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Rudolf Wittkower

ART AND ARCHITECTURE IN ITALY


1600 TO 1750
THE PERIOD OF TRANSITION AND THE EARLY BAROQUE
circa 1600 circa 1625
CHAPTER 6
ARCHITECTURE
Rome: Carlo Maderno (1556-1629)
In the first chapter the broad pattern was
sketched of the architectural position in Rome
during the early years of the seventeenth century
The revolutionary character of !aderno"s work
has already been indicated It was he who broke
with the prevailing severe taste and replaced the
refined classicism of an #ttavio !ascherino and a
$laminio %on&io by a forceful' manly' and
vigorous style' which once again' after several
generations' had considerable sculptural and
chiaroscuro (ualities )ike so many masons and
architects' !aderno came from the *orth+ he was
born in ,--. at Capolago on the )ake of )ugano'
went to Rome before /i0tus 1"s pontificate' and
together with his four brothers ac(uired Roman
citi&enship in ,-22" He began work in a
subordinate capacity under his uncle' 3omenico
$ontana After the latter"s departure for *aples he
was on his own' and before ,.44 he had made a
name for himself 5ut his early period and' in
particular' his relationship to $rancesco da
1olterra remains to be clarified
The year ,.46 must be regarded as a turning
point in !aderno"s career+ he was appointed
"Architect to /t %eter"s" and finished the fa7ade of
/ /usanna To the cognoscenti this fa7ade must
have been as much of a revelation as Annibale
Carracci"s $arnese 8allery or Caravaggio"s
religious imagery In fact' with this single work'
!aderno"s most outstanding performance'
architecture drew abreast of the revolutionary
events in painting In contrast to so many
!annerist buildings' the principle governing this
structure is easy to follow9 it is based on an almost
mathematically lucid progressive concentration of
bays' orders' and decoration towards the centre
The triple pro:ection of the wall is coordinated
with the number of bays' which are firmly framed
by orders+ the width of the bays increases towards
the centre and the wall surface is gradually
eliminated in a process reversing the thickening
of the wall ; from the !anneristically framed
cartouches to the niches with figures and the
entrance door which fills the entire central bay
The upper tier under the simple triangular
pediment is conceived as a lighter reali&ation of
the lower tier' with pilasters corresponding to the
half; and three;(uarter;columns below In this
fa7ade *orth Italian and indigenous Roman
traditions are perfectly blended !aderno
imparted a clearly directed' dynamic movement
to the structure hori&ontally as well as vertically'
in spite of the fact that it is built up of individual
units *either in his fa7ade of /t %eter"s nor in
that of / Andrea della 1alle ;in its present form
mainly the work of Carlo Rainaldi <26= ; did
!aderno achieve an e(ual degree of intense
dynamic life or of logical integration *or did he
find much scope to develop his individuality in
the interiors of / !aria della 1ittoria and /
Andrea della 1alle 5ut the dome of the latter
church ; the largest in Rome after that of /t
%eter"s ; shows !aderno"s genius at its best
#bviously derived from !ichelangelo"s dome' it
is of ma:estic simplicity Compared with the
dome of /t %eter"s !aderno raised the height of
the drum at the e0pense of the vault and
increased the area that was to be reserved for the
windows' and these changes foreshadow the later
5aro(ue development
)ong periods of his working life were spent in
the service of /t %eter"s' where he was faced with
the unenviable task of having to interfere with
!ichelangelo"s intentions The design of the
nave' which presented immense difficulties'
proves that he planned with circumspection and
tact' desirous to clash as little as was possible
under the circumstances with the legacy of the
great master 5ut' of course' the nave marred for
ever the view of the dome from the s(uare' with
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conse(uences which had a se(uel down to our
own days $or the design of the fa7ade he was tied
more fully than is generally reali&ed by
!ichelangelo"s system of the choir and transepts
>which he had to continue along the e0terior of the
nave= and' moreover' by the ritual re(uirement of
the large 5enediction )oggia above the portico
The proportions of the original design are
impaired as a result of the papal decision of ,.,<'
after the actual fa7ade was finished' to add towers'
of which only the substructures ;the last bay at
each end ; were built These appear now to form
part of the fa7ade )ooked at without these bays'
the often critici&ed relation of width to height in
the fa7ade is entirely satisfactory !aderno"s
failure to erect the towers was to have
repercussions which will be reported in a later
chapter
As a designer of palaces !aderno is best
represented by the %ala&&o !attei' begun in ,-42
and finished in ,.,. The noble' austere brick
fa7ade shows him in the grip of the strong local
tradition In the courtyard he made subtle use of
ancient busts' statues' and reliefs' and the
conne0ion with such !annerist fronts as those of
the villas !edici and 5orghese is evident 5ut the
four;flight staircase decorated with refined
stuccoes is an innovation in Rome
It remains to scrutini&e more thoroughly the
ma:or problem of !aderno"s career' his part in the
designing of the %ala&&o 5arberini The history of
the palace is to a certain e0tent still obscure' in
spite of much literary evidence' memoranda and
drawings' and a large amount of documents which
allow the construction to be followed very closely
indeed The unassailable data are (uickly reported
In ,.<- Cardinal $rancesco 5arberini bought from
Alessandro /for&a /antafiora' 3uke of /egni' the
palace at the "?uattro $ontane" A year later
Cardinal $rancesco presented the palace to his
brother Taddeo %ope Urban 1III commissioned
!aderno to redesign the e0isting palace and to
enlarge it The first payment for the new found;
ations dates from #ctober ,.<2 !aderno died on
64 @anuary ,.<A' and the %ope appointed 5ernini
his successor To all intents and purposes the
palace was completed in ,.66' but minor work
dragged on until ,.62 It is clear from these data
that 5ernini >who was assisted by 5orromini= was
responsible for almost the entire work of
e0ecution
!aderno"s design survives in a drawing at the
Uffi&i which shows a long front of fifteen bays'
fashioned after the model of the %ala&&o $arnese'
and an inscription e0plains that the design was to
serve for all four sides of the palace In fact' with
some not unimportant alterations' it was used for
the present north and east wings At this stage' in
other words' !aderno made a scheme that by
and large corresponded to the traditional Roman
palace' consisting of a block with four e(ual
sides and an arcaded courtyard 5ut there is no
certainty that this was !aderno"s last pro:ect In
the present palace' the plan of which may be
likened to an H' the traditional courtyard is aban;
doned and replaced by a deep forecourt The
main fa7ade consists of seven bays of arcades in
three storeys' linked to the entirely different
system of the pro:ecting wings by a transitional'
slightly receding bay at each side Bho was
responsible for the change from the traditional
block form to the new planC
At first sight' it would appear that nothing like
this had been built before in Rome and'
moreover' qua palace' the structure remained
isolated in the Roman setting ; it had no suc;
cession %sychologically it is intelligible that one
prefers to associate the change of plan with the
young genius who took over from !aderno
rather than with the aged master Det neither the
e0ternal nor the internal evidence goes to support
this In fact' there is the irrevocable document in
1ienna >Albertina= of an unfinished elevation of
half the fa7ade >drawn for !aderno by
5orromini= which' apart from minor differences'
corresponds with the e0ecution If one regards
the palace' as one should' as a monumentali&ed
"villa suburbana"' the plan loses a good deal of its
revolutionary character' and to attribute it to
!aderno will then no longer surprise us
The old /for&a palace which !aderno had to
incorporate into his design rose on elevated
ground high above the ruins of an ancient temple
The palace overlooked the %ia&&a 5arberini but
could never form one of its sides *or was it
possible to align the west front of the new palace
with the /trada $elice >the present 1ia /istina=
In other words' whatever the new design' it could
not be organically related to the nearest
thoroughfares A block;shaped palace with
arcaded courtyard cannot' however' be
dissociated from an intimate relationship with the
street front It was' therefore' almost a foregone
conclusion that the block;shape would have to be
abandoned and replaced by the type which
became traditional for the "villa suburbana" from
3
%eru&&i"s $arnesina on and which only recently
1asan&io had used for the 1illa 5orghese In
addition the arcacled centre between containing
bays and pro:ecting wings was familiar from such
buildings as !ascherino"s cortile of the ?uirinal
%alace and the garden front of the 1illa
!ondragone There is' therefore' no valid reason
why !aderno should not be credited with the final
design of the %ala&&o 5arberini9 all its elements
were ready at hand' and it is the magnificent scale
rather than the design as such that gives it its
grand 5aro(ue character and places it in a class of
its own It is even (uestionable whether 5ernini'
given a free hand' would have been satisfied with
designing three arcaded tiers of almost e(ual
value
#n the other hand' it is certain that ad:ustments
of !aderno"s design outside as well as inside were
made after 5ernini had taken over The celebrated
windows of the third tier' set in surrounds with
feigned perspective' are' however' !aderno"s The
device' used by !aderno on at least one other
occasion' made it possible to reduce the area of the
window;openings+ this was necessary for reasons
of internal arrangement #ne may assume that
even the enrichment of the orders ; engaged
columns in the second tier' pilasters coupled with
two half;pilasters in the third tier ; occurred while
!aderno was still alive Another e0ternal feature
is worth mentioning The ground floor and piano
nobile of the long wings are articulated by framing
bands' a device constantly employed by )ate
!annerist architects and also by !aderno
Although in a rather untraditional manner'
5orromini often returned to it It is therefore not at
all unlikely that it was 5orromini"s idea to
articulate the bare walls of !aderno"s design in
this way To what e0tent the internal organi&ation
deviates from !aderno is difficult to determine
As far as the details are concerned we are on fairly
firm ground' and 5ernini"s as well as 5orromini"s
contribution to the design of doors will be
discussed later 5ut the large staircase with the
four flights ascending along the s(uare open well'
traditionally ascribed to 5ernini' may well be
!aderno"s It is as new as the deep portico' the
enormous hall of the piano nobile lying at right
angles to the front' and the inter;connected oval
hall at its back #ne is tempted to believe that
5ernini assisted by 5orromini had here a freer
hand than on the e0terior' but at present these
problems are still in abeyance and may never be
satisfactorily solved
5y the time !aderno died' he had directed
Roman architecture into entirely new channels
He had authoritatively re:ected the facile aca;
demic !annerism which had belonged to his first
impressions in Rome' and although not a
revolutionary like 5orromini' he left behind'
largely guided by !ichelangelo' monumental
work of such solidity' seriousness' and substance
that it was e(ually respected by the great
antipodes 5ernini and 5orromini
Architecture outside Rome
In the *orth of Italy the architectural history of
the second half of the si0teenth century is
dominated by a number of great masters The
names of %alladio' /camo&&i' /anmicheli'
8alea&&o Alessi' )uca Cambiaso' %ellegrino
Tibaldi' and Ascanio 1itto&&i come at once to
mind 5y contrast' the first (uarter of the seven;
teenth century cannot boast of names of the same
rank' with the one e0ception of $! Ricchino
#n the whole' what has been said about Rome
also applies to the rest of Italy9 the reaction
against the more e0travagant application of
!annerist principles' which had generally set in
towards the end of the si0teenth century' led to a
hardening of style' so that we are often faced in
the early years of the new century with a severe
form of classicism' which' however' was
perfectly in keeping with the e0igencies of the
counter;reformatory church #n the other hand'
the *orth Italian architects of this period also
transformed their rich local tradition more
imaginatively than the Romans The work of
5inago' !agenta' and Ricchino is infinitely more
interesting than most of what Rome had to offer
and it was to a large e0tent they who prepared the
stylistic position of the High 5aro(ue
In 1enice 1incen&o /camo&&i >,--<;,.,.=
remained the leading master after the turn of the
century It is immediately apparent that his dry
)ate !annerism is the 1enetian counter;part to
the style of 3omenico $ontana and the elder
!artino )onghi in Rome @ust as his great
theoretical work' the Idea dell'Architettura
Universale of ,.,-' with its hieratic structure and
its codification of classical rules' concluded an
old era rather than opened a new one' so his
architecture was the strongest barrier against a
turn towards 5aro(ue principles in all the
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territories belonging to 1enice #ne should
compare /ansovino"s %ala&&o Corner >,-6<= with
/camo&&i"s %ala&&o Contarini dagli /crigni of
,.4A in order to reali&e fully that the latter"s
academic and linear classicism is' as far as plastic
volume and chiaroscuro are concerned' a deli;
berate stepping back to a pre;/ansovines(ue
position !oreover' in many respects /camo&&i"s
architecture must be regarded as a revision of his
teacher %alladio by way of reverting to /erlio"s
conceptions Their calculated intellectualism
makes /camo&&i"s buildings precursors of
eighteenth;century *eo;classicism His special
brand of frigid classicism' a traditional note of
1enetian art' was not lost upon his countrymen
and left its mark for a long time to come 5ut in
the ne0t generation the rising genius of 5aldassare
)onghena superseded the brittle' linear style of his
master and reasserted the more vital' e0uberant'
imaginative' and painterly facet of the 1enetian
tradition
Even where /camo&&i"s influence did not
penetrate in the terra ferma, architects turned in
the same direction Thus 3omenico Curtoni'
/anmicheli"s nephew and pupil' began in ,.4A the
impressive %ala&&o della 8ran 8uardia at 1erona'
where he applied most rigidly the precepts of his
teacher' ridding them of any !annerist
recollections
!ilan' in particular' became at the turn of the
century the stronghold of an uncompromising
classicism It was probably /t Charles 5orromeo"s
austere spirit rather than his counter;reformatory
guide to architects' the only book of its kind' that
provided the keynote for the masters in his and his
nephew"s service The !ilanese $abio !angone
>,-2E;,.<A=' a pupil of Alessandro 5isnati' was
the man after Cardinal $ederico"s heart As a sign
of his appreciation he appointed him in ,.<4
%rofessor of Architecture to the newly founded
Accademia Ambrosiana Throughout the
seventeenth century the cathedral still remained
the focus of !ilanese artistic life' and every artist
and architect tried there to climb the ladder to
distinction !angone achieved this goal+ in ,.,E
he succeeded 5isnati as Architect to the Cathedral
and remained in charge until his death in ,.<A
Assisted by Ricchino' the portals were e0ecuted
by him during this period >with Cerano in charge
of the rich decoration' p AA=' but his severe design
of the whole fa7ade remained on paper !angone"s
earlier activity was connected with the >much
rebuilt= Ambrosiana >,.,,=' which )elio 5u&&i
had begun The fa7ade of the original entrance is
as characteristic of his rigorous classicism as is
the large courtyard of the Collegio Elvetico >now
Archivio di /tato= with its long rows of 3oric
and Ionic columns in two tiers under straight
entablatures' begun in ,.o2 His fa7ade of /
!aria %odone >begun ,.<.= with a columned
portico set into a larger temple motif points to a
knowledge of %alladio"s church fa7ades' which
he transformed and submitted to an even sterner
classical discipline Thus !ilanese architects
revert via %alladio to ancient architecture in
search of symbols which would be en rapport
with the prevailing harsh spirit of reform in the
city
A different note was introduced into !ilanese
architecture by )oren&o 5inago >called 5iffi'
I--F;,.<A=' a 5arnabite monk' who built /
Alessandro' one of !ilan"s most important
churches >begun ,.4,' still unfinished in ,..,=
!angone"s architecture is strictly !ilanese'
setting the seal' as it were' on %ellegrino Tibaldi"s
academic !annerism 5inago' by contrast'
created a work that has its place in an all;Italian
conte0t )ike a number of other great churches of
this period' the design of / Alessandro is
dependent on the 5ramante;!ichelangelo
scheme for /t %eter"s In order to be able to
assess the peculiarities of 5inago"s work' some of
the ma:or buildings of this group may be
reviewed In chronological se(uence they are9 the
8esii *uovo at *aples >8iuseppe 1aleriano' /@'
,-2F=+ / Ambrogio at 8enoa >also 8 1aleriano'
,-2E=+ / Alessandro at !ilan+ / !aria della
/anita' *aples >$ra *uvolo' ,.4<=+ the 3uomo
*uovo at 5rescia >85 )antana' ,.4F=+ and /
Carlo ai Catinari in Rome >Rosato Rosati' ,.,<=
All these buildings are interrelated+ all of them
have a s(uare or rectangular outside shape and
only one fa7ade >instead of four=+ and all of them
link the centrali&ed plan of /t %eter"s with an
emphasis on the longitudinal a0is9 the 8esG
*uovo by adding a pair of satellite spaces to the
west and east ends' / Ambrogio by adding a
smaller satellite unit to the west and e0tending
the east end+ the 3uomo *uovo at 5rescia and /
Carlo ai Catinari by prolonging the choir' the
latter' moreover' by using oval;shaped spaces
along the main a0is' / !aria della /anita by
enriching the design by a pair of satellite units to
each of the four arms+ / Alessandro' finally' by
adding a smaller centrali&ed group with saucer
dome to the east / Alessandro' therefore' is in a
5
way the most interesting of this series of large
churches It contains another important feature9 the
arches of the crossing rest on freestanding
columns 5inago himself recommended that these
be used with discretion The motif was
immediately taken up by )antana in the 3uomo
*uovo at 5rescia and had a considerable
following in Italy and abroad' down to @ules
Hardouin !ansart"s dome of the Invalides in %aris
The :oining of two centrali&ed designs in one
plan had a long pedigree In a sense' the problem
was already inherent in 5runelleschi"s #ld /acristy
of / )oren&o+ but it was only in the *orth Italian
circle of 5ramante that the fully developed type
emerged in the form of a coordination of two
entirely homogeneous centrali&ed domed spaces
of different si&e' an arrangement' incidentally'
which had the support of classical authority
5inago"s / Alessandro represents an important
step towards a merging of two previously separate
units9 now the far arm of the large 8reek;cross
unit also belongs to the smaller domed space In
addition' the spacious vaulting between the two
centrali&ed groups makes their separation
impossible Thus the unification of two centrali&ed
groups results in a longitudinal design of richly
varied character
It is at once evident that this form of spatial
integration was a step forward into new territory'
full of fascinating possibilities $or a number of
reasons one may regard the whole group of
churches here mentioned as )ate !annerist' not
least because of the peculiar vacillation between
centrali&ation and a0ial direction It is precisely in
this respect that 5inago"s innovation must be
regarded as revolutionary' for he decisively
subordinated centrali&ed contraction to a0ial
e0pansion The future lay in this direction #n the
other hand' the derivations from the centrali&ed
plan of /t %eter"s found little following during the
seventeenth century' and it was only in the
eighteenth century that they saw a limited revival'
probably because of their )ate !annerist (ualities
The ne0t step beyond / Alessandro was taken by
$rancesco !aria Ricchino >,-2F;,.-2=' through
whom !ilanese architecture entered a new phase
It was he' a contemporary of !angone' who threw
the classicist conventions of the reigning taste
overboard and did for !ilan what Carlo !aderno
did for Rome Although almost a generation
younger than !aderno' his principal works' like
!aderno"s' fall into the first three decades of the
century Ricchino"s work has never been properly
studied' but it would seem that' when one day the
balance sheet can be drawn up' the pri&e for
being the most imaginative and most richly
endowed Italian architect of the early seventeenth
century will go to Ricchino rather than !aderno
5eginning work under 5inago' he was sent by
his patron' Cardinal $ederico 5orromeo' to Rome
to finish his education After his return in ,.46
he submitted his first design for the fa7ade of the
cathedral In ,.4- he was capomastro, a
subordinate officer under Aurelio Tre&&i' who
was Architect to the Cathedral in ,-A2 and ,.4F;
- !uch later' between ,.6, and ,.62' Ricchino
himself held this highest office to which a
!ilanese architect could aspire In ,.4E he
designed his first independent building' the
church of / 8iuseppe' which was at once a
masterpiece of the first rank The plan consists of
an e0tremely simple combination of two 8reek;
cross units The large congregational space is a
8reek cross with dwarfed arms and bevelled
pillars which open into coretti above niches and
are framed with three;(uarter columns+ four high
arches carry the ring above which the dome rises
The small s(uare sanctuary has low chapels
instead of the cross arms *ot only does the same
composite order unify the two spaces' but also
the high arch between them seems to belong to
the congregational room as well as to the
sanctuary 5inago"s lesson of / Alessandro was
not lost Ricchino employed here a similar
method of welding together the two centrali&ed
spaces' which disclose their ultimate derivation
from 5ramante even after their thorough
transformation This type of plan' the
seventeenth;century version of a long native
tradition' contained infinite possibilities' and it is
impossible to indicate here its tremendous
success /uffice it to say that the new fusion of
simple centrali&ed units with all its conse(uences
of spatial enrichment and scenic effects was
constantly repeated and' mainly in *orthern
Italy' revised and further developed+ but
Ricchino had essentially solved the problem
/ 8iuseppe was finished in ,.,.+ the fa7ade'
however' was not completed until ,.<A;64'
although it was probably designed at a much
earlier date It represents a new departure in two
respects9 Ricchino attempted to give the fa7ade a
unity hitherto unknown and at the same time to
coordinate it with the entire structure of the
church As regards the latter point' the problem
had never been s(uarely faced 5y and large the
6
Italian church fa7ade was an e0ternal
embellishment' designed for the view from the
street and rather independent of the structure lying
behind it Ricchino determined the height of the
lower tier by the height of the s(uare body of the
church and that of the upper tier by the octagonal
superstructure+ at the same time' he carried the
order of the fa7ade over into the rest of the
structure' as far as it is visible from the street
3espite this significant integration of the "show;
front" with the whole building' Ricchino could not
achieve a proper dynamic relationship between
inside and outside' a problem that was solved only
by the architects of the High 5aro(ue As to the
first point' the fa7ade of / 8iuseppe has no real
precursors in !ilan or anywhere in the *orth #n
the other hand' Ricchino was impressed by the
fa7ade of / /usanna' but he replaced !aderno"s
stepwise arrangement of enclosed bays by one in
which the vertical links take prominence' in such a
way that the whole front can and should be seen as
composed of two high aedicules' one set into the
other The result is very different from !aderno"s9
for instead of "reading"' as it were' the accretion of
motifs in the fa7ade in a temporal process' his new
"aedicule front" offers an instantaneous impression
of unity in both dimensions It was the aedicule
fa7ade that was to become the most popular type
of church fa7ade during the 5aro(ue age
$ate has dealt roughly with most of Ricchino"s
buildings He was' above all' a builder of
churches' and most of them have been destroyed+
many are only known through his designs+ some
have been moderni&ed or rebuilt' while others
were carried out by pupils >/ !aria alla %orta'
e0ecuted by $rancesco Castelli and 8iuseppe
?uadrio= In addition' there was his interesting
occasional work which needs' like the rest' further
investigation In his later centrali&ed buildings he
preferred the oval and' as far as can be :udged at
present' he went through the whole gamut of
possible designs #f the buildings that remain
standing' five may cursorily be mentioned9 the
large courtyard of the #spedale !aggiore >,.<-;
FA=' impressive in si&e' but created in
collaboration with 8 5 %essina' $abio !angone'
and the painter 8 5 Crespi' and therefore less
characteristic of him than the grand aedicule
fa7ade of the monumental entrance to the
Hospital+ the palaces Annoni >,.6,= and 3urini
>designed ,.F2=' which look back by way of
!eda"s %ala&&o 1isconti >,-A2= to 5assi"s %ala&&o
/pinola+ the %ala&&o di 5rera >,.-,;2.=' built as a
@esuit College' with the finest !ilanese courtyard
which' having arches on double columns in two
tiers' marks' after the severe phase' a return to
Alessi"s %ala&&o !arino+ and finally' the fa7ade
of the Collegio Elvetico' designed in ,.<E' a
work of great vigour which has' moreover' the
distinction of being an early' perhaps the earliest'
concave pala&&o fa7ade of the 5aro(ue Bith
Ricchino"s death we have already overstepped
the chronological limits of this chapter *obody
of his stature remained in !ilan to carry on the
work he had so promisingly accomplished
!ention has been made of the /anctuary at
1arese near !ilan which Cardinal $ederico
5orromeo had very much at heart The archi;
tectural work began in ,.4F and was carried out
through most of the century As one would
e0pect' the fifteen chapels designed by 8iuseppe
5ernasconi from 1arese correspond to the
severe classicism practised in !ilan at the
beginning of the seventeenth century To the
modern visitor there is a peculiar contrast
between the classici&ing chastity of the archi;
tecture and the popular realism of the tableaux
vivants inside the chapels If anywhere' the
lesson can here be learned that these are two
complementary facets of counter;reformatory art
In the 3uomo *uovo 5rescia has an early
/eicento work of imposing dimensions 5ut :ust
as so often in medieval times' the e0ecution of
the pro:ect went beyond the resources of a small
city After the competition of ,-A- the design by
)antana >,-2,;,.<E= was finally chosen in ,.46
The ne0t year saw the laying of the foundation
stone' but as late as ,E<E only the choir was
roofed Until ,EF- there was a renewed period of
activity due to the initiative of Cardinal Antonio
!aria ?uerini The !ichelangeles(ue dome'
however' was erected after ,2<, by )uigi
Cagnola' who introduced changes in the original
design
To the names of the two able 5arnabite archi;
tects Rosato Rosati and )oren&o 5inago' work;
ing at the beginning of the /eicento' that of
8iovanni !agenta >I-.-;I.6-= must be added
He was the strongest talent at 5ologna during the
first (uarter of the century A man of great
intellectual power' engineer' mathematician' and
theoretician' he even became in ,.,< 8eneral of
his #rder In ,.4- he designed on a vast scale the
cathedral of / %ietro at 5ologna' accomplishing
the difficult union with 3omenico Tibaldi"s choir
>,-E-=' which he left untouched The design
7
differs from /t %eter"s and the great Roman
congregational churches in the alternating high
and low arches leading into the aisles Bith its
brilliant light and the eighteenth;century coretti,
added by Alfonso Torreggiani >,E.-=' the church
looks much later than it is The e0ecution lay in
the hands of $loriano Ambrosini and *icolo
3onati Bhile they changed to a certain e0tent
!agenta"s pro:ect' the latter is fully responsible for
the large church of / /alvatore' designed in ,.4-
and erected by T !artelli between ,.,6 and
,.<6 Inspired by the large halls of Roman ther;
mae' !agenta here monumentali&ed the *orth
Italian tradition of using free;standing columns in
the nave 5y virtue of this motif' the nave appears
isolated from the domed area In addition' the
large central chapels with arches rising to the
whole height of the vaulting of the nave look like
a transverse a0is and strengthen the impression
that the nave is centred upon itself In fact' on
entering the church one may well believe oneself
to be in a 8reek;cross unit >without dome=' to
which is added a second' domed unit Bhether one
may or may not want to find in !agenta"s
ambiguous design a )ate !annerist element' it is
certain that he imaginatively transmuted *orth
Italian conceptions Early 5aro(ue in its
massiveness' / /alvatore was destined to e0ercise
an important influence on the planning of
longitudinal churches !agenta"s church of /
%aolo' begun in ,.4.' shows that he was even
capable of enlivening the traditional 8esG type' to
which Roman architects of this period' did not
really find an alternative 5y making space for
confessionals with coretti above them between the
high arches leading into the chapels' he created'
more effectively than in the cathedral' a lively
rhythm along the nave' reminiscent of 5orromini"s
later handling of the same problem in / 8iovanni
in )aterano
%arma' flourishing under her $arnese princes'
had in 8iovan 5attista Aleotti >,-F.;,.6.= and his
pupil 8iovan 5attista !agnani >,-E,;,.-6= Early
5aro(ue architects The former' assisted by
!agnani' built the impressively simple he0agon of
/ !aria del ?uartiere >,.4F;,A=' the e0terior of
which is an early e0ample of the pagoda;like
build;up of geometrical shapes taken up and
developed later by 8uarino 8uarini >Chapter ,E'
*ote ,<= Aleotti was for twenty;two years in the
service of Alfonso d"Este at $errara' where he
erected' among others' the imposing fa7ade of the
University >,.,4=' together with Alessandro 5albi'
the architect of the !adonna della 8hiara at
Reggio Emilia >,-AE;,.,A=' a building
dependent on the plan of /t %eter"s though less
distinguished than the series of buildings
mentioned above In $errara Aleotti also made
his debut as an architect of theatres' an activity
that was crowned by his Teatro $arnese' built at
%arma between ,.,2 and ,.<2 The $arnese
theatre' e0ceeding in si&e and magnificence any
other before it' superbly blends %alladio"s and
/camo&&i"s archaeological e0periments with the
progressive tendencies evolved in $lorence

