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Italian Renaissance - Rome

( Originally Published 1921 )



BRAMANTE (A.D. 1444–1514) was born in Florence two years before Brunelleschi died, but as he studied in Rome he is regarded as the first Roman Renaissance architect of note. He was trained under the painter Andrea Mantegna, and was probably also a pupil of Alberti and began his independent work in the city of Milan. Bramante was a master of refinement in mouldings, carving, and detail generally, both in his treatment of pilasters and circular-headed openings set in square frames (pp. 568 A, 607 c), while his ultimo maniera is seen in his grand designs for the Courts of Law (never finished) near the Tiber, and in his projected schemes for S. Peter, Rome (p. 582). He handed on the style of Alberti and also, by his own designs, considerably guided the development of Renaissance architecture, not in Italy only, but also in Europe generally.

S. Satiro, Milan (A.D. 1474), a well-known church by this master on the site of an older building, has an octagonal sacristy (now the baptistery) of great beauty, and is notable for a curious chancel designed in perspective to simulate a choir.

S. Maria della Grazie, Milan, is a fifteenth-century abbey church, to which (A.D. 1492–97) Bramante added the choir, transepts, and dome of 65 ft. diameter (p. 563) on a plan somewhat similar to the Certosa, Pavia (p. 500). The exterior (p. 563 B) is transitional, and is an instance of the successful use of brick and terra-cotta on the traditional lines of North Italian craftsmanship. The square mass supporting the dome is flanked by the apses, which spread the base of the structure and lead up to the sixteen-sided drum, of which the upper stage is an arcaded gallery concealing the dome and supporting the low-pitched roof.

The Palazzo della Cancelleria, Rome (A.D. 1495–1505) (P 567), one of the master's best-known works, planned on an irregular site, is a good example of a Renaissance palace on axial lines, and was designed in conjunction with the church of S. Lorenzo (p. 567 n). The imposing cortile, 103 ft. 6 ins. by 63 ft. 6 in., is surrounded by two storeys of arcades (p. 567 B) formed of antique Doric columns (p. 567 c) from the ancient basilican church of S. Lorenzo. The facade (p. 567 A) has an imposing doorway to the cortile flanked by channelled masonry pierced with small semicircular arched windows. The " piano nobile," with its coupled Corinthian pilasters and arched windows (p. 567 E), is surmounted by two storeys included in one Order of Corinthian pilasters, as in the Colosseum (p. 165 A). This facade, unusual in having projecting end bays, is an excellent example of good proportion and quiet treatment.

The Palazzo Giraud, Rome (A.D. 1503) (p. 568 A), is one of Bramante's later works with a pronounced Classical tendency. The ground storey has small windows and channelled masonry, the upper portion being similar to the Palazzo della Cancelleria.

The Vatican Palace, Rome (pp. 585, 590 A), contains the Cortile of S. Damaso (A.D. 1509–13), the Belvedere Court (A.D. 1503–13), and the Octagonal Court—originally square (A.D. 1486–92) but altered A.D. 1775—which are other well-known examples of Bramante's secular buildings.

The Tempietto in S. Pietro in Montorio, Rome (A.D. 1502-10) (p. 569), is a perfect architectural gem based on the design of a small Roman circular temple. It is only 15 ft. in diameter internally and is surrounded by a Doric peristyle, behind which rises the drum, pierced alternately with windows and shell-headed niches, and crowned by a dome.

S. Maria della Pace, Rome, has a beautiful cloister (A.D. 1504) (p. 607 E) surrounded by a two-storeyed arcade designed by Bramante, in which, as in other examples, the upper storey has twice as many openings as the lower. S. Maria della Pace itself is much later (A.D. 1655) with its skilfully designed plan and semicircular portico by Pietro da Cortona (A.D. 1596–1669).

Among the pupils and disciples of Bramante were Peruzzi, Sangallo, Raphael, and Giulio Romano, whose works are now described.

BALDASSARE PERUZZI (A.D. 1481-1536) designed many buildings in Rome, and few architects had such a thorough training for their work or made more satisfactory and scholarly designs.

The Palazzo Pietro Massimi, Rome (A.D. 1529) (p. 570), refined both in design and detail, is especially interesting for the clever treatment of a convex facade to follow the line of the street. The plan (p. 570 H) shows considerable skill in arranging two separate palaces on an irregular site.

