The Catholic Cardinal Who Bankrolled Bernini’s Sensual Sculptures
Image rights: Photo: Allan T. Kohl / Art Images for College Teaching (AICT)
Gian Lorenzo Bernini played an instrumental role in establishing the dramatic, writhing visual vocabulary of the Baroque style. Dominating the Roman art world of the 17th century, Bernini enjoyed the patronage of its cardinals and popes while overturning the artistic traditions of classical sculptors such as Michelangelo. Known for synthesizing the visual vocabularies of different media, Bernini’s diverse interests included painting, playwriting, designing metalwork, and constructing stage sets. One of his most well known masterpieces, The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (1647–52), presents a mystical figure overwhelmed by a miraculous vision—the fusion of architecture, painting, and sculpture reflecting Bernini's experience as a stage designer. Later, when the Baroque style was overtaken by the austerity of neoclassicism, Bernini’s work fell from favor.
Italian, 1598-1680, Naples, Italy