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Francesco Borromini

Francesco Borromini
Francesco Castelli

Borromini (anonymous youth portrait) Born 25 September 1599 Bissone, Ticino, Old Swiss Confederacy 3 August 1667 (aged67) Rome Francesco Borromini



Buildings San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Sant'Agnese in Agone, Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza, Oratorio dei Filippini

Francesco Borromini, byname of Francesco Castelli (25 September 1599 3 August 1667), was an architect from Ticino[1] who, with his contemporaries Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Pietro da Cortona, was a leading figure in the emergence of Roman Baroque architecture. A keen student of the architecture of Michelangelo and the ruins of Antiquity, Borromini developed an inventive and distinctive, if somewhat idiosyncratic, architecture employing manipulations of Classical architectural forms, geometrical rationales in his plans and symbolic meanings in his buildings. He seems to have had a sound understanding of structures, which perhaps Bernini and Cortona, who were principally trained in other areas of the visual arts, lacked. His soft lead drawings are particularly distinctive. He appears to have been a self-taught scholar, amassing a large library by the end of his life. His career was constrained by his personality. Unlike Bernini who easily adopted the mantle of the charming courtier in his pursuit of important commissions, Borromini was both melancholic and quick in temper which resulted in him withdrawing from certain jobs,[2] and his death was by suicide. Probably because his work was idiosyncratic, his subsequent influence was not widespread but is apparent in the Piedmontese works of Camillo-Guarino Guarini and, as a fusion with the architectural modes of Bernini and Cortona, in the late Baroque architecture of Northern Europe.[3] Later critics of the Baroque, such as Francesco Milizia and the English architect Sir John Soane, were particularly critical of Borrominis work. From the late nineteenth century onwards, interest has revived in the works of Borromini and his architecture has become appreciated for its inventiveness.

Francesco Borromini

Early life and first works

Borromini was born at Bissone,[4] near Lugano in the Ticino, which was at the time a bailiwick of the Swiss Confederacy. He was the son of a stonemason and began his career as a stonemason himself. He soon went to Milan to study and practice his craft. He moved to Rome in 1619 and started working for Carlo Maderno, his distant relative, at St. Peter's and then also at the Palazzo Barberini. When Maderno died in 1629, he and Pietro da Cortona continued to work on the palace under the direction of Bernini. Once he had become established in Rome, he changed his name from Castelli to Borromini, a name deriving from his mother's family and perhaps also out of regard for St Charles Borromeo [5]

Major works
San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (San Carlino)
In 1634, Borromini received his first major independent commission to design the church, cloister and monastic buildings of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (also known as San Carlino). Situated on the Quirinal Hill in Rome, the complex was designed for the Spanish Trinitarians, a religious order. The monastic buildings and the cloister were completed first after which construction of the church took place during the period 1638-1641 and in 1646 it was dedicated to San Carlo Borromeo. The church is considered by many to be an exemplary masterpiece of Roman Baroque architecture. San Carlino is remarkably small given its significance to Baroque architecture; it has been noted that the whole building would fit into one of the dome piers of Saint Peter's.[6][7][8] The site was not an easy one; it was a corner site and the space was limited. Borromini positioned the church on the corner of two intersecting roads. Although the idea for the serpentine facade must Faade of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. have been conceived fairly early on, probably in the mid 1630s, it was only constructed towards the end of Borromini's life and the upper part was not completed until after the architect's death. Borromini devised the complex ground plan of the church from interlocking geometrical configurations, a typical Borromini device for constructing plans. The resulting effect is that the interior lower walls appear to weave in and out, partly alluding to a cross form, partly to a hexagonal form and partly to an oval form; geometrical figures that are all found explicitly in the dome above.[9][10] The area of the pendentives marks the transition from the lower wall order to the oval opening of the dome. Illuminated by windows hidden from a viewer below, interlocking octagons, crosses and hexagons diminish in size as the dome rises to a lantern with the symbol of the Trinity.

Francesco Borromini

Oratory of Saint Phillip Neri (Oratorio dei Fillipini)

In the late sixteenth century, the Congregation of the Filippini (also known as the Oratorians) rebuilt the church of Santa Maria in Vallicella (known as the Chiesa Nuova -new church) in central Rome. In the 1620s, on a site adjacent to the church, the Fathers commissioned designs for their own residence and for an oratory (or oratorio in Italian) in which to hold their spiritual exercises. These exercises combined preaching and music in a form which became immensely popular and highly influential on the development of the musical oratorio.
Oratory of Saint Phillip Neri

The architect Paolo Maruscelli organised the general layout of the site and in 1637, Borromini was appointed as architect, possibly as the result of a competition.[11] He was employed in the task for thirteen years. By 1640, the oratory was in use and by 1643, the library was complete. The striking brick curved facade adjacent to the church entrance has an unusual pediment and does not entirely correspond to the oratory room behind it. The white oratory interior has a ribbed vault and a complex wall arrangement of engaged pilasters along with freestanding columns supporting first level balconies. The altar wall was substantially reworked at a later date. Borrominis relations with the Oratorians were often fraught; there were heated arguments over the design and the selection of building materials. By 1650, the situation came to a head and in 1652 the Oratorians appointed another architect. However, with the help of his Oratorian friend Virgilio Spada, Borromini documented his own account of the building of the oratory and the residence and an illustrated version was published in Italian in 1725 [12]

