Master of his Domain

July 31, 2008 / Art & Archaeology
Rome
Gian Lorenzo Bernini was the Brad Pitt of his age. A handsome sculptor, painter, architect and playwright (with at least one scandalous love affair under his belt), he had legions of admirers, including eight popes. Taking a fan-crawl through Rome is a great way to see the city.

In Santa Maria della Vittoria, Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Theresa shows the former nun just as an angel pierces her heart. The realism (note her dangling foot) in the spiritual moment gives the piece a modern flair.

In Piazza Barberini, the dominating Fountain of the Triton stands in sharp contrast to the delicate St. Theresa. On the way to Piazza Mattei, where Bernini’s Turtle Fountain stands, you’ll pass Piazza Navona and his Fountain of the Four Rivers as well as Piazza della Minerva and his Egyptian Obelisk and Elephant.

Finally, in Trastevere, the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni reclines in the Chiesa San Francesco a Ripa. A late work of Bernini’s, it’s a powerful example of what makes his sculpture so memorable: It’s art that you don’t merely see, but feel. After all these years, he’s still a guy to sigh over.

Lisa Finnerty

by Lisa Finnerty

Founder of Secret Gardens Italy, www.SecretGardensItaly.com, a tour company of the grand and historic Italian gardens, and www.yourgardenshow.com, a social network for gardeners.

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