Roman Baroque (1623- 1667)

The term Baroque describes a complex idiom, originating in Rome, embracing painting, and sculpture as well as architecture.

Ecstasy of St.Teresa, Bernini, Rome, Italy
Ecstasy of St.Teresa, Bernini, Rome, Italy.

Image source: https://www.wikiart.org/en/gian-lorenzo-bernini/the-ecstasy-of-st-teresa-1652

When and why the Roman Baroque was born

Baroque architecture originated in the Counter-Reformation, when the Catholic Church launched an emotional appeal to the faithful using art and architecture. In the 17th century Rome became a statement of Catholic majesty and triumph was expressed through arts. Baroque architects, artists, and urban planners were used to give power to the ecclesiastical traditions of the city. Rome became capital of the European art world.


St. Ivo alla Spienza
St. Ivo alla Spienza

Info source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Baroque_architecture#/media/File:G_r_186.jpg

The most important baroque artists

The architecture of the Roman Baroque can be considered as attributable to the papal reigns of Urban VIII, Innocent X and Alexander VII. The three main architects of this period were the sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Francesco Borromini and the painter Pietro da Cortona. Each of them developed his own individual expression in achitecture. Ceilings and vaults of palaces and churches were a communication medium to fulfil propagandistic goals therough different ways of expression.

  • Baroque painting: illustrated key elements of Catholic dogma;
  • Baroque sculpture: was marked by a similar sense of dynamic movement;
  • Baroque architecture: was designed to be spectacular; 
Interior of Chiesa Nuova, Rome.
Interior of Chiesa Nuova, Rome.

Info source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/twiga_swala/4118884943/

Gian Lorenzo Bernini 

Gian Lorenzo Bernini dominated the Roman art in 17th century. Under Pope Urban VIII, Bernini gained productivity and development. He was commissioned to build a symbolic structure over the grave of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The immense gilt-bronze baldachin executed between represents the first truly Roman Baroque monument. The baldachin is perfectly proportioned, and by looking at it one can realize that it is as tall as a four-story building. The moving upward to the crown, its dark colours along with burning gold, gives it the resemblance of a living organism. It is An unprecedented fusion of sculpture and architecture.

Baldachin, St. Peter’s, Vatican City, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1624–33
Baldachin, St. Peter’s, Vatican City, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1624–33.

Image source: https://streetwise.world/explore-rome/the-highlights-of-the-st-peter-cathedral.html

Francesco Borromini

Borromini worked with Bernini to realise Barberini palace and the Baldachin of Saint Peter. Later on he had an independent commission, fot the design of the church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. The building is considered a masterpiece of Roman Baroque architecture. For the facade, Borromini uses two orders: one upper and one lower featuring: a succession of concave surfaces and, on the top, three concave parts and a newsstand convex. The facade was finished with an oval medallion concave surface giving a sense of dynamism.

Facade of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Rome, Italy
Facade of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Rome, Italy.

Image source: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Francesco_Borromini

Borromini also worked on the constuction of S. Ivo alla Sapienza. Inside, the ship has a new centralized plan. It is circled with the alternation of concave and convex-ending cornices, leading to a dome decorated with linear arrays of stars and cherubs. The plant forms a six-pointed star. Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza fused excesses from Baroque and some forms of rationality in an innovative concept.

The plant a six-pointed star of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, Rome, Italy
The plant a six-pointed star of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, Rome, Italy

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francesco_Borromini#/media/File:Borromini_SantIvo.jpg

Info source: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Gian-Lorenzo-Bernini

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francesco_Borromini

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Francesco_Borromini

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