Saturday, October 5, 2013

San Carlo alle Quatro Fontane Facade Details

Structure: San Carlo alle Quatro Fontane
Architect: Francesco Borromini
Location: Rome, Italy
Date: 1634-67

San Carlo alle Quatro Fontane was Borromini's first independent commission for the Spanish order of Discalced Trinitarians. And although the interior of the church was overseen and completely designed by Borromini, the facade was actually held up because of a lack of funds. Borromini only was able to see the first story built. After his death, his nephew, Bernardo Castelli took over the construction process and made some changes to the plan. The recessing and protruding of the three bays of the facade create an undulating effect for the entire structure with four Corinthian engaged columns demarcating the start and end of each bay. Above the main entrance sit three statues of saints: the two founders of the Trinitarian Order (Saint Jean de Matha and Felix de Valois) and Saint Carlo Borromeo in the middle. The central figure is covered by two angels on each side with wings forming the top of the niche. The balustrade above the first story frames the central bay with the sentry-box covered by an oval aedicule. At the very top, an oval medallion rests above two angels carrying it on either side; the medallion contains a large fresco of The Holy Trinity Crowning the Blessed Virgin Mary. The overall result shows Borromini's creativity and "freedom in the handling of classical elements."

"Baroque and Rococo Art and Architecture" by Robert Neuman

Il Gesu Facade details

Building: Il Gesu
Architect: Giacomo della Porto
Location: Rome, Italy
Date: c. 1575

About the Facade:
It was the single more influential church constructed by the Jesuits. And it must be noted that the interior and exterior of the church were designed by two separate architects: Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola with the interior and Giacomo della Porto with the exterior. Although the architecture of this building does not seem Baroque, it is considered the start of baroque architecture. The facade is comprised of repeating triangular and semicircular pediments above doors, niches, and the overall structure. The top-most pediment being the largest and also "broken". It frames the papal coat of arms in the center. Underneath, it appears to be supported by eight Corinthian pilasters separating three bays. Large volutes flank each side of the second level. The first level also repeats these Corinthian pilasters but has two engaged columns framing the main entrance. Above it is a large cartouche with "IHS". The central part of the structure has an arched pediment surrounding a triangular pediment. Much of other Baroque structures take elements from Il Gesu and incorporate them into their design.

"Baroque and Rococo Art and Architecture" by Robert Neuman

Pietro da Cortona


Pietro da Cortona, born Pietro Berrettini on November 1, 1506, is better known by the name of his native town, Cortona. He studied under the influence of Florentine painters Andrea Commodi and Baccio Ciarpi. He was a painter, architect, and even considered a decorator. Some of his most famous pieces include his design of the church of SS. Luca e Martina in Rome, and the fresco of Allegory of Divine Providence in the Barberini Palace.

Frescoes in Pitti Palace

His frescoes in Pitti Palace were also very well known. They consisted of very elaborate stucco work and were meant to represent the lineage of the powerful Medici family. He completed the first four and his pupil, Ciro Ferri, completed the rest in the 1660s after Pietro's death. Each suite that he painted was named after the different planets. He would treat the entire surface of the ceiling as the canvas, acting as if the entire surface was one spatial unit.

Silver Age

Gold Age

Bronze Age

Iron Age


The Sacred Way

There were very few passages through the Alps that link northern Italy to Rome. Because of this the city of Varese saw thousands of pilgrims on their way to and from Rome. In Varese you will find a centuries old path leading to the Sanctuary of Santa Maria. On this 1.6 mile path you will find 14 chapels designed by Giuseppe Bernascone which were constructed between 1604 and 1623. They are arranged in three groups, each group has a specific rosary. Each chapel within those groups contains colorful life size terracotta statues corresponding to one of the rosary’s mysteries. 

The journey starts with the Chapel dedicated to Immaculate Conception, 5 chapels dedicated to the "Joyful Mysteries" follow this. Next you will find the chapels of "Sorrowful Mysteries" and lastly the chapels of "Glorious Mysteries." The last chapel on the pilgrimage, number 15, is the chapel of the Coronation of Mary and is located within the Sanctuary of Santa Maria.

Unfortunately you cannot enter any of the chapels, but only look through the windows. The beautifully decorated frescoes, murals, and statues on the interiors are by some of the finest painters and scultours of the 1600’s, including Mazzucchelli, Prestinari, Nuvolone, and Ghiandone. 


Friday, October 4, 2013

Art work in the Barberini Palace

Today the Barberini Palace is the National Gallery of Ancient Art, which is open to the people. The museum houses many of the baroque pieces which influenced the era. 

The Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power is a fresco by Pietro da Cortona, filling the large ceiling of the grand salon of the Palazzo. Started in 1633 and completed 1639.

Allegory of Divine Wisdom, done with medium fresco started in 1629 and finished on 1633.

Narcissus is a painting by Caravaggio, painted 1597–1599, using oil paint. 

These are just a few of what the Palace now displays on its walls. 


Barberini Palace

Construction of the palace started in 1627 by architect Maderno who was assisted by his nephew Borromini. After Maderno death it as continued by Bernini and was completed in 1633.

"The palazzo is around a forecourt centered on Bernini's two-story hall backed by an oval salon, with an extended wing dominating the piazza, which lies on a lower level. At the rear, a long wing protected the garden from the piazza below, above which it rose from a rusticated basement that was slightly battered like a military bastion. The main block presents three tiers of great arch-headed windows, like glazed arcades. On the uppermost floor, Borromini's windows are set in a false perspective that suggests extra depth, a feature that has been copied into the 20th century. Flanking the hall, two sets of stairs lead to the piano nobile, a large squared staircase by Bernini to the left and a smaller oval staircase to the right."

The palace contains Borromini's false-perspective window reveals, the unit of a central two-story hall backed by an oval salone and the symmetrical wings that extended forward from the main block to create a cour d'honneur, which is a three sided courtyard.

The salon ceiling is graced by Pietro da Cortona's masterpiece, the Baroque fresco of the Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power. . Also in the palace has a masterpiece by Andrea Sacchi, a contemporary critic of the Cortona style, Divine Wisdom.

The rooms of the piano nobile have frescoed ceilings by other seventeenth-century artists like Giuseppe Passeri and Andrea Camassei, plus, in the museum collection, precious detached frescoes by Polidoro da Caravaggio.

Today, the palace is the Museum of Ancient Art which houses a collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings. (in Italian but good virtual tour)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Papacy during the Baroque

The baroque era is a time where the Catholic Church seek many different ways to approach the Protestant Reformation. The movement was referred as the Counter Reformation. Due to this push of integrating the Catholic faith into the community again and the Popes of this era were in charge to pervade the towns of Europe with many churches and many different pieces of art which represented the Catholic faith. To be able to appeal to the people and have the pieces of art inspire the sublime for the person in faith.

There is a total of  15 popes in the era between 1585 to 1689. There are many which created a lot off movement in the influence in baroque art. For example, Urban VIII which was a major patron of the art and architecture during his papacy.  After his death Bernini made a statue of Pope Urban VIII.

During Alexander VII papacy, he commissioned Pietro da Cortona to redesign and revisit the facilities of S. Maria della Pace.

Alexander VII also asked for Bernini to be apart of the design of the Piazza of St. Peters. He asked for Bernini to find a solution for the disharmony between the dome and facade.

Fountain of Pope Paul V at St. Peters

Below is the chronological list of the popes during the era, and there is links for the major popes and their stories.

Sixtus V (Felice Peretti of Ancona) 1585-1590.
Urban VII (Giambattista Castagna of Rome) 15 to 27 September, 1590.
Gregory XIV (Niccolo Spondrati) 5 December 1590 to 15 October 1591.
Innocent IX (Giovanni Antonio Facchinetti) 29 October 1591 to 30 December 1591.
Clement VIII (Ippolito Aldobrandini of Fano) 1592-1605.
Leo XI Alessandro Ottaviano de'Medici of Florence) 1-27 April, 1605.
Paul V (Camillo Borghese of Rome/Siena) 1605-1621.
Gregory XV (Alessandro Ludovisi of Bologna) 1621-1623
Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini of Florence) 1623-1644.
Innocent X (Giambattista Pamphili of Rome) 1644-1655.
Alexander VII (Fabio Chigi of Siena) 1655-1667.
Clement IX (Giulio Rospigliosi of Pistoia) 1667-1669.
Clement X (Emilio Altieri of Rome) 1670-1676.
Innocent XI (Benedetto Odescalchi of Como) 1676-1689.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Donato Bramante

Donato Bramante was an Italian architect who is well known for his work on St. Peter’s Basilica. He began as an artist, who was fascinated by the rules of perspectives, but soon realized his architectural skills surpassed his artistic abilities.  In 1474 Bramante moved to Milan, were he would go on to build several churches following the Gothic style that the city was known for. In 1476 the duke, Sforza, made Bramante his court architect.

During which time Bramante was in charge of rebuilding the church of Santa Maria Presso San Satiro. In this project his knowledge of the rules of perspectives plays a huge role in the theatrical apse. Also in Milan Bramante built structures of Santa Maria della Grazie, Cloisters of Sant’Ambrogio, and Palazzo Caprini.

