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Bernini: His Life and His Rome Hardcover – November 15, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"By adopting the manner of a lecturer—teasingly mentioning things to come, employing the first-person plural as a teacher, roping students into his intellectual questing, throwing in some slang now and then, and without neglecting scholarship (this is a history of papal Rome as much as a biography)—Mormando gives us a succulent reading experience. Quanto e dolce."

(Booklist starred review)

"Mormando provides enough salacious details of the scandal-ridden life of baroque artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini to keep readers turning pages in this engaging, well-researched biography. . . .  Mormando’s extensive research and documentation not only will satisfy scholars and students of art history, especially baroque aficionados, but this biography will also appeal to general readers"

(Library Journal)

"Gian Lorenzo Bernini was one artist whose life was every bit as dramatic, sensual, and emotional as his art. Franco Mormando's sympathetic, intimate biography moves as fast as its hyperactive subject, taking us on a whirlwind ride through the glittering courts of papal Rome and the Paris of the Sun King, Louis XIV. From its shocking beginning to its perfect ending, the book is sheer unmitigated delight."
(Ingrid Rowland, author of Giordano Bruno)

"There are a few artists to whom the label 'faultless' applies, and the top of that list is Bernini, architect, showman and sculptor. Franco Mormando's book shows him in full as a man for the first time, and he is as pleasing, as sweet, as interestingly ambiguous as his amazing oeuvre. This is a wonderful book to have at last."

(John Crowley, author of Aegypt and Little, Big)

“Franco Mormando’s fascinating book is a welcome addition to the Bernini literature. It is both a biography of the artist and a portrait of Roman Baroque culture. Though written for a general audience, it reveals an impressive command of the specialist scholarship—in art history, literature, and history. Mormando wears his learning lightly, writing with animation, carefully pacing his anecdotes, and making the whole as entertaining as it is informative.”

(Pamela Jones, University of Massachusetts, Boston)

"Such a publishing landmark by a lauded historian of the period is an event."

(The Tablet (UK))

About the Author

Franco Mormando is associate professor of Italian at Boston College and the author of several books.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 456 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1St Edition edition (November 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226538524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226538525
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #947,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
About me: I'm not an artist or an art historian or anything fancy like that: I'm just an avid traveler and Rome is one of my favorite places in the world. OK, my MOST favorite place in the world. Trip after trip, I've noticed certain statues or works of art more than others... certain ones just struck me more or made me stare at them a little bit longer. Or when I get home i realize that I have more pictures of certain things than others. A few trips ago I realized that every sculpture I was drawn to had 1 artist in common: Bernini. And people would say, "Oh, that's a Bernini" -- and the name sounded familiar but I didn't know anything about him. On last year's trip to Italy I made a point of seeking out these Berninis and found myself even more interested in them, so when I returned home I started poking around for a biography. Some things looked too scholarly and highbrow, but the descriptions of this particular book made it sound like it was accessible to the regular person who just wanted to know a little something more: and that was me.

I just finished the book and I'm so happy I read it. I came at this from the standpoint of "I love this man's art so much, and it's so brilliant, that I just want to know more about the person and his life and the events that shaped him." Basically, I wanted to learn where the genius came from.

This book doesn't read like a DaVinci Code: the info itself is a little bit dry, but plugged into a narrative that is basically the story arc of Bernini's life, it has a continuity to it that makes it easy to read (vs being textbook-like). It's a biography and is constructed from many different sources.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read every major book [and more minor ones!] written about Bernini, the supreme artist, maestro, and impresario of Baroque Rome; without question, Mormando's has set a new standard for artistic biography and cultural history. It is as engaging, sweeping, all-embracing, and sparkling with captivating details as befits its subject. Bravissimo!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's surprising that nobody has made a movie or written a novel about the life of Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), the greatest artist of the Roman Baroque, but perhaps this enthralling book will inspire someone to try. Bernini's long life had just about every dramatic ingredient imaginable. His blazing artistic genius enabled him to create some of the most memorable monuments of Rome: virtuoso marble statues of saints and mythological figures, the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona, the Baldachino under the dome of St. Peter's, and the altar of the Chair of Peter at the far end of that enormous church, to name only the most famous. But there's a lot more to Bernini's life than just his art. He was a controlling and domineering man shrewd enough to be charming and diplomatic in the presence of his social superiors. He was hot-tempered and highly-sexed, and his explosive romantic life alone--which included paying a thug to make a knife attack on his mistress, whom he discovered was having an affair with his brother--would lend itself to a steamy novel or an R-rated film. And it doesn't hurt that Bernini was also extremely handsome.

Most books about Bernini concentrate on his art and pay little attention to the man behind those works, failing to question the pious platitudes, omissions and distortions offered by the artist's earliest biographer: his son Domenico. Not this book! Bernini the man-in-full emerges emerges from Mormando's pages as in no other biography of the artist. Although the author is a scholar who displays an impressive command of original sources, there's not a pedantic sentence to be found. This is a highly readable book for anyone interested in Bernini and, in a wider sense, in Baroque Rome.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. You don't have to be a student of art history. Very accessible to all readers.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love this book. I am getting more than just a bio of the man. The times, the people around him during the period (of course) and a visceral feel for the man.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
well written book that is also well researched. the author deals with Bernini from his earliest beginnings until his death.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Truth to tell, not much is known about Bernini's personal life, motivations and sources of his inspiration. Contemporaries wrote of his talents, but the author says much of it is exaggeration.

For want of information about Bernini, the author tells stories of famous and shady characters of Rome whom Bernini knew or for whom he worked. These stories mostly focus on their supposed scandalous lives. Most of that information has nothing at all to do with Bernini. He is just a nail on which to hang their sordid stories.

The book reads like a tabloid about various people's gossiped-about sexuality, presented grossly. If that interests you, save money and buy a copy of the National Enquirer when you are in the grocery store next. Same kind of quality information.

If you want to learn about something wonderful and interesting, get a book about Bernini's works. They are marvelous. This book is not.
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