Sant' Ivo alla Sapienza

From 1640-1650, he worked on the design of the church of Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza and its courtyard, near University of Rome La Sapienza palace. It was initially the church of the Roman Archiginnasio. He had been initially recommended for the commission in 1632, by his then supervisor for the work at the Palazzo Barberini, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The site, like many in cramped Rome, is challenged for external perspectives. It was built at the end of Giacomo della Porta's long courtyard. The dome and cochlear steeple are peculiar, and reflect the idiosyncratic architectural motifs that distinguish Borromini from contemporaries. Inside, the nave has an unusual centralized plan circled by alternating concave and convex-ending cornices, leading to a dome decorated with linear arrays of stars and putti. The geometry of the structure is a symmetric six-pointed star; from the center of the floor, the cornice looks like a two equilateral triangles forming a Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza, courtyard and faade. hexagon, but three of the points are clover-like, while the other three are concavely clipped. The innermost columns are points on a circle. The fusion of feverish and dynamic baroque excesses with a rationalistic geometry is an excellent match for a church in a papal institution of higher learning.

Francesco Borromini

Sant'Agnese in Agone
Borromini was one of several architects involved in the building of the church of SantAgnese in Agone in Rome. Not only were some of his design intentions changed by succeeding architects but the net result is a building which reflects, rather unhappily, a mix of different approaches. The decision to rebuild of the church was taken in 1652 as part of Pope Innocent Xs project to enhance the Piazza Navona, the urban space onto which his family palace, the Palazzo Pamphili, faced. The first plans for a Greek Cross church were drawn up by Girolamo Rainaldi and his son Carlo Rainaldi, who relocated the main entrance from the Via di Santa Maria dell'Anima to the Piazza Navona. The foundations were laid and much of the lower level walls had been constructed when the Rainaldis were dismissed due to criticisms of the design and Borromini was appointed in their stead.[13] Borromini began a much more innovative approach to the facade which was expanded to include parts of the adjacent Palazzo Pamphili and gain space for his two bell towers.[14] Construction of the faade proceeded up to the cornice level and the dome completed as far as the lantern. On the interior, he placed columns against the piers of the lower order which was mainly completed. In 1655, Innocent X died and the project lost momentum. In 1657, Borromini resigned and Carlo Rainaldi was recalled who made a number of significant changes to Borrominis design. Further alterations were made by Bernini including the faade pediment. In 1668, Carlo Rainaldi returned as architect and Ciro Ferri received the commission to fresco the dome interior which it is highly unlikely that Borromini intended. Further large scale statuary and coloured marbling were also added; again, these are not part of Borrominis design repertoire which was orientated to white stucco architectural and symbolic motifs.[15]

The Re Magi Chapel of the Propaganda Fide

The College of the Propagation of the Faith or Propaganda Fide in Rome includes the Re Magi Chapel by Borromini, generally considered by architectural historians to be one of his most spatially unified architectural interiors.[16] The chapel replaced a small oval chapel designs by his rival Bernini and was a late work in Borrominis career; he was appointed as architect in 1648 but it was not until 1660 that construction of the chapel began and although the main body of work was completed by 1665, some of the decoration was finished after his death. His faade to the Via di Propaganda Fide comprises seven bays articulated by giant pilasters. The central bay is a concave curve and accommodates the main entry into the college courtyard and complex, with the entrance to the chapel to the left and to the college to the right.

Other works
Borromini's works include: Interior of Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano Cappella Spada, San Girolamo della Carit (uncertain attribution) Palazzo Spada (trick perspective) Palazzo Barberini (upper-level windows and oval staircase) Santi Apostoli, Naples - Filamarino Altar Sant'Andrea delle Fratte Oratorio dei Filippini Collegio de Propaganda Fide[17] Santa Maria dei Sette Dolori, Rome

San Giovanni in Oleo (restoration) Palazzo Giustiniani (with Carlo Fontana) Facade of Palazzo Falconieri

Francesco Borromini Santa Lucia in Selci (restoration) Saint Peter's Basilica (gates to Blessed Sacrament Chapel and possibly parts of baldacchino)

Death and epitaph

In the summer of 1667, and following completion of the Falconieri chapel (the High Altar chapel) in San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, Borromini committed suicide in Rome.[18] possibly as a result of nervous disorders and depression, In his testament, Borromini wrote that he did not want any name on his burial and expressed the desire to be buried in the tomb of his kinsman Carlo Maderno in San Giovanni dei Fiorentini. In recent times, his name was added on the marble plaque below the tomb of Maderno and a commemorative plaque was placed on a pillar of the church. This Latin inscription reads:

Francesco Borromini was featured on the 6th series 100 Swiss Franc banknote, which was in circulation from 1976 until 2000.[20]