The
wide;open' rectangular proscenium;arch together
with the revolutionary U;shaped form of the
auditorium contained the seeds of the spectacular
development of the seventeenth;century theatre
Heavily damaged during the last war' it has now
been largely rebuilt
8enoa"s great period of architectural deve;
lopment is the second half of the si0teenth
century It was 8alea&&o Alessi who created the
8enoese pala&&o type along the /trada *uova
>now 1ia 8aribaldi=' begun by him in ,--, 5ut
to his contemporary Rocco )urago must be given
pride of place for having recogni&ed the
architectural potentialities which the steeply
rising ground of 8enoa offered His %ala&&o
3oria Tursi in 1ia 8aribaldi >begun ,-.2= shows
for the first time the long vista from the vestibule
through the cortile to the staircase ascending at
the far end 5artolomeo 5ianco >before ,-A4;
,.-E=' 8enoa"s greatest 5aro(ue architect'
followed the lead of the %ala&&o 3oria Tursi His
most accomplished structure is the present
University' built as a @esuit College >planned
,.6o= along the 1ia 5albi >the street which he
began in ,.4. and opened in ,.,2=+ it presents
an ensemble of incomparable splendour $or the
first time he unified architecturally the vestibule
and courtyard' in spite of their different levels+ in
the cortile he introduced two tiers of lofty ar;
cades resting on twin columns+ and at the far end
he carried the staircase' dividing twice' to the
whole height of the building $ully aware of the
coherence of the whole design' the eye of the
beholder is easily led from level to level' four in
all The e0terior contrasts with the earlier
8enoese pala&&o tradition by the relative sim;
plicity of the design without' however' breaking
away from the use of idiomatic 8enoese motifs
Compared with the University' 5ianco"s %ala&&i
3ura&&o;%allavicini >1ia 5albi i' begun ,.,A=
and 5albi;/enarega >1ia 5albi F' after ,.<4= are
8
almost an anticlima0 Bhile the latter was finished
by %ier Antonio Corradi >,.,6;26=' the former
was considerably altered in the course of the
eighteenth century by Andrea Tagliafichi >,E<A;
,2,,=' who built the grand staircase Apart from
the balconies and the cornices resting on large
brackets' both palaces are entirely bare of
decoration This is usually mentioned as
characteristic of 5ianco"s austere manner It is'
however' much more likely that these fronts were
to be painted with illusionist architectural detail
>such as window surrounds' niches' etc= and
figures in keeping with a late si0teenth;century
8enoese fashion
In contrast to the north of Italy' the contribution
of Tuscan architects to the rise of 5aro(ue
architecture is rather limited #ne is inclined to
think that 5uontalenti"s ample and rich decorative
manner might have formed a starting point for the
emergence of a proper /eicento style Det
Ammanati"s precise )ate !annerism and' perhaps
to a larger e0tent' 3osio"s austere classicism
corresponded more fully to the latent aspirations
of the $lorentines It is hardly an overstatement to
say that towards ,.44 an academic classici&ing
reaction against 5uontalenti set in *evertheless'
5uontalenti"s decorative vocabulary was never
entirely forgotten+ one finds it here' there' and
everywhere till the late eighteenth century' and
even architects outside $lorence were inspired by
it
Thus the $lorence of the early seventeenth
century developed her own brand of a classici&ing
!annerism' and this was by and large in keeping
with the all;Italian position 5ut $lorence never
had a !aderno or a Ricchino' a 5ianco or
)onghena+ she remained to all intents and
purposes anti;5aro(ue and hardly ever broke
wholly with the tenets of the early seventeenth;
century style The names of the main practitioners
at the beginning of the seventeenth century are
8iovanni de" !edici >d ,.<,=' Cosimo I"s natural
son' who supervised the large architectural
undertakings during $erdinand I"s reign >,-2E;
,.4A=+ )odovico Cigoli >,--A;,.,6=' the painter
>pp AE;2= and architect' !aderno"s unsuccessful
competitor for /t %eter"s' the builder of the choir
of / $elicita' of a number of palaces' and
according to 5aldinucci also of the austere though
unconventional courtyard of 5uontalenti"s %ala&&o
*onfinito+ and 8iulio %arigi >,-E,;,.6-= and his
son Alfonso >,.44;c ,.-.=' famous as theatrical
designers of the !edici court' who imparted a
scenographic (uality to the Isolotto and the
theatre in the 5oboli gardens 8iulio e0erted a
distinct influence on his pupil Callot and also on
Agostino Tassi' whose scenic paintings reveal his
early training $inally' !atteo *igetti >,-.4;
,.FA=' 5uontalenti"s pupil' must be added' whose
stature as an architect has long been
overestimated His contribution to the Cappella
dei %rincipi is less original than has been
believed' nor has he any share in the final design
of / 8aetano' for which 8herardo /ilvani alone
is responsible >p 6o,= His manner may best be
:udged from his fa7ade of the Chiesa di
#gnissanti >,.6-;E= Here' after forty years' he
revived with certain ad:ustments the academic
!annerism of 8iovanni de" !edici"s fa7ade of /
/tefano dei Cavalieri at %isa >,-A6= In order to
assess the sluggish path of the $lorentine
development' one may compare the #gnissanti
fa7ade with that of Ascanio 1itto&&i"s Chiesa del
Corpus 3omini at Turin' where it can be seen
how by ,.4E the theme of / /tefano was
handled in a vigorously sculptural Early 5aro(ue
manner
3uring the first half of the seventeenth century
the erection of the huge octagonal funeral chapel
>Cappella dei %rincipi= absorbed the interest and
e0hausted the treasury of the !edici court
)avishly incrusted with coloured marbles and
precious stones' the chapel' lying on the main
a0is of / )oren&o' was to offer a glittering
viewpoint from the entrance of the church /ince
the wall between the church and the chapel
remained standing' this scenic effect' essentially
5aro(ue and wholly in keeping with the
!edicean love of pageantry and the stage' was
never obtained As early as ,-., Cosimo I had
planned a funeral chapel' but it was only 8rand
3uke $erdinand I who brought the idea to
fruition After a competition among the most
distinguished $lorentine artists' 8iovanni de"
!edici together with his collaborator' Alessandro
%ieroni' and !atteo *igetti prepared the model
which was revised by 5uontalenti >,.46;F= The
latter was in charge of the building until his death
in ,.42' when *igetti continued as clerk of
works for the ne0t forty years If in spite of such
activity the chapel remained a torso for a long
time to come' it yet epitomi&es !edici ambition
of the early seventeenth century In the interior
the flat decorative (uality takes precedence over
the structural organi&ation' and by Roman
standards of the time the e0terior must have been
9
:udged as a shapeless pile Rather sober and dry in
detail' the large drum and dome do not seem to
tally with their substructure Bindows of different
si&es and in different planes are s(uee&ed in
between the massive and ill;articulated "but;
tresses" There is' in fact' no end to the obvious
incongruities which manifest a stubborn adherence
to the outmoded principles of !annerism *aples
saw in the last two decades of the si0teenth
century a considerable intensification of
architectural activity' due to the enthusiasm of two
viceroys )acking native talents' architects had to
be called from abroad 8iovan Antonio 3osio >d
,.4A= and 3omenico $ontana >d ,.4E= settled
there for good The former left $lorence in ,-2A+
the latter' running into difficulties after /i0tus 1"s
death' made *aples his home in ,-A<' where as
"Royal Engineer" he found tasks on the largest
scale' among them the construction of the Royal
%alace >,.44;<= Thus $lorentine and Roman
classicism were assimilated in the southern
kingdom A new phase of *eapolitan architecture
is linked to the name of $ra $rancesco 8rimaldi
>,-F6;,.,6=' a Theatine monk who came from
Calabria His first important building' / %aolo
!aggiore >,-2,H6;,.46=' erected over the ancient
temple of Castor and %ollu0' proves him an
architect of uncommon ability In spite of certain
provincialisms' the design of / %aolo has breadth
and a sonorous (uality that may well be called
Early 5aro(ue The wide nave with alternating
high and low arches' opening respectively into
domed and vaulted parts of the >later= aisles' is
reminiscent of !agenta"s work in 5ologna and
more imaginative than Roman church designs of
the period In ,-2- 8rimaldi was called to Rome'
where he had a share in the erection of / Andrea
della 1alle He must have had the reputation of
being the leading Theatine architect Among his
post;Roman buildings' / !aria della /apien&a
>begun ,.,F' with fa7ade by $an&ago= returns'
more sophisticated' to the rhythmic articulation
of / %aolo' while / !aria degli Angeli >,.44;
,4=' the Cappella del Tesoro' which ad:oins the
cathedral and is itself the si&e of a church >,.42;
after ,.,6=' and // Apostoli >planned c, ,.,4'
e0ecuted ,.<.;6<= are all thoroughly Roman in
character and succeed by their scale and the
vigorous (uality of the design
*e0t to 8rimaldi' 8iovan 8iacomo di Conforto
>d ,.6,= and the 3ominican $ra *uvolo
>8iuseppe 3on&elli= should be mentioned
Conforto began under 3osio' was after the
latter"s death architect of / !artino until ,.<6'
and built' apart from the campanile of the Chiesa
del Carmine >,.<<' finished by $ra *uvolo'
,.6,=' three )atin;cross churches >/ /evere al
%endino' / Agostino degli /cal&i' ,.46;,4' and
/ Teresa' ,.4<;,<= A more fascinating figure is
$ra *uvolo He began his career with / !aria di
Costantinopoli >late si0teenth century=' where he
faced the dome with ma:olica' thus inaugurating
the characteristic *eapolitan type of colourful
decoration His / !aria della /anita >,.4<;,6=
has been mentioned + his / /ebastiano' with a
very high dome' and / Carlo all"Arena >,.6,='
both elliptical' are uncommonly interesting and
progressive
These brief hints indicate that by the end of the
first (uarter of the seventeenth century *aples
had a flourishing school of architects 5y that
time the great master of the ne0t generation'
Cosimo $an&ago' was already working 5ut it
was then that Rome asserted her ascendancy' and
*aples as well as the cities of the *orth' which
had contributed so much to the rise of the new
style' were relegated once again to the role of
provincial centres
THE AGE OF THE HIGH BAROQUE
circa 1625 circa 1675
CHAPTER 8
GIANLORENZO BERNINI
1598 - 1680
ARCHITECTURE
10
Ecclesiastical Buildings
The year ,.<F is of particular importance in
the history of 5aro(ue architecture+ it was then
that 5ernini"s career as an architect began with
the commissions for the fa7ade of / 5ibiana and
the 5aldacchino in /t %eter"s It can hardly be
denied that the little church of / 5ibiana opens a
new chapter of the 5aro(ue in all three arts9 it
harbours 5ernini"s first official religious statue
and Cortona"s first important fresco cycle The
design of the fa7ade is not divorced from
tradition 5ut instead of developing further the
type of Roman church fa7ade which had led to
!aderno"s / /usanna' 5ernini placed a palace;
like storey over an open loggia I essentially the
principle of the fa7ade of /t %eter"s In some
modest early seventeenth;century fa7ades of this
type such as / /ebastiano the palace character is
almost scrupulously preserved 5y comparison /
5ibiana shows an important new feature9 the
central bay of the ground;floor arcades pro:ects
slightly' and above it' framing a deep niche' is an
impressive aedicule motif which breaks through
the skyline of the ad:oining bays In this way the
centre of the fa7ade has been given forceful
emphasis It should be noticed that the cornice of
the side;bays seems to run on under the pilasters
of the aedicule and then to turn into the depth of
the niche Thus the aedicule is superimposed
over a smaller system' the continuity of which
appears to be unbroken The interpenetration of
small and large orders was a !annerist device'
familiar to 5ernini not only from such buildings
as !ichelangelo"s Capitoline palaces' but also
from the church fa7ades of %alladio' an architect
whose work he never ceased to study All the
same' 5ernini"s first essay in architectural design
constitutes a new' bold' and individualist
departure which none of the architects who later
used the palace type of church fa7ade dared to
imitate
The 5aldacchino in /t %eter"s >,.<F;66= gave
5ernini his first and at once greatest opportunity
of displaying his unparalleled genius for
combining an architectural structure with monu;
mental sculpture It was a brilliant idea to repeat
in the giant columns of the 5aldacchino the
shape of the late anti(ue twisted columns which ;
sanctified by age and their use in the old 5asilica
of /t %eter"s ; were now to serve as aedicules
above the balconies of the pillars of the dome
Thus the twisted bron&e columns of the
5aldacchino find a fourfold echo' and not only
give proof of the continuity of tradition' but by
their giant si&e also e0press symbolically the
change from the simplicity of the early Christians
to the splendour of the counter;reformatory
Church' implying the victory of Christianity over
the pagan world !oreover' their shape helped to
solve the formal problem inherent in the gigantic
5aldacchino Its si&e is carefully related to the
architecture of the church+ but instead of creating
a dangerous rivalry' the dark bron&e corkscrew
columns establish a dramatic contrast to the
straight fluted pilasters of the piers as well as to
the other white marble structural members of the
building $inally' and above all' only giant
columns of this peculiar shape could be placed
free into space without carrying a "normal"
superstructure The columns are topped by four
large angels behind which rise the huge scrolls of
the crowning motif Their /;shaped lines appear
like a buoyant continuation of the screw;like
upward tendencies of the columns The scrolls
meet under a vigorously curved entablature
which is surmounted by the Cross above the
golden orb
Every part of this dynamic structure is ac;
companied and supported by sculpture' and it
may be noticed that with increasing distance
from the ground the sculptural element is given
ever greater freedom9 starting from the 5arberini
coat of arms contained by the panels of the
pedestals+ on to the laurel branches' creeping up
the columns' with putti nestling in them+ and
further to the angels who hold garlands like
ropes' with which to keep ; so it seems ; the
scrolls in position without effort In this area'
high above the ground' sculpture in the round
plays a vital part Here' in the open spaces
between the scrolls' are the putti with the
symbols of papal power' here are the
energetically curved palm branches which give
tension to the movement of the scrolls and'
finally' the realistic 5arberini bees' fittingly the
uppermost sculptural feature' which look as if
they carry the orb Critics have often disapproved
of the realistic hangings which :oin the columns
instead of the traditional entablature 5ut it is
precisely this unorthodo0 element which gives
the 5aldacchino its particular meaning as a
monumental canopy raised in all eternity over the
tomb of /t %eter' reminiscent of the real canopy
11
held over the living pope when he is carried in
state through the basilica
5ernini"s bold departure from the traditional
form of baldacchinos ; in the past often temple;
like architectural structures ; had an immediate
and lasting effect Among the many repetitions
and imitations may be mentioned those in /
)oren&o at /pello' erected as early as ,.6<' in
the cathedrals at Atri' $oligno' and Trent and'
much later' those in the abbey church at /an
5enigno' %iedmont >,EE4;.= and in / Angelo at
%erugia >,EE6' recently removed= !oreover' the
derivations in Austria and 8ermany are legion+
and even in $rance the type was widely accepted
after the well;known lighter version with si0
columns on a circular plan had been built over
the high altar of the 1al;de;8race in %aris
*ot until he was almost si0ty years old had
5ernini a chance of showing his skill as a de;
signer of churches His three churches at
Castelgandolfo and Ariccia and / Andrea al
?uirinale in Rome rose almost simultaneously
In spite of their small si&e' they are of great
importance not only for their intrinsic (ualities
but also because of their e0traordinary influence
!odern critics tend to misinterpret them by
stressing their traditional rather than their revolu;
tionary aspect Arguing from a purely aesthetic
or pragmatic point of view' they tacitly imply
that the same set of forms and motifs always
e0presses the same meaning It is too often
overlooked that the architecture of the past was
a language of visual signs and symbols which
architects used in a specific conte0t' and the
same grammar of architectural forms may there;
fore serve entirely different purposes and convey
vastly different ideas This should be
remembered during the following discussion
5ernini erected his three churches over the three
most familiar centrali&ed plans' the 8reek cross'
the circle' and the oval The earliest of them' the
church at Castelgandolfo' built between ,.-2 and
,..,' is a simple 8reek cross' reminiscent of
such perfect Renaissance churches as 8iuliano da
/angallo"s !adonna delle Carceri at %rato And
as in this latter church' the ratios are of utmost
simplicity' the depth of the arms of the cross' for
instance' being half their width 5ut compared
with Renaissance churches the height has been
considerably increased and the dome has been
given absolute predominance The e0terior is
very restrained' in keeping with the modest
character of the papal summer retreat to which
the church belongs $lat Tuscan double pilasters
decorate the fa7ade' and only minor features
reveal the late date' such as the heavy door
pediment and' in the &one of the capitals' the
uninterrupted moulding which links the front and
the arms of the church Above the crossing rises
the elegant ribbed dome which is evidently
derived from that of /t %eter"s 5ut in contrast to
the great model' the drum here consists of a low
and unadorned cylinder' not unlike that of
Raphael"s / Eligio degli #refici in Rome' and is
moreover set off against the dome by the
prominent ring of the cornice Every part of this
building is clearly defined' absolutely lucid' and
submitted to a classical discipline
The same spirit of austerity prevails in the
interior up to the sharply chiselled ring above the
arches 5ut in the &one of the vaulting 5ernini
abandoned his self;imposed moderation /pirited
putti' supporting large medallions' are seated on
the broken pediments over the windows of the
drum These pediments' breaking into the dome'
soften the division between drum and vault
Realistic garlands form links between the putti'
and the lively and fle0ible girdle thus created
appears like a pointed reversal of the pure
geometry of the ring under the drum This formal
contrast between rigidity and freedom is
paralleled by the antithesis between the
monumental Roman lettering of the inscription'
praising the virtues of /t Thomas of 1illanova to
whom the church is dedicated' and the elo(uent
reliefs which render eight important events of his
life /ince the coffers seem to continue behind
the reliefs' the latter appear to hover in the wide
e0panse of the dome
Bhenever 5ernini had previously decorated
niches or semi;domes' he had followed the
tradition' sanctioned by !ichelangelo' of using
ribs and' in the neutral areas between them'
decorative roundels In Castelgandolfo 5ernini
retained the ribs and combined them with coffers
The classical element of the coffers seems to
indicate an evenly distributed thrust >%antheon='
while the "medieval"' buttress;like system of ribs
divides the dome into active carriers and passive
panels The union of these contrasting types of
domical organi&ation was not 5ernini"s own
invention He took up an idea first developed by
%ietro da Cortona and' after thoroughly
classici&ing it' employed it from Castelgandolfo
onwards for all his later vaultings and domes It
was this 5ernines(ue type of dome with ribs and
12
coffers all'antica that was followed on countless
occasions after ,..4 by architects in Italy as well
as the rest of Europe
/ Tomaso at Castelgandolfo is perhaps the
least distinguished of 5ernini"s three churches in
so far as the two others e0hibit his specific
approach to architecture more fully The story of
the new Ariccia dates back to <4 @uly ,..,' when
Cardinal $lavio' 3on !ario' and 3on Agostini
Chigi ac(uired the little township near
Castelgandolfo from 8iulio /avelli' %rince of
Albano Here stood the old palace of the /avelli
/oon it was decided not only to moderni&e the
palace' but also to erect a church opposite its
entrance 5ernini was commissioned in ,..<'
and two years later the church was finished Its
basic form consists of a cylinder crowned by a
hemispherical dome with a broad lantern An
arched portico of pure' classical design is placed
in front of the rotunda' counterbalanced at the far
end by the sacristy which :uts out from the circle
but is not perceived by the approaching visitor
Here also are the two bell;towers of which only
the tops are visible from the s(uare In order to
understand 5ernini"s guiding idea' reference must
be made to another pro:ect
$rom ,.-E onwards 5ernini was engaged on
plans for ridding the %antheon of later disfiguring
additions+ he also intended to systemati&e the
s(uare in front of the ancient building' but most
of his ideas remained on paper

