THE GENIUS IN THE DESIGN: Bernini, Borromini, and the Rivalry That Transformed Rome

Jake Morrissey, Author, J. P. Morrissey, Author . Morrow $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-052533-0

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.)

Reviewed on: 02/21/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-06-052534-7
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-06-166598-1
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-06-187313-3
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 336 pages - 978-0-06-166601-8
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-06-166603-2
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