The Genius in the Design: Bernini, Borromini, and the Rivalry That Transformed Rome

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9780060525347: The Genius in the Design: Bernini, Borromini, and the Rivalry That Transformed Rome

The rivalry between the brilliant seventeenth-century Italian architects Gianlorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini is the stuff of legend. Enormously talented and ambitious artists, they met as contemporaries in the building yards of St. Peter's in Rome, became the greatest architects of their era by designing some of the most beautiful buildings in the world, and ended their lives as bitter enemies. Engrossing and impeccably researched, full of dramatic tension and breathtaking insight, The Genius in the Design is the remarkable tale of how two extraordinary visionaries schemed and maneuvered to get the better of each other and, in the process, created the spectacular Roman cityscape of today.

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About the Author:

Jake Morrissey has studied and written about architecture for twenty years. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, and dozens of other publications and books. He is the author of the novel A Weekend at Blenheim and lives near New York City.

From Publishers Weekly:

Sometimes plodding but often entertaining, this dual biography of two Italian Baroque artists popularizes a tale familiar to art historians. Raised in a wealthy family with connections to politicians and cultural players, Bernini (1598–1680) was 12 when he was commissioned to do his first major piece—and he soon learned how to win the hearts and pocketbooks of rich patrons on his own. Borromini (1599–1667) lacked such connections, but climbed the guild's ladder, eventually becoming chief assistant to Carlo Maderno, the chief architect of St. Peter's. When Maderno died in 1629, Borromini was shocked that Bernini was named chief. Morrissey (A Weekend at Blenheim) finely renders the intense rivalry between these two artists, giving a reasonable if fact-heavy look at 17th-century Roman life in the process. Borromini elected to work for Bernini, but tensions soon led to a break; Bernini went on to complete the Scala Regia and the Cathedra Petri; Borromini found fewer and fewer commissions and eventually killed himself. The book doesn't do justice to the varying levels of ambition, engagement and achievement Morrissey finds in these figures, but it does an adequate job sketching their contours. (Mar.)
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