Baroque Despite his uninspiring style, he readily encouraged the

Baroque was a cultural movement between the early
17th and late 18th centuries. Like most periodic or
stylistic terms, later critics coined the term “Baroque” to define the period.
There are a few possible sources of the term; one of it having been derived
from the Italian “barocco” meaning
“bizarre” – implying that work was crude, vulgar, often grotesque and
exaggerated, and in comparison to the artistic leanings of the renaissance,
appeared to be lacking in decorum and grace. Another possible source is the
Portuguese “barroco”; meaning
“irregular pearl” – possibly alluding to the three-dimensional effect within
the paintings, that up until this point had never been seen before, making them
appear simultaneously real and illusionary. Stylistically, it followed
Renaissance and Mannerism and was succeeded by Neoclassicism, with the earliest
examples appearing in Italy from around the late 16th Century and
the latest not occurring in Germany until 18th Century.

LORENZO BERNINI (1598-1680) was an Italian Sculptor and
architect during this period. Born in Naples, Italy, at a time in which the fresh
and almost disturbing realism of Caravaggio’s work prompted painting to be
regarded as the reinvigorating art form of the time. His Father, Pietro Bernini,
was a sculptor who worked in the elongated proportions and highly exaggerated
and stylized poses of the Mannerist period. Despite his uninspiring style, he
readily encouraged the development of his son’s innovative artistic approaches.

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The Baroque movement “employed iconography that was
direct, simple, obvious, and theatrical” 4. Qualities often
associated with the movement are that of grandeur, vitality, tension,
exaggerated motion and drama. The paintings of this period were characterised
by strong colour, and their utilisation of chiaroscuro through intense light,
and dark shadows. Bernini skilfully transposed these into his sculptures – as
the form had not yet been revitalised in the same way as painting – essentially
modifying the trompe l’oeil techniques of foreshortening and quadrature and applying
them to sculpture. By doing so, he moved out of the preceding period with its
alignment with the traditional ideals of beauty first developed within the
Renaissance, and into a new era.

find it inspiring how he was able to follow a strict daily routine, in which he
dedicated seven hours a day to his art and reserved the mornings and evenings
for prayer. He also attended mass every day and took communion twice a week (at
least later in life, this dedication became more apparent). Subsequently, the
themes and subjects of the majority of his work was shaped by his Catholicism
and clearly conveys his intense passion for his religion. The religious turmoil
of the 17th century also directly affected Bernini’s work – with the
Protestant Reformation and resulting conflicts as a continual backdrop – such
as The 30 years’ war (1618-1648) which divided central Europe. As a devout
Catholic, Bernini was firmly in agreement with the formulations of the Council
of Trent (1545-63) and the ensuing actions of the Counter Reformation in
dealing with corruption and reaffirming the doctrines and theologies that had
been attacked by the Protestants in Martin Luther’s 95 Point Thesis. To achieve
this, (specifically religious) art was to be emotionally persuasive, and powerful.
By communicating religious themes with such direct and emotional involvement,
the sacred works of the gospels were presented in such a way that the public
could identify with them. Artists strove to render their subjects and themes as
realistically as possible, moving away from the traditional representation of
saints and people of power as raised to an elevated state far above that of the
normal human condition. They adopted instead an artistic program, which focused
on explaining the profound dogmas of the faith so that they could be accessible
to all, not just the educated. The development of Bernini’s religious art was
chiefly determined by his diligent efforts to conform to those principals. 


Influences       Bernini’s sculptural influences draw from
a range of artists and works from the preceding periods. He developed a
thorough knowledge of High Renaissance painting of the early 16th
century and of the antique Greek and Roman Marbles in the Vatican. Evidence of
Hellenistic works, such as The Vanquished
Gaul Killing Himself and his Wife, The Dying Gaul, and Laocoon and His Sons (works that are now considered to be in
alignment with the style of Hellenistic Baroque) can be seen within his work especially return to the form Figura Serpentinata. He frequently
looked to the achievements of the painters of the period such as Carracci’s ceiling
of the Farnese Gallery – inspiring because of its illusionistic complexity and
convincing naturalism. He often borrowed religious motifs from such works.