ART 4 2-DAY 07 December v.8.b0
Born on 07 December 1756: Cornelis
van Spaendonck, French painter who died in January 1840.
— Cornelis van Spaendonck was born in the Dutch city of Tilburg, son of Jan Anthony van Spaendonck and Maria Theresia (née Couwenberg). His father was the steward of the seignory of Tilburg, belonging to the Prince of Hesse-Kassel, a position he retained after the property was sold. Of his five children, only Gerard and Cornelis, both of whom became important flower painters, left Tilburg, but they remained in close touch throughout their careers. The Prince is known to have had one of the finest gardens in the area, designed in the latest French style, and this must have influenced the young Gerard and, through him, Cornelis.
After an apprenticeship under Guillaume-Jacques Herreyns at Antwerp, Cornelis left for Paris in 1773 to join, as student and collaborator, his brother Gerard van Spaendonck [22 March 1746 – 11 May 1822], who had settled there since 1769, the first time flower painting left its traditional center in the Low Countries. Between 1785 and 1800, Cornelis was director at the Sèvres porcelain factory, but his administrative skills did not equal his abilities as an artist and he lost this appointment, though he continued as a designer there until 1808. In 1789 he became a member of the Académie and made his Salon début, establishing himself in his own right, and, unlike Gerard, he painted and exhibited throughout his life; his contributions to the Salons continued until 1833. He concentrated on oil and gouache rather than watercolor and was a successful artist at the height of his career. At his death there were 29 paintings and several oil studies in his studio; these were auctioned in February 1840.
— Adriaan de Lelie was a student of Cornelis van Spaendonck.
Still Life of Flowers (1793, 79x63cm) _ In this painting there is technical virtuosity and finish. Its lush cornucopia of flowers spilling over the canvas may have some symbolism, for example, in the echo of the poppy on the left, the symbol of sleep, in the sleeping figures in relief on the right. But the dominant feeling is enjoyment of nature's generosity and the artist's skill.
— Pêches, raisins et ananas sur une table de pierre (1798, 43x54cm; 440x548pix, 67kb) _ Typique oeuvre de cet impeccable spécialiste de peintures de fleurs et de fruits d'origine hollandaise, établi comme son frère Gérard en France dès avant la Révolution et participant, dans son heureuse spécialité florale, du style néo-classique de l'époque et de son faire pur, exact, et rigoureux.
— Vase de fleurs sur une table de pierre avec un nid et un verdier (1789, 91x73cm; 613x486pix, 59kb)
Died on 07 December 1970: Ruben Lucius
Rube Goldberg, Pulitzer Prize winning US cartoonist
(elaborate, involved contraptions that accomplish simple tasks), sculptor,
and author. He was born on 04 July 1883.
— He dies in New York City. He satirized the US preoccupation with technology. His name became synonymous with any simple process made outlandishly complicated, such as by the preposterous machines he drew. One of his hundreds of pictorial inventions was an automatic stamp licker activated by a dwarf robot who overturned a can of ants onto a page of postage stamps, gumside up. They were then licked up by an anteater who had been starved for three days.
Goldberg was born in San Francisco. His father, a practical man, insisted he go to college to become an engineer. After graduating from University of California at Berkeley, Rube went to work as an engineer with the City of San Francisco Water and Sewers Department.
He continued drawing, and after six months convinced his father that he had to work as an artist. He soon got a job as an office boy in the sports department of a San Francisco newspaper. He kept submitting drawings and cartoons to his editor, until he was published. An outstanding success, he moved from San Francisco to New York drawing daily cartoons for The Evening Mail. A founding member of the National Cartoonist Society, a political cartoonist and a Pulitzer Prize winner, Rube was a beloved national figure as well as an often-quoted radio and television personality during his sixty-year professional career.
Through his 'INVENTIONS', Rube Goldberg showed difficult ways to achieve easy results. His cartoons were, (as he said), symbols of man's capacity for exerting maximum effort to accomplish minimal results. Rube believed that there were two ways to do things: the simple way and the hard way, and that a surprisingly number of people preferred doing things the hard way.
Rube Goldberg's work will endure because he gave priority to simple human needs and treasured basic human values. He was sometimes skeptical about technology, which contributed to making his own mechanical inventions primitive and full of human, plant and animal parts. While most machines work to make difficult tasks simple, his inventions made simple tasks amazingly complex. Dozens of arms, wheels, gears, handles, cups, and rods were put in motion by balls, canary cages, pails, boots, bathtubs, paddles, and even live animals for simple tasks like squeezing an orange for juice or closing a window in case it should start to rain before one gets home.
Rube's drawings depict absurdly-connected machines functioning in extremely complex and roundabout ways to produce a simple end result; because of this RUBE GOLDBERG has become associated with any convoluted system of achieving a basic task.
Rube's inventions are a unique commentary on life's complexities. They provide a humorous diversion into the absurd that lampoons the wonders of technology. Rube's hilarious send-ups of man's ingenuity strike a deep and lasting chord with today's audience through caught in a high-tech revolution are still seeking simplicity.