/urviving
sketches show that he interpreted the e0terior of
the "original" %antheon as the union of the two
basic forms of vaulted cylinder and portico' and
it is this combination of two simple geometric
shapes' stripped of all accessories' that he
reali&ed in the church at Ariccia /traight
colonnades flank the church' and these' together
with the portico and the walls' which grip like
arms around the body of the church' enhance the
cylindrical and monolithic (uality of the rotunda
The interior too shows une0pected relations to
the %antheon There are three chapels of e(ual
si&e on each side' while the entrance and the altar
niche are a fraction larger' so that an almost
unnoticeable a0ial direction e0ists 5ut the
impression prevails of eight consecutive niches
separated by tall Corinthian pilasters' which
carry the unbroken circle of the entablature As
Andrea %alladio had done before in the little
church at !aser' so here 5ernini reduced the
design to the two fundamental forms of the
cylinder and hemisphere' and' as in !aser' the
Corinthian order is as high as the cylinder itself
In contrast' however' to %alladio"s rhythmic
alternation of open and closed bays' 5ernini gave
an uninterrupted se(uence of openings The
structural chastity of Ariccia was due to an
attempt at recreating an imaginary %antheon of
the venerable Republican era 5ernini believed
that the ancient building had originally been one
of heroic simplicity and grandeur !uch later'
Carlo $ontana' who in about ,..4 worked as
5ernini"s assistant' published a reconstruction of
the supposedly original %antheon which is
remarkably close to the interior of Ariccia
5ut in the &one of the dome' which again
shows the combination of coffers and ribs' we
find a realistic decoration similar to that at
Castelgandolfo9 stucco putti and angels sit on
scrolls' holding free;hanging garlands which
swing from rib to rib Bhat do these life;like
figures signifyC The church is dedicated to the
1irgin >/ !aria dell"Assun&ione= and' according
to the legend' re:oicing angels strew flowers on
the day of her Assumption The celestial
messengers are seated under the "dome of heaven"
into which the ascending 1irgin will be received+
the mystery is adumbrated in the Assumption
painted on the wall behind the altar /ince the
:ubilant angels' superior beings who dwell in a
&one inaccessible to the faithful' are treated with
e0treme realism' they con:ure up full and
breathing life Thus whenever he enters the
church the worshipper participates in the
"mystery in action" As in Castelgandolfo' the
dedication of the church gives rise to a dramatic;
historical interpretation+ the entire church is
submitted to' and dominated by' this particular
event' and the whole interior has become its
stage
5y and large' the Renaissance church had been
conceived as a monumental shrine' where man'
separated from everyday life' was able to
communicate with 8od In 5ernini"s churches' by
contrast' the architecture is no more and no less
than the setting for a stirring mystery revealed to
the faithful by sculptural decoration In spite of
their close formal links with Renaissance and
ancient architecture' these churches have been
given an entirely non;classical meaning
#bviously' 5ernini saw no contradiction between
classical architecture and 5aro(ue sculpture ; a
contradiction usually emphasi&ed by modern
critics who fail to understand the sub:ective and
13
particular (uality with which seemingly ob:ective
and timeless classical forms have been endowed
5y far the most important of the three
churches is / Andrea al ?uirinale' commis;
sioned by Cardinal Camillo %amphili for the
novices of the @esuit #rder 5uilding began
simultaneously with the church at Castelgandolfo
; the foundation stone was laid on 6 *ovember
,.-2 ; but it took much longer to complete this
richly decorated church Antonio Raggi"s
stuccoes were carried out between ,..< and
,..-' while other parts of the decoration dragged
on until ,.E4 The particular character of the site
on which most of the convent was standing
induced 5ernini to choose an oval ground;plan
with the transverse a0is longer than the main a0is
between entrance and altar This in itself was not
without precedent There was $ornovo"s / !aria
dell" Annun&iata at %arma >,-..=' and 5ernini
himself had used the type much earlier in the
little church in the old %ala&&o di %ropaganda
$ide >,.6F' later replaced by 5orromini"s
structure= Bhat is new in / Andrea' however' is
that pilasters instead of open chapels stand at
both ends of the transverse a0is As a result' the
oval is closed at the most critical points where
otherwise' from a viewpoint near the entrance'
the eye would wander off from the main room
into undefined subsidiary spaces 5ernini"s novel
solution permits' indeed compels' the spectator"s
glance to sweep round the uninterrupted
se(uence of giant pilasters' crowned by the
massive ring of the entablature' until it meets the
columned aedicule in front of the altar recess
And here' in the concave opening of the
pediment' /t Andrew soars up to heaven on a
cloud All the lines of the architecture culminate
in' and converge upon' this piece of sculpture
!ore arrestingly than in the other churches the
beholder"s attention is absorbed by the dramatic
event' which owes its suggestive power to the
way in which it dominates the severe lines of the
architecture
Colour and light assist the miraculous ascen;
sion 5elow' in the human sphere' the church
glows with precious multicoloured dark marble
Above' in the heavenly sphere of the dome' the
colours are white and gold The oval space is
evenly lit by windows between the ribs which cut
deep into the coffered parts of the dome 5right
light streams in from the lantern' in which
sculptured cherubs" heads and the 3ove of the
Holy 8host seem to await the ascending saint
All the chapels are considerably darker than the
congregational room' so that its uniformity is
doubly assured In addition' there is a subtle
differentiation in the lighting of the chapels9 the
large ones flanking the transverse a0is have a
diffused light' while the four subsidiary ones in
the diagonal a0es are cast in deep shadow Thus
the aedicule is ad:oined by dark areas which
dramatically enhance the radiance of light in the
altar chapel
In / Andrea 5ernini solved the intractable
problem of directions inherent in centrali&ed
planning in a manner which only %alladio had
attempted before the 5aro(ue age 5y means of
the aedicule' which is an ingenious adaptation of
the %alladian device of the columned screen ;a
uni(ue occurrence in Rome ; he created a barrier
against' as well as a vital link with' the altar
chapel He thus preserved and even emphasi&ed
the homogeneity of the oval form and' at the
same time' succeeded in giving predominance to
the altar Translated into psychological terms' the
church has two spiritual centres9 the oval space'
where the congregation participates in the
miracle of the saint"s salvation+ and the carefully
separated altar;recess' inaccessible to the laity'
where the mystery is consummated Here the
beholder sees like an apparition the band of
angelic messengers bathed in visionary golden
light bearing aloft the picture of the martyred
saint' assured of his heavenly reward for faith
unbroken by suffering
It hardly seems necessary to reaffirm obser;
vations made in the first part of this chapter9 here
the whole church is sub:ect to a coherent literary
theme which informs every part of it' including
the ring of figures above the windows which
consists of putti carrying garlands and martyrs"
palms' and nude fishermen who handle nets'
oars' shells' and reeds ; symbolic companions of
the fisherman Andrew Through its specific
conne0ion with sculpture' the architecture itself
serves to make the dramatic concetto a vital
e0perience
$or the e0terior of / Andrea' 5ernini made
use of the lesson he had learned from $rancesco
da 1olterra"s / 8iacomo degli Incurabili In both
churches the dome is enclosed in a cylindrical
shell' and in both cases the thrust is taken up by
large scrolls which fulfil the function of 8othic
buttresses 5ut this is as far as the influence of /
8iacomo goes In the case of / Andrea' the
scrolls rest upon the strong oval ring which
14
encases the chapels Its cornice seems to run on
under the giant Corinthian pilasters of the fa7ade
and sweeps forward into the semicircular portico
where it is supported by two Ionic columns The
portico' surmounted between scrolls by the free;
standing %amphili coat of arms of e0uberant
decorative design' is the only relieving note in an
otherwise e0tremely austere fa7ade Det this airy
porch must not simply be regarded as an
e0hilarating feature inviting the passers;by to
enter+ it is also a dynamic element of vital
importance in the comple0 organi&ation of the
building The aedicule motif framing the portico
is taken up inside' on the same a0is' by the
aedicule framing the altar recess 5ut there is a
reversal in the direction of movement9 while in
the e0terior the cornice over the oval body of the
church seems to move towards the approaching
visitor and to come to rest in the portico' the
point nearest to him' in the interior the movement
is in the opposite direction and is halted at the
point farthest away from the entrance In addi;
tion' the isolated altar;room answers in reverse to
the pro:ecting portico' and this is e0pressive of
their different functions' the latter inviting' the
former e0cluding the faithful Thus outside and
inside appear like "positive" and "negative"
reali&ations of the same theme A word must be
added about the two (uadrant walls forming the
pia&&a They focus attention on the fa7ade 5ut
more than this9 since they grip firmly into the
":ointsJ where the oval body of the church and the
aedicule meet' their concave sweep reverses the
conve0 ring of the oval and reinforces the
dynamic (uality of the whole structure
8enetically speaking' the fa7ade of / Andrea
is related to that of / 5ibiana It might almost be
said that what 5ernini did was to isolate and
monumentali&e the revolutionary central feature
of / 5ibiana and to connect it with the motif of
the portico with free;standing columns which
%ietro da Cortona had first introduced in / !aria
della %ace And yet this fa7ade is highly original
In order to assess its novel character I may refer
to the Early 5aro(ue fa7ade of / 8iacomo degli
Incurabili Here the fa7ade is orthodo0' deriving
from Roman )atin;cross churches' so that on
entering this oval church one is aware that the
e0terior and the interior are not co;ordinated In
the case of / Andrea al ?uirinale nobody would
e0pect to enter a )atin;cross church 5ernini suc;
ceeded in e0pressing in the fa7ade the specific
character of the church behind it9 e0terior and
interior form an entirely homogeneous entity
Secular Buildings
5ernini"s activity in the field of domestic
architecture was neither e0tensive nor without
adversity In the %ala&&o 5arberini' his earliest
work' his contribution was confined to ad:ust;
ments of Carlo !aderno"s design and to deco;
rative features of the interior such as the door
surrounds The fa7ade of the Collegio di
%ropaganda $ide facing the %ia&&a di /pagna was
an able moderni&ation of an old palace front
>,.F<;F=' but he acted only as consulting
architect His share in the design of the %ala&&o
3ucale at !odena and the e0ecution of the
%ala&&o del ?uirinale ; a work of many brains
and hands ; is relatively small A number of
designs remained on paper' while some minor
works survive9 the decoration of the %orta del
%opolo on the side of the %ia&&a' occasioned by
the entry into Rome of ?ueen Christina of
/weden >,.--=+ additions to the hospital of /
/pirito >,..F;.= of which at least a gateway in
the 1ia %eniten&ieri close to the /(uare of /t
%eter"s survives+ the renovation of the papal
palace at Castelgandolfo >,..4=+ and finally an
"industrial" work' the arsenal in the harbour of
Civitavecchia >,.-2;.6=' consisting of three large
halls of impressive austerity /etting all this
aside' only three works of ma:or importance
remain to claim our attention' each with an ill;
starred history of its own' namely the %ala&&o
)udovisi in %ia&&a !ontecitorio' the %ala&&o
Chigi in %ia&&a // Apostoli' and the pro:ects for
the )ouvre
5ernini designed the %ala&&o )udovisi' now
%ala&&o di !ontecitorio' in ,.-4 for the family
of %ope Innocent K In ,.--' at the %ope"s death'
little was standing of the vast palace' and it was
not until forty years later' in ,.AF' that Carlo
$ontana resumed construction for Innocent KII
Although $ontana introduced some rather
pedantic academic features' 5ernini"s fa7ade was
sufficiently advanced to prevent any flagrant
distortion of his intentions

