Sunday, September 22, 2013

Bernini's Baldacchino


     A Baldacchino is defined as a canopy that is over an altar or tomb, and is supported on columns.  The term is derived from the Spanish word baldaquin, an elaborate material imported from Baghdad that was hung as a canopy over an altar or doorway.  Borromini and Bernini both worked on the baldacchino, with Borromini focusing on the structure, and Bernini on the sculptural elements.  A major criticism of their design was that the columns are traditionally separate from the canopy.  In order to overcome this, Bernini had to separate the cornice from the columns to make it appear as though the canopy was being suspended.  Bernini did so by moving the angels to the top of the supporting columns, so that it would give a visual of the angels carrying the weight of the canopy.

Click here for a virtual experience of Bernini's Baldacchino within St. Peter's Basilica.

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