Bernini - Bonarelli

Love affair

Bust of Costanza Bonarelli - Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1636)

The story of an unbridled passion

The love story with Costanza Bonarelli wasn't one of the most edifying, not only because she was married , but also because Gian Lorenzo discovered she was also Luigi's lover, his young brother.
When Bernini discovered the deception, overcome with madness, he asked his servant to slash Costanza meanwhile he tried to kill his brother chasing him by horse near Santa Maria Maggiore.
Bernini's reaction was so heated that his mother Angelica wrote a imploring letter to his nephew, as well as Cardinal, Francesco Barberini for protecting Luigi's life by banishing Gian Lorenzo for a little period.
When Bernini was able to come back to Rome from the banishment, even though he was very busy due to the creation of San Pietro, the monument for the countess Matilde and the bust of Carlo I of England, he decided by the way in 1636 to take some time off to impress in the marble the sensuality and the beauty of his enthralling lover.

Who was Gian lorenzo Bernini?

Self-portrait - Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1623)

Gian Lorenzo Bernini was an Italian artist and a prominent architect, born in 1598 in Naples to the mannerist sculptor Pietro Bernini, originally from Florence, and the Neapolitan Angelica Galante, who moved to Rome with his family in the young age and worked principally there. He was the leading sculptor of his age, credited with creating the Baroque style of sculpture.
Bernini possessed the ability to depict dramatic narratives with characters showing intense psychological states, but also organise large-scale sculptural works which convey a magnificent grandeur.
His skill in manipulating marble ensured he was considered a worthy successor of Michelangelo, far outshining other sculptors of his generation.
His talent extended beyond the confines of his sculpture to consideration of the setting in which it would be situated; his ability to synthesise sculpture, painting and architecture into a coherent conceptual and visual whole has been termed by the art historian Irving Lavin the "unity of the visual arts".
As a deeply religious man, working in Counter Reformation Rome, Bernini used light as an important metaphorical device in the perception of his religious settings, often using hidden light sources that could intensify the focus of religious worship, or enhance the dramatic moment of a sculptural narrative.
Bernini was also a leading figure in the emergence of Roman Baroque architecture along with his contemporaries: the architect Francesco Borromini and the painter and architect Pietro da Cortona.
Bernini's artistic pre-eminence, particularly during the reigns of popes Urbano VIII (1623 - 1644) and Alessandro VII (1655 - 1665), meant he was able to secure the most important commission in the Rome of his day, the Basilica di San Pietro.
His design of the Piazza San Pietro in front of the Basilica is one of his most innovative and successful architectural designs.
During his long career, Bernini received numerous important commissions, many of which were associated with the papacy, before dying in 1680 in Rome when he was 81 years old.
Bernini and other artists fell from favour in later neoclassical criticism of Baroque; it is only from the late 19th century that art historical scholarship, in seeking an understanding of artistic output in the cultural context in which it was produced, has come to recognise Bernini's achievements and restore his artistic reputation.
The art historian Howard Hibbard concludes that during the 17th century "there were no sculptors or architects comparable to Bernini.".

1636 - Costanza Bonarelli's bust

Watch from 22:56 to 31:13 the description in english language of Costanza Bonarelli's bust

Even though Bernini was very busy at the time, as we told before, he decided by the way to dedicate some time off to make immortal the figure of his loved woman and, for the first time, to order the bust himself.
The passion, from which the sculpture was born, comes out the marble by force: Costanza is figured in a moment on intimity, maybe Bernini thought about a love night.
The woman wears a night dress opened on her chest, her hair is in disorder and seems to move.
Due to her sensuality, this bust creates a very hard bond with the viewer who is naturally fascinated by it; with her half-closed lips Bernini creates a very attactive emotion as we could hear her breath.
The sculptor shows us to have a very big knowledge about the human soul emphasizing the usual theme of the bust in the 17th century with a marvellous evolution of the human psychology.
Bonarelli's bust is a unicum in his gender: it is the only marble not to have a commission, the only one to have a exclusive private demension, the only one to be separated to the Italian tradition due to the very strong and hard rappresentation of the subject.
For its vitality and participation, the sculpture has always right connected with Rubens and Velázquez's painting.
The art historian Alvar González Palacios compared the Costanza's bust to the female figure in Velázquez's art: the comparation between these works is amazing; they both share the full female sensuality in a very fluid and immediate style which tries to catch a very intimate and fleeting moment.
The portrait is not a creation of the 17th century, but in this period it assumes the task to show the real psycology of the subject showing it in a very intimate moment of his life and that's the example of Bonareli's bust.

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