The entrance to the right-hand palace is a recessed vestibule (p. 570 c) which leads into a cortile (p. 570 G) with portico (p. 570 J) and steps to an upper loggia (p. 570 F), whence the grand salon (p. 570 E) is reached. The facade (p. 570 B) relies for effect on the Doric Order of columns and pilasters stretching from end to end of the ground storey and the severe astylar treatment of the upper storey.

The Villa Farnesina, Rome (A.D. 1506) (p. 579 H), has two storeys of superimposed Orders and central arcaded loggia, famous for frescoes by Peruzzi and Raphael. The upper storey is cleverly contrived in the ornamental frieze in which windows are inserted—a method afterwards adopted by Sansovino in the Library of S. Mark, Venice (p. 596 A). Dorchester House, London, by Vulliamy, was founded on this design.

S. Maria della Consolazione, Todi (A.D. 1508–1604) (p. 577), designed by Cola da Caprarola, is ascribed to the influence of Peruzzi. It is one of the earliest Renaissance buildings on the Byzantine plan (p. 577 A), forming a square 50 ft. in diameter, off which are four apsidal arms of a Greek cross. The exterior (p. 577 B) has superimposed Corinthian pilasters, surmounted by a low attic, above which semi-domes give effective support to the central dome set on a high drum with windows, and rising to a height of 18o ft. The interior (p. 577 c) has a similar pilaster treatment and the lines are carried up to form the dome ribs.

ANTONIO DA SANGALLO the Younger (A.D. 1485—1546) worked in Rome most of his life, and was an assistant of Bramante.

The Palazzo Farnese, Rome (A.D. 1534) (p. 578), the grandest palace of this period, was designed by Sangallo. The plan (p. 578 G) is rectangular and symmetrically arranged on axial lines with main entrance, vestibule (p. 578 H), and side colonnades. The cortile, 81 ft. square, is surrounded by arcades off which are the apartments and a fine staircase to the " piano nobile." The loggia in the centre of the rear facade opens on to the garden. The facade to the piazza (p. 578 B) is an imposing astylar composition without any break, 185 ft. long by 96 ft. 6 ins. high, of three storeys of nearly equal height, of brick covered with stucco and stone dressings of travertine from the Colosseum. The ground storey has a fine central entrance (p. 578 c), flanked by windows ; the " piano nobile " has pedimented windows (p. 607 A)—alternately triangular and segmental—while the top storey, added by Michelangelo (A.D. 1546), has windows (p. 607 B) with columns on brackets, surmounted by triangular pediments, the circular window arch encroaching on the entablature—a distinctive feature of Michelangelo's work ; while the great crowning cornice (p. 578 A), in the Florentine manner, is about one-eleventh of the whole height. The facade was taken by Sir Charles Barry as the motif for the Reform Club, London. The cortile facades (p. 578 E, F) are designed with superimposed Orders as in the Colosseum.

RAPHAEL (A.D. 1483–1520), nephew and pupil of Bramante and one of the world's greatest painters, well exemplifies the versatility of the artists of those days ; for he was architect as well as painter, and was called in by the Pope to advise as to the design of S. Peter's (p. 582), though he does not appear to have taken any actual part in carrying it out. The excavation of the Baths of Titus and Nero's Golden House gave Raphael an opportunity for studying painted frescoes in ancient Roman buildings, in which flowers and foliage, men and beasts, vessels and trophies were all blended together in delicate colour schemes, and on these Raphael based his decoration of the world-famous Vatican Loggie.

The Villa Madama, Rome (A.D. 1516) (p. 579 J), is a plain and simple structure from Raphael's design, and the charming loggia has frescoes of Giovanni da Udine and Giulio Romano and is surrounded by once famous gardens.

S. Lorenzo in Miranda, Rome, occupying the interior of the old Temple of Antoninus and Faustina (p. 145), has a facade executed A.D. 1602 from Raphael's design.

The Palazzo Pandolfini, Florence (A.D. 1530) (p. 568 ), erected ten years after his death, is one of Raphael's most famous designs, the motif of which was followed for the Travellers' Club, London. Here a plain wall treatment is set off with angle rustications which give an idea of strength, while the windows are designed as small temple fronts with alternate triangular and segmental pediments, and the whole is crowned by the usual deep Florentine cornice.