Hardly a day goes by without The New York Times, National Public Radio, The Wall Street Journal or some other major media invoking the name Rube Goldberg to describe a wildly complex program, system or set of rules such as our "Rube Goldberg-like tax system". The annual National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at Purdue University as well as the increasing number of state-wide high school contests, which are covered widely by the national media, brings Rube's comic inventions to life for millions of fans.
The work of Rube Goldberg continues to connect with both an adult audience well versed in the promise and pitfalls of modern technology (can anyone over 40 program their VCR?) as well as younger fans intrigued by the creativity and possibility of invention.
— Baseball and Business can go hand in hand for College Humor (1930, 13x44cm)
Photo taking contraption
How to Keep Shop Windows Clean
Simplified Pencil Sharpener
Dodging Bill Collectors
Keep from Forgetting to Mail your Wife's Letter
Picture Snapping Machine
Safety Device for Walking on Icy Pavements
How to Keep the Boss from Knowing you are Late for Work
How to Tee up a Golf Ball Without Bending Over
Our Special Never-Miss Putter
Born on 07 December 1926: Leon Kossoff,
English painter and draftsman.
— As a child he lived in the East End of London, where his Russian Jewish immigrant parents ran a bakery. He studied in London at St Martin's School of Art (1949–1953) and at the Royal College of Art (1953–1956), also taking evening classes (1950–1952) at the Borough Polytechnic under David Bomberg [05 Dec 1890 – 19 Aug 1957]. Like fellow student Frank Auerbach, he evolved a method of painting that entailed the heavy reworking of thick impasto to try to provide a truthful rendering of people and places he knew well. Drawing is given primacy as an expression of his commitment and involvement with the subject, and painting itself is conceived as a form of drawing.
Kossoff remained remarkably consistent in his methods and in his range of subject-matter, although he gradually moved away from the earth colors and thick encrusted surfaces displayed in paintings such as Man in a Wheelchair (1962) towards a more sparing use of paint and a wider range of brighter colors. His figure paintings are often of close friends and family members; he commemorated his parents, for example, in Two Seated Figures No. 2 (1980), and his pictures of nudes are often of his wife, Rosalind, or of his long-standing model Fidelma. Autobiographical content is also foremost in his pictures of London, which are generally of areas where he lived — from the East End and City to Willesden and Kilburn — peopled by family and friends identifiable in many cases from studio portraits.
His favored urban subjects include railway bridges and sidings, churches and other imposing local buildings and building sites, as in Demolition of the Old House, Dalston Junction, Summer 1974 (1974). Kossoff returned to favored motifs, such as the children's swimming pool in Willesden (e.g. Children's Swimming Pool, Autumn Afternoon, 1971) and the booking hall at Kilburn underground station (from the mid-1970s), exploring changes not just in light but in emotion. He is sometimes classed as an Expressionist, although his references to the work of Old Masters such as Titian, Rembrandt, and Rubens reveal him as a figurative painter with a strong sense of tradition.
— Self-Portrait (1952, 56x40cm) _ Kossoff was still a student when he painted this. The heavy use of paint and the definition of form with almost plane-like strokes indicate his debt to David Bomberg, who taught him at the Borough Polytechnic and whose own self-portrait is also on display in this room. The extraordinarily tight composition offers the viewer no clues about the identity – in terms of profession or social status – of the man represented. We are forced to draw whatever conclusions we can about his character and physical appearance from the face, which seems to give the work a psychological dimension.
— Portrait of Rosemary Peto II, (1973, 150x90cm;) _ As a rule Leon Kossoff's images are tied to his immediate surroundings: places and buildings in the streets of London, nude women on beds or searching portraits of family and friends. The pictures' energetic, impasto brushstrokes and powerful painterly surfaces create physical volume. They signal intimacy and fervency, not only in relation to the subject, but also to the painting as physical material. His gestural form idiom ties Kossoff to a wider expressionistic tradition where the accent is on the artist's subject. The unbounded, raw painterly surfaces, however, also link him to Modernism and to his interest in the medium's inherent qualities and distinctive effects. The images are figurative and indicative, but the element of illustration and narrative is nevertheless reduced to a minimum. One's gaze is steadily drawn towards the picture plane and into the painterly substance, to the agglomeration of brushstroke, co lour, texture and effect. With his vibrating, figurative images Leon Kossoff is closely tied to 'The School of London', and in a wider sense to the post-war existentially oriented climate.
Portrait of Rosemary Peto II belongs to a series of portraits of Rosemary Peto. She is pictured seated, her arms calmly folded in her lap. Photographic details and effects are often found in Kossoff's pictures as here where the figure seems almost like a photo close-up. She is drawn forward on the picture plane and placed against a wall, giving a minimum of illusionistic space and depth. The painterly plane is treated as one continuous area with stroke and color in the figure and background merging into each other.