The entire length of
twenty;five windows is subdivided into separate
units of 6;.;E;.;6 bays which meet at obtuse
angles so that the whole front looks as if it were
erected over a conve0 plan /light pro:ections of
15
the units at either end and the centre are
important vehicles of organi&ation Each unit is
framed by giant pilasters comprising the two
principal storeys' to which the ground floor with
the naturalistic rock formations under the farthest
pilasters and window sills serves as a base Apart
from these attempts at articulation' the palace is
essentially tied to the Roman tradition deriving
from the %ala&&o $arnese
In the summer of ,..F' not long before his
:ourney to %aris' 5ernini designed the palace
which Cardinal $lavio Chigi had purchased in
,.., from the Colonna family The volte;face
here is hardly foreshadowed in the fa7ade of the
%ala&&o )udovisi 5ernini placed a richly
articulated central part of seven bays between
simple rusticated receding wings of three bays
each !ore decidedly than in the %ala&&o
)udovisi' the ground floor functions as a base for
the two upper storeys with their giant composite
pilasters which stand so close that the window
tabernacles of the piano nobile take up the entire
open space This finely balanced fa7ade was
disturbed in ,EF- when the palace was ac(uired
by the #descalchi *icola /alvi and his assistant
)uigi 1anvitelli doubled the central part' which
now has si0teen pilasters instead of eight and two
entrance doors instead of one The present front
is much too long in relation to its height and'
standing between asymmetrical wings' no longer
bears witness to 5ernini"s immaculate sense of
proportion and scale This' however' does not
pre:udice the revolutionary importance of
5ernini"s design' which constitutes a decisive
break with the traditional Roman palace front
The older type' with no vertical articulation' has
long rows of windows hori&ontally united by
means of continuous string courses %recedents
for the use of the colossal order in palace fa7ades
e0isted In !ichelangelo"s Capitoline %alaces and
%alladio"s %ala&&o 1almarana at 1icen&a the
colossal order rises from the ground #n the
other hand' a few buildings in Rome before
5ernini have a colossal order over the ground
floor' and in *orthern Italy the type is not rare
5ut when all is said and done' such comparisons
throw into relief rather than diminish 5ernini"s
achievement The relation of the ground floor to
the two upper tiers+ the fine gradation from
simple window;frames to elaborate' heavy
tabernacle frames in the piano nobile - deriving
from the %ala&&o $arnese ; to the light and
playful window surrounds of the second storey+
the rich composite order of the pilasters+ the
powerful cornice with rhythmically arranged
brackets crowned by an open balustrade which
was meant to carry statuary+ the :u0taposition of
the highly organi&ed central part with the rustic
wings+ and' lastly' the strong accentuation of the
entrance with its free;standing Tuscan columns'
balcony and window above it' the whole unit
being again dependent on the %ala&&o $arnese ;
all this was here combined in a design of
authentic nobility and grandeur 5ernini had
found the formula for the aristocratic 5aro(ue
palace And its immense influence e0tends far
beyond the borders of Italy
5ernini"s third great enterprise' the )ouvre'
turned out to be his saddest disappointment In
the spring of ,..- )ouis KI1 invited him to
come to %aris and suggest on the spot how to
complete the great )ouvre carre of which the
west and south wings and half of the north wing
were standing The east wing with the main front
was still to be built 8reat were the e0pectations
on all sides when 5ernini arrived in %aris on <
@une of that year 5ut his five months" stay there
ended in dismal failure The reasons for it were
many' personal as well as national And yet his
pro:ects might possibly have been accepted had
they answered the purpose for which they were
made 5efore he travelled to $rance' he had
already sent two different pro:ects to Colbert' in
whose hands as "/urintendant des 5atiments"
rested all proceedings connected with the
)ouvre
Although 5ernini always worked on the whole
area of the carre, the focus of his design was' of
course' the east fa7ade The first pro:ect of @une
,..F' contemporary with the design of the
%ala&&o Chigi;#descalchi' is une0pected by any
standards He created an open rectangle with two
pro:ecting wings of four bays each' between
which he placed a long colonnade consisting of a
conve0 centre between two concave arms The
conve0 part of the colonnade follows the shape
of the oval vestibule' above which is a grand oval
hall going through two storeys Its second storey
with circular windows' articulated by double
pilasters and decorated with $rench lilies
standing out against the sky;line' rises above the
uniform cornice of the whole front In this fa7ade
5ernini followed up the theme of the %ala&&o
5arberini' an arcaded centre framed by serene
wings' and applied to it the theme of Roman
church trades with a conve0 centre between
16
concave arms >/ !aria della %ace' / Andrea al
?uirinale= 5ut for the details of the colonnade
he turned to the festive architecture of northern
Italy and combined the colossal order of
%alladio"s )oggia del Capitano at 1icen&a with
the two;storeyed arcade of /ansovino"s )ibrary at
1enice The result was a palace design which has
an entirely un;Roman airy (uality' and though it
remained on paper it seems to have had
considerable influence on the development of
eighteenth;century structures The second
pro:ect' dispatched from Rome in $ebruary ,..-
and preserved in a drawing at /tockholm' has a
giant order applied to the wall above a rusticated
ground floor #ne may regard this as a novel
application of the %ala&&o Chigi;#descalchi
design' but for the wide sweep of the concave
centre part 5ernini was probably indebted to an
une0ecuted pro:ect by %ietro da Cortona for the
%ia&&a Colonna in Rome The third pro:ect
designed in %aris survives in the engravings by
!arot which were carried out under 5ernini"s
watchful eyes He now returned to the more
conventional Roman pala&&o type' and in the
process of re;designing the eas"t front he lost in
originality what he gained in monumental
appearance He was still faced with the typically
Italian problem of harmoni&ing length and height
in this front of prodigious e0tension+ he therefore
subdivided the traditional block shape into five
distinct units' thus developing the scheme first
evolved in the %ala&&o !ontecitorio The central
pro:ection showing the ideal ratio of ,9< >height
to length' without the basement which was to
disappear behind the moat= is emphasi&ed not
only by its si&e of eleven bays but also by virtue
of its decoration with giant half;columns This
motif is taken up in the giant pilasters of the
wings' while the receding sections have no orders
at all $ollowing the e0ample of the %ala&&o
$arnese' 5ernini retained much plain wall;space
above the windows of the piano nobile as well as
the traditional string course under the windows
of the top storey Instead of arranging the order
as a simple consecutive se(uence' he concen;
trated four half;columns in the central area' a
device to emphasi&e the entrance This palace
was to rise like a powerful fortress from the
"natural" rock+ this concept too was' in a way'
anticipated in the %ala&&o di !ontecitorio
5ernini"s third east fa7ade was the answer to
previous criticism voiced by Colbert 5ut in spite
of vital changes from one pro:ect to the ne0t'
5ernini clung with the stubbornness only to be
found in a genius averse to any compromise to
all the features which he regarded as essential for
a royal residence although they were contrary to
$rench taste and traditions He retained the
unifying cornice' the unbroken skyline' and the
flat roof+ to him a fa7ade was a whole to which
the parts were subordinated+ it could never be the
agglomeration of different structural units to
which the $rench were accustomed !oreover' in
compliance with southern conceptions of
decorum he insisted' in spite of Colbert"s
repeated protests' on transferring the Ling"s suite
from the (uiet south front' facing the river' to the
east wing' the most stately but also the most
noisy part of the building Among his other
unacceptable proposals was the idea of
surrounding the carre with arcades after the
fashion of Italian courtyards+ such arcades were
not only unsuitable in that they e0cluded the light
from the rooms behind' but they also seemed
aesthetically repulsive to the $rench $inally' he
never abandoned the typically Italian staircases
in the four corners of the cane, placed there in
order not to interrupt the alignment of rooms' and
their disposition as well as their enclosure by
badly lit wells appeared contrary to common
sense to the $rench' who had solved the problem
of easy communication between vestibule'
staircase hall' and living rooms
Bhen 5ernini returned to Italy he had not
given up hope that his plans would be carried
out The $rench architects were bitterly anta;
gonistic Colbert was irresolute' but the king had
taken a liking to the great Italian and supported
him Actually' the foundation stone of 5ernini"s
)ouvre was laid three days before his departure
from %aris 5ack in Rome' he worked out a new
pro:ect' the fourth' in which he made the one
concession of reducing the much critici&ed height
of the piano nobile. In !ay ,... he sent his
assistant' !attia de" Rossi' to %aris to supervise
the e0ecution 5ut meanwhile the king"s interest
had shifted to 1ersailles' and that was the signal
for Colbert to abandon 5ernini"s plans
5y this decision %aris was saved the doubtful
honour of having within its walls the most
monumental Roman pala&&o ever designed
/plendid though 5ernini"s pro:ect was' the
enormous' austere pile would forever have stood
out as an alien growth in the serene atmosphere
of %aris In Rome' the cube of the %ala&&o
$arnese' the ancestor of 5ernini"s design' may be
17
likened to the solo in a choir In %aris' 5ernini"s
overpowering )ouvre would have no resonance9
it would have cast an almost sombre spell over
the gaiety of the city
The Piazza of St Peter's
Bhile he was in %aris' 5ernini"s greatest work'
the /(uare of /t %eter"s' was still rising 5ut by
that time all the hurdles had been taken and'
moreover' 5ernini had a reliable studio with a
long and firmly established tradition to look after
his interests His "office" supplied' of course' no
more than physical help towards the
accomplishment of one of the most comple0
enterprises in the history of Italian architecture
5ernini alone was responsible for this work
which has always been universally admired' he
alone had the genius and resourcefulness to find
a way through a tangle of topographical and
liturgical problems' and only his supreme
authority in artistic matters backed by the
unfailing support of %ope Ale0ander 1II could
overcome intrigues and envious opposition and
bring this task to a successful conclusion Among
a vast number of issues to be considered'
particular importance was attached to two ritual
ones right from the start At Easter and on a few
other occasions the pope blesses the people of
Rome from the 5enediction )oggia above the
central entrance to the church It is a blessing
symbolically e0tended to the whole world9 it is
given urbi et orbi. The pia&&a' therefore' had not
only to hold the ma0imum number of people'
while the )oggia had to be visible to as many as
possible' but the form of the s(uare itself had to
suggest the all;embracing character of the
function Another ceremony to be taken into
account was the papal blessing given to pilgrims
from a window of the private papal apartment
situated in 3omenico $ontana"s palace on the
north side of the piazza. #ther hardly less vital
considerations pertained to the papal palace Its
old entrance in the north;west corner of the
pia&&a could not be shifted and yet it had to be
integrated into the architecture of the whole

The
basilica itself re(uired an approach on the
grandest scale in keeping with its prominence
among the churches of the Catholic world In
addition' covered ways of some kind were
needed for processions and in particular for the
solemn ceremonies of Corpus 3omini+ they were
also necessary as protection against sun and rain'
for pedestrians as well as for coaches 5ernini
began in the summer of ,.-. with the design of a
trape&oid pia&&a enclosed by the traditional type
of palace fronts over round;headed arcades This
scheme was soon abandoned for a variety of
reasons' not the least because it was of
paramount importance to achieve greatest
monumentality with as little height as possible A
pala&&o front with arcades would have been
higher than the present colonnades without
attaining e(ual grandeur /o by !arch ,.-E the
first pro:ect was superseded by one with arcades
of free;standing columns forming a large oval
piazza; soon after' in the summer of the same
year' 5ernini replaced the arcades by colonnades
of free;standing columns with a straight
entablature above the columns #nly such a
colonnade was devoid of any associations with
palace fronts and therefore complied with the
ceremonial character of the s(uare more fully
than an arcaded scheme with its reminiscences of
domestic architecture #n ritualistic as well as
artistic grounds the enclosure of the pia&&a had to
be kept as low as possible A high enclosure
would have interfered with the visibility of the
papal blessing given from the palace window
!oreover' a comparatively low one was also
needed in order to "correct" the unsatisfactory
impression made by the proportions of the fa7ade
of /t %eter"s
This re(uires a word of e0planation The
substructures of !aderno"s towers' standing
without the intended superstructures' look now as
if they were parts of the fa7ade' and this accounts
for its e0cessive length
A number of attempts were made in the post;
!aderno period to remedy this fault' before
Urban 1III took the fateful decision in ,.6. of
accepting 5ernini"s grand design of high towers
of three tiers #f these only the southern one was
built' but owing to technical difficulties and
personal intrigues construction was interrupted in
,.F,' and finally in ,.F. the tower was al;
together dismantled /ince the idea of erecting
towers ever again over the present substructures
had to be abandoned' 5ernini submitted during
Innocent K"s pontificate new schemes for a
radical solution of the old problem 5y entirely
separating the towers from the fa7ade' he made
them structurally safe' at the same time created a
rich and varied grouping' and gave the fa7ade
18
itself carefully balanced proportions His
proposals would have involved considerable
structural changes and had therefore little chance
of success Bhen engaged on the designs for the
pia&&a' 5ernini was once again faced with the
intractable problem of the fa7ade Although he
also made an unsuccessful attempt at reviving
!ichelangelo"s tetrastyle portico' which would
have broken up the uniform "wall" of the fa7ade'
he now had to use optical devices rather than
structural changes as a means to rectify the
appearance of the building He evoked the
impression of greater height in the fa7ade by
:oining to it his long and relatively low corridors
which continue the order and skyline of the
colonnades The heavy and massive 3oric
columns of the colonnades and the high and by
comparison slender Corinthian columns of the
fa7ade form a deliberate contrast And 5ernini
chose the unorthodo0 combination of 3oric
columns with Ionic entablature
no
not only in
order to unify the pia&&a hori&ontally but also to
accentuate the vertical tendencies in the fa7ade
$or topographical and other reasons 5ernini
was forced to design the so;called piazza retta in
front of the church The length and slant of the
northern corridor' and implicitly the form of the
piazza retta, were determined by the position of
the old and venerable entrance to the palace
Continuing the corridor' the new ceremonial
staircase' the /cala Regia' begins at the level of
the portico of the church Here the problems
seemed overwhelming $or his new staircase he
had to make use of the e0isting north wall and
the old upper landing and return flight 5y
placing a columnar order within the "tunnel" of
the main flight and by ingeniously manipulating
it' he counteracted the convergence of the walls
towards the upper landing and created the
impression of an ample and festive staircase
There was no alternative to the piazza retta, and
only beyond it was it possible to widen the
s(uare The choice of the oval for the main
pia&&a suggested itself by a variety of consider;
ations Above all the ma:estic repose of the
widely embracing arms of the colonnades was
for 5ernini e0pressive of the dignity and gran;
deur here re(uired !oreover' this form
contained a specific concetto. 5ernini himself
compared the colonnades to the motherly arms of
the Church "which embrace Catholics to reinforce
their belief' heretics to re;unite them with the
Church' and agnostics to enlighten them with the
true faith"
Until the beginning of ,..E 5ernini intended
to close the pia&&a at the far end opposite the
basilica by a short arm continuing e0actly the
architecture of the long arms This proves
conclusively that for him the s(uare was a kind
of forecourt to the church' comparable to an
immensely e0tended atrium The "third arm"
which was never built would have stressed a
problem that cannot escape visitors to the pia&&a
$rom a near viewpoint the drum of !ichel;
angelo"s dome' designed for a centrali&ed build;
ing' disappears behind !aderno"s long nave and
even the visibility of the dome is affected )ike
!aderno before him' 5ernini was well aware of
the fact that no remedy to this problem could
possibly be found In developing his scheme for
the pia&&a' he therefore chose to disregard this
matter altogether rather than to attempt an
unsatisfactory compromise solution Early in
,..E construction of the pia&&a was far enough
advanced to begin the "third arm" It was then that
5ernini decided to move the "third arm" from the
perimeter of the oval back into the %ia&&a
Rusticucci' the s(uare at one time e0isting at the
west end of the 5orghi >that is' the two streets
leading from the Tiber towards the church= He
was led to this last;minute change of plan
certainly less by any consideration for the
visibility of the dome than by the idea of creating
a modest ante;pia&&a to the oval 5y thus
forming a kind of counterpart to the piazza retta,
the whole design would have approached
symmetry In addition' the visitor who entered
the pia&&a under the "third arm" would have been
able to embrace the entire perimeter of the oval
It may be recalled that in centrali&ed buildings
5ernini demanded a deep entrance because
e0perience shows ; so he told the /ieur de
Chantelou ; that people' on entering a room' take
a few steps forward and unless he made
allowance for this they would not be able to
embrace the shape in its entirety In / Andrea al
?uirinale he had given a practical e0position of
this idea and he now intended to apply it once
again to the design of the %ia&&a of /t %eter"s In
both cases the beholder was to be enabled to let
his glance sweep round the full oval of the
enclosure' in the church to come to rest at the
aedicule before the altar and in the pia&&a at the
fa7ade of /t %eter"s /mall or large' interior or
e0terior' a comprehensive and unimpaired view
19
of the whole structure belongs to 5ernini"s
dynamic conception of architecture' which is
e(ually far removed from the static approach of
the Renaissance as from the scenic pursuits of
northern Italy and the )ate 5aro(ue
The "third arm"' this important link between the
two long colonnades' remained on paper for ever'
owing to the death of Ale0ander 1II in ,..E The
recent pulling down of the spina >the houses
between the 5orgo *uovo and 5orgo 1ecchio='
already contemplated by 5ernini"s pupil Carlo
$ontana and' in his wake' by other eighteenth;
and nineteenth;century architects' has created a
wide roadway from the river to the pia&&aThis
has solved one problem' and only one' namely
that of a full view of the drum and dome from the
distance+ may it be recalled that they were always
visible in all their glory from the %onte /
Angelo' in olden days the only access to the
precincts of /t %eter"s To this fictitious gain has
been sacrificed 5ernini"s idea of the enclosed
pia&&a and' with no hope of redress' the scale
between the access to the s(uare and the s(uare
itself has been reversed $ormerly the narrow
5orgo streets opened into the wide e0panse of
the pia&&a' a dramatic contrast which intensified
the beholder"s surprise and feeling of elation
The most ingenious' most revolutionary' and
at the same time most influential feature of
5ernini"s pia&&a is the self;contained' free;
standing colonnade Arcades with orders of the
type familiar from the Colosseum' used on
innumerable occasions from the fifteenth century
onwards' always contain a suggestion of a
pierced wall and conse(uently of flatness
5ernini"s isolated columns with straight en;
tablature' by contrast' are immensely sculptural
elements Bhen crossing the pia&&a' our ever;
changing view of the columns standing four deep
seems to reveal a forest of individual units+ and
the unison of all these clearly defined statues(ue
shapes produces a sensation of irresistible mass
and power #ne e0periences almost physically
that each column displaces or absorbs some of
the infinitude of space' and this impression is
strengthened by the glimpses of sky between the
columns *o other Italian structure of the post;
Renaissance period shows an e(ually deep
affinity with 8reece It is our preconceived ideas
about 5ernini that dim our vision and prevent us
from seeing that this Hellenic (uality of the
piazza could only be produced by the greatest
5aro(ue artist' who was a sculptor at heart
As happens with most new and vital ideas'
after initial sharp attacks the colonnades became
of immense conse(uence for the further history
of architecture E0amples of their influence from
*aples to 8reenwich and )eningrad need not be
enumerated The aftermath can be followed up
for more than two and a half centuries
CHAPTER 9
FRANCESCO BORROMINI
1599-1667
Among the great figures of the Roman High
5aro(ue the name of $rancesco 5orromini stands
in a category of its own His architecture
inaugurates a new departure Bhatever their
innovations' 5ernini' Cortona' Rainaldi' )onghi
and the rest never challenged the essence of the
Renaissance tradition *ot so 5orromini' in spite
of the many ways in which his work is linked to
ancient and si0teenth;century architecture It was
clearly felt by his contemporaries that he
introduced a new and disturbing approach to old
problems Bhen 5ernini talked in %aris about
5orromini' all agreed' according to the /ieur de
Chantelou' that his architecture was e0travagant
and in striking contrast to normal procedure+
whereas the design of a building' it was argued'
usually depended on the proportions of the
human body' 5orromini had broken with this
tradition and erected fantastic >"chimerical"=
structures In other words' these critics
maintained that 5orromini had thrown overboard
the classical anthropomorphic conception of
architecture which since 5runelleschi"s days had
been implicitly accepted This e0traordinary
20
man' who from all reports was mentally
unbalanced and voluntarily ended his life in a fit
of despair' came into his own remarkably late
The son of the architect 8iovanni 3omenico
Castelli' he was born in ,-AA at 5issone on the
)ake of )ugano near the birthplace of his
kinsman !aderno After a brief stay in !ilan' he
seems to have arrived in Rome in about ,.<4
!uch as the artisans who for hundreds of years
had travelled south from that part of Italy' he
began as a stone;carver' and in this capacity
spent more than a decade of his life working
mainly in /t %eter"s on coats of arms' decorative
putti' festoons' and balustrades His name is also
connected with some of the finest wrought;iron
railings in the basilica