GIULIO ROMANO (A.D. 1492-1546), a pupil of Raphael, was the architect of buildings at Mantua, and also a painter of note.

The Palazzo del Te, Mantua (A.D. 1525-35), a one-storey building decorated with the Doric Order, is his recognised masterpiece. It is quadrangular on plan, with large saloons round a central court. The arcades of the garden facades have painted ceilings, and the whole design is perhaps the nearest approach to a reproduction of an old Roman villa.

GIACOMO BAROZZI DA VIGNOLA (A.D. 1507—73) was the author of " The Five Orders of Architecture," a book which made a considerable impression upon contemporary design. He went to France in the train of Francis I (p. 62o) and exercised great influence on the development of Renaissance architecture in France.

The Villa of Pope Julius, Rome (A.D. 1550) (p. 579), a typical Italian villa with courtyards and fountains, is one of Vignola's best-known works and now forms the Etruscan Museum. The plan (p. 579 A) shows a straight front with entrance leading to the semicircular grand cortile, formal garden, sunken grotto, summer rooms, and fountain court, which with caryatid figures, rippling water and tiny cascades, forms a delightful piece of garden architecture. The facade (p. 579 B) is a most pleasing composition and influenced later buildings. The entrance has rusticated Doric columns and side niches, and the ground-floor windows (p. 579 E) and first-floor windows (p. 579 G) are of well-balanced design. In the semicircular facade to the grand cortile (p. 579 F) both the centre and wings are treated on the triumphal arch motif.

The Palazzo Farnese, Caprarola (A.D. 1547) (p. 580), a semi-fortress of pentagonal form situated on a mountain spur, is one of the most magnificent of all Renaissance palaces, and recalls Hadrian's mausoleum in mass and outline, while the circular internal court suggests the Colosseum, Rome. The plan (p. 58o D) is a great rectangular pentagon, each side being 15o ft. long. Steps lead up to the Gran Sala, beyond which is a circular cortile, 65 ft. in diameter, while in one angle is the famous circular open staircase (p. 58o c) (cf. Chateau de Chambord, p. 631). The general lay-out (p. 58o A), with entrance portal, circular ramps, stairs, and moat, makes a fine symmetrical and monumental group.

S. Andrea, Rome (A.D. 1550) (P. 569), one of Vignola's smaller works, is of considerable interest. The plan (p. 569 G) is oblong, crowned by an elliptical dome on pendentives in the Byzantine manner, which is partly concealed externally by a quasi-drum, as in the Pantheon, Rome (p. 153 A). The entrance facade (p. 569 D) has pilasters, central doorway, and side windows, and a pediment forming part of the square mass of the structure and not brought forward as in the Pantheon portico. The internal cornice (p. 569 J) is a refined example of this master's work.

The Gesu Church, Rome (A.D. 1568–75) (p. 577), is one of Vignola's best-known works. The plan (p. 577 D) shows a nave with side chapels in lieu of aisles, transepts of slight projection, a dome over the crossing, and an apse. The altar (p. 577 G) in the north transept is Baroque in treatment. The facade (p. 577 E) has a centre-piece of two superimposed Orders, while the aisle roofs stop against large scroll brackets, as used by Alberti at S. Maria Novella, Florence (p. 572). The internal treatment (p. 577 F), similar to that of S. Peter, Rome, was, with its marble-covered walls, taken as the model for many Jesuit churches of the Baroque type (p. 546),

The two small cupolas at S. Peter's (p. 582), and the Palazzo Municipale, Bologna (unfinished), were also from the designs of this master.

MICHELANGELO (A.D. 1474–1564), the famous Florentine sculptor and the painter of the roof of the Sistine Chapel (A.D. 1508), was no less famous in his later years as an architect, and is a most striking instance of the wonderful versatility of artists of this period.

The Biblioteca Laurenziana, Florence (A.D. 1523–26) (p. 583 A), adjoining S. Lorenzo, is approached by a fine triple staircase completed in A.D. 1571 by Vasari from Michelangelo's design, with flanking walls in which coupled columns, supported on large consoles, are set in recesses in the walls with niches between—an artificial treatment often regarded as heralding the Baroque manner. The library, designed to contain the books of the Medici, has walls ornamented by pilasters and a fine timber ceiling, all from Michelangelo's designs.