The woman sits erect, with coarse features and thick hair. The broken, sonorous colors play an important role. They are held in a minor key, and the figure is outlined with simple, strong contours. The light enters from the side, throwing a pale luster over the face as if from a night lamp. Although the facial expression is reserved and melancholy, there is something robust and proud about this woman. Without being melodramatic, there is an air of tragic heroism about her, a stoic calm, while at the same time an expression of something lost and deathlike is perceptible. In all her everyday triviality, Kossoff has portrayed her with an intimate and poetic monumentality. She looks straight ahead, past the viewer's field of vision, at something beyond; or perhaps inwards into herself. She gazes at something we cannot see. She broods, so to speak, over the enigma of her own existence.
— Dalston Junct with Ridley Rd St. Market. Friday evening Nov. 1972 (1972, 160x215cm; 446x600pix, 186kb) _ Kossoff has always observed and delineated the materiality of London's life, its streets, buildings, lines of transport and communication, and its inhabitants. He draws on its physical and human rhythms, studies its particular streetscapes, overshadowed by or framed within the urban structures of roads, railways and shops. In a foreword to the catalogue for his exhibition at Fischer Fine Art in 1973, he wrote:
I was born in a now demolished building in City Road not far from St. Paul's. Ever since the age of twelve I have drawn and painted London. I have worked from Bethnal Green, the City, Willesden Junction, York Way and Dalston. I have painted its bomb sites, building sites, excavations, railways and recently a children's swimming pool in Willesden. The strange ever changing light, the endless streets and the shuddering feel of the sprawling city lingers in my mind like a faintly glimmering memory of a long forgotten, perhaps never experienced childhood, which, if rediscovered and illuminated, would ameliorate the pain of the present ...
Kossoff's means of conveying such complexities is denseness: the building-up of pigment, oil paint, gestures and marks all adding to the intensity of his encounter with the canvas, or rather board. He first draws the painting's site and subject in bold charcoal. He may venture only a short distance from his studio, as in this painting. The artist established a second studio in Dalston Lane in Hackney, London E8, between 1972 and 1975. The aerial view in a gouache study for the painting (NGA) shows Dalston railway junction with the parallel railway lines, platforms, and street markets on the right. Kossoff animates his picture not only by his three-dimensional oil paint but also with the encounters between the industrial, mechanical and architectural elements of modern city life, as well as the colorful and varied life of the people in the markets. They all coalesce into an urban organism.
The depth and striation of each stroke of paint are manifold, and the colors lively: orange, white, ochre, gray, blue and green. Kossoff's composition is clearly based on his drawings on the spot. Occasionally, when the painting from side to side or top to bottom, the viewer's eye is halted by a horizontal slash. The punctuations are made by a palette knife disturbing the lava cliffs of paint building a landscape of the industrial city. Even Kossoff's means of communication, clotted oil paint, seems to express a pessimistic view of London - claustrophobic, polluted, crowded, almost joyless - but nonetheless engaged, vital, communal and enduring.
— Christ Church Spitalfields, Summer (1993, 200x183cm; 600x554pix, 188kb) _ For many years Kossoff has drawn and painted the London that he knows, familiar haunts such as views near his Dalston studio, the Kilburn Underground Station, and Christ Church at Spitalfields, designed by the English Baroque architect Nicholas Hawksmoor and built in the 1720s. During the 1980s and early 1990s Kossoff was fascinated by the Christ Church and explored its potential in a series of drawings and paintings. The motif symbolized for Kossoff the 'London of Blake's Jerusalem', with all its majesty, power and tradition. This painting avoids the overly dramatic. At the same time the artist emphasizes the looming building, evoking a sensation of toppling. However powerful in feeling, the painting is balanced in its composition. Figures in the foreground are prominent as they rush to and fro, while a tree stands in the mid-ground.
Kossoff's painting style found in the Spitalfields series, and particularly in this work, is masterly both in the sense of its formal properties and the resolution of the composition. The brushwork, the swirls and trails of paint reveal the painting method of the artist. In this, the painting is both about the act of painting and a particular urban landscape in a particular season. The quality of painting is more accomplished than ever, with a lightness of touch and palette and a greater purity of color all contributing to the sensation of experiencing London in summer. As with Monet and the Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock artists, Kossoff often seeks to capture the fugitive atmospheric element of a landscape as it changes its appearance because of seasons or the time of day. Reflecting on the present painting, Kossoff wrote that it 'is quite different from all the other paintings of the subject. The figures on the pavement are on their way to celebrate a wedding in a near-by public-house. Though it is unlike the Ridley Rd painting, they do relate to one another in a curious way. The earlier being of 'Friday evening', the other of 'Saturday morning'. (I should have mentioned this in the title).'
— Saturday Morning Class, St Martin's (1944, 39x52cm)
Died on 07 December 1709: Meindert
Hobbema, Dutch painter, specialized in one watermill, born in
Dutch painter. Hobbema is second only to his teacher, Jacob van Ruisdael, as a Dutch landscape painter. His favorite subject matter was the wooded countryside; his scenes include villages, farmhouses, tree-shaded streams, and, especially, water mills. Hobbema's large, luminous compositions feature a masterly draftsmanship and painstaking detail; his palette tends to be subdued.