!oreover' the aged
!aderno' who recogni&ed the talent of his young
relation' used him as an architectural
draughtsman for /t %eter"s' the %ala&&o
5arberini' and the church and dome of / Andrea
della 1alle 5orromini willingly submitted to the
older man' and the lasting veneration in which he
held him is revealed by the fact that in his will he
e0pressed the wish to be buried in !aderno"s
tomb
After !aderno"s death in @anuary ,.<A a new
situation arose 5ernini took over as Architect to
/t %eter"s and the %ala&&o 5arberini' and
5orromini had to work under him 3ocuments
permit 5orromini"s position to be defined9
between ,.6, and ,.66 he received substantial
payments for full;scale drawings of the scrolls of
the 5aldacchino and for the supervision of their
e0ecution' and in ,.6, he was also officially
functioning as "assistant to the architect" of the
%ala&&o 5arberini The 5orromines(ue character
of the scrolls as well as certain details in the
pala&&o indicate that 5ernini conceded a notable
freedom of action to his subordinate' and it
would therefore appear that 5ernini rather than
!aderno paved the way for 5orromini"s im;
minent emergence as an architect in his own
right 5ut their relationship had the making of a
long;lasting conflict $ate brought two giants
together whose characters were as different as
were their approaches to architecture+ 5ernini ;
man of the world' e0pansive and brilliant ;like
his Renaissance peers regarded painting and
sculpture as ade(uate preparation for
architecture+ 5orromini ; neurotic and recluse
;came to architecture as a trained specialist' a
builder and first;rate technician Almost e0act
contemporaries' the one was already immensely
successful' the first artist in Rome' entrusted with
most enviable commissions' while the other still
lacked official recognition at the age of thirty
5ernini' of course' used 5orromini"s e0pert
knowledge to the full He had no reason for
professional :ealousy' from which' incidentally'
he always remained free $or 5orromini'
however' these years must have been a degrading
e0perience which always rankled with him' and
when in ,.F- the affair of 5ernini"s towers of /t
%eter"s led to a crisis' it was he who came
forward as 5ernini"s most dangerous critic and
adversary His guns were directed against
technical inefficiency' the very point where ; he
knew ; 5ernini was most vulnerable
At present it does not seem possible to sepa;
rate with any degree of finality 5orromini"s
active contribution to the %ala&&o 5arberini His
personal manner is evident' above all' in the top;
floor window of the recessed bay ad:oining the
arcaded centre The derivation from !aderno"s
windows in the attic of the fa7ade of /t %eter"s is
obvious' but the undulating "ears" with festoons
fastened to them as well as the segmental
capping with endings turned outward at an angle
of F- degrees are characteristic of 5orromini"s
dynamic interpretation of detail Here that
%romethean force which imparts an
unaccountable tension to every shape and form is
already noticeable
#riginal drawings for the doors of the great
hall help to assess the relationship between
5orromini and 5ernini There was certainly a
give and take on both sides' but on the whole it
would appear that 5orromini"s new interpretation
of the architectural detail made a strong
impression on 5ernini who' at this phase and for
a short while later' tried to reconcile his own
anthropomorphic with 5orromini"s "bi&arre"
interpretation of architecture Although the work
on the %ala&&o 5arberini dragged on until ,.62'
the ma:or part was finished in ,.66 $rom then
on the two men parted for good It was then that
5orromini set out on his own
S. Carlo alle Quattro ontane
His opportunity came in ,.6F' when the %ro;
curator 8eneral of the /panish 3iscalced
Trinitarians commissioned him to build the
monastery of / Carlo alle ?uattro $ontane' a
21
couple of hundred yards from the %ala&&o
5arberini 5orromini first built the dormitory' the
refectory >now sacristy=' and the cloisters'

and the
layout proved him a master in the rational
e0ploitation of the scanty potentialities of the
small and irregularly cut site In ,.62 the
foundation stone of the little church itself was
laid E0cept for the fa7ade' it was finished in
!ay ,.F, and consecrated in ,.F. *e0t to
Cortona"s // !artina e )uca' which went up
during the very same years' it must be regarded
as one of the "incunabula" of the Roman High
5aro(ue and deserves the closest attention
The cloisters' a structure of admirable sim;
plicity' contain features which anticipate the
basic "orchestration" in the church' such as the
ring of rhythmically arranged' immensely effec;
tive columns forming an elongated octagon' the
uniform cornice binding together the columns'
and the replacement of corners by conve0
curvatures which prevent caesuras in the con;
tinuity of movement
A number of pro:ects in the Albertina' 1ienna'
have always been ; as we now know incorrectly ;
referred to the planning of the church ever since
E Hempel published them in IA<F The
geometric conception of the final pro:ect is a
diamond pattern of two e(uilateral triangles with
a common base along the transverse a0is of the
building+ the undulating perimeter of the plan
follows this rhomboid geometry with great
precision
It is of the greatest importance to reali&e that
in / Carlo and in later buildings 5orromini
founded his designs on geometric units 5y
abnegating the classical principle of planning in
terms of modules' ie in terms of the multipli;
cation and division of a basic arithmetical unit
>usually the diameter of the column=' 5orromini
renounced' indeed' a central position of
anthropomorphic architecture In order to make
clearer the difference of procedure' one might
state' perhaps too pointedly' that in the one case
the overall plan and its divisions are evolved by
adding module to module' and in the other by
dividing a coherent geometric configuration into
geometric sub;units 5orromini"s geometric
approach to planning was essentially medieval'
and one wonders how much of the old mason"s
tradition had reached him before he went to
Rome $or hundreds of years )ombardy had been
the cradle of Italian masons' and it is (uite
possible that in the masons" yards medieval
building practices were handed on from
generation to generation 5orromini"s stubborn
adherence to the rule of triangulation seems to
support the point
In 5orromini"s plan of / Carlo e0traordinary
importance is given to the sculptural element of
the columns They are grouped in fours with
larger intervals on the longitudinal and transverse
a0es Bhile the triads of undulating bays in the
diagonals are unified by the wall treatment ;
niches and continuous mouldings ;the dark gilt;
framed pictures in the main a0es seem to create
effective caesuras Thus' starting from the
entrance bay' a rhythm of the following order
e0ists9 AMbcbMA" bcbMAM etc 5ut this is clearly not
the whole truth A different rhythm is created by
the high arches and the segmental pediments
above the pictures These elements seem to tie
together each group of three bays in the main
a0es The reading' again from the entrance bay'
would therefore be9 bAb cMbA"bMcMbAbM etc
Bhere then are the real caesuras in this buildingC
In the overlapping triads of bays there is certainly
a suggestion of !annerist comple0ity However'
instead of strengthening the inherent situation of
conflict' as the !annerists would have done'
5orromini counteracted it by two devices9 first'
the powerful entablature serves' in spite of its
movement' as a firm hori&ontal barrier which the
eye follows easily and uninterruptedly all round
the perimeter of the church+ and secondly' the
columns themselves' which by their very nature
have no direction' may be seen as a continuous
accentuation of the undulating walls It is pre;
cisely the predominant bulk of the columns
inside the small area of this church that helps to
unify its comple0 shape The overlapping triads
may be regarded as the "background rhythm"
which makes for the never;tiring richness and
fascination of the disposition+ or' to use a simile'
they may be likened to the warp and woof of the
wall te0ture In musical terms the arrangement
may be compared to the structure of a fugue
Bhat kind of dome could be erected over the
undulating body of the churchC To place the
vault directly on to it in accordance with the
method known from circular and oval plans
>%antheon type= would have been a possibility
which 5orromini' however' e0cluded at this stage
of his development Instead he inserted a
transitional area with pendentives which allowed
him to design an oval dome of unbroken
curvilinear shape He used' in other words' the
22
transitional device necessary in plans with s(uare
or rectangular crossings The four bays under the
pendentives >"c"= fulfil' therefore' the function of
piers in the crossings of 8reek;cross plans And'
in actual fact' in the &one of the pendentives
5orromini incorporated an interesting reference
to the cross;arms The shallow transverse niches
as well as the deeper entrance and altar recesses
are decorated with coffers which diminish
rapidly in si&e' not only suggesting' theoretically'
a depth greater than the actual one' but also
containing an illusionist hint at the arms of the
8reek cross Det this sophisticated device was
meant to be conceptually rather than visually
effective Above the pendentives is the firm ring
on which the oval dome rests The dome itself is
decorated with a ma&e of deeply incised coffers
of octagonal' he0agonal' and cross shapes They
produce an e0citing honeycomb impression' and
the crystalline sharpness of these simple
geometric forms is as far removed from the
classical type of coffers in 5ernini"s buildings as
from the smooth and curvilinear ones in those by
Cortona The coffers decrease considerably in
si&e towards the lantern' so that here again an
illusionist device has been incorporated into the
design )ight streams in not only from above
through the lantern but also from below through
windows in the fillings of the coffers' partly
hidden from view behind the sharply chiselled
ornamental ring of styli&ed leaves which crowns
the cornice The idea of these windows can be
traced back to a similar' but typically !annerist'
arrangement in an oval church published by
/erlio in his $ifth 5ook Thus the dome in its
shining whiteness and its even light without deep
shadows seems to hover immaterially above the
massive and compact forms of the space in which
the beholder moves
5orromini reconciled in this church three
different structural types9 the undulating lower
&one' the pedigree of which points back to such
late anti(ue plans as the domed hall of the %ia&&a
d"#ro in Hadrian"s 1illa near Tivoli+ the
intermediate &one of the pendentives deriving
from the 8reek;cross plan+ and the oval dome
which' according to tradition' should rise over a
plan of the same shape *owadays it is difficult
to appreciate fully the audacity and freedom in
manipulating three generically different struc;
tures in such a way that they appear merged into
an infinitely suggestive whole Bith this bold
step 5orromini opened up entirely new vistas
which were further e0plored later in the century
in %iedmont and northern Europe rather than in
Rome
The e0traordinary character of 5orromini"s
creation was immediately recogni&ed Upon the
completion of the church the %rocurator 8eneral
wrote that "in the opinion of everybody nothing
similar with regard to artistic merit' caprice'
e0cellence and singularity can be found
anywhere in the world This is testified by
members of different nations who' on their
arrival in Rome' try to procure plans of the
church Be have been asked for them by 8er;
mans' $lemings' $renchmen' Italians' /paniards
and even Indians" The report also contains an
adroit characteri&ation of the buildings9
"Everything" ; it says ; "is arranged in such
manner that one part supplements the other and
that the spectator is stimulated to let his eye
wander about ceaselessly"
The fa7ade was not erected during the early
building period It was 5orromini"s last work'
begun in ,..- and completed in ,..E' though the
sculptural decoration was not finished until ,.2<
Although 5orromini"s whole career as an
architect lies between the building of the church
and of the fa7ade' the discussion of the latter
cannot be separated from that of the former The
system of articulation' combining a small and a
giant order' derives from !ichelangelo"s
Capitoline %alaces and the fa7ade of /t %eter"s
where 5orromini had started work as a
scarpellino almost fifty years before 5ut he
employed this !ichelangeles(ue system in an
entirely new way 5y repeating it in two tiers of
almost e(ual importance' he acted against the
spirit in which the system had been invented'
namely to unify a front throughout its whole
height !oreover' this determined repetition was
devised to serve a specific' highly original
concept+ in spite of the coherent articulation' the
upper tier embodies an almost complete reversal
of the lower one The fa7ade consists of three
bays+ below' the two concave outside bays and
the conve0 centre bay are tied together by the
strong' unbroken' undulating entablature+ above'
the three bays are concave and the entablature is
deployed in three separate segments In addition'
the oval medallion carried by angels and capped
by the onion;shaped crowning element nullifies
the effect of the entablature as a hori&ontal
barrier 5elow' the small columns of the outside
bays frame a wall with small oval windows and
23
serve as support for niches with statues+ above'
the small columns frame niches and support
enclosed wall panels ;in other words' the open
and closed parts have been reversed The opening
of the door in the central bay is answered above
by the "sculptural" and pro:ecting element of the
oval "bo0" in which the conve0 movement of the
fa7ade is
echoed $inally' instead of the niche with the
figure of /t Charles' the upper tier has a medal;
lion loosely attached to the wall The principle
underlying the design is that of diversity and
even polarity inside a unifying theme' and it will
be noticed that the same principle ties the fa7ade
to the interior of the church $or the fa7ade is
clearly a different reali&ation of the triad of bays
which is used for the "instrumentali&ation" of the
interior
The compactness of this fa7ade' with its mini;
mum of wall;space' closely set with columns'
sculpture' and plastic decoration where the eye is
nowhere allowed to rest for long' is typical of the
High 5aro(ue 5orromini also included a
visionary element' characteristic of his late style
Above the entrance there are herms ending in
very large' lively cherubs" heads' whose wings
form a protecting arch for the figure of /t
Charles 5orromeo in the niche In other parts of
the fa7ade' too' realistic lies an element of unrest
or even conflict 5ut it must be said at once that
the comple0ities inherent in he0agonal or star;
he0agonal planning were skilfully avoided by
5orromini His method was no less than
revolutionary Instead of creating' in accordance
with tradition' a he0agonal main space with
lower satellite spaces placed in the angles of the
triangles' he encompassed the perimeter with an
uninterrupted se(uence of giant pilasters
impelling the spectator to register the unity and
homogeneity of the entire area of the church
This sensation is powerfully supported by the
sharply defined crowning entablature which
reveals the star form of the ground;plan in all its
clarity The basic approach is' therefore' close to
that in / Carlo alle ?uattro $ontane+ and once
again a sophisticated "background;rhythm"
constantly stimulates the beholder"s curiosity
Each recess is articulated by three bays' two
identical small ones framing a large one >"A C A"
and "A" 5 AJ= 5ut these alternating triads ; e(ual
in value though entirely different in spatial
deployment ; are not treated as separate or
separable entities' for the two small bays across
each corner >A A" or A" A= are so much alike that
they counteract any tendency to perceiving real
caesuras !oreover' two other overlapping
rhythms are also implied The continuous string
courses at half;height are interrupted by the
central bay of the semicircular altar recess >C='
while the continuous string course under the
capitals is not carried on across the conve0 bays
>5= Thus two alternative groups of five bays
may be seen as "super;units"' either A A" 5 A" A
or A" A C A A" It may therefore be said that the
articulation contains three interlocking themes
with the intervals placed at any of the three
possible points9 the large round;headed bays "C"'
the conve0 bays "5"' or at the angles between the
small bays "A AJ In contrast to / Carlo alle
?uattro $ontane' the dome caps the body of the
church without a transitional structural feature It
continues' in fact' the star shape of the plan' each
segment opening at its base into a large window
!oreover' the vertical lines of the pilasters are
carried on in the gilded mouldings of the dome
which repeat and accentuate the tripartite
division into bays below In spite of the strong
hori&ontal barrier of the entablature' the vertical
tendencies have a terrific momentum As the
variously shaped sectors of the dome ascend'
contrasts are gradually reduced until the move;
ment comes to rest under the lantern in the pure
form of the circle' which is decorated with
twelve large stars In this reduction of multi;
plicity to unity' of differentiation and variety to
the simplicity of the circle' consists a good deal
of the fascination of this church 8eometrical
succinctness and ine0haustible imagination'
technical skill and religious symbolism have
rarely found such a reconciliation #ne can trace
the movement downward from the chastity of
forms in the heavenly &one to the increasing
comple0ity of the earthly &one The decorative
elements of the dome ; the vertical rows of stars'
the papal coat of arms above alternating
windows' the cherubs under the lantern ; have a
fantastic' unreal' and e0citing (uality and speak
at the same time a clear emblematical language
In continuing the shape of the ground;plan into
the vaulting 5orromini accepted the principle
normally applied to circular and oval churches
Det neither for the particular form of the dome
nor for the decoration was there a contemporary
precedent In one way or another the customary
type of the 5aro(ue dome followed the e0ample
set by !ichelangelo"s dome of /t %eter"s In none
24
of the great Roman domes was the vaulted
surface broken up into differently shaped units
5ut 5orromini had classical anti(uity on his side+
he had surely studied such buildings as the
/erapeum of Hadrian"s 1illa near Tivoli The
dome of / Ivo found no se(uel in Rome Again
it was in %iedmont that 5orromini"s ideas fell on
fertile ground
The e0terior of / Ivo presented an unusual
task' since the main entrance had to be placed at
the far end of 8iacomo della %orta"s courtyard
5orromini used %orta"s hemicycle with closed
arcades in two tiers for the fa7ade of the church+
above it towers one of the strangest domes ever
invented In principle 5orromini followed the
*orth Italian tradition of encasing the dome
rather than e0hibiting its rising curve as had been
customary in central Italy since 5runelleschi"s
dome of $lorence Cathedral He handled this
tradition' however' in a new and entirely personal
manner His domed structure consists of four
different parts9 first' a high' he0agonal drum of
immense weight which counters by its conve0
pro:ection the concave recession of the church
fa7ade on the cortile. The division of each of the
si0 e(ual conve0 sectors into two small bays and
a large one prepares for the triads in the recesses
of the interior At the points where two conve0
sectors meet the order is strengthened+ this
enhances the impression of vitality and tension
/econdly' above the drum is a stepped pyramid'
divided by buttress;like ribs which transfer the
thrust on to the reinforced meeting;point of two
sectors of the drum+ thirdly' the pyramid is
crowned by a lantern with double columns and
concave recessions between them The similarity
to the little temple at 5aalbek cannot be
overlooked and has' indeed' often been stressed
Above these three &ones ; which in spite of their
entirely different character are welded together
by the strong structural "conductors" ; rises a
fourth element' the spiral' monolithic and
sculptural' not corresponding to any interior
feature or continuing directly the e0ternal
movement Det it seems to bind together the
several fields of energy which' united' soar up in
a spatial movement along the spiral and are
released into the lofty iron cusp It is futile to
speculate on the e0act prototypes for the spiral
feature 5orromini may have developed
impressions of imperial Roman columns or may
have had some une0pected knowledge of a
&iggurat' the 5abylonian;Assyrian temple towers
of which a late derivation survives in the great
mos(ue at /amtirra In any case' it can hardly be
doubted that this element has an emblematic
meaning' the precise nature of which has not yet
been rediscovered
/ Ivo must be regarded as 5orromini"s
masterpiece' where his style reached its &enith
and where he played all the registers at his
command 5y comparison' his earlier and later
buildings' ecclesiastical as well as domestic'
often suffer through the fact that they are either
unfinished or that he was inhibited by com;
ple0ities of site and the necessity to comply with
e0isting structures
In contrast to 5ernini' who conceived archi;
tecture as the stage for a dramatic event e0;
pressed through sculpture' the drama in / Ivo is
inherent in the dynamic architectural conception
itself9 in the way that the motifs unfold' e0pand'
and contract+ in the way that movement surges
upwards and comes to rest Ever since
5aldinucci"s days it has been maintained that
there is an affinity to 8othic structures in
5orromini"s work There is certainly truth in the
observation His interest in the cathedral at !ilan
is well known' and the system of buttresses in /
Ivo proves that he found inspiration in the
northern medieval rather than the contemporary
Roman tradition Remarkably medieval features
may be noticed in his detail' such as the angular
intersection of mouldings over the doors inside
/ Ivo or the pedestal of the holy water stoup in
the #ratory of / $ilippo *eri Even more
interesting is his partiality for the s(uinch' so
common in the Romanes(ue and 8othic
architecture of northern Italy before the
5y&antine pendentive replaced it in the age of the
Renaissance 5ut he used the s(uinch as a
transitional element between the wall and the
vault only in minor structures' such as the old
sacristy of / Carlo alle ?uattro $ontane' or in
certain rooms of the %ala&&o $alconieri and of
the Collegio di %ropaganda $ide His
resuscitation of the s(uinch was again to find a
se(uel in %iedmont rather than Rome
S. !io"anni in #aterano$ S. Agnese$ S. Andrea
delle ratte$ and Minor Ecclesiastical %or&s
Bhile / Ivo was in course of construction
three large works were entrusted to 5orromini9
25
the reconstruction of / 8iovanni in )aterano' the
continuation of Rainaldi"s / Agnese in %ia&&a
*avona' and the e0terior of / Andrea delle
$ratte A thorough restoration of / 8iovanni had
become necessary since the Early Christian
basilica was in danger of collapse 5orromini"s
work was begun in !ay ,.F. and finished by
#ctober ,.FA' in time for the Holy Dear His task
was e0tremely difficult because Innocent K
insisted on preserving the venerable basilica
How could one produce a modern 5aro(ue
building under these circumstancesC 5orromini
solved his problem by encasing two consecutive
columns of the old church inside one broad
pillar' by framing each pillar with a colossal
order of pilasters throughout the whole height of
the nave' and by placing a tabernacle niche of
coloured marble for statuary into the face of each
pillar where originally an opening between two
columns had been The alternation of pillars and
open arches created a basic rhythm well known
since 5ramante"s and even Alberti"s days
5orromini' however' not only carried it across
the corners of the entrance wall' thereby
transforming the nave into an enclosed space' but
introduced another rhythm which reverses the
primary one The spectator perceives
simultaneously the continuous se(uence of the
high bays of the pillars and the low arches >A b
A b A= as well as that of the low tabernacles
and the high arches >a 5 a 5 a = !oreover' this
second rhythm has an important chromatic and
spatial (uality' for the cream;coloured arches ;
"openings" of the wall ; are contrasted by the
dark;coloured tabernacles' which break through
the plane of the wall and pro:ect into the nave
It has recently been ascertained that 5orromini
intended to vault the nave The present
arrangement' which preserved 3aniele da
1olterra"s heavy wooden ceiling >,-.F;E<=' must
be regarded as provisional' but after the Holy
Dear there was no hope of continuing this costly
enterprise The articulation of the nave would
have found its logical continuation in the vault'
which always formed an integral part of 5orro;
mini"s structures If the e0ecution of his scheme
thus remained a fragment' he was yet given
ample scope for displaying his skill as a deco;
rator The naturalistic palm branches in the
sunken panels of the pilasters of the aisles' the
lively floral ornament of the oval frames in the
clerestory' the putti and cherubim forming part of
the architectural design as in )ate 8othic
churches' and' above all' the re;arrangement in
the new aisles during Ale0ander 1II"s pontificate
of the old tombs and monuments of popes'
cardinals' and bishops ; all this shows an
ine0haustible wealth of original ideas and an
uninhibited imagination Although contem;
poraries regarded the settings of these monu;
ments as a veritable storehouse of capriccios'
they are far from unsuitable for the purpose for
which they were designed ; on the contrary' each
of the venerable relics of the past is placed into
its own kind of treasure;chest' beautifully
adapted to its peculiar character It is typical of
5orromini"s manner that in these decorations
realistic features and floral and vegetable motifs
of dewy freshness merge with the sharp and
crystalline architectural forms
If in / 8iovanni in )aterano 5orromini had to
renounce completion of his design' the handicap
in / Agnese in %ia&&a *avona was of a different
nature %ope Innocent K wanted to turn the
s(uare on which his family palace was situated
into the grandest in Rome+ it was to be
dominated by the new church of / Agnese to
replace an older one close to the palace Carlo
Rainaldi' in collaboration with his father
8irolamo' had been commissioned to build the
new structure' the foundation stone of which was
laid on ,- August ,.-< The Rainaldis designed
a 8reek;cross plan with short arms and pillars of
the crossing with broad bevels which were
opened into large niches framed by recessed
columns Bhile the idea of the pillars with niches
derived from /t %eter"s' the model for the
recessed columns was Cortona"s // !artina e
)uca The building went up in accordance with
this design' but soon criticism was voiced'
particularly as regards the planned staircase'
which e0tended too far into the piazza. A crisis
became unavoidable' the Rainaldis were
dismissed' and on E August ,.-6 5orromini was
appointed in their place
To all intents and purposes he had to continue
building in accordance with the Rainaldi plan' for
the pillars of the crossing were standing to the
height of the niches Det by seemingly minor
alterations he changed the character of the de;
sign Above all' he abolished the recesses pre;
pared for the columns and bevelled the pillars so
that the columns look as if they were detached
from the wall 5y this device the beholder is
made to believe that the pillars and the cross
arms have almost e(ual width The crossing'
26
therefore' appears to the eye as a regular octagon+
this is accentuated by the sculptural element of
the all but free;standing columns Colour
contrasts sustain this impression' for the body of
the church is white >with the e0ception of the
high altar=' while the columns are of red marble
!oreover' an intense verticalism is suggested by
virtue of the pro:ecting entablature above the
columns' unifying the arch with the supporting
columns+ and the high attic above the entablature'
which appears under the crossing like a pedestal
to the arch'

