A beautifully illustrated testament to this great Baroque sculptorCharles Avery.
Gianlorenzo Bernini was one of the greatest artists of all time. World-famous for his uniquely powerful works of sculpture, he was also a virtuoso draftsman, a pioneering caricaturist, and a designer of gorgeous fountain displays. He even wrote plays.
Bernini virtually created Baroque Rome. Without his contributions, we could not walk across the Ponte Sant'Angelo escorted by the angelic statuary that he designed for its balustrades. The Basilica of St. Peter would not have the sonorous crescendo of Bernini's bronze Baldacchino over St. Peter's tomb. We could not enjoy the huge splashing water display and vigorous drama of the figures on his Fountain of the Four Rivers in the Piazza Navona.
Using much previously unpublished research, Charles Avery traces Bernini's career from his brilliant beginnings to his last mature works, including his architecture, and pays special attention to his techniques in drawing, modeling, and carving. 400 illustrations, 80 in color.
Wittkower's (1901-71) book, first published in 1955 and updated in 1966 and 1981, derives from an Italian edition of 1900. The text, which deals chiefly with the sculptures of this multifaceted Italian artist (1598-1680), is a classic. Though some of the entries have been updated and some new plates added, the main reason for this new edition seems to be its first issuance in paperback. This, and the fact that the color plates are less than stellar, mean that all but advanced art history collections can safely pass on this edition if they have earlier ones. Avery's book takes a broader look at Bernini, covering sculpture, drawings, models in terra cotta, urbanistic projects such as fountains, and his work for St. Peter's and other Roman churches. The color photographs are better than those in the Phaidon book, where they are separate from the text; neither title offers uniformly better black-and-whites. Avery (sculpture, Victoria and Albert Museum) writes well, offers more context and comparative illustrations, and draws on material unavailable to Wittkower in shaping his text. Avery is the choice for all but the most scholarly of collections, which will want both titles.Jack Perry Brown, Art Inst. of Chicago Lib.