Much of his work was completed before 1668, when he married and, with the help of his wife, received an appointment as a municipal tax official. Hobbema's work did not achieve full recognition until after his death, when his superbly organized, tranquil scenes, such as his Avenue at Middleharnis (1689) and Water Mill with a Red Roof (circa 1670, Art Institute of Chicago), were appreciated as the final masterpieces of the Dutch landscape tradition in painting.
— Meindert Hobbema lived and worked in Amsterdam all his life. He was taught by landscape artist Jacob van Ruisdael. Together with his teacher Hobbema took study trips to the country's eastern provinces. The sketches they drew there would later be incorporated into their paintings. The same motifs are therefore found in both artists' work. In general Hobbema's work is lighter and more colorful than Ruisdael's. Hobbema produced his best work in the 1660s: wide forest landscapes with houses, watermills and sandy roads. In 1668 his output stopped. In that year he married and became a wine gauger, it was his job to measure the amount of wine in the vats of vintners and wine consumers, for the purpose of excise tax.
A Water mill (1667, 62x86cm) _ A water mill lies hidden among some tall trees. On the open ground beside them is a woman in a red jacket washing clothes in a tub. Further to the right, a man and a boy are walking towards us. Apart from the gushing of the water and turning of the mill wheel, the scene is a peaceful one. Judging by the sun-drenched fields in the distance, it is a beautiful, bright day. This mill was probably situated somewhere in the Veluwe region. Perhaps this is where Hobbema got his inspiration for his paintings. His teacher, Jacob van Ruisdael, also painted this mill. It is probable that they discovered it together while on a trip to the east of the country. Ruisdael's influence can be clearly traced in Hobbema's style and choice of subject matter. Although the water mill in this picture has been painted by both artists, it was Hobbema who became particularly attached to it. He painted and drew it about forty times! Hobbema's paintings are often slightly more colorful and livelier than those of his teacher. In Ruisdael's work the darker colors are more dominant. Hobbema allowed more sunlight into his paintings.
— Wooded Landscape with Watermill (1668, 135x102cm; 893x1000pix, 506kb _ ZOOM to 1745x2346pix, 2615kb) _ The hunter in the red coat was apparently not part of the original composition but was added in the 19th century by another hand.
F*>#Landscape with a Washerwoman (47x64cm)
— Village with Watermill (1668, 59x82cm; 558x800pix, 110kb _ ZOOM to 1785x2560pix, 456kb)
— Alley of Middelharnis (1689, 104x141cm; 587x800pix, 114kb _ ZOOM to 1484x2024pix, 328kb)
— Mill (1692, 80x65cm; 600x471pix, 73kb _ ZOOM to 2006x1576pix, 379kb)
— Watermill (59x85cm; 568x800pix, 95kb _ ZOOM to 1118x1576pix, 171kb)
— Village Entrance (74x108cm; 547x800pix, 117kb _ ZOOM to 1750x2560pix, 513kb)
— Watermill (62x86cm; 579x800pix, 115kb _ ZOOM to 1465x2024pix, 360kb)
The Alley at Middelharnis (1689, 104x141cm) _ Hobbema painted a narrow range of favorite subjects over and over again. In 1668 he became a wine gauger with the Amsterdam customs and excise, and thereafter seems to have painted only in his spare time. His new position, which he held until the end of his life, probably accounts for the slackening and a certain unevenness in his production during his late decades. A few works of this later period show his compositions broken up into too many detailed areas. The trees acquire an almost linear sharpness, and the pictorial effect hardens.
Yet there are some notable exceptions, one of which almost seems a miracle, because in this work Hobbema not only revives his old grandeur, but surpasses himself as a composer and painter of the Dutch countryside. This is the rightly famous The Alley at Middelharnis. It does not take away from the glory of this picture that there are precedents in Dutch landscape painting that date back for the first decades of the century for the conception of a strongly foreshortened road lined with trees in a wide flat landscape.
Hobbema altered earlier schemes by centralizing the whole composition, focusing interest on the middle and far distance as well as the immediate foreground with its uncultivated grove on one side and an orderly arrangement of saplings on the other, and by the unprecedented height of the lopped, thin trees which carry interest to the towering sky (regrettably, the sky was extensively damaged before 1871; much of its paint surface is the work of modern restorers). The painting offers a topographically accurate view of the village of Middelharnis on the island of Over Flakee (Province of South Holland) in the mouth of the Maas; the view of the village from the Steene Weg (formerly Boomgaardweg) looks much the same today. This masterpiece is the swan song of Holland's great period of landscape painting which fully deserves its high reputation.
Road on a Dyke (1663, 108x128cm)
The Water Mill (60x85cm)
The Water Mill (1665, 80x66cm)
The Water Mill (1667, 77x111cm)
Wooded Landscape with Water Mill (1664)
A Wooded Landscape (1664, 56x50cm)
Born on 07 December 1598: Gian Lorenzo
Bernini, Italy, greatest Baroque sculptor in Italy, also an architect,
painter, and dramatist, the last of Italy's remarkable series of universal
geniuses. He died on 28 November 1680.
