Monday, November 13:

BAROQUE ARCHITECTURE IN ITALY


Reading: Architecture chapter nine; pp. 335-349; 358; 363-367; 378-383.

The Baroque: Grandeur of popes revived by affirmation of their supreme authority in Council of Trent, and by vigorous campaigns of new Counter-Reformation orders (especially Jesuits) for the expansion of the political influence of the papacy and for the firm entrenchment of Catholicism in Flanders, South and West Germany, Austria and Poland as well as in Italy and Spain.

Increasingly powerful absolute monarchy in France, (Louis XIII, XIV), organizing all branches of activity under the state, from industry to art and literature (foundation of the academies). Predominance of classicism in all the arts. France the dominant political and military power on the continent, but less important commercially and industrially than England and the Netherlands.

Intellectual context: Resurgence of philosophical discussion (Spinoza, Descartes) and scientific investigation, notably in astronomy (Galileo), physics and mathematics (Newton), physiology (Harvey), and optics. Perfection of telescope and microscope.

Architecture: An international style of great range and power characterized by great variety in individual expression. Subordination of parts to total dynamic organization of masses in space, for dramatic climax. Manipulation of light and shade enhanced by sculpture, frescoes on walls and ceilings, altarpieces, rich decoration.

Italy: A monumental style, particularly under Bernini, in which buildings are created for popes, kings, Roman nobility. Classical types and forms used for highly dynamic and dramatic large-scale schemes, integrating building with surroundings and with whole city plan. Also small-scale buildings for intellectual monastic orders. Inventive modification of classic vocabulary used with taste and precision in free combinations. New concept of fluid space and malleable mass (Borromini). Imaginative and sophisticated variations on themes of solid geometry.

Key works:

1. Replanned streets of Rome, mostly Domenico Fontana, 1580s [ 124]
2. Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598-1680): St. Peter's Square (piazza S. Pietro), Rome, begun 1656 [ 125 reconstruction of Bernini's project; 111 exterior view]; figs. 535, 542--544.
3. Bernini: Cornaro Chapel in Sta. Maria Vittoria, 1646; fig. 541
4. Francesco Borromini (1599-1667): S. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, 1638-66 [ 119 lower facade; 120 interior view]; figs. 547--550.

Works in context:

  • Borrommini: Palazzo Spada court passageway.
  • Terms:

  • forced perspective
  • indirect lighting
  • central-plan church
  • gesamtkunstwerk