The Medici Mausoleum, Florence (A.D. 1523–29) (p. 583 B), occupies the New Sacristy (p. 555 K) in S. Lorenzo, and was added by Michelangelo to correspond with the Old Sacristy built (A.D. 1421–28) by Brunelleschi. The interior, 40 ft. square, exemplifies architecture and sculpture in perfect harmony. Pilasters of black Istrian stone carry the main entablature, which is surmounted by an attic with pilasters framing windows and niches. The deep semicircular arched recess contains the altar, and on the right is the tomb of Giuliano de' Medici, whose statue, representing him as a general of the Church, is in a niche flanked by white marble coupled pilasters and niches. The sarcophagus is world-famed, with its curved pediment supporting two reclining symbolic figures of Night and Day. On the opposite side of the chapel is the figure of Lorenzo in an attitude of meditation, and beneath is his sarcophagus, with two reclining figures of Evening and Dawn. These figures by Michelangelo symbolise not only the trials and difficulties of the Medici, but also his own views of the internal policy and intrigues of Florence in his day.

The Capitol, Rome (A.D. 1540–1644) (p. 584), was Michelangelo's most successful civic work, and was a fine town-planning improvement. He not only remodelled on symmetrical lines the approaches to the piazza, but also designed the great palace facades on either side. He superintended the erection only of the approach stairway and the statue of Marcus Aurelius (p. 584 C) in the centre of the piazza, the remainder being executed from his designs by his successors. The " Palazzo dei Conservatori " (A.D. 1564–68) (p. 584 A, D, E) has a facade 66 ft. high: the "Palazzo del Senatore " (A.D. 1592) rises 90 ft. high and has a rusticated basement with imposing flights of steps and giant Corinthian pilasters carried through two storeys, and a campanile (A.D. 1579) erected by Pope Gregory XIII, which overlooks the Forum, while the " Capitoline Museum " (A.D. 1644-55) (p. 584 A, B, E, F), which also illustrates Michelangelo's method of securing unity by carrying up a single Order, was added to correspond with the Palace opposite. The design was completed by the fine flights of steps leading left and right to the triple-arched colonnades added (A.D. 1550-55) by Vignola.

S. Maria degli Angeli, Rome (p. 161 A, D, F), was a daring experiment by which in A.D. 1563 Michelangelo converted the tepidarium of the Baths of Diocletian into a Christian church. This tepidarium (200 ft. by 8o ft.) became the nave of the church, but in A.D. 1749 Vanvitelli transformed the nave into a huge transept, placed the entrance on the west side, and formed a deep chancel on the east. The actual bases of the ancient monolithic granite colums are 7 ft. below the new floor constructed by Michelangelo.

This great master was-also responsible for many important features in the planning and final treatment of S. Peter, Rome, which is therefore dealt with under his name.

S. Peter, Rome (A.D. 15o6--16z6) (pp. 585, 586, 589, 590), the most important building of this period, was the outcome of the work of many architects under the direction of many popes during a period of 120 years. The present Cathedral had its origin in the intention of Pope Julius II to erect a tomb house for himself (A.D. 1505) (p. 559). This Pope was an outstanding personality as pontiff, statesman, and patriot, with great ambitions for the papacy, the Church, and Italy ; so his initial personal project finally took the form of ruthlessly pulling down the old basilican church (p. 203) in order to erect such a monument as should enshrine all the magnificence which he wished to stand as associated with the papal power, the Christian religion, and the Latin race. A competition produced a number of designs—still preserved in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence—and that of Bramante was selected. In A.D. 1506 the foundation stone was laid of Bramante's church, planned as a Greek cross, and his proposed dome (p. 586 B) was founded on that of the Pantheon, with the addition of a peristyle and lantern. In A.D. 1513, on the death of Julius II, Bramante was superseded by Giuliano da Sangallo, Fra Giocondo, and Raphael, but the two former died in A.D. 1515. Raphael proposed a plan (p. 586 E) in the shape of a Latin cross, but he died in A.D. 1520, and Baldassare Peruzzi, who was then appointed architect, reverted to the Greek cross plan (p. 586 F). Ecclesiastical funds were now running short, there were troubles both in Church and State, and finally the capture and sack of Rome disorganised all artistic projects. In A.D. 1536, on the death of Peruzzi, Antonio da Sangallo the Younger submitted a slightly altered plan, with an extended vestibule (p. 586 G), lofty campanile, and elaborated central dome (p. 586 D). On his death, ten years later, Michelangelo, then in his seventy-second year, succeeded him, and the present building owes most of its outstanding features to his genius. He reverted to a Greek cross plan, strengthened the piers of the dome, and redesigned the surrounding chapels and apses. He planned and indeed commenced the construction of the great dome, the drum of which was completed before his death, in A.D. 1564, and he left models for dome and lantern. From these models the dome was completed (A.D. 1585-90) by Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana. In A.D. 1564 Vignola had added side cupolas (pp. 585 A, 589 c), but these became ineffective when Carlo Maderna lengthened the nave to form a Latin cross (p. 589 G), and added the gigantic facade (A.D. 1606-12). Finally Bernini erected (A.D. 1655-67) the noble entrance piazza, 650 ft. wide, surrounded by 284 columns forming the imposing fourfold Tuscan colonnades (pp. 585, 590).

