Bernini, Giovanni Lorenzo

Bernini, Giovanni Lorenzo (called Il Cavaliere Bernini), an Italian artist whose renown filled all Europe in the 17th century, was born in Naples in 1598. Richly endowed by nature, and favored by circumstances, he rose superior to the rules of art, creating for himself an easy manner, the faults of which he knew how todisguise by its brilliancy. At ten years of age he wasthe astonishment of artists. Pope Paul V wished tosee the prodigy, and when he was brought into his presence, he desired him to draw a figure of St. Paul, which he did in half an hour — so much to the satisfaction of the pontiff that he recommended him to cardinal Barberini, a great connoisseur and patron of the arts. His first work in marble was the bust of the prelate Montajo, which was so striking a resemblance that someone said, "It is Montajo petrified." At eighteen he produced the Apollo and Daphne, in marble — a masterpiece in grace and execution, which he himself, towards the end of his life, declared one of his best works. He did work for Gregory XV, and in 1644 cardinal Mazarini, in the name of the king of France, offered him a salary of 12,000 crowns to enter the service of that. monarch, but he declined the invitation. His reputation extended more and more, and Charles I of England engaged him to execute a statue for 6000 crowns. About this time Bernini erected the palace of Monte-Citorio, and the beautiful monument to the memory of his benefactor, pope Urban VIII. He also built the Palace Odescalchi, the Rotunda della Riccia, and the House of Novices for the Jesuits. He set out from Rome for Paris, and it is said that never did an artist travel with so much pomp, and under so many flattering circumstances. The king made him a present of 10,000 crowns, gave him a pension of 2000 and one of 400 to his son, and a command to execute an equestrian statue of himself (Louis XIV). This work he finished in four years. He died at Rome, Nov. 28, 1680. The following are some of the most remarkable of his religious; works: the great altar of St. Peter's, in bronze and gilt; the four colossal statues of St. Chrysostom, St. Athanaasius, St. Augustin, and St. Ambrose, cast in bronze; the belfry of St. Peter's; the basso-relievo in the portico of St. Peter's, representing Christ saying to Peter, "Feed my sheep." He built the chapel in the Church of S. Maria della Vittoria, dedicated to St. Teresa, with a fine marble statue of that saint; the principal part of the Barbieri palace; the celebrated Chigi palace, built for the cardinal Flavio Chigi, nephew of pope Alexander VII. See Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, s.v.; Spooner, Biog. Hist. of the Fine Arts, s.v.

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