Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598-1680)

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Gianlorenzo Bernini was born in Naples in 1598. Today, he is known as the most influential artist of the Italian Baroque style. Displaying artistic talent from a young age, Bernini received much of his early training from his father. Also a sculptor, his father trained young Bernini in the craft that would later make him legendary. By age 10, he had completed his first bust.

Bernini arrived in Rome at age 7. This is where he would build his impressive career. While working in the city, Bernini received several royal commissions for both sculptures and architecture. He did not solely devote his talent to these mediums however, also creating paintings and writing comedies.


Portrait of a Young Man

Many of his early statues were commissioned by Cardinal Borghese who was one of the most important art patrons during this time period. These creations, executed in the 1620’s, can be found in the Borghese Gallery in Rome. Although the majority of sculptures executed at this time were required to bear religious themes and exclude nudity, many of Bernini’s private commissions had pagan themes.


Apollo and Daphne

The success of these projects led to more opportunities. Soon, Bernini was awarded prestigious commissions for designing chapels, statues and more. Bernini often worked for private patrons. He designed fountains, monuments, and worked on larger projects for churches. His work was an innovative blend of architecture mixed with sculpture. His work attracted so much attention that in 1665, he was invited to Paris to finish decorating the Louvre. He was welcomed into the city as more of a hero than an artist. The public adored him. Unfortunately, his plans did not secure the approval of Louis XIV. He returned to Italy and continued to work on his projects at St. Peters.

Bernini’s sculptures usually share similar traits. Many are a blend of white and colored marble with stucco and bronze. A prime example is found in Rome. The famous Ecstasy of St Teresa continues to amaze viewers in its lifelike marble.

Bernini’s Catholic roots are evident in his last work. At age 80, he carved The Bust of the Savior. Many have speculated that he executed the work in anticipation of his death. He left this to Christina, Queen of Sweden. The majestic work is a bust of Christ, head tipped toward the Heavens.


Bust of the Savior

In 1680, when Bernini died at the age of 82, he received an elaborate burial because of his status as a highly-regarded artist. Europe mourned the loss of such a talented individual. Today, he is known as one of the greatest sculptors and architects of the 17th century.



Most of Bernini's creations remain in Rome where he executed the majority of them. The bulk of his artwork resides in St. Peters where he decorated the basilica. Today, he is revered as one of the most influential artists of the Italian Baroque style.If you think you own a work of art by Bernini, contact Art Experts.


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