Clay was a perfect medium for Bernini

The Moor by Bernini, study in clay
09 October 2017 Comments are off

Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680) was an artistic genius, who was also a cunning ‘networker’ who kept friendly with the rich and powerful and was ruthless in his quest of wealth and success. Bernini had his eye and mind on both and was ready and able to seduce any would be patron with his ideas.

Bernini was the consummate charmer and dilatant who clearly understood his position in Roman society and embarked upon a lifestyle that was truly princely. Michelangelo by contrast was moody, distrusting of those around him for the most part, who’s personal and social habits left a lot to be desired according to those that knew him.

You could argue that Bernini created the Henry Ford system of production using many assistants and students, filling one productive studio after another to complete the many commissions he sort and won. They included many theatrical trinkets, albeit on a grand scale, that he devised and built to entertain the idle rich and nobility of his day. To facilitate the demands of creating new projects he turned to the elasticity and immediacy of clay to model in quick time and created in 3D the ideas that spilt forth from his incredible mind. Make no mistake; Bernini was a megalomaniac who wanted it all, whose creative genius realized remarkable projects that came to define Baroque Rome and the papacy of his time. In clay, his hands could keep up with his creative spirit, constantly ablaze with another idea, another subject guaranteed as Bernini saw it, to delight his patron and amaze his adoring audience.

The Moor, perfectly worked in clay and pictured above, can be seen in glorious marble today in Piazza Navona as part of his Fountain of the Four Rivers masterpiece.

Peter Kilby
About the Author

Peter Kilby is an artist, writer, story-teller, journalist and avid traveller who has lived and worked in Italy since 1987. He created Perfect Traveller to bring the world of art and history closer to you. Download the “free” Perfect Traveller app and enjoy the best audio tours available; about Italy today and yesterday. Sign Up to this website and submit your travel stories and become part of the Perfect Traveller community.

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