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Sculptor - Gian Lorenzo Bernini
A self-portrait thought to have been created by Bernini when he was in his 30s.

Sculptor - Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Gian Lorenzo Bernini was born on the 7th of December 1598 in the city of Naples. At the age of 8 he went to Rome with his father where his skill was noticed by artists and popes alike.

While still a boy Bernini received commissions from Cardinal Borghese to create sculptures for his villa, and at the age of 22 Bernini was commissioned by Pope Paul V to create a bust of him. By the age of 26 Bernini's reputation was well established.

With the assumption of Pope Urban VIII in 1623 Bernini became the "curator of the papal art collection", the "director of the papal foundry at Castel Sant'Angelo", and the "commissioner of the fountains of Piazza Navona", granting him the opportunity to create works all over Rome.

Being the chief architect at the basilica, Bernini attempted to build two towers against one wall. When the first tower was erected cracks appeared in the wall and work was immediately stopped. The towers were pulled down and Bernini's reputation suffered.

Despite this setback, Bernini remained in the roles given to him by the pope and he continued to create works throughout Rome. He was also chosen to travel to Paris to undertake work for the French King Louis XIV. This was a diplomatic mission aimed at strengthening the ties between Rome and France - although the work was never started.

Bernini died on the 28th of November 1680, at the age of 81. Remembered mostly for his sculptures, he was also a painter, a playwright, a stage set designer, and most importantly, the founder of baroque architecture.

For a closer look at the pictures, please click on them to enlarge.
1.
Originally commissioned by Cardinal Peretti Montalto as a fountain to decorate his garden pond, this statue is of which two Roman gods?
Photograph courtesy of Sailko
Uranus and Vulcan
Jupiter and Apollo
Saturn and Mercury
Neptune and Triton
Perhaps the statue's place in a pond was the reason that these two gods of the sea were chosen.
The sculpture was brought to Britain in 1796 and was for a time the property of the painter Joshua Reynolds. It is now housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum
2.
The Memorial to Maria Raggi was commissioned by three of her family in 1647, and is located in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. Who was Maria Raggi?
Photograph courtesy of Sailko
She was a nun
She was a queen
She was an abbess
She was a princess
Maria Raggi was widowed in 1570 when her husband was taken by Ottomans. She became a nun and went to Rome where she is said to have performed miracles. The statue was commissioned by Ottaviano, Tommaso and Lorenzo Raggi who are (presumably) her descendants
3.
Completed six years before Bernini's death, the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni is one of his last works. How long is it thought to have taken him to create?
Photograph courtesy of Ho Visto Nina Volare
Six months
One year
Five years
Ten years
The work was commissioned in 1671 while Bernini was busy working on The Tomb of Pope Alexander VII and the Altar of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Peter's Basilica. He ordered the marble for the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni on the 7th of February 1674 and it had been installed by the 31st of August that same year - just six months later!
4.
This fountain in Rome, whish also features the god Triton, is inspired by a verse by which ancient poet?
Photograph courtesy of Tirch
Ovid
Homer
Virgil
Hesiod
Here is a part of the verse, from Ovid's Metamorphoses:

"Already Triton, at his call, appears
Above the waves; a Tyrian robe he wears;
And in his hand a crooked trumpet bears.
The sovereign bids him peaceful sounds inspire,
And give the waves the signal to retire"
5.
Saint Peter's Baldachin is an impressive monument built to mark the site of the saint's grave, in which city?
Athens
Jerusalem
The Vatican City
Alexandria
The work was commissioned in 1623 by Pope Urban VIII and it took 11 years to complete the 20m (66ft) tall structure. It stands directly beneath the dome of Saint Peter's Basilica and directly above the high altar
6.
The Fontana del Moro in Rome was created by Giacomo della Porta in 1575, with Bernini adding what feature 78 years later?
The dolphin
The man in the centre, wrestling with the dolphin
The four statues of Triton
The rose-coloured marble basin
Who the figure Bernini added is remains unknown. Some say he is an African, others a Moor, and still more say he is the god Neptune.
This fountain, and also the world famous Trevi fountain, were both damaged in 2011 after a vandal attacked them with a hammer
7.
Created in 1665 whilst Bernini was in Paris, this is a bust of which French king?
Photograph courtesy of Coyau
Louis XII, Father of the People
Louis XIII, The Just
Louis XIV, The Sun King
Louis XV, The Beloved
Bernini was in Paris on a diplomatic mission for the Papacy. The official reason for the visit was to create works for the Louvre Palace, but whilst Bernini was there Louis XIV wanted the artist to create a bust of him.. Bernini's designs for the Louvre were not accepted, but the bust was well received by the king
8.
The Goat Amalthea with the Infant Jupiter and a Faun is the earliest surviving work by Bernini. How old was he when he made it?
Photograph courtesy of Peter80
Between 5 and 10 years old
Between 11 and 17 years old
Between 18 and 21 years old
Between 22 and 25 years old
According to the art historian Filippo Baldinucci, Bernini was producing marvellous sculptures at the age of 8! This particular piece is thought to date from 1615 when Bernini was 17 years old, although some believe it dates from 1609 when he would have been 11
9.
Commissioned by Pope Alexander VII for Siena Cathedral, this sculpture is one of a pair. The other sculpture is of Mary Magdalene, but who does this one represent?
Photograph courtesy of Sailko
Judas Iscariot
Saint John
Saint Jude
Saint Jerome
Both pieces draw our attention to the mystical event being represented. The subjects are not interested in the world around them and seem to be intent only on their own spiritual experience
10.
What is the name of this unfinished piece which shows only one of the two intended figures?
Lies Unveiled by Honesty
Chastity Unveiled by Lust
Truth Unveiled by Time
Purity Unveiled by Desire
The naked woman is an allegorical representation of Truth. The figure of Time was never completed, although Bernini still spoke of his intention to add it some 13 years after he had ceased working on the project.
The piece is thought to have been inspired by Bernini's disastrous experience when two towers he was building had to be pulled down. He claimed that time would prove it was not his fault

 

Author:  Graeme Haw

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