increases the vertical movement It
will now be seen that the octagonal space ; also
echoed in the design of the floor ; is
encompassed by the coherent rhythm of the
alternating low bays of the pillars framed by
pilasters and the high "bays" of the cross;arms
framed by the columns
5y giving the cross;arms a length much
greater than that intended by Rainaldi' 5orromini
created a pi(uant tension between them and the
central area Thus a characteristically
5orromines(ue structure was erected over
Rainaldi"s traditional plan *or did the latter
envisage a building of e0ceptionally high and
slender design 5orromini further amplified the
vertical tendencies by incorporating into his
design an e0traordinarily high drum and an
elevated curve for the dome ; which obviously
adds to the importance of the area under the
crossing Rainaldi' by contrast' had planned to
blend a low drum with a broad' rather unwieldy
dome In spite of the difficulties which
5orromini had to face in the interior' he
accomplished an almost incredible
transformation of Rainaldi"s pro:ect In the
handling of the e0terior he was less handicapped
The little that was standing of Rainaldi"s fa7ade
was pulled down 5y abandoning the vestibule
planned by the latter' he could set the fa7ade
further back from the s(uare and design it over a
concave plan In Rainaldi"s pro:ect the insipid
crowning features at both ends of the fa7ade were
entirely overshadowed by the weight of the
dome 5orromini e0tended the width of the
fa7ade into the area of the ad:oining palaces' thus
creating space for freely rising towers of
impressive height 5ut he was prevented from
completing the e0ecution of his design After
Innocent K"s death on E @anuary ,.--' building
activity stopped /oon difficulties arose between
5orromini and %rince Camillo %amphili' and two
years later Carlo Rainaldi in turn replaced 5or;
romini Assisted by 8iovanni !aria 5aratta and
Antonio del 8rande' Carlo proceeded to alter
those parts which had not been finished9 the
interior decoration' the lantern of the dome' the
towers' and the fa7ade above the entablature The
high attic over the fa7ade' the triangular
pediment in the centre' and certain
simplifications in the design of the towers are
contrary to 5orromini"s intentions 5ut' strangely
enough' the e0terior looks more 5orromines(ue
than the interior $or in the interior the rich gilt
stuccoes' the large marble reliefs ; a veritable
school of Roman High 5aro(ue sculpture ;
8aulli"s and 8iro $erri"s frescoes in the
pendentives and dome9 all this tends to conceal
the 5orromines(ue (uality of the structure
Completion dragged on for many years The
towers went up in ,...+ interior stuccoes were
still being paid for in ,.E4' and the frescoes of
the dome were not finished until the end of the
century
In defiance of the limitations imposed upon
5orromini' / Agnese occupies a uni(ue position
in the history of 5aro(ue architecture The
church must be regarded as the High 5aro(ue
revision of the centrali&ed plan for /t %eter"s The
dome of / Agnese has a distinct place in a long
line of domes dependent on !ichelangelo"s
creation >= $rom the late si0teenth century
onwards may be observed a progressive
reduction of mass and weight' a heightening of
the drum at the e0pense of the vault' and a
growing elegance of the sky;line All this
reached a kind of finality in the dome of /
Agnese !oreover' from a viewpoint opposite
the entrance the dome seems to form part of the
fa7ade' dominates it' and is firmly connected
with it' since the double columns at both sides of
the entrance are continued in the pilasters of the
drum and the ribs of the vault Circumstances
prevented the dome of /t %eter"s from appearing
between two framing towers The idea found
fulfilment in / Agnese+ here dome and towers
form a grand unit' perfectly balanced in scale
*ever before had it been possible for a beholder
to view at a glance such a rich and varied group
of towers and dome while at the same time
e0periencing the spell of the intense spatial
suggestions9 he feels himself drawn into the
cavity of the fa7ade' above which looms the
concave mass of the drum *obody can overlook
the fact that 5orromini' although he employed
27
the traditional grammar of motifs' repeated here
the spatial reversal of the fa7ade of / Ivo
%robably in the same year' ,.-6' in which he
took over / Agnese from Rainaldi' 5orromini
was commissioned by the !archese %aolo
5ufalo to finish the church of / Andrea delle
$ratte which 8aspare 8uerra had begun in ,.4-
Although 5orromini was engaged on this work
until ,..-' he had to abandon it in a fragmentary
state The transept' dome' and choir which he
added to the conventional interior reveal little of
his personal style !uch more important is his
contribution to the unfinished e0terior It is his
e0traordinary dome and tower' designed to be
seen as one descends from 1ia Capo le Case' that
give the otherwise insignificant church a uni(ue
distinction /imilar to / Ivo' the curve of the
dome is encompassed by a drum;like casing 5ut
here four widely pro:ecting buttresses :ut out dia;
gonally from the actual body of the "drum" In this
way four e(ual faces are created' each consisting
of a large conve0 bay of the "drum" and narrower
concave bays of the buttresses The plan of each
face is therefore similar to the lower tier of the
fa7ade of / Carlo alle ?uattro $ontane #nce
again 5orromini worked with spatial evolutions
of rhythmic triads' and once again a monumental
order of composite columns placed at the salient
points ensures the unbroken coherence of the
design This e0traordinary structure was to be
crowned by a lantern ;which unfortunately
remained on paper ; with concave recesses above
the conve0 walls underneath Bithout this
lantern the spatial intentions embodied in
5orromini"s design cannot be fully gauged
The tower' rising in the north;east corner ne0t
to the choir' was conceived as a deliberate
contrast to the dome Its three tiers form com;
pletely separate units Bhile the lowest is solid
and s(uare with diagonally;pro:ecting columned
corners' the second is open and circular and
follows the model of ancient monopteral temples
5y topping this feature with a disproportionately
heavy balustrade the circular movement is given
an emphatic' compelling (uality In the third tier
the circular form is broken up into double herms
with deep concave recesses between them ; a
new and more intensely modelled version of the
lantern of / Ivo Bhile full;blooded cherubs
function as caryatids' their wings enfold the
stems of the herms At this late stage of his
development 5orromini liked to soften the
precise lines of architecture by the swelling
forms of sculpture' and the cherub;herm' an
invention of his far removed from any classical
models' fascinated him in this conte0t The
uppermost element of the tower consists of four
inverted scrolls of beautiful elasticity+ on them a
crown with sharply pointed spikes balances
precariously9 the whole a triumph of comple0
spatial relationships and a bi&arre concetto by
which the top of the tower is wedded to the sky
and the air Thus the fle0ible but homogeneous
massive bulk of the dome is a foil for the small
scale of the tower with its emphasis on minute
detail >capitals of the monopterosN= and its
radical division into contrasting shapes
Among 5orromini"s lesser ecclesiastical works
two churches may be singled out for special con;
sideration9 / !aria dei /ette 3olori and the
Church of the Collegio di %ropaganda $ide In
both cases the church lies at right angles to the
fa7ade' and both churches are erected over
simple rectangular plans with bevelled or
rounded corners / !aria dei /ette 3olori was
begun in ,.F<6 and left unfinished in ,.F.

The
e0terior is an impressive mass of raw bricks and
only the rather weak portal was e0ecuted in
stone' but not from 5orromini"s design The
interior is articulated by an imposing se(uence of
columns arranged in triads between the larger
intervals of the two main a0es' which are bridged
by arches rising from the uninterrupted cornice
In spite of the difference in plan' / !aria dei
/ette 3olori is in a sense a simplified version of
/ Carlo alle ?uattro $ontane

5ut above the
cornice the comparison does not hold Here there
is a low clerestory and a coved vault divided by
ribs' linking a pair of columns across the room
This arrangement contained potentialities which
were later further developed in the church of the
%ropaganda $ide
In ,.F. 5orromini was appointed architect to
the Collegio di %ropaganda $ide 5ut it was not
until ,..< that the church behind the west front
of the palace was in course of construction Two
years later it was finished' with the e0ception of
the decoration At first 5orromini planned to
preserve the oval church built by 5ernini in
,.6F Bhen it was decided to enlarge it' he
significantly preferred the simple hall type in
analogy to / !aria dei /ette 3olori and the even
earlier #ratory of /t %hilip *eri 5ut the changes
in design are e(ually illuminating The clerestory
of / !aria dei /ette 3olori was similar to that of
the #ratory 5y contrast' the church of the
28
%ropaganda $ide embodies a radical revision of
those earlier structures The articulation consists
here of a krge and small order' derived from the
Capitoline palaces The large pilasters accentuate
the division of the perimeter of the church into
alternating wide and narrow bays' while the
cornice of the large order and the entablature of
the small order on which the windows rest
function as elements unifying the entire space
hori&ontally 3ifferent from / !aria dei /ette
3olori' the verticalism of the large order is
continued through the isolated pieces of the
entablature into the coved vaulting and is taken
up by the ribs' which link the centres of the long
walls with the four corners diagonally across the
ceiling Thus an unbroken system closely ties
together all parts of the building in all directions
The coherent "skeleton";structure has become all;
important ; hardly any walls remain between the
tall pilastersN ; and to it even the dome has been
sacrificed The oval pro:ect' which would have
re(uired a dome' could not have embodied a
similar system *o post;Renaissance building in
Italy had come so close to 8othic structural
principles $or thirty years 5orromini had been
groping in this direction The church of the
%ropaganda $ide was' indeed' a new and e0citing
solution' and its compelling simplicity and logic
fittingly conclude 5orromini"s activity in the
field of ecclesiastical architecture
The 'rator( of St Phili) *eri
The brethren of the Congregation of /t %hilip
*eri had for a considerable time planned to build
an oratory ne0t to their church of / !aria in
1allicella In con:unction with this idea' plans
ripened to include in the building programme a
refectory' a sacristy' living (uarters for the
members of the Congregation' and a large
library This considerable programme was'"in
fact' not very different from that of a large
monastery The Congregation finally opened a
competition which 5orromini won in !ay ,.6E
against' among others' %aolo !aruscelli' the
architect of the Congregation 5orromini re;
placed him forthwith and held the office for the
ne0t thirteen years 5uilding activity was rapid9
in ,.F4 the oratory was in use+ in ,.F, the
refectory was finished' between ,.F< and ,.F6
the library above the oratory was built and
between ,.FF and ,.-4 the north;west front with
the clock;tower overlooking the %ia&&a
dell"#rologio Thus the building of the oratory
coincided with that of / Carlo alle ?uattro
$ontane 5ut although the work for the
#ratorians was infinitely more important than
that of the little church' as regards compactness
and vitality the former cannot compete with the
latter This verdict does not' of course' refer to
the brilliant fa7ade of the oratory' nor do we
overlook the fact that many new and ingenious
ideas were brought to fruition in the buildings of
the monastery
!aruscelli' before 5orromini' had already
solved an intricate problem9 he had designed a
coherent layout for the whole area with long a0es
and a clear and logical disposition of the sacristy
and the courtyards 5orromini accepted the
essentials of this plan' which also included the
placing of the oratory itself in the western >left=
half of the main wing !any refinements were
introduced there by 5orromini' but it must
suffice to mention that' contrary to !aruscelli"s
intentions' he created for the eye' rather than in
actual fact' a central a0is to the entire front
between / !aria in 1allicella and the 1ia de"
$ilippini The organi&ation of this front is
entirely independent of the dispositions behind it
The central entrance does not lead straight into
the oratory which lies at right angles to it and
e0tends beyond the elaborate part of the fa7ade'
nor is the plan of the whole area symmetrical in
depth' as a glance at the fa7ade might suggest
Although the fa7ade is reminiscent of that of a
church' its rows of domestic windows seem to
contradict this impression This somewhat hybrid
character indicates that 5orromini deliberately
designed it as an "overture" for the oratory as
much as for the whole monastery 5y re(uest of
the Congregation the fa7ade was not faced in
stone so that it would not compete with the
ad:oining church of / !aria in 1allicella
5orromini' therefore' developed a new and
e0tremely subtle brick techni(ue of classical
ancestry' a techni(ue which allowed for finest
gradations and absolute precision of detail The
main portion of the fa7ade consists of five bays'
closely set with pilasters' arranged over a con;
cave plan 5ut the central bay of the lower tier is
curved outward' while that of the upper tier
opens into a niche of considerable depth
Crowning the fa7ade rises the mighty pediment
which' for the first time' combines curvilinear
29
and angular movement The segmental part
answers the rising line of the cornice above the
bays' which are attached like wings to the main
body of the fa7ade' and the change of movement'
comparable to an interrupted /;curve' echoes' as
it were' the contrasting spatial movement of the
central bays in the elevation The form of the
pediment is further conditioned by the vertical
tendencies in the fa7ade #nce that has been
noticed' one will also find it compellingly logical
that the important centre and the accompanying
bays are not capped by a uniform pediment The
latter' in addition to suggesting a differentiated
triple rhythm' also pulls together the three inner
bays' which are segregated from the outer bays
by a slight pro:ection and an additional half;
pilaster Bithout breaking up the unity of the five
bays' a triad of bays is yet singled out' and the
pediment reinforces the indications contained in
the fa7ade itself The treatment of detail further
enriches the comple0ities of the general
arrangement Attention may be drawn to the
niches below' which cast deep shadows and give
the wall depth and volume+ to the windows above
them' which with their pediments press
energetically against the frie&e of the entablature+
and to the windows of the second tier' which
have ample space over and under them
The interior of the oratory' carefully adapted
to the needs of the Congregation' is articulated
by half;columns on the altar wall and a compli;
cated rhythm of pilasters along the other three
walls !ichelangelo"s Capitoline palaces evi;
dently gave rise to the use of the giant order of
pilasters in the two courtyards It is worth re;
calling that %alladio had introduced a giant order
in the cortile of the %ala&&o %orto;Colleoni at
1icen&a >,--<=+ but' although 5orromini"s
simple and great forms seem superficially close
to %alladio"s classicism' the ultimate intentions of
the two masters are utterly different %alladio is
always concerned with intrinsically plastic
architectural members in their own right' while
5orromini stresses the integral character of a
coherent dynamic system Thus in 5orromini"s
courtyards the large pilasters would appear to
screen an uninterrupted se(uence of buttresses
This interpretation is supported by the treatment
of the corners
Renaissance architects had more often than not
evaded facing s(uarely a problem which was
inherent in the use of the classical grammar of
forms The half;pilasters' (uarter;pilasters' and
other e0pedients' which abruptly break the
continuity of articulation in the corners of
Renaissance buildings' must be regarded as naive
compromise solutions !annerist architects who
fully understood the problem not infre(uently
carried on the wall decoration across the corners'
thereby neutrali&ing the latter and at the same
time producing a deliberate ambiguity between
the uninterrupted decoration and the change in
the direction of the walls 5orromini abolished
the cause for compromise or ambiguity by
eliminating the corners themselves 5y rounding
them off' he made the unity of the space;
enclosing structural elements' and implicitly of
the space itself' apparent In the
two courtyards of the $ilippini he applied to an
e0ternal space the same principle that %alladio
had used in a comparatively embryonic manner
in the interior of the Redentore This new
solution soon became the property of the whole
of Europe
In contrast to the elaborate south fa7ade'
5orromini used very simple motifs for the long
western and northern fronts of the convent9 band;
like string courses divide the storeys and large
hori&ontal and vertical grooves replace the
cornices and corners $rom then on this type of
design became generally accepted for utilitarian
purposes in cases where no elaborate decoration
was re(uired
+omestic Buildings
5etween about ,.6- and the end of his career
5orromini had a hand in a great number of
domestic buildings of importance' though it must
be said that no palace was entirely carried out by
him At the beginning stands his work in the
%ala&&o /pada' where he was responsible for the
erection of the garden wall' for various
decorative parts inside the palace and' above all'
for the well;known illusionist colonnade which
appears to be very long' but is' in fact' e0tremely
short The idea seems to be derived from the
stage >Teatro #limpico= 5ut one should not
forget that it also had a respectable Renaissance
pedigree 5ramante applied the same illusionist
principle to his choir of / !aria presso / /atiro
at !ilan' which must have belonged to
5orromini"s earliest impressions The concept of
the /pada colonnade is' therefore' neither
30
characteristically 5aro(ue nor is it of more than
marginal interest in 5orromini"s work To over;
emphasi&e its significance' as is often done by
those who regard the 5aro(ue mainly as a style
concerned with optical illusion' leads entirely
astray
5etween ,.F. and ,.FA followed the work for
the %ala&&o $alconieri' where 5orromini
e0tended a mid;si0teenth;century front from
seven to eleven bays

