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.