Monday, October 7, 2013

The Dome of San Lorenzo

Architect: Guarino Guarini
Construction: 1668-1687

At the time is was believed that the classical order was the basis of architecture. Guarino Guarini on the other hand believed that the dome was the most important part of architecture. Because of this Guarini placed a huge emphasis on the vault and the dome of San Larenzo. He achieved this through his use of color, the combination of classic and Gothic orders, and the illusion of infinity.

Everything in this church draws your eyes up. His use of light makes the rest of the church seem dark compared to the amount of windows that are placed in the dome. Oval windows are directly above the pendentives allowing light to flood in. Continuing upward there are smaller windows that occur where the rib vault creates spaces.

The dome is octagonal in shape and is supported by eight transverse ribs. The ribs intersect each other where the lantern rises up on top of the dome. Within the lantern you see the continuation of the rib vaults which gives the illusion that the dome continues through to heaven. This illusion can only be seen by one person at a time who is standing in the center of the dome, creating an almost mystical experience.

Rudolf Wittkower explained Guarini’s Domes as “More than structural freaks. They seem the result of a deep-routed urge to replace the consistent sphere of the ancient dome, the symbol of a finite dome of heaven, by the diaphanous dome with its mysterious suggestion of infinity…” (413).

Rudolf Wittkower. Art and Architecture in Italy 1600-1750. (The Pelican History of Art). Third Revised Edition, 1973

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