Smoldering Stone: Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Скульптура_Джан-Лоренцо-Бернини_Blessed-Ludovica-Albertoni-1671–74_02.jpgContinued from previous post.

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Self-portrait of Bernini, 1623

Passion is like a tornado, its frenzied whirlwind is felt in Bernini’s every sculpture. Bernini’s marble breezes passion, feeling known to him only so well.

He had a mistress, you see. She was a beautiful married woman named Constance. Some well-wisher told Bernini that Constance was cheating on him with his brother Luigi, no less. Furious, overcome with jealousy, Bernini informed everyone that he was leaving town for a few days. By the day’s end he showed up at Constance’s house. The rumor, unfortunately, turned out to be true.

Betrayed, enraged, Bernini would have killed his own brother, but the guards arrived and prevented murder about to occur. Then he sent his servant to exact an awful punishment on his cheating lover. The servant cut Constance’s face with a knife, ruining the woman’s beauty forever.

The year was of Our Lord 1640. By his late teens, Bernini had already established himself

Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1665, painted by Giovanni Battista Gaulli.

as a prodigious artist. He received his first major commissions from rapacious art lover Cardinal Scipione Borghese. The early works executed for the Cardinal won Bernini such acclaim that praise and accolades began to pour in. In 1621, Bernini was knighted, and in 1629, he was named the Official Architect of Saint Peters, one of the highest honors an artist could wish for. The artist frequented papal and royal circles, and was fervently admired even outside of Italy.

Thus punishment for all his crimes was far from harsh — Bernini had to pay a modest fine. And then the pontiff, who considered the sculptor to be his friend, sentenced him to… marriage to the most beautiful girl in Rome.

However, the dark streak wasn’t over. In 1646, the bell tower Bernini created for the façade of St. Peter’s had to be demolished after it developed worrisome cracks, and the shame of this failure proved almost too much for the artist to bear: contemporary sources say Bernini took to his bed and fasted almost to the point of death.

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Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. 1647-52

Then Bernini created The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, and immediately revived his career. It was a success that started a new era in Bernini’s artistic life and popularity that lasted until his death in 1680.

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Blessed Ludovica Albertoni. 1671-73

Indeed, “The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa” and “Blessed Ludovica Albertoni” are the two masterpieces that did not allow Bernini to fade into obscurity in the declining years, as happened with many great ones.
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A wild and miraculous cocktail it was, mix of carnal passion and spiritual desire. Look at these young nuns, not at all burdened with asceticism, and you will understand why Bernini was kindly treated, despite his criminal episode and epic failures.

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Cold Stone, Hot Sex: Gian Lorenzo Bernini

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Gian Lorenzo Bernini,  also Gianlorenzo or Giovanni Lorenzo (7 December 1598 – 28 November 1680), an Italian sculptor and architect, loved sex, was very fond of sex, and was one of greatest admirers of carnal pleasures.
At the age of 16 he created a masterpiece that emanates passion — The Rape of Proserpina (1621-22). It’s hard to believe that the hot, full-bodied passion marble is the work of a sixteen-year-old boy!Скульптура_Джан-Лоренцо-Бернини_Похищение-Прозерпины-1621-22_02.jpgNo, not a boy, but a man. A man who knew about the power of passion and how impossible it is to contain. Proserpine seems to fly upwards, trying to escape from the strong embrace of Pluto, and the fingers of God of Underworld cling to her young flesh. No one could make stone convey soft skin, curling hair, or crinkling fabrics the way Bernini could.  Related image

Bernini was 26 when he created Apollo and Daphne.  The technique of the caught moment reaches perfection.Apollo & Daphne September 2a.jpg
Apollo is consumed by desire, but Daphne appealed to the gods, “Destroy the beauty that has injured me, or change the body that destroys my life.”  Gods obliged, and the maiden was turned into a tree. Скульптура_Джан-Лоренцо-Бернини_Аполлон-и-Дафна-1622–25_02.jpg

A real passion born of love is always a movement, it is a whirlwind that captures the body. Passion is like a tornado, and its frenzied movement is felt in Bernini’s masterpiece. The chase is over, the movement fades. Daphne’s feet grow into the ground, hands turn into twigs, and Apollo slows his run at a loss, feeling in his left hand not the desired flesh, but a rough tree bark.

(to be continued…)