Gian Lorenzo Bernini was born in Naples in 1598 and died in Rome 1680. Bernini is one of the most popular of Rome's great artists, his glorious and monumental fountains bring life and character to many of Rome's Piazza's. A tour of Bernini's Rome will take you on a wonderful voyage across the city of Rome. From his early childhood he was familiar with the activity of his father, a famous Florentine sculptor.
He first came to Rome in 1606 to work on the Cappella Paolina for Pope Paul V Borghese. The precious talents of the child attracted the attention of the Pope who made him a prominent figure in Roman artistic circles. He studied ancient sculpture with the passion of a lover: for three years he remained locked up in the Vatican from dawn till dusk drawing all the unique and diverse sculptures he found".
The Borghese gallery features numerous examples of his fine work including two rather interesting busts of the same subject, Scipione Borghese. A second bust was carved, because the first was tarnished by a veining of the marble on the forehead. Bernini, left his client astonished when he returned only a week later with a completely new bust identical to the previous.
On the Rape of Proserpine sculpture, also located at the Borghese, admire how Bernini was able to express the pressure of Pluto's fingers, which sink into the girls thigh. Bernini's version of David is not as static as those of Donatello and Michelangelo, the anatomy of the figure is twisted as it moves through space and prepares for action. Take one of our Private "Artists of Rome" walking tour to appreciate the works of Bernini and other at the Gallery Borghese.
But, the true gift that Bernini gave Rome were his inspiration fountains that were a guiding light to the rejuvenation of the city of Rome by succeeding Pope's. You'll find in Piazza Barberini, The Fountain of Triton - A Baroque fountain executed in Travertine by Gian Lorenzo Bernini around 1642, the fountain is without doubt one of the most beautiful in the city, especially for the naturalism with which the artist represented the sea monster, half man and half fish, seated on the valves of an open shell. The Triton has a powerful physical build and is shown blowing through a conch.
The most famous fountain of Piazza Navona is the Four Rivers fountain which is featured on our Original Rome Walking Tour. It was designed by Bernini for Pope Innocent X Pamphilj, who owned a palace on Piazza Navona. Inaugurated in 1651, the fountain represents the four rivers that stand for the four continents known at that time.
According to tradition Bernini carved the arm of the statue lifted up to protect itself from the imminent collapse of the church that had been enlarged and reconstructed by his great rival Borromini.