He framed the fa7ade with
huge herms ending in falcons" heads' an
emblematic conceit which had no precedent He
added new wings on the rear facing the river and
provided decoration for porch and vestibule 5ut
his most signal contribution is the twelve ceilings
with their elaborate floral ornament' and'
overlooking the courtyard' the %alladian loggia'
e(ually remarkable for its derivation and for its
deviation from %alladio"s 5asilica at 1icen&a
The U;shaped river front' dominated by the
loggia' gives proof of the versatility of
5orromini"s e0traordinary genius His problem
consisted in welding old and new parts together
into a new unit of a specifically 5orromines(ue
character He solved it by progressively
increasing the height of the four storeys in
defiance of long established rules and by
reversing the traditional gradation of the orders
The ground floor is subdivided by simple broad
bands+ in the ne0t storey the same motif is given
stronger relief+ the third storey has Ionic
pilasters+ and above these are the recessed
columns of the loggia Thus instead of
diminishing from the ground floor upwards' the
wall divisions grow in importance and plasticity
#nly in the conte0t of the whole fa7ade is the
unconventional and anti;classical (uality of the
loggia motif fully revealed
5etween ,.F. and ,.FE 5orromini helped in
an advisory capacity the aged 8irolamo Rainaldi'
whom Innocent K had commissioned to build the
e0tensive %ala&&o %amphili in %ia&&a *avona
5orromini had a tangible influence on the design'
although his own plan was not accepted for
e0ecution He alone was' however' responsible
for the decoration of the large salone and the
building of the gallery to the right of / Agnese'
on a site which originally formed part of the
%ala&&o !ellini Inside the gallery' to which
%ietro da Cortona contributed the frescoes from
the Aeneid, are to be found some of the most
characteristic and brilliant door surrounds of
5orromini"s later style #f his designs for the
palace of Count Ambrogio Carpegna near the
$ontana Trevi very little was e0ecuted' but a
series of daring plans survive which anticipate
the eighteenth;century development of the Italian
pala&&o 5orromini took up all the ma:or
problems where they were left in the %ala&&o
5arberini and carried them much further' such as
the a0ial alignment of the various parts of the
building' the conne0ion of a grand vestibule with
the staircase hall' and the merging of vestibule
and oval courtyard The latest drawing of the
series shows two flights of stairs ascending along
the perimeter of the oval courtyard and meeting
on a common landing ; a bold idea' heretofore
unknown in Italy' which was taken up and
e0ecuted by 8uarini in the %ala&&o Carignano at
Turin
5etween ,.-A and ,.., 5orromini was con;
cerned with the systemati&ation of two libraries'
the 5iblioteca Angelica ad:oining %ia&&a /
Agostino and the 5iblioteca Alessandrina in the
north wing of the /apien&a #f the plans for the
former hardly anything was carried out' but the
latter survives as 5orromini had designed it The
great hall of the library is three storeys high' and
the book;cases form a constituent part of the
architecture This was a new and important idea'
which he had not yet conceived when he built the
library above the #ratory of /t %hilip *eri about
twenty years earlier It was precisely this new
conception which made the 5iblioteca
Alessandrina the prototype of the great
eighteenth;century libraries
The Collegia di Pro)aganda ide
5orromini"s last great palace' surpassing any;
thing he did in that class with the e0ception of
the convent of the #ratorians' was the Collegio
di %ropaganda $ide His activity for the @esuits
spread over the long period of twenty;one years'
from his appointment as architect in ,.F. to his
death in ,..E At that time the @esuits were at the
&enith of their power' and a centre in keeping
with the world;wide importance of the #rder was
an urgent re(uirement They owned the vast site
between 1ia Capo le Case' 1ia 3ue !acelli' and
%ia&&a di /pagna' which' though large enough
for all their needs' was so badly cut that no
regular architectural development was possible
!oreover' some fairly recent buildings were
31
already standing' among them 5ernini"s
moderni&ation of the old fa7ade facing %ia&&a di
/pagna and his oval church which was' however'
as we have seen' replaced by 5orromini As early
as E !ay ,.FE 5orromini submitted a
development plan for the whole site+ but little
happened in the course of the ne0t thirteen years
It is known that 5orromini gave the main fa7ade
in front of the church its final shape in ,..<' and
the other much simpler fa7ades also show
characteristics of his latest manner The
e0ecution of the ma:or part of the palace would
therefore seem to have taken place in the last
years of his life %art of the palace was reserved
for administrative purposes' another large part
contained the cells for the alumni 5ut very little
of 5orromini"s interior arrangement and
decoration survives+ in fact' apart from the
church' only one original room seems to have
been preserved
All the more important are the fa7ades The
most elaborate portion rises in the narrow 1ia di
%ropaganda where its oppressive weight pro;
duces an almost nightmarish effect 5orromini"s
problem was here similar to that of the oratory'
for the fa7ade was to serve the dual purpose of
church and palace #nce again the long a0is of
the church lies parallel with the street and
e0tends beyond the highly decorated part of the
fa7ade' but in contrast to the oratory this front
has a definite' though entirely unusual' palace
character Its seven bays are articulated by a
giant order of pilasters which rise from the
ground to the sharply;pro:ecting cornice
Everything here is unorthodo09 the capitals are
reduced to a few parallel grooves' the cornice is
without a frie&e' and the pro:ecting pair of
brackets over the capitals seem to belong to the
latter rather than to the cornice The central bay
recedes over a segmental plan' and the contrast
between the straight lines of the fa7ade and the
inward curve is surprising and alarming *o less
startling is the :u0taposition of the austere lower
tier and the piano nobile with its e0tremely rich
window decoration The windows rise without
transition from the energetically drawn string
course and seem to be compressed into the
narrow space between the giant pilasters
It is here that the active life in the wall itself is
revealed All the window frames curve inwards
with the e0ception of the central one which'
being conve0' reverses the concave shape of the
whole bay The movement of the window frames
is not dictated simply by a desire for pictures(ue
variety but consists like a fugue of theme'
answer' and variations The theme is given in the
door and window pediments of the central bay+
the identical windows of the first' third' fifth' and
seventh bays are variations of the door motif
while the identical second and si0th windows
answer the central window' also spatially In the
windows of the attic above the cornice the theme
of the piano nobile is repeated in another key9 the
first' third' fifth' and seventh windows are
simpler variations of the second and si0th below'
and the windows in the even bays of the attic
vary those in the uneven ones underneath
$inally' in the undulating pediment of the fourth
attic window the two movements are reconciled
5y such means 5orromini created a pala&&o front
which has neither precursors nor successors
In the south;western and southern fa7ades only
the ground;floor arrangement and the division of
the storeys was continued' which assured the
unity of the entire design #therwise 5orromini
contrasted these fronts with the intensely
articulated main fa7ade There is no division into
bays by orders' nor are the windows decorated
5ut their se(uence is interrupted at regular
intervals by strong vertical accentuations At
these points 5orromini united the main and
me&&anine windows of the piano nobile under
one large frame' creating a window which goes
through the entire height of the tier The boldly
pro:ecting angular pediment seems to cut into the
string course of the ne0t storey' where the
framework of the window with its gently curved
pediment and concave recession shows a
characteristic reversal of mood
A comparison of the fa7ades of the #ratory
and the Collegio illustrates the deep change
between 5orromini"s early and late style 8one is
a mass of detail' gone the subtle gradations of
wall surface and mouldings and the almost :oyful
display of a great variety of motifs However' the
impression of mass and weight has grown
immensely+ the windows now seem to dig them;
selves into the depth of the wall And yet the
basic approach hardly differed
To summari&e 5orromini"s life;long endea;
vour' it may be said that he never tired in his
attempt to mould space and mass by means of the
evolution and transformation of key motifs He
subordinated each structure down to the minutest
detail to a dominating geometrical concept'
which led him away from the Renaissance
32
method of planning in terms of mass and
modules towards an emphasis on the func;
tionally' dynamically' and rhythmically decisive
"skeleton" This brought him close to the struc;
tural principles of the 8othic style and enabled
him' at the same time' to incorporate into his
work what suited his purpose9 !annerist features
of the immediate past' many ideas from
!ichelangelo"s architecture and that of Hel;
lenism' both e(ually admired by him' and even
severely classical elements which he found in
%alladio 5eing an Italian' 5orromini could not
deny altogether the anthropomorphic basis of
architecture This becomes increasingly apparent
during his advancing years from the stress he laid
on the blending of architecture and sculpture
*evertheless' the antagonism between him and
5ernini remained unbridgeable It was in
5ernini"s circle that he was reproached for having
destroyed the accepted conventions of good
architecture
CHAPTER 10
PIETRO DA CORTONA
1596-1669
I*TR#3UCTI#*
The genius of %ietro 5errettini' usually called
%ietro da Cortona' was second only to that of
5ernini )ike him he was architect' painter'
decorator' and designer of tombs and sculpture
although not a sculptor himself His achieve;
ments in all these fields must be ranked among
the most outstanding of the seventeenth century
5ernini and 5orromini have been given back the
position of eminence which is their due *ot so
Cortona Bhen this book first appeared in ,A-2
no critical modern biography had been devoted
to him+ 8 5rigand"s work has now at least
partially satisfied this need To be sure' Cortona"s
is the third name of the great trio of Roman High
5aro(ue artists' and his work represents a new
and entirely personal aspect of the style
An almost e0act contemporary of 5ernini and
5orromini' he was born at Cortona on ,
*ovember ,-A. of a family of artisans He
probably studied under his father' a stonemason'
before being apprenticed to the undistinguished
$lorentine painter Andrea Cornmodi' with whom
he went to Rome in ,.,< or ,.,6 He stayed on
after Commodi"s return to $lorence in ,.,F and
changed over to the studio of the e(ually
unimportant $lorentine painter 5accio Ciarpi
According to his biographer %asseri he studied
Raphael and the anti(ue with great devotion
during these years+ while this is' of course' true
of every seventeenth;century artist' in Cortona"s
case such training has more than usual relevance
since he could not profit very much from his
teachers
His copy of Raphael"s alatea impressed
!arcello /acchetti so much that he took to the
young artist who' from ,.<6 onwards' belonged
to the /acchetti household It was in the service
of the /acchetti family that Cortona gave early
proof of his genius as painter and architect In the
%ala&&o /acchetti he also met the Cavaliere
!arino' fresh from %aris' and Cardinal $rancesco
5arberini' Urban 1III"s nephew' who became his
lifelong patron+ through him he obtained his
early important commission as a fresco painter in
33
/ 5ibiana At the same time he was taken on by
Cassiano del %o&&o' the learned secretary to
Cardinal $rancesco 5arberini' who employed in
these years a number of young and promising
artists for his collection of copies of all the
remains of anti(uity Thus Cortona was over
twenty;si0 years old when his contact with the
"right" circle carried him (uickly to success and
prominence As to his early development'
relatively little has so far come to light !ore
discoveries will be made in the future' but it will
remain a fact of some significance that' whereas
we can follow the unfolding of 5ernini"s talent
year by year from his precocious beginnings' in
Cortona we are almost suddenly faced with a
distinctly individual manner in painting and'
even more astonishingly' in architecture' though
his training in this field can have been only rather
superficial
$rom about the mid twenties his career can be
fully gauged $rom then until his death he had
large architectural and pictorial commissions
simultaneously in hand ; he being the only
seventeenth;century artist capable of such a tour
de force. 3uring the ,.64s' with // !artina e
)uca rising and the 5arberini ceiling in progress'
he reached the &enith of his artistic power and
fame' and his colleagues acknowledged his
distinction by electing him principe of the
Accademia di /an )uca for four years >,.6F;2=
5etween ,.F, and ,.FE he stayed in $lorence
painting and decorating four rooms of the
%ala&&o %itti' but the architectural pro:ects of this
period remained on paper 5ack in Rome' his
most e0tensive fresco commission' the
decoration of the Chiesa *uova' occupied him
intermittently for almost twenty years 3uring
one of the intervals he painted the gallery of the
%ala&&o %amphili in %ia&&a *avona >,.-,;F=+ the
erection of the fa7ade of / !aria della %ace is
contemporaneous with the frescoes in the apse of
the Chiesa *uova' that of the fa7ade of / !aria
in 1ia )ata with the frescoes of the pendentives'
that of the dome of / Carlo al Corso follows
three years after the frescoes of the nave Even if
it were correct' as has more than once been
maintained' that the (uality of his late frescoes
shows a marked decline' the same is certainly not
true of his late architectural works In any case'
his architectural and pictorial conceptions show a
parallel development' away from the e0uberant
style of the ,.64s towards a sober' relatively
classici&ing idiom to which he aspired more and
more from the ,.-4- onwards
ARCHITECTURE
The Earl( %or&s
5efore he began the church of // !artina e
)uca' Cortona e0ecuted the so;called 1illa del
%igneto near Rome for the /acchetti and possibly
also the villa at Castel $usano' now Chigi
property The latter was built and decorated
between ,.<. and ,.64 It is a simple three;
storeyed structure measuring E4 by -< feet' rather
rustic in appearance' crowned with a tower and
protected by four fortress;like corner pro:ections
The type of the building follows a long;
established tradition' but the interest here lies in
the pictorial decoration rather than in the
architecture The 1illa del %igneto on the other
hand commands particular attention because of
its architecture Unfortunately little survives to
bear witness to its original splendour *or is
anything certain known about its date and
building history The patron was either Cardinal
8iulio or !archese !arcello /acchetti+ the
former received the purple in ,.<.' the latter
died in ,.6. >not ,.<A= There is' therefore'
room for the commission during the decade
,.<.;6. $or stylistic reasons a date not earlier
than the late twenties seems indicated
The ground floor of the building with its
symmetrical arrangement of rooms reveals a
thorough study of %alladio"s plans' but the idea of
the monumental niche in the central structure'
which is raised high above the low wings'
derives from the 5elvedere in the 1atican It is
even possible that Cortona was impressed at that
early date by the ruins of the classical temple at
%raeneste >%alestrina= near Rome' of which he
undertook a reconstruction in ,.6. In any case'
the large screened niches of the side fronts ; a
motif which has no pedigree in post;Renaissance
architecture ; can hardly have been conceived
without the study of plans of Roman baths
Bhile the arrangement of terraces with fountains
and grottoes is reminiscent of earlier villas such
as the 1illa Aldobrandini at $rascati' the
complicated system of staircases with sham
flights recalls 5uontalenti"s $lorentine
!annerism If one can draw conclusions from
the ground;plan' essentially !annerist must also
34
have been the contrast between the austere
entrance front and the over;decorated garden
front' a contrast well known from buildings like
the 1illa !edici on the %incio Although small in
si&e and derived from a variety of sources' the
building was a landmark in the development of
the 5aro(ue villa The magnificent silhouette' the
grand staircases built up in tiers so as to
emphasi&e the dominating central feature' and
above all the advancing and receding curves
which tie together staircase' terrace' and building
; all this was taken up and further developed by
succeeding generations of architects
It is an indication of Cortona"s growing repu;
tation that on !aderno"s death in ,.<A he took
part in the planning of the %ala&&o 5arberini His
pro:ect seems to have found the pope"s approval'
but the high cost prevented its acceptance
Although 5ernini was appointed architect of the
palace' Cortona was not altogether e0cluded The
theatre ad:oining the north;west corner of the
palace was built to his design It would be a
matter of absorbing interest to know something
about Cortona"s pro:ect for the palace In earlier
editions of this book I illustrated the plan of a
palace which I had come across on the )ondon
art market in the ,A64s and which I immediately
diagnosed as by Cortona"s hand In ,A.A I
discussed this plan at considerable length before
a group of specialists' and the critical tenor of my
colleagues induced me to remove the illustration
from this edition 5ut since I still believe in the
correctness of my original conclusions' some
remarks about that plan are in place It represents
only the ground floor containing a web of
octagonal rooms >apparently meant to be used as
store;rooms=' the walls of which were to serve as
substructures to the rooms above

