1902 Encyclopedia > Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini

Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini
Italian architect and sculptor

BERNINI, GIOVANNI LORENZO, an Italian artist, born at Naples in 1598, was more celebrated as an architect and a sculptor than as a painter.

At a very early age his great skill in modelling introduced him to court favour at Rome, and he was specially patronized by Maffeo Barberini, afterwards Pope Urban VIII., whose palace he designed. None of his sculptured groups at all come up to the promised excellence of his first effort, the Apollo and Daphne, nor are any of his paintings of particular merit. His busts were in so much request that Charles I. of England, being unable to have a personal interview with Bernini, sent him three portraits by Vandyck, from which the artist was enabled to complete his model.

His architectural designs, including the great colonnade of St Peter’s, brought him perhaps his greatest celebrity. Louis XIV., when he contemplated the restoration of the Louvre, sent for Bernini, but did not adopt his designs. The artist’s progress through France was a triumphal procession, and he was most liberally rewarded by the great monarch.

He died at Rome in 1680, leaving a fortune of over £100,000. Few artists have had so wide renown in their own day; time has enabled us to judge more accurately of his merits.

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