Cet architecte dit "Le Cavalier Bernin "est aussi peintre et sculpteur. On lui doit, sous la Renaissance la grande colonnade de Saint Pierre à Rome (1656-1657). Il fut appelé en France par Louis XIV pour achever le Louvre, mais ses plans furent refusés.
Bernini is the single most important artistic talent of the Italian baroque. Although most significant as a sculptor, he was also highly gifted as an architect; painter; draftsman; designer of stage sets, fireworks displays, and funeral trappings; and playwright. His art is the quintessence of high baroque energy and robustness. In sculpture his ability to suggest textures of skin or cloth as well as to capture emotion and movement was uncanny. Bernini reformed a number of sculptural genres, including the portrait bust, the fountain, and the tomb. His influence was widespread throughout the 17th and 18th centuries and was felt by such masters as Pierre Puget from France, the Italian Pietro Bracci, and the German Andreas Schlüter.
The life of Bernini was dominated by his work, and his biography is defined by the immense number of projects he undertook. His career developed almost entirely in Rome, although he was born in Naples. His father, Pietro Bernini, a talented sculptor of the late Mannerist style, was his son's first teacher. Young Gian Lorenzo soon surpassed his father in excellence, however. Many of Bernini's early sculptures were inspired by Hellenistic art. The Goat Amalthea Nursing the Infant Zeus and a Young Satyr (redated 1609) typifies the classical taste of the youthful sculptor. Group sculptures by earlier masters such as Giambologna were noted for their Mannerist multiple views. Bernini's groups of the 1620s, however, such as the Abduction of Proserpina (1622) present the spectator with a single primary view while sacrificing none of the drama inherent in the scene.
From the 1620s also date Bernini's first architectural projects, the façade for the church of Santa Bibiana (1626), Rome, and the creation of the magnificent baldachin (1633), or altar canopy, over the high altar of Saint Peter's Basilica. The latter commission was given to Bernini by Pope Urban VIII, the first of seven pontiffs for whom he worked. This project, a masterful feat of engineering, architecture, and sculpture, was the first of a number of monumental undertakings for St. Peter's. Bernini later created the tombs of Urban VIII (1647) and Alexander VII (1678) that, in their use of active three-dimensional figures, differ markedly from the purely architectural approach to the sepulchral monument taken by previous artists. Bernini's immense Cathedra Petri (1666), in the apse of St. Peter's, employs marble, gilt bronze, and stucco in a splendid crescendo of motion, made all the more dramatic by the golden oval window in its center that becomes the focal point of the entire basilica.
Bernini was the first sculptor to realize the dramatic potential of light in a sculptural complex. This was even more fully realized in his famous masterpiece Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (1652), in which the sun's rays, coming from an unseen source, illuminate the swooning saint and the smiling angel about to pierce her heart with a golden arrow. Bernini's numerous busts also carry an analogous sense of persuasive dramatic realism, be they allegorical busts such as the Damned Soul and Blessed Soul (both 1619), or portraits such as those of Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1632) or Louis XIV of France (1665).
Bernini's secular architecture included designs for several palaces: Palazzo Ludovisi (now Palazzo Montecitorio, 1650) and Palazzo Chigi (1664), in Rome, and an unexecuted design for the Louvre presented to Louis XIV in 1665, when Bernini spent five months in Paris.
He did not begin to design churches until he was 60 years old, but his three efforts in ecclesiastical architecture are significant. His church at Castelgandolfo (1661) employs a Greek cross, and his church at Ariccia (1664), a circle plan. His third church is his greatest. Sant' Andrea al Quirinale (1670) in Rome was constructed on an oval plan with an ovoid porch extending beyond the facade, echoing the interior rhythms of the building. The interior, decorated with dark, multicolored marble, has a dramatic oval dome of white and gold.
Also dating from the 1660s are the Scala Regia (1666), connecting the papal apartments in the Vatican Palace to St. Peter's, and the magnificent Piazza San Pietro (designed 1667), framing the approach to the basilica in a dynamic ovular space formed by two vast semicircular colonnades. Bernini's most outstanding fountain group is in the spectacular Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) in the Piazza Navona. Bernini remained a vital and active artist virtually up to the last day of his life. His final work, Bust of the Savior, presents a withdrawn and restrained image of Christ indicative of what is now known to have been Bernini's calm and resigned attitude toward death.
| Bernini was perhaps the greatest
sculptor of the 17th century and an outstanding architect as well. Bernini
created the Baroque
style of sculpture and developed it to such an extent that other artists
are of only minor importance in a discussion of that style.
Bernini's career began under his father, Pietro Bernini, a Florentine sculptor of some talent who ultimately moved to Rome. The young prodigy worked so diligently that he earned the praise of the painter Annibale Carracci and the patronage of Pope Paul V and soon established himself as a wholly independent sculptor. He was strongly influenced by his close study of the antique Greek and Roman marbles in the Vatican, and he also had an intimate knowledge of High Renaissance painting of the early 16th century. His study of Michelangelo is revealed in the Saint Sebastian (1617), carved for Cardinal Maffeo Barberini, who was later Pope Urban VIII and Bernini's greatest patron.
