The work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini

We thought it best to start this week with the most formidable master of figurative sculpture, Gian Lorenzo Bernini.  A contemporary of Caravaggio, Bernini was known for his controversial manifestations  of devotion, turning his cold stone materials into seductive, voluptuous, writhing flesh.  His figures express the ecstasy of the divine as if blood pumped through their marble compositions through the pleasures of flesh, most notably in his ‘Ludovica Albertoni’, a former noblewoman who sacrificed wealth and health to care for the sick and is remembered for her religious ecstasies- the spectacular subject of Bernini’s sculpture in 1671-4.  Bernini, in life as well as work, was unencumbered by the restrictions of formal composition and defied catholic propriety which dictated the nature of his commissions and the circumstances of his environment.  This instinctive understanding of lust and the power of rapture matched his unparalleled technical ability and artistic genius and has left an astounding collection of the most affecting and inspiring sculptures ever made.  You can watch an extensive and beautiful documentary with Simon Schama about his life and work here-

bernini_david_1623-24 bernini rape of persephone 1632 bernini appollo and daphne bernini-bonarelli Bernini_Model for the Lion on the Four Rivers Fountain_Side View 1_Rome bernini-apollo and daphne 1622-25 bernini-proserpina detail 2 bernini-ludovica 1674

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