Artibus et Historiae no. 63 (XXXII)

2011, ISSN 0391-9064

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LIVIO PESTILLI - On Bernini’s Reputed Unpopularity in Late Baroque Rome

A well-rooted tradition, that claims Bernini’s unpopularity was well established by the beginning of the eighteenth century when the sculptural project for the twelve apostles in the nave of St. John Lateran was being finalized, is contradicted by a number of factors.  By analyzing some literary sources (Charles Poerson, Charles De Brosses, Winckelmann) and visual evidence from a conservative artistic milieu (Accademia di San Luca), the article suggests that, contrary to common belief, Bernini cast a “long shadow” well beyond the beginning of the eighteenth century. Indeed, it was only in the 1770s that his fame was finally obfuscated by the growing appreciation for the “noble simplicity and quiet grandeur” of Neoclassical art represented by works such as Canova’s first Roman commission, the tomb of Clement XIV (1787).

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