Bernini's early works attracted the attention of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, a member of the reigning papal family. Under his patronage, Bernini carved his first important life-size sculptural groups. The series shows Bernini's progression from the almost haphazard single view of Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius Fleeing Troy (1619) to strong frontality in Pluto and Proserpina (1622) and then to the hallucinatory vision of Apollo and Daphne (1624), which was intended to be viewed from one spot as if it were a relief. In his David (1624), Bernini depicts the figure casting a stone at an unseen adversary. Several portrait busts that Bernini executed during this period, including that of Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1624), show a new awareness of the relationship between head and body and display an ability to depict fleeting facial expressions with acute realism. These marble works show an unparalleled virtuosity in carving that obdurate material to achieve the delicate effects usually found only in bronze sculptures. Bernini's sensual awareness of the surface textures of skin and hair and his novel sense of shading broke with the tradition of Michelangelo and marked the emergence of a new period in the history of Western sculpture.
With the pontificate of Urban VIII (1623-44), Bernini entered a period of enormous productivity and artistic development. Urban VIII urged his protégé to paint and to practice architecture. His first architectural work was the remodeled Church of Santa Bibiana in Rome. At the same time, Bernini was commissioned to build a symbolic structure over the tomb of Saint Peter in Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. The result is the famous immense gilt-bronze baldachin executed between 1624 and 1633. Its twisted columns derive from the early Christian columns that had been used in the altar screen of Old Saint Peter's. Bernini's most original contribution to the final work is the upper framework of crowning volutes flanked by four angels that supports the orb and cross. The baldachin is perfectly proportioned to its setting, and one hardly realizes that it is as tall as a four-story building. Its lively outline moving upward to the triumphant crown, its dark color heightened with burning gold, give it the character of a living organism. An unprecedented fusion of sculpture and architecture, the baldachin is the first truly Baroque monument. It ultimately formed the center of a programmatic decoration designed by Bernini for the interior of Saint Peter's.
Bernini next supervised the decoration of the four piers supporting the dome of Saint Peter's with colossal statues, though only one of the latter, Saint Longinus, was designed by him. He also made a series of portrait busts of Urban VIII, but the first bust to achieve the quality of his earlier portraits is that of his great patron, Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1632). The cardinal is shown in the act of speaking and moving, and the action is caught at a moment that seems to reveal all the characteristic qualities of the subject.
Bernini's architectural duties increased after the death of Carlo Maderno in 1629, when Bernini became architect of Saint Peter's and of the Palazzo Barberini. By this time he was not only executing works himself but also having to rely on assistance from others as the number of his commissions grew. He was successful in organizing his studio and planning his work so that sculptures and ornamentations produced by a team actually seem to be all of a piece. Bernini's work, then and always, was also shaped by his fervent Roman Catholicism (he attended mass every day and took communion twice a week). He would agree with the formulations of the Council of Trent (1545-63) that the purpose of religious art was to teach and inspire the faithful and to serve as propaganda for the Roman Catholic church. Religious art should always be intelligible and realistic, and, above all, it should serve as an emotional stimulus to piety. The development of Bernini's religious art was largely determined by his conscientious efforts to conform to those principles.
Under Urban VIII Bernini began to produce new and different kinds of monuments - tombs and fountains. The tomb of Urban VIII (1647) shows the pope seated with his arm raised in a commanding gesture, while below him are two white marble figures representing the Virtues. Bernini also designed a revolutionary series of small tomb memorials, of which the most impressive is that of Maria Raggi (1643). But his fountains are his most obvious contribution to the city of Rome. His first, the Barcaccia in the Piazza di Spagna (1627-29), is analogous to the baldachin in its fusion of sculpture and architecture. The Triton Fountain in the Piazza Barberini (1642-43) is a dramatic transformation of a Roman architectonic fountain - the superposed basins of the traditional geometric piazza fountain appearing to have come alive. Four dolphins raise a huge shell supporting the sea god, who blows water upward out of a conch.
early architectural projects, however, were not invariably successful. In
1637 he began to erect campaniles, or bell towers, over the facade of Saint
Peter's. But, in 1646, when their weight began to crack the building, they
were pulled down, and Bernini was temporarily disgraced. Patronage of Innocent
X and Alexander VII
Bernini's most spectacular public monuments date from the mid-1640s to the 1660s. The Fountain of the Four Rivers in Rome's Piazza Navona (1651) supports an ancient Egyptian obelisk over a hollowed-out rock, surmounted by four marble figures symbolizing four major rivers of the world. This fountain is one of his most spectacular works.