[1] "Francesco Borromini." (http:/ / www. britannica. com/ EBchecked/ topic/ 74478/ Francesco-Borromini) Encyclopdia Britannica. Web. 30 Oct. 2010. [2] Blunt, Anthony (1979), Borromini, Harvard University Press, Belknap, p. 21 [3] Blunt,(1979), p. 213-7 [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] Later he was also called "Bissone". Blunt, Anthony. Borromini, Belknap Harvard, 1979, p. 13 As Siegfried Giedion pointed out in Space, Time and Architecture (1941 etc.) Plan of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (http:/ / www. usc. edu/ schools/ annenberg/ asc/ projects/ comm544/ library/ images/ 040. html) S. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (http:/ / www2. siba. fi/ ~kkoskim/ / rooma/ pages/ SCARLOQU. HTM) Steinberg L. San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. A Study in Multiple Form and Architectural Symbolism. New York 1977, p 117 and Fig. 85. The effect has been noted by others that 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 & Borromini on a 100 francs note

Francesco Borromini
Hyman) [10] San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (http:/ / web. comhem. se/ ~u13117202/ scarlino. htm) [11] See Connors J., Borromini and the Roman Oratory: Style and Society, New York, London & Cambridge (Massachusetts), 1980, [12] For an English translation of the 1725 edition and discussion of the architecture see Downes K., Borrominis Book, Oblong Creative, 2010 [13] Blunt A. Borromini, Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1979, 157 [14] Each of the constructed bell towers has a clock, one for Roman time, the other for tempo ultramontano or European time [15] Blunt, 1979,159-160 [16] See, Magnuson, T. Rome in the Age of Bernini, Vol 2, 207 [17] Collegio di Propaganda Fide (http:/ / www. romeartlover. it/ Vasi164a. htm) [18] Borromini's suicide (http:/ / web. comhem. se/ ~u13117202/ suicide. htm) [19] Francesco Borromini from the Ticino Knight of Christ who is an architect with an eternal reputation divine in the strength of his art who applied himself to the adornment of the magnificent buildings of Rome among which are the Oratory of the Filippini, S. Ivo, S. Agnese in Agone reworking the Lateran archbasilica S. Andrea delle Fratte S. Carlo on the Quirinal Hill the temple building of the Propoganda Fide and also in this temple (S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini) he decorated the High Altar not far from this grave stone near to the mortal remains of Carlo Maderno he was found near to the city and his relative (Carlo Maderno) in peace he rests with the Lord. [20] Seventh banknote series, 1984 (http:/ / www. snb. ch/ en/ iabout/ cash/ history/ id/ cash_history_serie7)

External links
A map ( msa=0) giving the location of Borromini's buildings in Rome Columbia University: Joseph Connors, Francesco Borromini: Opus Architectonicum, Milan, 1998 (http://www. Introduction to Borromini's own description of the Casa dei Filippini Borromini's own account of his eventually successful suicide attempt ( suicide.htm) Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman. Architecture: from Prehistory to Post-Modernism (http://www. pp.3467.

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Francesco Borromini Source: Contributors: 777sms, Adamhauner, Afernand74, Al tally, Alma Pater, Amillar, Anamorphosis, Antique Rose, Antur, Arwel Parry, Astarte, Attilios, Badagnani, Bill Thayer, Blahm, CARAVAGGISTI, Chris the speller, Coccodrillo, Conversion script, D6, DVD R W, Davide41, Docu, Drmies, Effeietsanders, EileenFlammable, Europe22, Fatidiot1234, Frankvitetta, Gaius Cornelius, Garion96, Gerald Farinas, Ghirlandajo, GoingBatty, Goudzovski, Gwguffey, Hadibe, Homagetocatalonia, Ian Spackman, Iseespots, Keithh, Kiril Simeonovski, Ktsquare, Liftarn, Ligulem, M7, MK, MadGeographer, Magioladitis, Malcolm Farmer, Mandarax, MarnetteD, Mattisse, Mcginnly, Michael David, Mike Selinker, Momet, Omar35880, Open2universe, Opus88888, Panairjdde, Pascal666, Pethan, Polylerus, Princess Tiswas, Quadell, RJFF, Rajah, Ramorosi, RchB, Rienzo, Robert K S, Robert.Allen, Rococo1700, RogDel, Saaga, Skidude9950, Solipsist, Spurinna, Svick, Tamarat, Tubedogg, Tyw7, Ultimate Destiny, Unyoyega, Wetman, 101 anonymous edits

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File:Borromini.jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: Arch2all, Carlomorino, Rufinus File:Roman architecture.jpg Source: License: unknown Contributors: Carlomorino, Erin Silversmith, G.dallorto, Kved, Mac9, Mifter, Pko, TomAlt, 2 anonymous edits File:Oratorio dei Filippini Rome.jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: Jensens File:Borromini SantIvo.jpg Source: License: unknown Contributors: Fb78 File:CHF100 6 front horizontal.png Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: Sortcoach, Szajci

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