"With arms wide open to embrace
The entry of the human race."-BROWNING.

Cathedral, Piazza, and Vatican form a world-famous group, colossal in scale (p. 585 A, B). The plan (p. 589 G), of enormous proportions, is a Latin cross with an internal length of 600 ft., and an internal width across the transepts of 450 ft., while the total external length, including portico, is 700 ft., or about half as much again as that of Salisbury Cathedral. The nave, 84 ft. wide, consists of four immense bays, and is about the same width as the Basilica of Constantine (p. 157 E), and considerably longer. The crossing is covered by the stupendous dome, 137 ft. 6 ins. internal diameter, while the short transepts and the sanctuary are terminated by semicircular apses. The magnificent entrance portico, 234 ft. by 43 ft. 6 ins., extends the whole width of the church (p. 589 F, G), and leads to the vast interior (p. 590 B), the walls of which are richly coloured to imitate marble. It is almost impossible to gauge its vast proportions, and this difficulty is further increased by the false idea of scale given by such features as the colossal cherubs, 10 ft. in height, which support the holy water stoups, and an idea of the actual size can only be estimated by comparison with the groups of moving people. The mighty nave is flanked by great piers faced by a gigantic Order of Corinthian pilasters, 83 ft. 6 ins. high, and entablature 20 ft. high, or nearly double the height of the Pantheon portico (p. 153), surmounted by a semicircular barrel vault, coffered, gilded, and frescoed, 15o ft. above the marble pavement. The four stupendous piers (6o ft. square) which uphold the dome have immense statues 16 ft. high, and the impression on gazing into the vast internal cupola, 335 ft. high, with its coloured frescoes and mosaics, is awe-inspiring and sublime. The planning of the supports of the dome and its four pendentives is in marked contrast with that of S. Paul's, London, with its eight piers. The Throne of S. Peter, which occupies the western apse, is the work of Bernini, as is also the magnificent Baldachino (p. 590 B), 100 ft. high, covering the High Altar, which stands over the alleged tomb of S. Peter in the crypt, beneath the dome. .

The exterior (pp. 585 A, 589 C, 590 A), roughly executed in travertine stone, has an immense Order of Corinthian pilasters with entablature and attic, carried round the entire building, of the, following dimensions : podium 18 ft., Corinthian columns and pilasters 90 ft. 9 ins. (diameter 9 ft.), entablature 20 ft., attic and balustrade 38 ft. 6 ins., which, excluding the statues, 20 ft. high, gives a total height of 167 ft. 3 ins., or more than half as high again as the facade of S. Paul's Cathedral (p. 723). The gigantic. scale of this building can best be realised by comparison with Trajan's Column, Rome (p. 182), which is 97 ft. 7 ins. high, with a diameter of 12 ft. 2 ins., and is placed on a pedestal 18 ft. high. Thus the countless half-columns and pilasters which encircle the great Cathedral are actually only about 7 ft. less in height than the single column of Trajan. In no other building has an Order of such immense size been used. If Michelangelo's design for a portico of free-standing columns had been carried out, it would have been one of the most impressive features in all Christendom.

