Gian Lorenzo Bernini

"Those who do not sometimes break the rules never transcend them." -Bernini

Gian Lorenzo Bernini was a sculptor, architect, painter, playwright and stage designer who worked at the height of the Baroque era. He was considered one of the greatest sculptors of the century. His aim was to unite architecture with sculpture and painting. Drama, movement and motion, manipulation of space and energy are features of his works.

Bernini was trained by his father, Pietro Bernini, a Mannerist sculptor influenced by the Hellenistic sculpture of ancient Greece and Imperial Rome. During his early years he spent every day for three years sketching ancient marble sculptures in the Vatican. He was a child prodigy and was noticed by Cardinal Barberini, who later became Pope Urban VIII. Bernini's friendship with Pope Urban VIII, who ruled from 1623 to 1644, undoubtedly explains the portrait's extraordinary presence in the marble bust Maffeo Barberini, Pope Urban VIII. He also enjoyed the patronage of Cardinal Borghese.

As his career flourished, he was employed on monumental projects in Rome. He received commissions under eight Popes. While Bernini worked principally on the Basilica of St. Peter's, designing the famous canopy or Baldacchino that marks the first apostle's grave and the papal altar, his sculptures, churches, and fountains are found throughout Rome. Bernini was famous throughout Europe and was invited to Paris by the King Louis XIV, where he stayed five months to work on plans for the Louvre.