PATRONS FOR ART: Rome, the holy metropolis, buzzing with worldly ambition. For the church aristocracy, it's not just the money you've got that counts. It's also the arts. Painters, sculptors, and architects are angling for patrons.
COMPETITION: "Bernini is Rome's supreme virtuoso, the emperor of the arts, and not just in sculpture. He's also a painter, a master builder and a playwright. And he has everything: charisma, swarthy good looks, money, status and enemies. "
A artist without enemies is rarely ranked with leading masters.
"This is Francesco Borromini, taciturn, neurotic, introverted, depressive. A man of absolutely no social graces, whatsoever. For good and for ill, Borromini would play a pivotal role in Bernini's life. The two of them would trip over each other's ambitions, spur each other on to ever-greater heights, ever-greater risks.
If two man were responsible for creating the look of Baroque Rome, for making Rome Rome, those two men were Boromini and Bernini."
Despite the motto that the greatest enemy is yourself, a enemy other than myself is more likely to drive me onto more promising and less overbearing path.
"A century after Bernini created this sculpture, a French art lover, doing the tour of Rome, came into this church, peered at the spectacle and said, 'Well if that's divine love, I know all about it.'"
"It's no good pretending that ecstasy isn't a physical as well as a spiritual experience. "
Woven closely in fabric of human life, body and soul seem to be inseparable.
"It was this physical intensity that would transform sculpture. No one before Bernini had managed to make marble so carnal. In his nimble hands, it would flutter and stream, quiver and sweat. His figures weep and shout, their torsos twist and run and arch themselves in spasm of intense sensation. He could, like an alchemist, change one material into another. "
"But then, along comes Bernini and suddenly even Michelangelo's David looks immobile beside Bernini's whirling, twisting tornado."
"His figure break loose from their plinths, flying away into space."
"Bernini arrived in Rome in 1605, just at the time that Caravaggio's punchy street dramas were electrifying the Church, giving it a new vision of how to move the flock. No more remote saints. Instead, the shock theater of the earthy passions. Salvation in the guts."
They all took the path from the immortal to the mundane.
"This is St Lawrence being barbecued alive for his Christian beliefs. Bernini is trying to catch the moment of transcendent pain when, if we believe the legends, St Lawrence turns to his executioners and says, in a moment of macabre drollery,'Right, turn me over, boys, this side is done.' .... As Lawrence's hand touches the flame, a mysterious transformation takes place. The chroniclers said the smell of scorched flesh turned fragrant. Pain and sweetness become one. Torment becomes ecstasy. A rehearsal, perhaps, for a sweet ordeal to come."
Rapture grows under the shade of anguish, twines around sufferings and in due time merges into distress without any boundaries.
"Bernini, of course, has everything it takes to succeed. He's witty, charming, extremely well-connected, frighteningly cultured, ferociously disciplined, always delivers when he says he will and he doesn't drink. "
Why his image in my mind appears to be a homosexual artist?