The greatest single example of Bernini's mature art is the Cornaro Chapel in Santa Maria della Vittoria, in Rome, which completes the evolution begun early in his career. The chapel, commissioned by Cardinal Federigo Cornaro, is in a shallow transept in the small church. Its focal point is his sculpture of The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (1645-52), a depiction of a mystical experience of the great Spanish Carmelite reformer Teresa of Ávila. In representing Teresa's vision, during which an angel pierced her heart with a fiery arrow of divine love, Bernini followed Teresa's own description of the event. The sculptured group, showing the transported saint swooning in the void, covered by cascading drapery, is revealed in celestial light within a niche over the altar, where the architectural and decorative elements are richly joined and articulated. At left and right, in spaces resembling opera boxes, numerous members of the Cornaro family are found in spirited postures of conversation, reading, or prayer. The Cornaro Chapel carries Bernini's ideal of a three-dimensional picture to its apex. The figures of Saint Teresa and the angel are sculptured in white marble, but the viewer cannot tell whether they are in the round or merely in high relief. The natural daylight that falls on the figures from a hidden source above and behind them is part of the group, as are the gilt rays behind. The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa is not sculpture in the conventional sense. Instead, it is a framed pictorial scene made up of sculpture, painting, and light that also includes the worshiper in a religious drama. In his later years, the growing desire to control the environments of his statuary led Bernini to concentrate more and more on architecture. Of the churches he designed after completing the Cornaro Chapel, the most impressive is that of Sant'Andrea al Quirinale (1658-70) in Rome, with its dramatic high altar, soaring dome, and unconventionally sited oval plan. But Bernini's greatest architectural achievement is the colonnade enclosing the piazza before Saint Peter's Basilica. The chief function of the large space was to hold the crowd that gathered for the papal benediction on Easter and other special occasions. Bernini planned a huge oval attached to the church by a trapezoidal forecourt - forms that he compared to the encircling arms of the mother church. The freestanding colonnades were a novel solution to the need for a penetrable enclosure. The piazza guides the visitor toward the church and counterbalances the overly wide facade of Saint Peter's. Bernini's oval encloses a space centred on the Vatican obelisk, which had been moved before the church by Sixtus V in 1586. Bernini moved an older fountain by Maderno into the long axis of the piazza and built a twin on the other side to make a scenographic whole. The analogies to Bernini's oval plan of Sant'Andrea al Quirinale are fascinating, as are the differences in meaning and function.
Bernini's most spectacular religious decoration is the Throne of Saint Peter, or the Cathedra Petri (1666), a gilt-bronze cover for the medieval wooden throne (cathedra) of the pope. Bernini's task was not only to make a decorative cover for the chair but also to create a meaningful goal in the apse of Saint Peter's for the pilgrim's journey through the great church. The seat is seemingly supported by four imposing bronze figures representing theological doctors of the early church: Saints Ambrose, Athanasius, John Chrysostom, and Augustine. Above, a golden glory of angels on clouds and rays of light emanates from the Dove of the Holy Spirit, which is painted on an oval window. The cathedra was produced about the same time as the piazza, and the contrast between these two works shows Bernini's versatility. Both works were done for the Chigi pope, Alexander VII (1655-1667), who was one of Bernini's greatest patrons. The tomb that Bernini designed for Alexander VII (1678) was largely sculpted by his students.
In addition to his large works, Bernini continued to produce a few portrait busts. The first of these, of Francesco I d'Este, duke of Modena (1651), culminates his revolution in portraiture. Much of the freedom and spontaneity of the bust of Cardinal Scipione Borghese is kept, but it is united with a heroic pomp and grandiose movement that portray the ideals of the Baroque age as much as the man.
Bernini went to Paris in 1665, in what was his only prolonged absence from Rome. The trip was made in response to invitations that for many years had been extended to him by King Louis XIV, and the purpose was the design of a new French royal residence. By this time, Bernini was so famous that crowds lined the streets of each city along the route to watch him pass. His initial reception in Paris was equally triumphant, but he soon offended his sensitive hosts by imperiously praising the art and architecture of Italy at the expense of that of France. His statements made him unpopular at the French court and were to some degree responsible for the rejection of his designs for the Louvre. The only relic of Bernini's visit to France is his great bust of Louis XIV, a linear, vertical, and stable portrait, in which the Sun King gazes out with godlike authority. The image set a standard for royal portraits that lasted 100 years.
late works in sculpture are inevitably overshadowed by his grandiose projects
for Saint Peter's, but a few of them are of outstanding interest. For the
Chigi Chapel in the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome, he carved
two groups, Daniel in the Lions' Den and Habakkuk and the Angel (1655-61).
These works show the beginnings of his late style: elongation of the body,
expressive gesture, and simplified yet emphatic emotional expression. The
same characteristics are already found in the figures supporting the Throne
of Saint Peter and culminate in the moving Angels for the Sant'Angelo Bridge
in Rome, which Bernini redecorated with the help of assistants between 1667
and 1671. Pope Clement IX (1667-69) so prized the Angels carved by Bernini
that they were never set up on the bridge and are now in the church of Sant'Andrea
delle Fratte in Rome.