In spite of the
obvious difficulties of location' the colossal
dimensions of the plan make it almost certain
that it refers to the %ala&&o 5arberini Cortona
wanted to return to the traditional Roman block;
shape+ his design is a s(uare of <2- by <2- feet
as against the <.< feet of the present fa7ade
Even the scanty evidence of this plan reveals four
rather e0citing features9 the palace would have
had bevelled corners framed by columns+ the
main a0es open into large rectangular vestibules
articulated by columns+ two vestibules give direct
access to the ad:oining staircase halls+ finally' the
double columns of the courtyard would have
been carried on across the corners in an unbroken
se(uence The idea of integrating vestibule and
staircase hall' hardly possible without aknow;
ledge of $rench designs' was new for Italy Also
the principal staircase with two opposite flights
ascending from the main landing has no parallel
in Rome at this time !oreover' the arrangement
of the courtyard anticipates 5orromini"s in the
nearby monastery of / Carlo alle ?uattro
$ontane' while the plan of the vestibules was
taken up by 5orromini in / !aria dei /ette
3olori and the church of the %ropaganda $ide
The most astonishing element' however' is the
kind of structural grid system that controls every
dimension of the plan
In ,.66 Cortona won his first recognition as a
designer of festival decoration9 for the
?uarantore of that year he transformed the
interior of the church of / )oren&o in 3amaso
into a rich colonnaded setting with niches and
gilded statues of saints Cortona was a born
"decorator"' and it is therefore all the more to be
regretted that none of his occasional works seems
to have come down to us in drawings or
engravings It was not until his thirty;eighth year'
the year of his election as !rincipe of the
Academy of /t )uke' that he received his first
big architectural commission He had hardly
begun painting the great /alone of the 5arberini
%alace when the reconstruction of the church of
// !artina e )uca at the foot of the Capitol fell
to him This work re(uires an analysis
SS. Martina e #uca
In @uly ,.6F Cortona was granted permission
to rebuild' at his own cost and according to his
plans' the crypt of the church of the Academy of
/t )uke' in order to provide a tomb for himself
3uring the e0cavations' in #ctober of that year'
the body of / !artina was discovered This
brought an entirely new situation Cardinal
$rancesco 5arberini took charge of the under;
taking and in @anuary ,.6- ordered the re;
building of the entire church 5y about ,.FF the
new church was vaulted' and its completion in
,.-4 is recorded in an inscription in the interior
Cortona chose a 8reek;cross design with
apsidal endings The longitudinal a0is is slightly
longer than the transverse a0is

This difference in
the length of the arms' significant though it
seems in the plan' is hardly perceptible to the
visitor who enters the church His first sensation
is that of the complete breaking up of the unified
35
wall surface' and his attention is entirely
absorbed by it 5ut this is not simply a painterly
arrangement' designed to seduce and da&&le the
eye' as many would have it who want to interpret
the 5aro(ue as nothing more than a theatrical and
pictures(ue style The wall so often no more than
an inert division between inside and outside has
here tremendous plasticity' while the interplay of
wall and orders is carried through with a rigorous
logic The wall itself has been "sliced up" into
three alternating planes The innermost plane'
that nearest to the beholder' recurs in the
segmental ends of the four arms' that is' at those
important points where altars are placed and the
eye re(uires a clear and solid boundary The
plane furthest away appears in the ad:oining bays
behind screening columns The intermediate
plane is established in the bays ne0t to the
crossing /imilarly varied is the arrangement of
the order9 the pilasters occupy a plane before the
columns' and the columns under the dome and in
the apses are differently related to the wall 5ut
all round the church pilasters and columns are
homogeneous members of the same Ionic order
The overwhelming impression of unity in spite of
the "in" and "out" movement of the wall and the
variety in the placing of the order makes a
uniform "reading" of the centrali&ed plan not only
logically possible but visually imperative Thus
Cortona solved the problem of a0ial direction
inherent in centrali&ed planning by means
entirely different from those employed by
5ernini It is also characteristic that at this period
Cortona' unlike 5ernini' re:ected the use of
colour The church is entirely white' a neutrality
which seems essential for the full impact of this
richly laden' immensely plastic disposition of
wall and order
5y contrast to the severe forms of the archi;
tecture below' the vaultings of the apses above
the entablature are copiously decorated The
entire surface is plastically moulded and hardly
an inch of the confining wall is allowed to
appear And yet the idea of working with varying
wall planes is transposed into the concept of
using overlapping decorative elements The
windows between the ribs are framed by stilted
arches+ over these arches a second frame of
disproportionately large consoles is laid which
support broken segmental pediments /imilarly'
the system of ribs in the dome is superimposed
upon the coffers It is now apparent that the use
here of what would previously have been
considered two mutually e0clusive methods of
dome articulation is characteristic of Cortona"s
style in this church Be have seen that this idea
was soon taken up by seventeenth; and
eighteenth;century architects
3espite the new plastic;dynamic interpretation
of the old 8reek;cross plan' Cortona"s style is
deeply rooted in the Tuscan tradition Even such
a motif as the free;standing columns which
screen the recessed walls in the arms of the cross
is typically $lorentine Its origin' of course' is
Roman' but in anti(uity the columns screen off
deep chapels from the main space >%antheon=
Bhen this motif was applied in the 5aptistery of
$lorence' the walls were brought up close behind
the columns' whereby the latter lost their
specifically space;defining (uality It is this
$lorentine version with its obvious ambiguity
that attracted !annerist $lorentine architects
>!ichelangelo' Ammanati' etc=' and it is this
version of the classical motif that was revived by
Cortona /imilar solutions recur in some of his
other structures' most prominently on the drum
of the dome of / Carlo al Corso' one of his latest
works >,..2=' where the screening columns
correspond closely to those inside // !artina e
)uca
An analysis of the decoration of // !artina e
)uca supplies most striking evidence of
Cortona"s $lorentine roots In spite of the wealth
of decoration in the upper parts of the church'
figure sculpture is almost entirely e0cluded and
indeed never plays a conspicuous part in
Cortona"s architecture His decoration combine9+
two different trends of $lorentine !annerism9 the
hard and angular forms of the Ammanati;3osio
idiom with the smooth' soft' and almost
voluptuous elements derived from 5uontalenti It
is the merging of these two traditions that gives
the detail of Cortona"s work its specific flavour
$lorentine !annerism' however' does not
provide the whole answer to the problem of
Cortona"s style as a decorator' for the vigorous
plasticity and the compact crowding of a great
variety of different motifs ;such as in the panels
of the vaultings of the apses ; denote not only a
Roman and 5aro(ue' but above all a highly
personal transformation of his source material
This style of decoration was first evolved by
Cortona not in his architecture but in his
painting He translated into three;dimensional
form the lush density of pictorial decoration to be
found in the /alone of the %ala&&o 5arberini The
36
similarity between painted and plastic decoration
is e0tremely close' even in details $or instance'
the combination of heads in shells and rich octa;
gonal coffers above the windows of the apses' so
striking a feature of the decoration of //
!artina e )uca' also appears at nodal points of
the painted system of the 5arberini ceiling 5ut'
having pointed out the close conne0ion between
his architectural and painted decoration' one
must emphasi&e once again that in his built
architecture Cortona eliminates the figure ele;
ments which form so integral a part of his
painted architecture *o stronger contrast to
5ernini"s conception of architecture could be
imagined $or 5ernini the very meaning of his
classically conceived architecture was epito;
mi&ed in realistic sculpture /uch sculpture
would have obscured the wealth and comple0ity
of Cortona"s work His decorative effervescence
reaches its culmination in // !artina e )uca
with the entirely unprecedented' wildly
undulating forms of the dome coffering The very
personal design of these coffers found no
imitators' and it was only after 5ernini had
restored Cortona"s coffers to their classical shape
that their use in combination with a ribbed vault
was generally accepted
The undulation of Cortona"s coffers is coun;
tered by the severe angularity of the pediments of
the windows in the drum which intrude into the
&one of the dome #n the e0terior of the dome a
similar phenomenon can be observed Here the
austere window frames of the drum are topped by
a se(uence of soft' curved decorative forms at the
base of the vaulting' and these forms are taken up
in the lantern by scrolls of distinctly !annerist
derivation The e0terior of the dome is also
highly original in that the drum and the foot of
the vaulting are emphasi&ed at the e0pense of the
curved silhouette of the dome itself Bith this
Cortona anticipates a development which' though
differently e0pressed' was to come into its own
in the second half of the century
The fa7ade of // !artina e )uca represents
another break with tradition The two;storeyed
main body of the fa7ade is gently curved'
following the precedent of the 1illa /acchetti
>though the curve is here inwards= /trongly
pro:ecting piers faced with double pilasters seem
to have compressed the wall between them' so
that the curvature appears to be the result of a
permanently active s(uee&e At precisely this
period 5orromini designed his concave fa7ade
for the #ratory of /t %hilip *eri In view of their
differences of approach' however' the two
architects may have arrived independently at
designing these curved fronts The peculiarity of
the fa7ade of // !artina e )uca lies not only in
its curvature but also in that the orders have no
framing function and do not divide the curved
wall into clearly denned bays In the lower tier'
the columns seem to have been pressed into the
soft and almost doughy mass of the wall' while
in the upper tier sharply cut pilasters stand before
the wall in clear relief This principle of
contrasting soft and hard features' which
occurred in other parts of the building' is
reversed in the pro:ecting central bays9 in the
upper tier framing columns are sunk into the
wall' whereas in the lower tier rigid pilaster;like
formations top the door It would be easy to
describe at much greater length the almost
incredibly rich variations on the same theme' but
it must suffice to note that specifically $lorentine
!annerist traits are very strong in the subtle
reversal of architectural motifs and in the
overlapping and interpenetration of elements as
well as in the use of decorative features This is
true despite the carefully framed realistic palm
and flower panels !oreover' the type of the
fa7ade with two e(ually developed storeys and
strongly emphasi&ed framing features has its
roots in the $lorentine rather than in the Roman
tradition

?uite unlike any earlier church fa7ade'
this prepares the beholder for an understanding
of the internal structure' for the wall treatment
and articulation of the interior are here unfolded
in a different key Cortona thinks in terms of the
pliability of the plastic mass of walls9 it is
through this that he achieves the dynamic co;
ordination of e0terior and interior To him
belongs the honour of having erected the first of
the great' highly personal and entirely homo;
geneous churches of the High 5aro(ue
S. Maria della Pace$ S. Maria in ,ia #ata$
Pro-ects$ and Minor %or&s
Cortona"s further development as an architect
shows the progressive e0clusion of !annerist
elements and a turning towards Roman sim;
plicity' grandeur' and massiveness even though
the basic tendencies of his approach to archi;
tecture remain unchanged This is apparent in his
moderni&ation of / !aria della %ace' carried out
between ,.-. and ,.-E

The new fa7ade' placed
37
in front of the ?uattrocento church' together with
the systemati&ation of the small pia&&a is of
much greater importance than the changes in the
interior Although regularly laid;out pia&&as had
a long tradition in Italy' Cortona"s design
inaugurates a new departure' for he applied the
e0perience of the theatre to town;planning9 the
church appears like the stage' the pia&&a like the
auditorium' and the flanking houses like the
bo0es It is the logical corollary of such a
conception that the approaches from the side of
the church are through a kind of stage doors'
which hide the roads for the view from the
pia&&a
The conve0 upper tier of the fa7ade' firmly
framed by pro:ecting piers' repeats the motif of
the fa7ade of // !artina e )uca 5ut in the
scheme of / !aria della %ace this tier represents
only a middle field between the boldly pro:ecting
semicircular portico and the large concave wings
which grip like arms round the front' in a &one
much farther removed from the spectator The
interplay of conve0 and concave forms in the
same building' foreshadowed in a modest way in
Cortona"s 1illa /acchetti' is a typically Roman
High 5aro(ue theme which also fascinated
5orromini and 5ernini
/ !aria della %ace contains many influential
ideas The portico is one of Cortona"s most fertile
inventions 5y pro:ecting far into the small
piazza and absorbing much space there' a
powerful plastic and at the same time chroma;
tically effective motif is created that mediates
between outside and inside 5ernini incorporated
it into the fa7ade of / Andrea al ?uirinale' and it
recurs constantly in subse(uent European
architecture The detail of the portico' too' had
immediate repercussions As early as ,.-E
5ernini made an intermediary pro:ect with
double columns for the colonnades of /t %eter"s +
and his final choice of a 3oric order with Ionic
entablature was here anticipated by Cortona The
crowning feature of the fa7ade of / !aria della
%ace is a large triangular pediment encasing a
segmental one /uch devices had been used for
more than a hundred years from !ichelangelo"s
5iblioteca )auren&iana onwards Bith the
e0ception' however' of !artino )onghi"s fa7ade
of // 1incen&o et Anastasio the motif does not
occur in Rome at this particular time Encased
pediments are a regular feature of the *orth
Italian type of the aedicule fa7ade' and to a
certain e0tent Cortona must have been influenced
by it 5ut he goes essentially his own way by
working with a pliable wall and by employing
once again architectural orders as an invigorating
rather than a space >or bay= defining motif
!oreover' the "screw;head" shape of the
segmental pediment which breaks through the
entablature so as to create room for Ale0ander
1II"s coat of arms adds to the unorthodo0 and
even eccentric (uality of the fa7ade

In his ne0t work' the fa7ade of / !aria in 1ia
)ata' built between ,.-2 and ,..<' Cortona
carried simplification and monumentality a
decisive step further The classici&ing tendencies
already apparent in the sober 3oric of / !aria
della %ace are strengthened' while the comple0ity
of // !artina e )uca seems to have been
reduced to the crystalline clarity of a few great
motifs It is obvious that the alignment of the
street did not warrant a curved fa7ade
*evertheless' there are conne0ions between
Cortona"s early and late work+ for' like //
!artina e )uca' the fa7ade of / !aria in 1ia
)ata consists of two full storeys' but' reversing
the earlier system' the central portion is wide
open and is flanked by receding bays instead of
pro:ecting piers The main part' which opens
below into a portico and above into a loggia' is
unified by a large triangular pediment into which'
as at / !aria della %ace' a segmental feature has
been inserted Here' however' it is not a second
smaller pediment' but an arch connecting the two
halves of the broken straight entablature The
motif is well known from Hellenistic and Roman
Imperial architecture >Termessus' 5aalbek'
/palato' / )oren&o in !ilan= and' although it
was used in a somewhat different form in
medieval as well as Renaissance buildings >eg
Alberti"s / /ebastiano at !antua=' it is here so
close to the late classical prototypes that it must
have been derived from them rather than from
later sources

Bhile thus the classical pedigree of
the motif must be acknowledged' neither
Cortona"s Tuscan origin nor the continuity of his
style is obscured The design of the interior of the
portico is proof of this Bith its coffered barrel
vault carried by two rows of columns' one of
which screens the wall of the church' it clearly
reveals its derivation from the vestibule of the
sacristy in / /pirito at $lorence >8iuliano da
/angallo and Cronaca' begun ,F2A= 5ut in
contrast to the ?uattrocento model' the wall
screened by the columns seems to run on behind
the apsidal endings' and so does the barrel vault
38
Cortona thus produces the illusion that the apses
have been placed in a larger room' the e0tent of
which is hidden from the beholder #nly the
cornice provides a structural link between the
columns and the niches of the apses The
comparison of Cortona"s solution with that of /
/pirito is e0traordinarily illuminating' for the
"naive" Renaissance architect ignored the fact that
a screen of columns placed in front of an inside
wall must produce an awkward problem at the
corners Cortona' by contrast' being heir to the
analytical awareness gained in the !annerist
period' was able to segregate' as it were' the
constituent elements of the Renaissance structure
and reassemble them in a new synthesis Unlike
!annerist architects' who insisted on e0posing
the ambiguity inherent in many Renaissance
buildings' he set out to resolve any prevarication
by a radical procedure9 each of the three
component parts the screen of columns' the
apses' and the barrel vault has its own fully
defined structural raison d'etre. There is hardly a
more revealing e0ample in the history of
architecture of the different approaches to a
closely related task by a Renaissance and a
5aro(ue architect 5ut only a master of Cortona"s
perspicacity and calibre could produce this result+
it is rooted in his old love for superimpositions
>to wit' the vaults of the apses upon the barrel
vault=' and even he himself would not have been
capable of such penetrating analysis at the period
of // !artina e )uca' a time when he had not
entirely freed himself from !annerism
Cortona"s ma:or late architectural work is the
dome of / Carlo al Corso' which has been
mentioned Its drum shows a brilliant' and in this
place uni(ue' version of the motif of screening
columns /tructurally' the buttresses faced with
pilasters and the ad:oining columns form a unit
>ie9 bab M bab M bab M =' but aesthetically the
rhythm of the buttresses predominates and seems
accompanied by that of the open' screened bays
>ie9 aMbbMaMb bMaM = A comparison of this dome
with that of // !artina e )uca makes amply
clear the long road Cortona had travelled in the
course of a generation' from comple0ity tinged
by !annerism to serene classical magnificence
/imilar (ualities may be found in two minor
works of the latest period' the Cappella 8avotti
in / *icolo da Tolentino' begun in ,..2' and the
altar of /t $rancis Kavier in the 8esG' e0ecuted
after the master"s death
Bhat would have been one of Cortona"s most
important ecclesiastical works' the Chiesa *uova
>/ $iren&e= at $lorence' remained a pro:ect At
the end of ,.F- his model was finished 5ut as
early as @anuary ,.F. there seem to have been
dissensions' for Cortona writes to his friend and
patron Cassiano del %o&&o that he was never
lucky in matters concerning architecture The
affair dragged on until late in ,...' when his
plans were finally shelved A number of
drawings' now in the Uffi&i' permit us to get at
least a fair idea of Cortona"s intentions E(ually'
all his ma:or pro:ects for secular buildings
remained une0ecuted' while the 1illa del %igneto
and the house which he built for himself late in
life in the 1ia della %edacchia no longer e0ist
Three of his grand pro:ects should be men;
tioned' namely the plans for the alterations and
additions to the %ala&&o %itti at $lorence' the
designs for a %ala&&o Chigi in the %ia&&a
Colonna' Rome' and the plans for the )ouvre As
regards the )ouvre' he competed with 5ernini'
who again superseded him as he had thirtyfive
years before in the work at the %ala&&o 5arberini
Cortona"s )ouvre pro:ect has recently been
traced It always was in the Cabinet des 3essins
of the )ouvre' but remained unrecogni&ed
because it makes important concessions to
$rench taste and is the least "cortones(ue" of his
architectural designs The biased 8iro $erri was
certainly not correct when he maintained that
5ernini had plagiari&ed his competitor"s plan
The moderni&ation of the fa7ade of the %ala&&o
%itti was planned between ,.F, and ,.FE' when
Cortona painted his ceilings inside the palace
His most notable contribution' however' would
have been a theatre in the garden' for which
several sketches are preserved It was to rise high
above curves and colonnaded terraces on the a0is
of the palace and would have formed a
monumental unit with the courtyard It is in these
designs that Cortona"s preoccupation with the
ruins of %raeneste makes itself more clearly felt
than in any of his other pro:ects He incorporated
into his designs freestanding colonnades and a
lofty "belvedere"' corresponding by and large to
his reconstruction of the classical ruins made in
,.6. for Cardinal $rancesco 5arberini and first
published in /uare&"s work on the ruins of
%alestrina in ,.-- The prints probably
influenced 5ernini in his choice of colonnades
for the /(uare of /t %eter"s !oreover' the
freestanding belvedere as a focusing point on
39
high ground was fre(uently used in northern
Europe' particularly for gardens If in such cases
architects were no longer aware of the debt owed
to Cortona"s reconstruction of %raeneste' on
occasion its direct influence can yet be traced
An impressive e0ample is the eighteenth;century
Castello at 1illadeati in %iedmont with its
se(uence of terraces and its crowning colonnaded
belvedere Cortona himself drew on his
reconstruction for the designs of the %ala&&o
Chigi' which Ale0ander 1II wanted to have
erected when he planned to transform the %ia&&a
Colonna' on which the older family palace was
situated' into the first s(uare in Rome The most
brilliant of the pro:ects' preserved in the 1atican
)ibrary' shows' for the first time' a powerful
giant order of columns screening a concave wall
above a rusticated ground floor from which the
waters of the $ontana Trevi were to emerge The
repercussions of this design can still be felt in
5ouchardon"s $ontaine de 8renelle in %aris
>,E6A;F-= Cortona once wrote despondently that
he regarded architecture only as a pastime Can
we believe himC It seems impossible to say
whether he was primarily painter or architect As
a painter his real gift lay in the effective
manipulation of large;scale ensembles which are
inseparable from their settings #ne cannot'
therefore' think of the painter without the
architect in the same person The study of
Cortona as a painter should not be divorced from
the study of Cortona as a decorator of interiors
40