When Maffeo Cardinal Barberini became Pope Urban VIII in 1623, one of the first messages he sent was to his favorite artist, Gian Lorenzo Bernini: "It is a great fortune for you to see Barberini made Pope, but our fortune is even greater to have Bernini alive in our pontificate." Bernini was not only known throughout Europe as a great sculptor, he was also recognized as the greatest practitioner of the characteristically Baroque art of bel composto, the unified use of painting, sculpture, and architecture.
It is fitting, therefore, that there should be an extensive study of Bernini's major architectural projects written for a mass audience. That is precisely what TA Marder delivers in Bernini and the Art of Architecture - an accessible in-depth examination of Bernini's career as an architect, studying not only his great surviving works such as his Fountain of the Four Rivers, the Cornaro chapel, and his magnificent contributions around and within St Peter's Basilica, but also showcasing lesser known works and projects that were never completed, such as his design for the bell towers at St Peter's and planned renovations of the Pantheon and the Louvre.
As much a biography as it is a survey of artworks, Marder's book emphasizes Bernini's development as an architect and his struggles with the caprices of fortune, fame, and patronage, and the book is both more enlightening and more interesting as a result.