The redecorated Sant'Angelo Bridge leading across the Tiber forms an introduction to the Vatican, and Bernini's other works - the piazza, Scala Regia, and the baldachin and cathedra within Saint Peter's - form progressively more powerful expressions of papal power to support and inspire Roman Catholic pilgrims to the site. Bernini completed one more decoration in Saint Peter's in his last years: the altar of the Santissimo Sacramento Chapel (1674). The pliant, human adoration of the angels contrasts with the timeless architecture of the bronze tabernacle that they flank and typifies Bernini's late style. In his last years he seems to have found the inexorable laws of architecture a consoling antithesis to the transitory human state.
Bernini's greatest late work is the simple Altieri Chapel in San Francesco a Ripa (1674) in Rome. The relatively deep space above the altar reveals a statue representing the death of the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni. Bernini consciously separated architecture, sculpture, and painting for different roles, reversing the process that culminated in the Cornaro Chapel. In that sense, the Altieri Chapel is more traditional, a variation on his church interiors of the preceding years. Instead of filling the arched opening, the sculpted figure of Ludovica lies at the bottom of a large volume of space, and is illuminated by a heavenly light that plays on the drapery gathered over her recumbent figure. Her hands weakly clutching her breast make explicit her painful death.
Bernini died at the age of 81, after having served eight popes, and when he died he was widely considered not only Europe's greatest artist but also one of its greatest men. He was the last of Italy's remarkable series of universal geniuses, and the Baroque style he helped create was the last Italian style to become an international standard. His death marked the end of Italy's artistic hegemony in Europe. The style he evolved was carried on for two more generations in various parts of Europe by the architects Mattia de' Rossi and Carlo Fontana in Rome, J.B. Fischer von Erlach in Austria, and the brothers Cosmas and Egid Quirin Asam in Bavaria, among others.
Bernini worked initially as a painter. There is no doubt that this was only a sideline which he did mainly in his youth and even then almost as a dilettante. Despite this, his paintings are done with a sure and brilliant hand, free from any trace of pedantry. He studied in Rome under his own father, Pietro, and soon proved one of the most precocious child prodigies in the history of art. (Since sculpture cannot be adequately represented on a flat surface, this site specializes in paintings. But, when holograms become practical on the internet...)
Self-Portrait as a Young Man (1623) _ This self-portrait was painted when the artist was about twenty-five years old, when he sculpted the David, and Apollo and Daphne. This particular painting is of paramount importance to any attempt to reconstruct the young Bernini's oeuvre of paintings. The nervous rapidity of the brushstrokes and quick flash of his eyes reveal his desire to capture expression in an instant. He did this systematically in his sculpted portraits.
David with the Head of Goliath (1625, 75x65cm) _ The painting has been identified as a youthful self-portrait of Bernini, dating to 1625 and connected to the painted self portrait listed above. The iconographic choice of self-portrayal in the guise of David is interesting: self-identification with the biblical hero is both a recurring motif in Bernini's art and a theme in the poetry and image-making of his great patron, Pope Urban VIII. The painting technique is dashing and fast, with strongly visible brushstrokes and luminous touches. The treatment of physiognomy seems idealized when compared to the drawing with analogous iconography listed next.
Self-Portrait as a Mature Man (1635) _ This self-portrait of Bernini with a fiery expression was part of a double portrait with Costanza Bonarelli. In Bernini's will it is mentioned as already split into two separate portraits.
Portrait of a young man (formerly Self-Portrait) (1618, 57x42cm) _ Fewer than twenty paintings by Bernini have been securely attributed to him. The small number of paintings by Bernini is something of a hindrance to definitive statements on attribution of this work. Some scholars have proposed a number of artists as the likely author of this work, ranging from other Italian painters to possibly a Spaniard from the circle of Velasquez. The loose brushstroke and lack of detail outside the face indicate that it may be a highly detailed sketch rather than a fully worked, finished painting, which adds to the difficulty of attributing the work. These same qualities have also contributed to the notion that it is a self-portrait. The attribution to Bernini was made in the 1970s, and is supported by some scholars and challenged by others.
Portrait of a Boy (1638) _ The portrait of a youth with impressive features is an unusual interpretation of childhood. It belongs to the works in which the brushwork becomes increasingly spontaneous and seems to model the forms like a chisel sculpting marble.
Saint Andrew and Saint Thomas (1627, 59x76cm) _ One of the few paintings of Bernini. He despised painting, he regarded it as deception and lie in contrast with sculpture which is the truth. He painted only five self-portraits and a few pictures representing saints.
Pope Urban VIII (1632, 67x50cm) _ The unfinished picture, formerly attributed to Sacchi, depicts the pope with an immediacy and expressive force that is manifested in the rapid brushstrokes. The composition, datable to 1632, is directly related to Bernini's drawing for the engraved portrait of the pope on the frontispiece of Urban VIII's Poemata (engraved by C. Mellan 1631). The inventories of the Barberini collection indicate the presence of other portraits that Bernini painted of the pope. A slightly later example, of strong expressive force and originally in the Barberini collection, recently reappeared in a private collection. Another similar portrait, now lost, was once in the Palazzo Colonna at Marino. Other portraits of the pope, with various attributions, bear similarities to this autograph canvas.