The great dome (pp. 585, 586 A, C, 589), formed of two shells of masonry, nearly equals that of the Pantheon in diameter, but Michelangelo set himself a very difficult problem, inasmuch as the base of his dome is nearly 25o ft. from the pavement, and depends for support only on four massive piers, instead of on a continuous circular wall. No less than ten iron chains at the base have been inserted at different times to prevent the dome from spreading. Although the dome, with the lantern, is 450 ft. in height—more than twice that of the towers of Westminster Abbey—its dominating effect is impaired externally, except from a distance, by Maderna's lengthened nave and additional portico, which latter is not only over 167 ft. high, but is also as much as 450 ft. from the centre of the crossing, and consequently hides the lower part of the dome from the near spectator. The Order round the drum, 50 ft. high, might well have been on a larger scale, and it might have gained in impressiveness, had it been connected by scrolls with the attic above, as designed by Michelangelo. It is in effect far less pleasing than the colonnaded treatment of the dome of S. Paul's (pp. 543, 723). In spite of these conflicting elements in the design, the dome of S. Peter's is the greatest creation of the Renaissance, and a dominating feature in all views of Rome.

Lantern, dome, drum, balustrades, and statues, all in turn piled above the tower-like pilasters of the encircling walls, and even partly obscured by the monumental portico, are awe-inspiring in their massive grandeur, and in themselves make up a monument of cunningly contrived parts. Externally, however, S. Peter's owes half its majesty to the manner in which it sits enthroned above its vast entrance piazza (65o ft. wide), with its grouped fountains and central obelisk, which is guarded by those noble colonnades whose proportions are on such a generous scale that they are not dwarfed even by the huge Order of the facade on which they abut. No other city has accorded such a wide-swept approach to its Cathedral Church, no other architect could have conceived a design of greater nobility ; this colonnade-encircled piazza of Bernini is, if one may say so, the greatest of all atriums before the greatest of all churches in Christendom.

The Palazzo del Laterano, Rome (A.D. 1586) (p. 34 B), was erected by Fontana on the site of the former Palace, and after being an orphan asylum it was turned into a museum in A.D. 1843. The buildings are arranged round a court, and the facade has a simple and somewhat tame astylar treatment.

The Palazzo del Quirinale (A.D. 1574), the Vatican Palace (portions including the Library A.D. 1588), the Chapel of Sixtus V (A.D. 1585) in S. Maria Maggiore, and the North Transept (A.D. 1586) of S. Giovanni in Laterano (p. 34 B) are among Fontana's other works.

CARLO MADERNA (A.D. 1556–1629) was the architect of the Palazzo Borghese (A.D. 1590), the Palazzo Barberini (A.D. 1626), and S. Maria della Vittoria (A.D. 1605) ; he also lengthened the nave of S. Peter (p. 582).

GIOVANNI BERNINI (A.D.1589–1680), a Baroque architect, most famous as the author of the colonnaded Piazza of S. Peter (A.D. 1655-67), was one of the later Roman in the Baroque style of the seventeenth century also designed the Fountains in the Piazza Barberini, the Piazza di Spagna, and the Piazza Navona, the Scala Regia in the Vatican and S. Andrea del Quirinale, Rome (A.D. 1678). The Palazzo Barberini, Rome, which had been commenced (A.D. 1626) by Carlo Maderna, and was given a facade by Bernini in A.D. 1629, and the Palazzo Odescalchi, Rome (A.D. 1665), are worthy of study.

FRANCESCO BORROMINI (A.D. 1599—1667) was the architect of S. Agnese, Rome (A.D. 1652), with a Greek cross plan and curved facade, and of S. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Rome (A.D. 1640-67), with a clever plan on a corner site.

ALESSANDRO GALILEI (A.D. 1691–1737) designed the principal facade of S. Giovanni in Laterano, Rome (A.D. 1734), with its open Loggia, from which the pope at one time pronounced his benediction.

FERDINANDO FUGA (A.D. 1699–1780) designed the portico of S. Maria Maggiore, Rome (A.D. 1743), and probably also the famous Fontana di Trevi, Rome (A.D. 1735).

The Baroque style in Rome has already been referred to (p. 565).



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