Baroque Four Baroque -1750) Projects San Carlo Essay

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Baroque

Four Baroque (1600-1750) Projects

San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (1638-1646)

The Church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (1638-1646) or Saint Charles at the Four Fountains is a Roman Catholic church and monastery in Rome. It was built between 1634 and 1638 by Francesco Borromini. It was also the first church in Rome to be dedicated to St. Charles Borromeus, who had been canonized in 1610. (Churches of Roma: San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane) it was also Borromini's first independent architectural commission and is considered to be an iconic masterpiece of Baroque architecture. ( Vino Con Vista Italy Travel Guides and Events) the construction was designed and built as part of a complex of monastic buildings on the Quirinal Hill for the Spanish Trinitarians. It is one of at least three churches in Rome dedicated to San Carlo, including San Carlo ai Catinari and San Carlo al Corso.

Borromini received the commission for this construction in 1634, under the patronage of Cardinal Francesco Barberini. However, this financial backing did not last and subsequently the building project suffered various financial difficulties. (Blunt 53)

The church itself is comparatively small in size, with the design as well as the proportions it is asserted being based on one of the piers supporting the dome of St. Peter's. The name of the church - San Carlino alle Quattro Fontane -- refers not only to its size but also to the four fountains at the corners of the intersection where the church stands. (San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane)

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Francesco Borromini is known as one of the most important architects who worked in the Roman Baroque style. He began his career as a sculptor and worked with his famous contemporary, Gianlorenzo Bernini, on various sculptural projects in Saint Peter's Basilica. (Francesco Borromini and His Architecture) However, Borromini's sculptural and architectural style differed markedly from that of Bernini. In fact they can be seen as being representative of two distinct styles of Baroque art and architecture.

Essay on Baroque Four Baroque (1600-1750) Projects San Carlo Assignment

"…whereas Bernini embraced a Baroque classicism, Borromini's architecture adapted classical elements to a more innovative architecture that was defined by organically curving lines and a complicated interplay of geometrical forms" (Francesco Borromini and His Architecture)

The design of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane represents Borromini's particular style. For example, the design of the interior of the church conforms to the Seventeenth Century predilection for oval designs. Borromini's also had an interest in intricate geometrical designs. These design aspects were both applied to the building of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. As one study of these design aspects notes:

Borromini oriented his S. Carlino oval longitudinally, that is, with the entrance at one tip and the high altar at the other...and, eschewing a uniform outline, except in the dome's base, between entrance and altar he squeezed the upper and lower extremities of the oval so that it took on an undulating contour, which he then extended to the elevation. He designed the walls to weave in and out as if they were formed not of stone but of pliant substance set in motion by an energetic space, carrying with them the deep entablatures, the cornices, moldings and pediments."(Trachtenberg 346/7)

Furthermore, the design aspects of this building were complicated by the limited space available. Borromini's design plan therefore took,"… an unusual shape, somewhere between a rectangle, a cross and an oval. Not only does this plan take advantage of the small area non-which the church is situated but it

…also manages to be cruciform, central-plan, and basilican all at once." (Francesco Borromini and His Architecture)

A principle feature of the building from an architectural point-of-view is the elliptical dome. Within this dome there are various geometric designs and a lantern with the symbols of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, "...Most of the light comes from the dome, which has no drum; further light, though not as much, comes through the window above the entrance." (San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane: Romafelix.com)

Symbols play a central role in the design of the church. Many of the shapes and symbols that he used were taken from ancient Roman buildings. However, the architect's purpose was not just to borrow from the past but rather to change and enhance the viewer's perception.

…for he was trying to design buildings which were not so much walls and floors and ceilings as undefinable magical dimensions which force the beholder into spiritual contemplation. In the cloister, for instance, there are no corner columns holding up the heavy colonnade above, and the alternating shapes of the bays prevent the eye from coming to rest.

(San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane: Romafelix.com)

1.3. Construction

Both the monastic buildings and the cloister were completed first and the construction of the church took place during the period 1638-1641. The serpintine facade, while it was designed early on in the building development, was only constructed towards the end of Borromini's life, while the upper section of the facade was completed after the death of the architect. (Blunt 71)

The complexity of design must also be taken into account in understanding the building process; while this has already been referred to above the following extract from a study illustrates the building difficulties that had to be faced in the construction of the church.

Borromini had to build his church on a highly limited and asymmetrical corner site. Consequently the plan of the church is indeed complicated… One could say that the basic design of the plan is elliptical, but the already existing fountain on the cut-off corner was to the effect that the architect had to omit a chapel from an earlier design.

(San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane)

1.4. Significance.

San Carlo is considered to be one of Borromini's masterpieces. This is due to the fact that "In a space no larger than the base of one of the piers of St. Peter's Basilica, he created a church that is an intricate exercise in geometric perfection, with a coffered dome that seems to float above the curves of the walls." ( San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane Review)

Borromini was also innovative and creative in his approach to architectural design. He is credited with inventing an original treatment of space that "… creates an effect of rippling movement, especially evident in the double-S curves of the facade." (San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane Review) the cloister of San Carlo is particularly noteworthy in this regard. Critics point out the subtle neutralization of the corners as well as the balustrade. Unlike High Renaissance architecture where the balusters are circular, in this building we find that they are "…triangular with slightly concave sides, and every second baluster is upside down, giving a strange impression of flickering movement. Such balustrades were to be a common feature in Borromini's architecture." (San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane)

2. St. Peter Square (1656 -- 1667)

2.1. Background

Saint Peter's Square is located directly in front of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, the papal enclave within Rome. This area was redesigned by Gian Lorenzo Bernini under the direction of Pope Alexander VII. St. Peter's Square creates an attractive and aesthetically rich entry point to the Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica) and was built between 1506 and 1626.

The square is shaped as an oval joined onto a trapezium and is described as a portico of partly covered and partly open space. Gian Lorenzo Bernini was employed to design it from 1656 to 1667 to enhance maximal viewing sight of the church (Norwich 175). Miller describes its construction: "It is two great arcs, each made up of four rows of gigantic travertine columns, with 140 stone saints writhing above them, all knitted together by two vast sickle-shaped entablatures which spring from either side of the church's wide facade" (Miller 5).

2.2. Design

Bernini designed this area in conjunction with the ideas and instructions given to him by Pope Alexander VII. His design encompassed a plan for an elliptical square, 240 meters wide and 196 meters long (787 x 643 ft). (St. Peter's Square: Piazza San Pietro)

The square is bordered on either side by semi-circular colonnades. This had a symbolic value for Bernini as he felt that the colonnades symbolized "…the stretched arms of the church embracing the world." (St. Peter's Square: Piazza San Pietro). The colonnades were built in 1660 and consist of four rows of columns with in total 284 Doric columns and 88 pilasters. They are 20 meters high or 66 ft and 1.6 meter wide (5ft). One hundred and forty statues, depicting popes, martyrs, evangelists and other religious figures were installed on top of the colonnades. These were all created by Bernini and his students. (St. Peter's Square: Piazza San Pietro)

As one study emphasizes with regard to the design of the of Piazza San Pietro; "Bernini's design shows his exceptional inventive powers, but it also reflects his awareness of other architects who had worked on the rebuilding of St. Peter's over the previous century and a half" (Miller… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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