The Rape of Proserpina sculpture by Bernini in the Galleria Borghese. Photo taken by myself on 01/20/07. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Gian Lorenzo Bernini was born in Naples on December 7, 1598. Touring Rome is like going on a Bernini Treasure hunt. He designed Baroque churches like Sant’Andrea al Quirinale. He designed statues like the brawny Moor wrestling with a dolphin in La Fontana del Moro in Piazza Navona as well as the travertine Triton in Piazza Barberini.
The Rape of Proserpina (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Who doesn’t love his magnificent “Rape of Proserpina” and the incredble river statues in Piazza Navona? His “Rape of Proserpina” depicts Persephone being swept away by Pluto at the Borghese Gallery.
A detail of the Rape of Proserpina sculpture by Bernini in the Galleria Borghese. Photo taken by myself on 01/20/07. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
He carved this for Cardinal Scipione Borghese. The Galleria Borghese has a number of his magnificent works on display: Daphne turning into a tree; Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius; and David with his slingshot.
His work is everywhere in Rome! I love the Bust of Giovanni Battista Santoni that he crafted in the Santa Prassede Church in Rome.
He was the force behind the colonnade in front of St. Peter’s Basilica as well as the Chair of Saint Peter in the apse of the church. His “Ecstacy of St. Theresa” in the Cornaro Chapel in the church of Santa Maria della Vittoriais legendary and will bring tears to your eyes!
Bernini’s self portrait as a young man
Gian Lorenzo Bernini mastered the art of breathing life into stone in his Baroque creations throughout Rome. He was able to snag some of the most important papal commissions in Rome because of his masterful attention to detail.
Angel with Crown of Thorns by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, marble, 1667–1669 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
He was also involved in many architectural projects including the piazza and colonnades in front of St. Peter‘s. Bernini’s flamboyant baroque genius is also apparent in his opulent bronze Baldacchino above the papal altar (over the site of St. Peter’s grave) and his monument to Pope Alexander VII. The bronze for Bernini’s canopy was recycled from the Pantheon. Bernini’s majestic bronze Baldacchino (canopy) has spiral columns that ascend about nine stories above the tomb of St. Peter and the papal altar. Bernini’s altar weighs more than 121 tons. The basilica is about the same height as a 15 story building he also created the monumental ”Chair of St. Peter” in front of the gold window Baldachinno in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Bernini’s monument to Maria Raggi
He crafted this gorgeous gilt bronze and black marble memorial to the nun Maria Raggi in 1643 in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. Two flying putti carry a gilt-bronze portrait medallion surmounted by a cross. I also love The Angel with the Crown of Thorns and Angel with the Superstition at the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte.
Elephant of Minerva in Piazza di Santa Sopra Minerva
Bernini’s smiling elephant supports the obelisk in Piazza della Minerva in front of the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva and was comissioned by Pope Alexander VII in 1665. The inscription on the base of the structure aligns the Egyptian goddess Isis and the Roman goddess Minerva with the Virgin Mary.
If you look at the rear end of the elephant, it is pointed at the office of Father Domenico Paglia. He was a Domenican Friar who was one of the main antagonists of Bernini’s Baroque colleagues in Rome’s art community.
Bernini’s magical fountains are prevalent in Rome. His Triton blowing into a conch shell in Piazza Barberini is held up by four dolphins.
Giacomo della Porta created the fountain with sculpted tritons in 1574-1576, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini redesigned it 1654, adding the central statue “il Moro”, an Ethiopian fighting a dolphin. The fountain is situated in the south of Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Rome, Fountain of the Triton, in piazza Barberini square, by Gianlorenzo Bernini. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Fontana della Barcacia in Piazza di Spagna
Bernin’s Fountain by Piazza Barberini
In Piazza Navona, Bernini’s sumptuous baroque “Fountain of the Four Rivers” graces the Piazza that became a Pamphilj showcase; topped with the “Obelisk of Domitian” from the Circus of Maxentius on the Appian Way. The travertine fountain was executed by a large group of sculptors under Bernini’s supervision. The fountain symbolizes the four continents using symbolic figures of four rivers. The Ganges River with the oar symbolizes Asia and was created by Claude Poussin. The Danube with the arms up in the air, represents Europe and was done by Antonio Raggi. The Rio Della Plata with the coins symbolizes the riches of the Americas and was sculpted by Francessco Baratta and the Nile with the head covered was made by Antonio Fancelli and represents Africa. Pope Innocent X Pamphilj commissioned Bernini to design the fountain in 1651. Bernini intentionally placed a veil over the face of the “Nile” River statue. The ancient obelisk was moved to the center of the fountain as a symbol of the triumphant dominance of the Christ’s Catholic Church over the world.
Bernini’s magnificent sculptures in the Carmelite Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria in the Cornaro chapel with the Cornaro Cardinals are legendary. Teresa’s vision of divine revelation is one of my favorite Bernini masterpieces.
Inside the Basilica di San Pietro you can admire this Tomb of Pope Alexander VII with ornate marble and gilded bronze surrounded by elegant virtues that depict the life of the Pope. The skeleton of Death with an hour glass reminds us that our days are numbered.
Bernini’s Tomb: Santa Maria Maggiore
Bernini died in Rome in 1680 and was buried in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore near the papal altar where you can view his grave site. The inscription says: “Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who brought honor to art and the city, here humbly lies.”
The marker in the floor says: “The noble Bernini family here awaits the resurrection.” Here’s a video:
I Love Bernini’s Rome: A Baroque Paradise Video.
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Guides. To learn more about Rome visit www.vino-con-vista.com