In 1499 the French army invaded Milan, Bramante fled to Rome. Once in Rome his talents were soon recognized by Cardinal Della Rovere, who would soon become Pope Julius II.  One of his first works in Rome was the design of the cloister in Santa Maria della Pace which is near Piazza Navona. The proportions of the cloister simplistic yet spectacular. The columns alter with smaller columns that were placed centered between the the lower arches.

He would then design the Tempietto of San Pietro in Montoria in 1502 for Julius II, which is considered “one of the most harmonious buildings of the renaissance.” It is described as a piece of sculpture due to the fact that is does not have the usual architectural language that is usually found in architecture so far. The building took a classical style but conformed it to more modern times.
In 1503 Pope Julius nominated Bramante to rebuild the Saint Peter’s Basilica. Bramante wanted a centralized Greek cross plan, which he considered perfection. Although his full plan was never recognized due to the fact that he died (1514) before it’s completion. His original plan included four chapels which would fill the corner voids which the transepts created. Each one would be topped with a dome which would be supporting the main dome.



Originally the Piazza Navona was the site of ancient roman athletic stadium, which was built by Emperor Domitian. The stadium was shaped like an extended horseshoe, which is the shape of the piazza today.  On the exact site where the current church is located today there was an oratory dedicated to St Agnes, which was then rebuilt into a medieval church.
 In 1652 Pope Innocent X commissioned the demolition of the old church except for the remains in the crypt (which held St Agnes’s remains) and the construction of a new church. Originally the architect in charge of the design was Rainaldi, who proposed a Greek cross plan with a dome which had no drum. Two side towers were to be connected by a substantial stair facing the piazza. 

After Rainaldi was already in the building process the Pope relieved him from his work because his plan was so harshly criticized by the public. The Pope then appointed Borromini to take over as the architect in charge of the church’s construction.

Borromini was forced to work around Rainaldi’s ground plan, but he still managed to put his own twist on the church. He eliminated the vestibule and constructed the towers so that the view of the dome would not be obstructed. He also added a high drum to the dome. After Pope Innocent X’s death in 1655 the relationship between Borromini and the papacy became more difficult. He soon resigned and was not able to finish the central gable and the lantern of the dome. Rainaldi was called back to complete the construction.


Baroque Music

The Catholic Church over the Baroque era  integrated an assembly of artworks, like painting, sculpture, and decor but also, music which offered ritual to the worshiper, so that his or her spiritual experience could be more grand. The Architecture was not the only characteristic of the era to have a transformation during the Baroque, but also did the music.
Well known composers of the baroque period from Italy, include Monteverdi, Corelli and Vivaldi and then later from Germany Bach and Handel. Many of the forms identified with Baroque music came from Italy. These changes or inclusions to the music composition was the cantata, concerto, sonata, oratorio and opera.
When listening to the music it self, there is a more grand or awe to the experience the listening has. The composition of the notes change dramatically, from low to high pitches creating a climax in the music which became very distinct for the era.The instrumentation which added more timber and more stings instruments which implemented the define distinction of the high pitches and the timber. The idea of having the listener experiencing the music with all sense interacting with each other to enhance the piece.

The Four Seasons by Vivaldi

Different Pieces by Different Composers

00:00 - 03:57 J.S. Bach - Air (Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major)
03:57 - 07:00 Antonio Vivaldi - Spring II (Largo)
07:00 - 12:30 Tommaso Albinoni - Adagio (I think it is in D minor, Op. 9, No. 2)
13:30 - 16:00 J.S. Bach - Keyboard Concerto (No.5 in F minor, Largo)
16:00 - 21:00 J. Pachelbell - Canon (in D majeur)
21:00 - 27:24 Handel: Lute and Harp Concerto (in B flat major, Op. 4 No.6: II. Larghetto)


Monday, September 30, 2013

Accents of the Rococo

Light hearted and intricate designs are what characterize the aura of the Rococo. Rococo is also referred to the "Late Baroque" and was very popular in France. The rococo was a response to the baroque regulations. The approach to rococo was more whimsical, florid and carefree.


The term Rococo is derived from the term rocaille which is expressed in the s or c shell-like forms in most of the works. These forms were very organic and were repeated to create the symmetry desired.


Furniture in the time had taken the role of demonstrating status. Furniture was also very versatile and since it was meant to have a lighthearted feeling, it would be changed from time to time for gathering to be held. It wasn't necessary to keep each piece of furniture anchored to the wall, it could be freestanding to further accentuate the atmosphere.