter s. He held this position until his death. But this disgrace left Bernini with almost no power or influence. Innocent X, Urban ssuccessor, gave no major commissions to Bernini. Bernini was asked to not makesuggestions for the completion of Saint Peter s (Wallace 86). Surprisingly, with the plans for Saint Peter s, Bernini made designs for many otherhistorical landmarks such as Palazzo Ludovisi, Palazzo Chigi, and for the Louvre. Hisplans for the Louvre were presented to Louis XIV in 1665 when Bernini spent five monthsin Paris (Sullivan 1). Bernini did not start to design churches until he was sixty years of age, but his threeefforts in ecclesiastical architecture were significant. These efforts were churches atCastelgandolfo, which includes a Greek cross, the church at Ariccia, and the CornaroChapel. The church at Ariccia was constructed with an oval plan. It had a large porchextending beyond the facade. This porch made it possible for the echoing of the interiorrhythms of the building. Ariccia had an interior that was decorated with dark,multicolored marble, and has an oval dome of white and gold (Gwynne 2). As one can see, Bernini had many accomplishments. His churches and his worksmade him one of the most influential Italian artists of his time. Even though his failuresdisgraced him, his other works prevailed to make his works the best of the 17th and 18thcenturies. His accomplishments made him an admired person by other great sculptors ofhis time.

Gwynne, Paul. Modern Art. Computer Software. Grolier, 1994. IBM Windows, 256KB, CD-ROM.Sullivan, Edward. Bernini, Gianlorenzo. Encarta. 1998 ed.Wallace, Robert. The World of Bernini 1598-1680. New York: Time Life Books, 1970.

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