BERNINI, Gian Lorenzo
(b. 1598, Napoli, d. 1680, Roma)

Saint Andrew and Saint Thomas

c. 1627
Oil on canvas, 62 x 78 cm
National Gallery, London

One of the few paintings of Bernini. He despised painting, he regarded it as deception and lie in contrast with sculpturing which is the truth. He painted only five self-portraits and a few pictures representing saints.

Saint Andrew, a fisherman, is identified by the fish and the book (probably a reference to the Acts of Andrew, an apocryphal text written by him). Saint Thomas, a carpenter, is identified by the set square clasped in his right hand. The two saints, both apostles, were friends and contemporaries, but Bernini was not trying to depict a particular discussion that they were known to have had. Instead he has created a contrast between age and youth, teacher and student. Andrew, balding and grey-haired, points to a passage in his book and turns to explain it to the youthful, animated Thomas, who looks on intensely as understanding begins to dawn on his face.