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1 August 2014
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Simon Schama's, Power of Art

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Bernini

 


Biography

Full Name:

Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Born:

1598

Died:

1680


Born in Naples, Bernini was an exceptional talent from an early age and went on to dominate the art world of 17th century Rome. His work epitomised the Baroque style and his sculpture, church interiors and exteriors and town planning could be seen everywhere. He was also a painter, playwright, costume and theatre designer.

Bernini worked under successive Popes; Pope Gregory XV made him a knight and Pope Urban VIII took him as his best friend. He was revered in his time until a jealous rage caused him to have the face of his mistress slashed after discovering her romance with his brother. His reputation fell further after his bell towers for the Cathedral of St Peter's started cracking in 1641. He redeemed himself and kick started his career again with arguably his most famous work, The Ecstasy of St Theresa, in 1652.


Simon Schama on Bernini


"A century after the creation of The Ecstacy of St Theresa, a French art lover doing the Tour of Rome entered the Church of S. Maria della Vittoria in Rome, peered at the spectacle and said: "Well, if that's divine love, I know all about it".

What Bernini's managed to make tangible is something that we all, if we're honest, know we hunger for, but before which we're properly tongue-tied. Something that has produced more bad writing, more excruciating moments of bad cinema, more appalling poems than anything else. No wonder when art historians look at this sculpture they tie themselves in knots to avoid saying the obvious, that is, that we're looking at the most intense convulsive drama of the body that any of us experience."



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