The Catholic cardinal who bankrolled Bernini’s sensual sculptures.
In the 1610s, a powerful Catholic cardinal with an insatiable taste for art discovered a sculptor named Gian Lorenzo Bernini. At the time, Bernini was a teenager, and still restoring ancient sculptures alongside his artist-father, Pietro. It wasn’t long after Cardinal Scipione Borghese laid eyes on Bernini’s own early work, however, that the young artist’s prospects began to change. Cardinal Borghese commissioned some of Bernini’s greatest works, amassing sculptures in his villa and helping to launch the career of the Renaissance icon.