Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Be so good your "punishment" is marriage to a hottie
Sarah Oesterling


Gian Lorenzo Bernini was without a doubt the most influential Italian artist of the seventeenth century.

The dude essentially invented Baroque art and architecture, without which the gaudy McMansions of our great country would cease to exist! Who wants cutesy Colonials and elegant Craftsman when they can have ornate gilded scroll work and excessive marble? Boring losers, that’s who!

Born to moderately successful sculptor Pietro Bernini, our genius was pushed into art at a very early age. He left his hometown of Naples for Rome with his dad at the age of eight to study art and meet influential people, supposedly being called the next Michelangelo by Pope Paul V that same year.

By 15 he had begun truly setting himself apart from contemporaries with his marble work and obsession with capturing texture and emotion rather than mere form and beauty. One story states that in creating his 1613 piece The Martyrdom Of San Lorenzo the teen actually took a hot rod and pressed it against his own leg so he could watch and mold his pained expression. Sounds crazy? Maybe it was, but the depth of expression and psychology conveyed in his subjects would indicate that this passion was well worth his time. Cardinal Borghese, the Pope’s nephew, certainly thought so. He became Bernini’s patron and would soon hire the now 20 year old to fill his new villa with artwork resulting in the production of some of the most beautiful and most famous sculptures the world has ever seen. He was knighted by 23 and started designing parts of St. Peter’s Basilica at 25. So the next time a young relative tries to convince you that Justin Bieber is some kind of musical prodigy, show them a picture of Apollo and Daphne or St. Peter’s Baldachin. THAT’S what a prodigy does people! *drops mic*

Though most of his life was filled with glory, the quick-witted and amiable man certainly had some rough patches. Like when the 3-story bell tower he insisted on installing for St. Peter’s begun to crack and had to be torn down on the Pope’s orders. Oops! Or during the same period when he found out that Constanza, the wife of his assistant with whom he was having an affair, was also banging his brother Luigi. When he found out about the two’s tryst he got so angry that he tried to kill Luigi with a fire poker. That didn’t work so he sent a minion to shred Constanza’s face with a razor. Ultimately the minion was sent to jail, Constanza was arrested for adultery, and Luigi was sent into exile for his own protection. Bernini was given a fine and forced to marry the most beautiful woman in the city in order to produce more art prodigies for the glory of Italy. Seems fair.

After he got over the debacles above, his life went back to being awesome. Here is what he did in his later years:

  • Design St. Peter’s Square.
  • Become besties with most-likely-a-lesbian Queen Christina of Sweden.
  • Go to France to help design the Louvre Palace and make political connections.
  • Have his designs rejected and fail at making political connections due to constant mocking of the French at parties.
  • Have eleven children.


Gian Lorenzo Bernini is mentioned on Sartle Blog -