Bernini by Franco Mormando
His Life and His Rome

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Sculptor, architect, painter, playwright, and scenographer, Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680) was the last of the great universal artistic geniuses of early modern Italy, placed by both contemporaries and posterity in the same exalted company as Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo. And his artistic vision remains palpably present today, through the countless statues, fountains, and buildings that transformed Rome into the Baroque theater that continues to enthrall tourists today.
It is perhaps not surprising that this artist who defined the Baroque should have a personal life that itself was, well, baroque. As Franco Mormando’s dazzling biography reveals, Bernini was a man driven by many passions, possessed of an explosive temper and a hearty sex drive, and he lived a life as dramatic as any of his creations. Drawing on archival sources, letters, diaries, and—with a suitable skepticism—a hagiographic account written by Bernini’s son (who portrays his father as a paragon of virtue and piety), Mormando leads us through Bernini’s many feuds and love affairs, scandals and sins. He sets Bernini’s raucous life against a vivid backdrop of Baroque Rome, bustling and wealthy, and peopled by churchmen and bureaucrats, popes and politicians, schemes and secrets.
The result is a seductively readable biography, stuffed with stories and teeming with life—as wild and unforgettable as Bernini’s art. No one who has been bewitched by the Baroque should miss it.


About Franco Mormando

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Franco Mormando is associate professor of Italian at Boston College and the author of several books.
Published October 4, 2011 by University of Chicago Press. 453 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Arts & Photography, Travel. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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In one of the few biographies of Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini since his death in 1680, Boston College Italian professor Mormando constructs a comprehensive, extraordinarily vivid portrait of the sculptor known as “the Michelangelo of his age.” A child prodigy compulsive about creativ...

Oct 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Bernini: His Life and His Rome

The Wall Street Journal

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The walker in the streets of Rome is bound to marvel at the splendid urban fabric of the place—it's so old, so solid, so visually harmonious that one is inclined to see it as all of a piece.

Dec 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Bernini: His Life and His Rome

Washington Independent Review of Books

To demonstrate Bernini’s skill, Mormando cites several examples of retorts, e.g., when asked by a cardinal to critique another artist’s efforts, Bernini avoided commitment by saying simply that “the work speaks for itself.” Mormando describes an artist who maintained an intense work schedule for...

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London Review of Books

Indeed, he goes about his affairs with an air of complete impunity, to the great sorrow of his mother and the marvel of all Rome.’ If you are using the site for the first time please register here If you would like access to all 12,000 articles subscribe here Institutions or university libr...

Jan 03 2013 | Read Full Review of Bernini: His Life and His Rome

Spectator Book Club

Not content with being the greatest sculptor of his age and one of its most gifted architects, Gian Lorenzo Bernini had some talent as a painter and draftsman.

Dec 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Bernini: His Life and His Rome

Melbourne Art Network

After filling the better part of half a century with a torrent of works in almost all media and for almost all occasions, the employee of a succession of popes and a leading figure in shaping the look of Rome during its seventeenth-century Golden Age, Bernini passed into eternity almost unnoticed...

May 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Bernini: His Life and His Rome

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